I should start this review by mentioning that I know the author. Now that’s sorted, let’s move along.
If the cover doesn’t tip you off to the nature of the material inside, the tag line “Dark Fantasy & Desolation” is an unmissable disclaimer. This collection won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like your fiction dark and gritty, and aren’t too squeamish, then I think this collection is worthy of consideration.
I also think it’s fair to say you should expect an uneven level of quality when it comes to any single author collection that spans quite a few years of said author’s career. I found this to be the case with ‘Abandonment’. The stories that left me cold tended to be the ones that involved desolation (of spirit and/or place) and those involving beautiful people, razor blades and/or metal barbs. I guess I like a little bit more light and hope in my fiction.
On the flip side, the stories that worked best for me were the titular “The Abandonment of Grace and Everything After”, “The Song of Prague” and “Sobek’s Tears”. Each different in their own way, but all intriguing and urging the reader to flip through the pages to arrive at a satisfying conclusion.
At his best, Cummings is an incisive writer that pushes the envelope and is more than capable of eliciting the odd squirm from his readers. I look forward to seeing what he has in store for us next. Keep a few candles burning though…