Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pretty Monsters by Andrea Speed

Pretty Monsters
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Length: 15 pages

Josh knew the night shift at the Quik-Mart would be full of freaks and geeks—and that was before the hell portal opened in the parking lot. Still, he likes to think he can roll with things. Sure, the zombies make a mess sometimes, but at least they never reach for anything more threatening than frozen burritos.

Besides, it’s not all lizard-monsters and the walking dead. There’s also the mysterious hottie with the sly red lips and a taste for sweets.

Josh has had the hots for Hot Guy since the moment he laid eyes on him, and it seems Hot Guy might be sweet on Josh too. Now if only Josh could figure out whether that’s a good thing, a bad thing, or something in between. After all, with a hell vortex just a stone’s throw away, Josh has learned to take nothing at face value—even if it’s a very, very pretty face.

Stories generally have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Even stories in series. If they don't have those elements, they are either not terribly well written or they are something else, no matter what they are called. Perhaps a vignette, or a chapter of a larger work. Pretty Monsters from Andrea Speed is a beautifully written something else.

There is little to the story that doesn't appear in the blurb, and frankly, quite a bit of promise of plot that appears in the blurb and not the story. The set-up is quirky and witty, a convenience store near a hell portal, where weird beings amble in and out, paying for chips and burritos, and occasionally oozing on the counter. Hot Guy, aka Colin, finally wanders in after one third of actual text pages go by (there are 6 pages of narrative in this 15 page file). The story establishes that Colin and Josh are interested in one another, and that Colin is a really hot weird being. That's it. This is not a plot.

So what we have here is a set-up and a hook. The story has #1 attached and the publisher's site bills it as the first in a series, but this reads like the first chapter of a serialized novel. Fine, if I know that's what I'm getting into, but that's not what I've been offered here. This introduction is interesting enough that I'd read more; another installment or two should clarify whether these are meant to be stories or merely chapters doled out at intervals.

Consequently, this piece is hard to rate. If I look at it as the opening to a larger work that was of similar quality all the way through, a 5, easy. But since I've been offered a short story that has a beginning but no real middle or end, it loses one point for each missing element. And that's a shame. 3 marbles

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