APPLE OF MY EYE
AMY GRECH (Two Backed Books; 2006)
paperback short story collection is a good sampling of author Amy Grech’s
talents. I say sampling because Grech, according to the author bio, has sold
over a hundred stories to various publications (and published a novel called THE
ART OF DECEPTION), meaning the thirteen tales collected in this 128-page book
are but a microscopic portion of her total output. Thus I’m reluctant to say
how representative they may be (or not), but APPLE OF MY EYE does prove Grech
has a mean streak--not to mention an unusually fertile, wide-ranging
The title story opens the collection in fitting
fashion, with a profoundly twisted account of father-daughter love related in a
frank, stripped-down manner characteristic of nearly all the stories herein.
The author tends to make her points in short, sharp and shocking fashion, and
usually ends her tales with a kicker of a final sentence.
“Prevention”, the second story, is about a son’s nasty
revenge on his neglectful mother, enhanced by an even nastier twist ending. A
gruesome vengeance is also visited upon the abusive male lead of “Snubbed”,
which I guarantee will have most of you squirming like maggots on a hook.
By this point you might think you’ve got the gist of
these stories. I did, and so was knocked for a loop by “Raven’s Revenge”, a
(comparatively) subdued piece graced with a supernatural twist, and “Rampart”,
about a man suffering from, and eventually done in by, nightmarish
hallucinations. Then there’s “Damp Wind and Leaves”, a sweet (though resolutely
unsentimental) love story set on Halloween night.
But don’t get too comfortable: “Cold Comfort”, one of
the meanest tales, falls in this portion of the book. So does “Initiation Day”,
which dispassionately describes how the put upon protagonist, a dorky kid, gets
his just desserts in disturbing fashion, topped off by an unforgettable parting
line. Another stand-out is the final piece “EV 2000”, which with its science
fictionish setting provides more evidence of Grech’s considerable range. It’s
the most imaginative story of the collection, relating what happens when the
titular machine, an “Electronic Vampire”, malfunctions, with deeply horrific
results for its users.
Obviously those wanting grossness will be sated by
APPLE OF MY EYE, but readers in the mood for solidly written, varied and
thoughtful genre fare will also be pleased. This book packs a punch, and I