Reviewed by Nazdroth
Written by Amy Grech
Publisher by Two Backed Books
In the immortal words of an old Monty Python Gumby sketch, “My brain hurts!” Why does my brain hurt, you might ask? Blame it on Amy Grech’s anthology Apple Of My Eye.
See, I love a good short story. A well written short is like a tasty snack. Quick, easy, and satisfying. A truly great short story will revisit you in your dreams, haunt your waking hours. Unfortunately, the 13 snacks Grech offers us will give you the literary equivalent of food poisoning.
The first thing that nauseated my brain while reading this book is the characters. They’re all flat, lifeless, and completely uninteresting. It’s impossible to give a shit what happens to any of them… you find yourself wanting horrible things to happen to them all. There is not a believable person in the entire book. Granted, it can be somewhat tricky to flesh out characters in a three or four page short story, but you’d expect at least one or two of them to be almost interesting, even in a roundabout kind of way. They’re not. They’re walking, talking clichés. And the dialogue they spew is just flat-out laughable, saturated with even more clichés. Ed Wood was Shakespeare compared to Grech.
The second thing that drove me bugshit about this book is the absurdity that passes for motivation and logic. One quick example from the story “Raven’s Revenge”: a generic girl has her generic boyfriend over to watch The Exorcist. At some point, they go into the bedroom, only to find the bedroom window open. Our generic heroine certainly didn’t leave the window open. Her generic boyfriend claims he didn’t do it. Oh, well the only explanation is that a ghost did it. Well shit, we better go get the landlord. Off we go to tell the landlord of our drafty ghost. His response? Well shit, we better have a séance to see what the spirit wants. No questions asked, no doubts, no suspicions. Apparently, Madame Grech neglected to inform us her stories take place in some boring, skewed universe where hauntings are as common as cockroaches.
For the most part, I yawned my way through this book. When it tries to be shocking, it’s pitiful. There is no suspense. There are no chills. There is nothing to raise a single hair on your head. Hell, there’s really nothing to even compel you to turn the page except to hurry up and get each story over with. Most people would simply shut the book, throw it in the trash, and say a prayer for the helpless trees that were needlessly murdered to bring us this mindless puddle of nonsense. I kept hoping for at least one halfway decent tale. But by the time I was halfway through the book, I would’ve been happy to find so much as a decent paragraph. Denied.
Overall, Apple Of My Eye reads like something you’d find in a beginner’s creative writing class. I’m convinced Grech just grabbed a handful of old writing assignments that barely earned a passing grade and threw them all together. The description on the back of the book informs us these are 13 of Amy Grech’s “most disturbing stories.” The only thing disturbing about this book is the fact that it was published at all. While trying to think of what to write for this review, I had to resist the urge to plagiarize Spinal Tap’s most infamous album review. Shit sandwich indeed.
1 out of 5