Book Review: Call to the Void by Robert Royal Poff

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Title: Call to the Void: Definitive Edition

Author: Robert Royal Poff

Release date: October 11th, 2021

It’s probably been close to month now since I tweeted that if people were looking for reviews etc, to reach out and I’d do my best to get some books read. I’m coming to the end of that batch of books that were sent my way (believe I have two left now that I’ve finished this one) and I’ve come across some really great gems that for one reason or another were either missed by folks or have slipped through the cracks.

Case in point – ‘Call to the Void.’ At the time of posting this review, it has no ratings/reviews on Goodreads and seven ratings/reviews on Amazon. For as solid of a collection as this is, that always makes my readers heart hurt.

To begin with – look at this fantastic cover! It’s not a case of poor cover poor desire. No, this cover harkens back to the old illustrated style that always captivated me. The Ralph Bakshi and Frank Frazetta days. A cover like this makes you want to pick up the book, flip it over, read the backmatter and then bring it to the check out.

What I liked: This collection is filled to the brim with novelette length stories. You won’t find any flash fiction pieces in here, instead Poff lets the stories play out and are not beholden to word count limits or how much of the book they take up. I’m not sure of the background behind the writing and publication of this collection, but I’d guess that each of these stories were written individually with out an initial plan to release them as a collection, but that it came together somewhere down the line. I say this because no stories feel atmospherically similar and the scope of the subject matter is wide enough that it doesn’t feel like any were forced to fill pages or word count totals.

Highlights for me were;

‘Under Silent Sight’ – this was perhaps the most unsettling story within the collection. Set in a dystopian world where people try to survive while these giant eyes hunt them. Completely unsettling and worth the price of admission alone.

‘The Colours of Death’ – the story revolves around a new treatment for PTSD where people are put into a simulation to try and confront their issues. Of course, things go horrifically wrong and Poff does a great job of creating an anxiety inducing read.

‘The Other Side of Grandeur’ – we get a solid story about a patient who continues to have visions and hallucinations. This goes to a number of areas that were both fantastic and unexpected.

I do want to highlight that throughout each story, Poff gives us some really solid characters, ones that you want to root for and others you detest.

What I didn’t like: As I mentioned, every story in this is of a longer length, which for me caused a few stories to drag on longer than I think the story called for and began to diminish the positive returns from the initial set up. Saying that, those ones might be the stories that connect with you the most. Collections are always such an individual experience.

Why you should buy this: Well, if the brief little description of ‘Under Silent Sight’ didn’t intrigue you, I think you’d be doing yourself a favor if you grabbed a collection that traverses from horror to sci-fi and back without hesitation. Poff does a really great job of sucking the reader in really quickly and holding you rapt until the very end.

Solid batch of stories for sure and I hope others take the leap and experience this one.

4/5

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