Title: Patron Tales
Author: Russell Smeaton
Release date: November 9th, 2022
One thing I’ve always been a fan of, is discovering the multi-talented folks in the dark fiction community. Those who write but also narrate or do cover design fascinate me and it’s always so cool seeing them share their various works.
Case in point – Russell Smeaton. I’ve loved seeing his Pumpkin Guys and have backed a couple of his Kickstarter’s that he’s done, seeing the very cool things he’s designed and illustrated and created.
His writing is also stellar and I’ve had the pleasure of reading two of his collections already. When he reached out about reading this one, I jumped all over it, knowing that I’d be in for some flash fiction – and slightly longer – works that always hit home.
What I liked: Smeaton’s ‘Patron Tales’ is made up of a batch of short stories that he originally had released through his Patreon page. We get a wide array of topics and characters, but each is crafted so very well and will keep you guessing about the ‘reality’ of each story.
Each story within was really well done. I’ve always loved flash fiction because within less than a thousand words, you fall into a world, meet characters and have to buckle up to see what type of carnage they need to attempt (and hopefully) survive.
The absolute highlight for me was the longer piece, ‘Confessions of a Drummer.’ It follows a musician who takes the leap and buys a house in a quaint suburb. He works from home and is initially enamored with the friendly neighbors. But they have secrets and once they are exposed the story ramps up so very nicely. I wish this was a novella or novel, it was really well done.
What I didn’t like: A few of the short stories seemed a little ‘paint by numbers’ in that you know exactly what is going to happen far before it happens. That isn’t a negative in the sense that they were still fun, it’s more that when put into a collection instead of a weekly website release, it did lower some of the flow of the experience.
Why you should buy this: Every time I dive into something new from Russell, I continue to see better, more thorough pieces with characters you root for in strange and crazy scenarios. This one, for many, could very well be a single sitting read, but that’s not a negative towards the collection. No, it just shows how compulsive the stories are that Russell’s created.