Like most anthologies, this one assembles stories from a variety of different authors. Unlike most anthologies, each author here contributes not one but two stories. The first begins the narrative, and the second takes place… well, some time later.
It’s interesting to note how the various authors interpret these very basic criteria. Many of them simply tell two halves of the same story, with a space in between. A couple of them even give their two stories the same title, differentiated simply by “Part 1” and “Part 2.” Others, such as “Ely and the Medium” and “Death Stalks Closer,” by Kirsten Weiss, are more like two separate stories, revolving around the same characters and circumstances, but with a different overall plot and story arc. While Madeleine Holly-Rosing, on the other hand, tells a complete story with “Here Abide Monsters,” then uses the second, “Home,” as essentially an epilogue, spanning only a couple of pages.
And of course, the content of these stories is widely varied, as well. They’re all connected by a Steampunk theme, but authors have always interpreted that in a variety of different ways. Some of the stories deal with science and technology. Some have ghosts, demons, and other supernatural entities. Some have both. There are vampires, spirits, time travelers, airships, and much, much more. No matter what your pleasure is in the realms of either sci-fi or fantasy, this anthology has it somewhere.
This is, in fact, the third anthology of this nature from Thinking Ink Press and editors AJ Sikes, BJ Sikes, and Dover Whitecliff. The first was 12 Hours Later, and the second was Thirty Days Later, each featuring pairs of stories much like this. I haven’t read the other two collections yet, but I’m fascinated by this gimmick and am eager to see how it works on those two scales.
I found this book hard to put down. Every story had its own unique charm. While I tried to read the book straight through from beginning to end, for a number of stories, I found I couldn’t wait to get to the second part, and flipped back and forth a lot. This anthology gripped me right from the beginning and wouldn’t let go. Some stories sparked my imagination, while others had me on the edge of my seat. In any event, it’s a terrific read, and I highly recommend it.