Rave Reviews for Mindshards

Friday, August 12, 2022 11:03 AM

VERY psyched that Readers' Favorite has just published a 5-star review of my new short story collection, Mindshards

Mindshards is a work without comparison, a thriller genre junkie's ultimate fix." Five out of five stars

It's always nice to see some positive reviewer feedback! You can see the entire review published on the Readers' Favorite web site:

Readers' Favorite Book Review: Mindshards

And here's yet another "hot off the presses" review of Mindshards from Diane Donovan of Midwest Book Review:

Contemporary readers seeking to tap the roots of speculative fiction should look no further than the short pieces in Mindshards: A Collection. It serves as a strong example of hard-hitting speculative works representing the best of the genre and the best use of the short story format.

Speculative fiction focuses on changing the nature or perception of reality itself, placing characters in positions where they have to absorb, reflect, and act within these altered states.

The stories in Mindshards each place characters in extraordinary circumstances, weaving in equally astonishing responses to the bizarre that keep characters and readers guessing about outcomes.

Take the opening story, "Phantom Pain." Here, the first-person protagonist finds himself in Louisiana on a sports scholarship. Fresh from Chicago, the narrator initially doesn't understand either the culture or the legends of the bayou. He's about to find out (and so is the reader) as events immerse him in Creole culture via his wife and evolving community connections.

Brian Burt doesn't just describe this milieu. His words resonate and amplify with supercharged imagery designed to engross: "New Orleans doesn't just sing, friend; it jitters and jives and wails like a wild animal that can't be caged."

His knee blown in a sports injury, the narrator becomes a cop. And this is where his reality and perceptions are truly shaken as he is pulled into the underworld and dark culture flowing under Louisiana's appealing surface of artistic endeavors.

His encounter with Voodoo gangs gobbles a piece of him regularly (mind you, he's selling off these pieces willingly, not understanding their true cost). As a "crazy fever" spreads through the streets via these gangs, the narrator (who "doesn't believe in black magic...just black hearts") finds his world shaken.

Only when it's too late does he realize the price he really pays for selling his soul piece by piece.

Each story is steeped in emotional draws, from the hatred and despair in "Phantom Pain" and its powerful concluding thought ("Nobody sells his soul all at once. No, the Devil buys on the layaway plan.") to the ranging "Brilliant Blood of Souls" which tackles a ghoulish killer in Los Angeles and the bioplasma signatures that help a savvy cop identify perps ... until one apparently alters the impossible.

Speculative fiction readers who also enjoy crime scenarios will find the collection's prize-earning strengths lies not so much in 'whodunit' scenarios (or, 'why do it'), but in undercurrents of supernatural and impossible forces in such works as "Equinox," about a tiny Michigan town which harbors a magical milieu where "place and time fused together."

 Place and time fuses in these short works, which are truly mindshards of the unexpected. Each story steeps revelations and thought-provoking moments in action that challenges each character (and their readers) to walk out of their ordinary worlds and the typical progression of life events. 

Libraries strong in short stories, speculative works, and powerful writing will find Mindshards a work of literary and psychological prowess, while book clubs looking for strong examples of contemporary speculative works will find its stories compelling, offering much food for thought and lively discussions.

Here's hoping that the casual Amazon Kindle reader agrees with these reviewers. If not, dear reader, feel free to let me know what you think!