Friday, December 3, 2021

Review - Starlight


by Hannah Lee Kidder
Date: 2020
Publisher: Hannah Lee Kidder
Reading level: A
Book type: short stories
Pages: 102
Format: e-book
Source: library

From bestselling author of Little Birds, Hannah Lee Kidder's Starlight touches your heart before taking a bite with twelve pitch-dark fantasy, horror, and contemporary short stories.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I stumbled across this author on YouTube. Now, I haven't exactly had stellar success with AuthorTube books yet, but I figured that since these stories are short (some of them are really short), there wasn't much to lose by checking them out.

Here are my thoughts on the individual stories:


I don't even know what the hell that was! Short, creepy, disturbing... yes. I'm not sure I get it, even after thinking about it for a while. But it's well written and really got my imagination going, so I don't have much to complain about.


I wish this one were a bit longer. There are hints of bookception and (maybe) someone like Peter Pan, but it's really too short to say for sure. The writing is certainly evocative, though.

"The Swamp Witch"

Well, that got really dark. I see that this story is among the favourites of other readers. It's definitely interesting, with an almost fairy-tale horror vibe. It's all a bit "ewww", though, so I'm not sure if I like it that much.


A variation on "the monster under the bed", but the idea is a little more updated and (ironically) less contained. What if the monster weren't just under the bed, but in any number of places?


A disturbing story punctuated by a thoughtful question. This one's very short, but its few paragraphs speak volumes and paint a complete picture.


Historical fiction about two sisters and a paranormal scheme. What happens when the play starts to become reality? I enjoyed this one, despite some of the disturbing bits.


This seems to be in a similar vein as "Warm", though it's not quite as explicit. It feels incomplete.


There are some interesting hints at a very dysfunctional relationship here. The writing doesn't seem as strong in this story as in some of the others, and the repeated use of the main character's name (when he's the only one in the story) is unnecessary... and a bit annoying.


I... don't get it. Is this metaphor? Shape-shifting? Just random weirdness thrown in to sound cool? (Okay, it does sound cool.) But I still don't get it.

"Starlit Shadows"

This is a story about some bad domestic violence. The scene is set well, but it's pretty depressing.

"White Rabbit"

An interesting tidbit with a paranormal twist. It's one of the longer stories here, but still short. Still, it feels complete.

"Passing Ghosts"

Bittersweet but poignant. As the title suggests, this one is about a ghost. It's nothing earth-shatteringly unique, but it's a nice story.

Taken as a whole, this is a collection of competent short stories. Some are a lot shorter than I'm used to (flash fiction more than short stories, really), but Kidder manages to pack quite a punch into a few of them. The stories with paranormal or fantasy elements were the strongest ones for me; the contemporaries that focused on interpersonal violence less so.

I would definitely like to read something longer from this author when she writes/publishes it. In the meantime, though, this collection is a nice introduction to her voice and style.

Overall: 3.25  out of 5

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