BOOK HAVEN AND OTHER CURIOSITIES by Mark Allan Gunnells is a story collection featuring a novellette titled BOOK HAVEN followed by a bunch of flash fiction, quick hit and for the most part, scary stories. This is my first experience with this author but given the fact that the book is published through Crystal Lake Publishing, I thought the quality would probably be right up there. And I was right.
The titular story, BOOK HAVEN is clearly the centerpiece of this collection and it ought to be. The story is actually a series of vignettes written together perfectly to put together a story that is both entertaining and visionary.
The premise is that sometime in the future, society has moved on from physical books and have gone completely digital. A virus is released that only attacks digital works of literature, leaving all other digital information. Physical books skyrocket in value as everyone worries literary classics may now be lost forever. The government creates a new agency that tries to acquire all of the ancient physical books left on earth in order to keep them safe in the event there is another attack on digital books. This same government agency hires scholars to tempt to reproduce, to the best of their ability, volumes which cannot be recovered anywhere physically.
The government agency begins to see the value in rewriting and selling classics such as Romeo And Juliet and Great Expectations because now the government can collect money from these sales. They therefore want to do away with attempts to locate physical books. Meanwhile, there is an outside group looking to gather as many physical copies of books as possible.
I don’t want to give some of the twists away but that is the basic plot of the story. I really enjoyed this story the most out of any of the stories in the book. It is an incredible idea and one that takes a certain kind of imagination to dream up. This story alone is worth the price of admission.
The rest of the book is made up for quick hit flash fiction stories. While they are all entertaining, they are short enough to just be read all at once to truly enjoy. Among my favorites of the remaining stories were C U SOON a story with a hint of the paranormal and a great ending. THE SANDBOX about a kid playing in the sandbox outside of school when he gets an unexpected visitor. The story that made me talk out loud to myself is WRONG about a woman who finds out her son might have committed an unspeakable crime. The touching story titles THE BRACELET about a magic bracelet that can cure cancer. And finally, GO TO SLEEPY LITTLE BABY which looks at the lengths a couple go to keep the luxury they are accustomed to.
Each of the shorter stories packs a punch in the short amount of space they take up. We highly recommend this book! Check out where you can get it below:
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