This was fabulous, a highly enjoyable read!
It was like a really clever collection of shorts disguised as a novella, it’s basically four short stories with a wrap-around/weaved-through tale, for a total of five stories.
A unique approach with an original backdrop, I was impressed by how they arranged it all out.
Yea, the set-up, lay-up, and execution of this was spot-on, I just loooved the whole concept.
We open up with a mysterious gal at a coffee-house, compiling a special email for a group of four, she is not interested in any sort of chatty cyber chinwagg’n though.
Civil corresponding is not on her agenda.
Her reasoning is simple; she had a writer friend who was trying to break into the business and ended up succumbing to his own insecurities and self-doubt, it destroyed him and she blames these four writers in particular, for not being more supportive of a new author.
Her only resolution is simple; they must write a winning story.
Entry is mandatory, noncompliance is an automatic swift elimination.
Primed and poised for a bit of wrath, our mystery gal masterminds a little game.
A bona-fide battle royal of the written wits.
One winner, three losers ~ no participation trophy, no consolation prize.
We meet our reluctant contestants who hope it’s all some sort of sick joke but they aren’t gonna take that chance, this is not the type of rejection letter they wanna get…
Adhering to that strict deadline and with the ‘you only get one shot’ warning playing on a loop in their heads, they submit their best life-sustaining story for the win.
Then wait with bated breath for the inevitable hoax to reveal.
First up is Fiona, bit of a drinker, seems sweet enough and she can’t for the life of her remember the writer in question. She’s always nice to everyone.
Her coerced submission is The Wrong Girl ~ about a resilient young girl kidnapped who hopes (who knows) her father will find her in time. She has a lot of inner strength and doesn’t take too well to being cornered.
Then we meet Diane, also a nice lady who is just beside herself with stress over all this. How can any of this be true??
Luckily she already had a story almost finished and hoping upon hope it’s good enough, she completes then submits Rezerection ~ about a military man (an almost family man) who in his grief and disbelief is task with new orders to contain a small town in the throes of an outbreak.
Next up is Drexl, ughhhh Drexl….a deceitful, despicable, scumbag! You seriously can not stand this sham of a man. No jittery nerves shake him up after he opens his threatening email, he’s too damn arrogant and ignorant to take anything seriously.
His story is called Feral ~ about a deceitful despicable scumbag of a man, still living off rich daddy’s dime. Bored but with a purpose; to chart the nature vs nurture of babies left in the charge of wild wolves.
And lastly, thrust into this cutthroat competition, we meet Simon, who is struggling in life and finances. He only just recently discovered he has a gift for writing. He seems like an all around nice bloke.
He offers up Summoned ~ I don’t wanna say too much about this one, only that it’s brutal and upsetting until you find out what’s going on, then you’re like ~ YES!
So…who wins?? Oh the game has only just begun.
Personally, I’d say my favorite story was probably Summoned, so, Simon for champ!!
But honestly, all but Drexl seemed like nice decent folk, he is the only one I wanted to die Die DIE a horrible death, twice.
And all the stories were really good too, yes…even *cough-cough* Drexl’s.
You’ll have to read and decide for yourself who the winner should be.
You literally had no earthly idea what was gonna happen next, it took a lot of twisty turns, was completely unpredictable, and what a shocker of an ending…..!!
But now, come on guys, J.C., Kevin…fess up, this is an autobiographical tale, ain’t it??
And big props changing it to a female antagonist…clever.
Yes, clever indeed. 😉
I’ve been a fan of Kevin for a while now, since reading his amazing The Tale of Sawney Bean and his two holiday themed anthologies (Xmas and then Easter) from the past year that he put together and contributed to.
He’s a captivating writer, really draws you into his world.
So far, I’ve only read two short stories by J.C. (in the above antho’s), I’ve searched him out and noticed he has a highly rated book that came out a few years ago called Discordia, about a rave, a new drug, and all the chaos that ensues. That sounds awesome and will most likely be my next read from him….well, unless this devious duo come out with a new one, that is.
Because YES, they definitely should write together again, their differing styles complimented each other nicely. You Only Get One Shot was very well written, intense and intriguing, with interesting characters, you can’t ask for much more than that! Except…I did wish it was a bit longer, they easily could have gone another 30 pages or so of pure non-padded storyline.
There were two parts in particular I wished were fleshed out a bit more, you’ll know them when you get there. Not a big deal at all and it didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment or anything BUT for their next book, well….I’m devising a little game.
Entry is mandytory, noncompliance is…. * cue maniacal laughter *
HAHAHA Cheers guys!! 😀
You can buy the book here: