Title: Apple of My Eye
Author: Amy Grech
Publisher: Two Backed Books
Pub. Date: 2006
Reviewed by: Christine Morgan
This slim paperback with a spooky eyeball-apple on the cover collects thirteen tales that mostly revolve around the theme of love gone wrong. All kinds of love, and all kinds of wrong. There’s blood, sex and atrocity aplenty within these pages, so this book is definitely not for the prudish or the squeamish.
Overall, the writing’s okay and the stories are engaging enough. They have a spare, sparse, modern, urban feel to them. Characters are defined crisply in a few word-strokes, and much of the description is nearly poetic. Sometimes cringe worthy-beautiful in the gorier bits.
The primary difficulty I had was with the author’s approach to dialogue. It’s as if Ms. Grech opted to avoid the whole issue of whether to just use plain old simple “said” versus options such as “stated/declared/hissed/whatever” … by chucking ALL of it out the window. Instead, almost every line of character speech is paired with a description of character action. There’s barely a “said” or its counterparts to be found within the entire 128 pages. Coupled with the actual dialogue itself often feeling stiff and informative rather than seeming like the way people would really talk, it had the effect of frequently jarring me out of the story.
Therefore, it came as no real surprise to me when my favorites of the thirteen turned out to be ones with the least amount of dialogue. The one-character, more internalized and personal stories. I really liked “Ashes to Ashes,” in which a widow tries to deal with loss and precious memories as well as a disturbing clump of dust that appears in her cellar. “Perishables” is a way-too-short tale of an accidental survivor; I was left hungry for more (given what it’s about, that’s probably a bad way to phrase it!). I’m always fond of a good blustery-October-night Halloween story, so “Damp Wind and Leaves” was another winner.
In the category of family dysfunction, you’ll find a dutifully dirty daddy’s girl in the title track “Apple of My Eye,” fatherly advice gone a bit too far in “Crosshairs,” and a cold-blooded case of motherly neglect and payback in “Prevention.”
The darker underside of romance is exposed in the stories “Come and Gone” (guy puts household appliances to some creative uses in an effort to get over his girlfriend), “Snubbed” (girl gives abusive ex a dose of his own medicine), and “Cold Comfort” (ain’t no such thing as a harmless fling).
For those preferring a more traditional taste, “Rampart” presents a rather different kind of haunted house, and “Raven’s Revenge” a rather different kind of haunting. There’s also “Initiation Day,” a geek-revenge morality play that could be right out of the pages of a classic horror comic.
Last but not least … last in the book as well as last one mentioned here … is “EV 2000.” This one is unlike its fellows in many ways. Written in present-tense, for one. Given a futuristic setting, for another. Not my usual thing, but I enjoyed it much more than I initially expected to.
I've got to give nickcato a huge THANK YOU for passing Apple of My Eye on to Christine to review!