BOOK REVIEW: A Collapse of Horses by Brian Evenson
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell
If Children of the New World, is reminiscent of Black Mirror, A Collapse of Horses is more of a slightly grown-up, less-resolved version of the Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark stories many of us enjoyed growing up.
There are few, if any, stories in here that would be unsuitable for teenage readers, and somehow we are offered a collection that is both predictable and confusing at the same time. These stories don’t have a solid resolution, leaving it up to the reader to decide, but often to a point where this reader was left wondering what the point of many of them even was.
In the end, after reading several of these stories back to back without much in the way of resolution, it became very hard to feel any kind of connection with the characters. It felt as though, in an attempt to be artsy and different, the author made a special effort to leave the reader feeling as though they were out of their depth. For a reader who is not often surprised or left in the dark, due to the sheer volume I read, this could be seen as a plus, but rather than a new take on things, this felt like a concerted effort to leave people confused.
There was also little to no world-building in any of these stories, and the fact that the reader doesn’t know anything about the world in which these characters live only contributes to the lack of connection.
Of these seventeen stories, two and a half had a female lead, and none of these women had names. Children of the New World also suffers from this problem, and both collections are written by male authors. This doesn’t normally bother this reader and, in fact, didn’t when reading the aforementioned short story collection. But somehow, in this collection, it stands out like a sore thumb.
There were a few stories in here that were interesting, but the one standout for this reader was Any Corpse, which was one of the very few with a nice conclusion, though the world-building still left a lot to be desired.
All in all this was a little disappointing, and I was tempted to set it aside as few as twenty pages from the end, suddenly uninterested in reading on because it was incredibly unlikely there was going to be any kind of conclusion to whatever was read.
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