Strange Faces, by Linda Hall (Linda Hall, 2014)
It’s been too long since we’ve had fresh fiction from Linda Hall. Strange Faces is a collection of six short stories and a novella. Most are new, with a few reprints from other anthologies. I had read one story before, but happily read it again.
Linda Hall has a gift for evoking memorable characters and situations. Most of these stories are suspense or mystery, with the occasional strand of magic or the unexplained. Because the author weaves a form of magic of her own in these tales, pulling us into the fictional world, it’s a believable experience. Sometimes too believable, in the stories with narrators we discover to be less than trustworthy—I was reading in a public place and found myself studying the strangers around me and wondering…
In these stories we meet young and old, damaged and whole, down-and-out and starting over. Linda Hall never shies away from social issues in her mysteries, and readers will met lonely souls, caregivers, victims of bullying and of dementia. Many stories deal with family ties and loyalty.
As well as strongly-drawn characters, the author gives us vivid descriptions. Here are two of my favourites:
From “Pickers and Choosers” the narrator describes a television “muted but with the captioning picking its way across the bottom of the screen like little white crabs.” [Kindle location 30]
From “A Small Season of Magic” the narrator describes an old man: “his white head looked like a patch of dandelions gone to seed.” [Kindle location 1309]
The characters and their situations feel real. Each story contains a depth and richness, as if we’re joining fully-developed individuals in a slice of their lives. Back story is always introduced in an organic way in just the right amount to let readers discover what we need to know.
Well worth a read!
Award-winning author Linda Hall’s novels include the Terri Blake-Addison series, Canadian Mountie series, Coast of Maine series and others. For a full list, see her website: writerhall.com. [Note that her previous novels have been Christian fiction. The stories in Strange Faces are clean mainstream.]
[Review copy from my personal library.]