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Review: Four & Twenty Blackbirds – M.X. Kelly

Four & Twenty Blackbirds - M.X. Kelly

Genre: Paranormal, Horror, Sci-Fi

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About The Book

Twenty-four previously published speculative fiction stories and poems by M.X. Kelly for your reading enjoyment.

  • A young girl writes alphabetical epistolary accounts of her slow decline from an alien virus…
  • A shapeshifting, serial killer alien spider lands on Earth to sample the best-flavored humans…
  • At the top of a church belfry, an ancient evil is awakening…
  • In his near-death state, a mob henchman meets an angelic little girl who may be offering him a chance to escape hell…
  • A mermaid escapes the spell of the evil wizard who turned her human and heads back to the sea…
  • A young liquor store salesman has a very bad day…
  • The smartphones of the future are stolen tech from the past…
  • A dialogue between a forest blackbird and a spoiled king’s chef unravels and reveals an old English nursery rhyme…

The Review

Four & Twenty Blackbirds is a grab-bag of very short horror, dark fantasy and dark sci-fi stories and poems by M.X. Kelly. None of the stories is more than a few pages long, but they never the less burst with storytelling and worldbuilding – tasty little morsels to whet your appetite.

All of these stories are fascinating, but I had a few favorites.

“The ABCs of the Apocalypse” is a jagged, broken little tale about a twelve-year-old girl living through the end of the world and trying to make sense of the jumble of her own mind after getting sick with the plague that’s killing humanity.

“World Wide Web” is a dark horror tale with a delicious alien villain who finds humanity… tasty.

“The Bullet” posits a portal to another world, a one-way journey for dissidents the governments of the world want disappeared.

“The King and His Twenty-Three Subjects,” from which the book takes its title, is one of several nursery rhyme retellings, along with “Forty,” which puts a whole new spin on Lizzie Borden.

And “Fifty Percent of Smartsuits Fit You Perfectly” is a snarky, sardonic sales pitch for a space suit that kills people, but only 50% of the time.

This is a great collection, with stories and poems that are the perfect length for a post-office line or bathroom read. They will take up space in your head and make you think about them for days after you finish reading them. Highly recommended.

The Reviewer

Scott is the founder of Queer Sci Fi, and a fantasy and sci fi writer in his own right, with more than 30 published short stories, novellas and novels to his credit, including two trilogies.

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