The Outsiders edited by Joe Mynhardt

The Outsiders is a shared-world anthology which takes place in a small gated community in the UK called Priory, home to a cult that worships a colossal squid. Five different authors each contribute stories which fit together nicely. Each of our viewpoint characters are outsiders in some way either for being largely friendless, being black in a largely white neighborhood, being an unbeliever, or being gay in a religious community that frowns upon that. I felt like each story in the collection was better than the one before.

Gary Fry’s “The Subprime” is about a young man who wants to quit his job which takes advantage of people’s circumstances. He get invited to a strange dinner party at his boss’s house. This felt like a rather standard horror story, but it sets the scene for the stories that follow, and I also quite liked Lee’s character.

“Impossible Colours” by James Everington is about a black officer in a largely white city investigating a death related to Priory. I liked the character of Michala, but Marty’s journal entries didn’t read like someone actually writing in a journal.

“Stolen from the Sea” by Stephen Bacon gives us another great character named Ryan who feels isolated when his wife and the members of his religious community don’t mourn with him after the death of his son, which causes him to lose his faith and feel further isolated. A great character study and very tense as it makes you wonder if he’ll manage to escape and start a new life.

V.H. Leslie’s story “Precious Things” is my favorite except for the final story. I liked the description of Petra’s husband Bernard changing so gradually it was hard for her to notice, like the steady erosion of a rock face. I liked the detail that her ring spells out “Dearest” using gems: Diamond emerald amethyst ruby emerald sapphire tourmaline. I liked that she feels like she’s lost her luster like her ring did. You can tell the writer did her research concerning gems. I loved the character of Petra.

The final story, “Meat, Motion and Light” by Rosanne Rabinowitz brings it all together. I liked the description of the cephalopod and how it communicates with light. Claudia, the punk rocker, and her mom the scientist are both cool characters. A fantastic ending that answers questions posed by the previous stories. Highly recommended.

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