Illusions of Isolation – by Brennan LaFaro – Short Story Collection


Dark bleetings, everyone! Just a quick background on why I’m reviewing this collection, in the interest of full disclosure. I wrestled with whether or not it was appropriate because I (Kayleigh) was involved in the production of this book. I work with French Press (indie press created by author Stephen Kozeniewski), and we had an open submission window. I was in charge of reading what came in, and then sending them on to Stephen if I thought they were a good fit. This collection came in and I was sincerely blown away by it, so much so that I probably irritated Stephen by bleeting on and on about it – but I’m not sorry!

I thought maybe reviewing it here might come across… a certain way? It’s probably a conflict of interest. But then I thought, nah, sod it. I LOVE this book and I’ve been excited about its release. I’m gonna rave about it here. I just wanted to be upfront with everyone about my involvement before we get into it.

Anyway, on with the review!

‘Illusions of Isolation’ is a collection of thirteen assorted horror stories that all differ in style and form. I really enjoyed most of them, and those I didn’t love, I still liked a lot. This is a rock solid, quality collection.

Dressed for Success – A second person narrative, which works really well for this type of story. You’re 10, you start a new school, things go awry. It reminds me of Lord of the Flies, but on acid. One of my favourites and a strong opener.

Piece by Piece – A boy finds something strange in a river and becomes fascinated with collecting… er… weird items. Intriguing, sort of gross and unsettling, and made me nervous.

Snap – Well, what can I say apart from… what the “devil” is going on here?

Year of the Black Rainbow – Alex is kicked out by their religious, unsupportive parents and has to find somewhere to stay. They have a… roommate. It’s a lonely tale, but I loved it.

The Last Piece of Civilization – A truly surreal tale about a girl named Isabella who notices something growing in her home. Very weird and very interesting.

Then You Smiled For A Second – My second favourite in the collection – I adore this one! It’s about a home invasion, and I can say no more lest I spoil. Scary, tense, and with a strong thread of hilarious dark humour running through it.

A Shine in the Woods – Arachnophobes beware.

The Irreversible Flow of Time – A bouncer pisses off a rich kid and takes a dark and drastic form of action! Made me cackle, just a little.

Just A Note – Easily my favourite in the collection, despite the other strong contenders. Probably my favourite short story of all time, actually. I read it months ago and keep thinking about it – it’s one of those stories that as a writer, makes me envious that I didn’t think of it first. Due to conflicting schedules, a mother and teenage son communicate in notes they leave for each other, and conversation soon turns to the unsettling thing that’s happening within their home. This story is absolutely chilling, and that last line now lives in my head and spooks me when I’m trying to sleep.

The Attic – The only note I wrote for this one is that it’s mysterious. It’s not one of my favourites, but it made me think.

I Will Meet You There – If you like stories set in space, an eerie atmosphere, and potential bodysnatchers, you’ll like this one.

The Lights – If you’re a Red Dwarf fan, then I hope you’ll read the note I wrote for this one in the tone that I intended it – “aliens!”

Red Sands – This is the longest story in the book and closes the collection nicely with a speculative, first-person tale about a village at the mercy of…. well, I won’t tell you, but it’s great!

There’s a real mix of subgenres here and I think there’s at least one thing for everyone, and general horror fans will probably like this as much as I do.

If you’d like to get your own copy, you can find it HERE.

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