Spontaneous Human Combustion - by Richard Thomas
This collection of shorts was my introduction to Richard Thomas’ work, and I’d heard good things about it from both Lezlie (Nerdy Narrative) and Ross Jeffery, and even though I’d bought the pre-order, Richard was kind enough to send me an ARC pdf copy.
There are fourteen stories in the collection, including a longer novella “Ring of Fire” as the last piece. Of those fourteen, I marked six stories that stood out in my notes as “Good”, two as “excellent”, four as “Ok” and two “not my thing”.
All fourteen of the pieces were excellently written.
I wanted to make that distinction. The voice here is staggering. Richard’s writing is highly stylized, it is tight, bleak, poetic, tinged with regret and penitence. Also - all of the stories were vastly different from each other. Regardless of my opinions on the pieces themselves, this book sells itself on the unmistakable voice of Mr. Thomas. That elegance is continued in the presentation of the book, the illustrations both set the mood and highlight themes in the individual pieces. Richard’s poetic prose is backlit right from the beginning – the whole feels incredibly polished.
My two favorite pieces, “Repent” and “Hiraeth” are so intrinsically different from each other, it complements the breadth of all of the pieces – Yes, there are a couple of pieces that center on clowns, but no, they are totally different in presentation. There are elements here that went over my head, I’ll be the first to admit. The ending of Hiraeth” for example, one of my favorite pieces in the book – did I understand the ending? Probably not. Did it stop me from appreciating the skill in which the stories were constructed? Not in the least. Was the piece still brilliant, despite my lack of understanding?
Richard also experiments with form, the piece “Undone” is one never-ending sentence, Richard controlling the breathing rhythm of the reader to the same state as his MC, on the run from their own body, time the enemy. It’s brilliant, experimental, I am a fan of risk-taking, it compliments Richard that he is pushing the boundaries. Presenting horror in ways that challenge the expectations of the reader.
The editing was perfect, there’s not a full stop misplaced.
I’m giving the collection 4 out of 5 ⭐ ‘s. It was a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Richard. I’ll be looking out for one of your novels in the coming months.
You can buy "Spontaneous Human Combustion" from your local Amazon, just click on the appropriate link below:
You can visit Richard's website, HERE.
You can find Richard on Twitter, HERE.
You can find Richard on Instagram, HERE.
You can find Richard on Facebook, HERE.