Publication Date: December 29, 2012
A Plague of Dreams by John Gregory Hancock is a book of ten short stories that vary widely in style and genre. One story is an online R.P.G. that turns very real, another story has a dragon living a number of lives in a few pages, a further story features a space traveler talking to a higher power, and yet another story is a chilling tale of a killing in a time when education is illegal. I was given this anthology by the author in exchange for a review. I thoroughly enjoyed the different types of stories as well as the writing style. What follows is a short break-down of the individual stories (composed by Rangewoman Inc):
One of the things that I really love about anthologies is the ability to reset after a few pages and go in another direction. A Plague of Dreams offers that variety in an extreme way. Every story isn’t just a little different, it’s a new world and new characters, and if you didn’t know that the stories were all written by one person, the suggestion of a new author.
Because of the variety of topics, choosing the weakest story is (forgive the overused cliché) apples to oranges. All the stories are strong and unique. One of Hancock’s specialties seems to be horror invested with a heavy hand of humor. One of my favorite stories was Cerebrus in which a man has a heart attack and meets the three-headed Guard of the Gates of Hades who is waiting to consume his soul. The story was reminiscent of J.A. Konrath at his horror best. Another favorite is The Veil in which a man with special abilities is ambushed by an evil within.
I must admit still feeling a little ill on finishing A Classroom Incident. The story begins with children hiding under their desks. It’s a short story, but very poignant. If my heart hadn’t broken at the start of the story, the ending certainly finished the job. Stoically written, the depth of A Classroom Incident has an astounding impact.
There is minor violence in the stories. In Forked, a story told in the language of an online R.P.G. game, a character loses limbs. In Panic Tower, a woman is found, when the new owner of a house has suspected black mold inspected. When she returns to thank the man who helped her, the couple is ambushed by violent attackers. The violence isn’t gratuitous nor graphic. More squeamish fans would not have a problem reading these short stories. Sex, when it does come into the story, is implied and not shown.
Hancock’s writing style is expert. While all of the stories are very different, all are well written, well formatted and perfectly plotted. For readers who like that little bit of fiction and then the ability to pick up the book and face a new world, A Plague of Dreams is the perfect anthology.
Read an excerpt and buy A Plague of Dreams (Dreamwood Tales) by John Gregory Hancock on