Here we have a collection of short stories, several of them loosely linked together by place and at least a couple of characters that show up more than once. Nova Scotia and the Bay of Fundy feature heavily and the whole collection is infused with what the book’s blurb as “gritty and lyrical”. I see what they’re going for but the words that came to my mind were more like “emo and angsty”.
This feeling began for me in the second story, titled “Dead Time” which is told from the perspective of a teenager awaiting trial for murder. Her voice is juvenile, which makes sense, but the story never transcends that teenage voice to offer us a greater and more chilling perspective. From there I couldn’t shake the feeling of wanting more. Of wanting stories that were a little more fleshed out, that held deeper hints of darkness behind rather than continuously prodding the reader to see the obvious darkness blatantly written out.
The narrators of each story, or at least the protagonist of each, are quite similar too and so now, a couple of weeks later, the stories blur. They are almost all young women, usually trying to get away from their small Nova Scotia town, usually drawn back towards it by some secret or unfinished business. On the one hand, perhaps this was part of Conlin’s intent in creating a series of connected stories, set in and around one area. On the other hand, it isn’t quite working from this reader’s perspective and I would have then preferred the links to be more obvious.