Due to FTC regulations, any book reviewed on this site was sent for free by the author/publisher to The Pagan & The Pen Book Reviews. We are not paid to give reviews by Author or Publisher. Once review has been made, said books are deleted.

Mar 20, 2011

What Legends are Made Of by Heather Beck

Title: What Legends are Made Of
Author: Heather Beck
Buy Link
Publisher: Diamond Dust Books
Genre: romance, horror, fantasy
Length: 143 pages
Reviewed by: Keri Stratton Alley

Cover: 4
Presentation: 4
Editing: 4
Story: 1
Writing Ability: 2
Overall Card Rating

About The Book: What Legends Are Made Of is a collection of short stories that range within the genres of romance, horror, and fantasy. Each story takes the reader into a realistic world where unbelievable events occur. Have you ever experienced a story filled with so much suspense, terror, and romance that you couldn't get it out of your mind? Be prepared to feel all of these emotions because author Heather Beck is about to take you on a journey that you won't soon forget. You're personally invited to tour the halls of Sir Tristan's Estate, a place where ghosts roam freely and fill your dreams at night. Following your stay at the estate, you'll cruise on the Blue Oceana, a perfect ship for sightseeing. With patience and a careful eye you might see the merman that lives in the crystal clear ocean. If you enjoyed watching the odd ocean creature while aboard the ship, you'll love Frank Stanford's Freak Show. There you'll see a unicorn with wings and a talking tree. However, it's the freak show's horrifying main attraction that shocks everyone who sees it. If you can stop shaking after your encounter with freaky Frank, continue on to Karyn and Max Shield's Costume and Magic Shop; just be careful of what you purchase there since the merchandise at the Shield's shop is perhaps too realistic. Some stories make your heart soar, while others make you scream aloud; these stories will make you do both. They'll leave you spellbound and yearning for more. Ready to find out what real legends are made of? Turn the page.

The Review: All through this collection of short stories, I could see what Ms. Beck was aiming to do. She has some interesting ideas, and fresh takes on somewhat traditional story ideas. However, this collection missed the mark for me every time. Each tale read more like an overly long synopsis of a good story, rather than the story itself. I'll address each story in turn.
Sir Tristan's Estate. I think Ms. Beck was going for a mix of horror and romance with this story. The attraction that Skye feels for Tom begins to be developed in their initial meeting, and there is a genuine sense of romantic tension. If the kind of interaction written at the outset could have continued, this might have been a good romance. What's off-putting is when the author simply states an emotional conclusion instead of showing it in a well-worded scene. Here's an example:
“Thank you for all your help!” Skye called out as Tom walked away.
“Have sweet dreams.”
Tom’s wishes for a good night seemed unusual to Skye. Instead of analyzing it, she decided to blame her sleep deprivation on her view of his evasive nature.

As a reader, I don't want to be told that his behavior was unusual - I want to be shown. There was no indication in the preceding conversation that Tom was evasive; quite the contrary. He spent paragraphs telling Skye about the ghost of the Estate and immediately prior to the above excerpt revealed that an heir to the estate had been found. Hardly evasive behavior.

Unfortunately, this pattern continues not only through this first story but throughout the rest of the tales in this collection. The few scenes that are fleshed out enough to be engaging do show a great deal of promise with regard to the author's ability. But there is no consistency with writing style that continues to engage me as a reader.

Freaky Frank. Another romance, this time mixed with fantasy. I got stuck while reading this one; there was not enough detail in the interactions between Frank and Brittany to keep me interested. Again, instead of showing the reader why Brittany was beginning to trust Frank, the author simply states that she does. I found myself feeling skeptical about the interactions between the two because there was no real depth to their relationship aside from their first few encounters.

Blue Water. I think this was my favorite of the four stories. The romantic tension between the two main characters held my interest and I really appreciated Ms. Beck's alternative merman/mermaid creation story as well as her interesting take on merman/mermaid reproduction needs. Quite inventive. Again, I feel this story could have used a bit more fleshing out, but it was the most complete of the four.

One Stop Horror Shop. A little bit of creative editing could have helped this story. There were two main concepts that converged to make up this tale; the transition between the two seemed choppy and disjointed. I would have appreciated a bit of extra foreshadowing in the first portion and less of the unnecessary interaction between the children at the outset of the second portion. In fact, this may be the only story in which I felt that Ms. Beck did too much interaction between the characters! However, again, the twists in this story were inventive and showed a flair for surprise story telling.            
                                                         * * *
Ms. Beck certainly has a flair for imaginative scenarios. However, after the initial scenes, she seems to rush toward the ending. I realize that her goal was to create short stories instead of novellas, but I would gladly have read more words in order to get that literary fulfillment I crave when I pick up a new book. Ms. Beck, please write longer stories. This reviewer would gladly give a more fleshed out story a try.
Pagan Elements: N/A
Disclaimer: Due to FTC regulations, any book reviewed on this site was sent for free by the author to The Pagan & The Pen. We are not paid to give reviews by Author or Publisher. Once review has been made, said books are deleted.


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