Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Book Review: "The Bamboo Mirror" by Faith Mortimer

The short stories in The Bamboo Mirror are fine, but they break no new ground, which is a shame because they are reasonably well-written, clear, and with some settings that would, and do on some level, draw in the reader. Six short stories, teasers for four novels, and links to other writers complete this slim anthology. The Widow's Weeds started to paint a strong picture of a place few frequent, but the thin mystery ends before we can be totally submerged in the place and culture and story. The same is true for the titled story. The supernatural element is thinly veiled and the depth of time and place not nearly as deep as could have been drawn to heighten the reading experience. We are left to wait for an ending that is somewhat spoon-fed while expecting the heroine of Faith's novels to do more in her coming-out story. Two story endings are broadcast, leaving little surprise; two story endings are subtly intriguing but not shocking; two endings are sharper (The Cast Party and Making a Right), forcing the reader to pay closer attention, but they still didn't knock me out of my seat.

This is an average entertaining read with stories suitable for a long coffee break and not likely to keep you up at night with nightmares. I applaud the interesting marketing technique to garner new readers with a short story anthology and some novel teasers. It seems like a good move. It allows someone to sample a writer's material on a broader scope. It's a bonus for readers. While I don't bemoan the money I spent on the book, I had hoped for something more. All the stories straddle the fence between 3's and 4's. The overall affect for me, a very positive 3.

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