Book review: The Sea Was A Fair Master – Calvin Demmer

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Calvin Demmer’s debut collection features 23 stories in which the author leaves no stone unturned. Demmer runs the gamut of genre fiction and in doing so gives us a varied, often stunning journey through his imagination.

Flash fiction is something that either works for you or it doesn’t. Unlike a recent drabble anthology I read and reviewed here, these stories carry more weight and have much more depth thanks to their length. When flash fiction is done poorly we often only get a glimpse at a wider narrative and it fails because it doesn’t really have a structure to it: a beginning, a middle and an end. This is certainly not the case here and it’s a credit to Demmer how easily I was able to connect with the characters and themes within the stories and how well they flowed. I can’t stress how difficult it is to engage a reader in such a short story, but Calvin Demmer does so here with ease right from the first story, the excellent On The Seventh Day. This is a story about ghosts, pirates and the unease of the ocean and it’s quite simply superb. The second story, Restroom Finds, sees a complete change of location and this is one of the books many strengths. Demmer never allows you to settle, these stories keep you on the edge of your seat and the moment you decide to call it a day, you decide to read one more story. Honestly, this collection is like a drug.

There are numerous other stories that deserve a mention. Yara is a science fiction tale about a robot struggling to come to terms with its inevitable demise. I really enjoyed this one, huge emotion elevates this tale from being very good to absolutely fantastic. Like A Spanish Guitar also hit the mark for me with its overarching theme of temptation and Sea Ate Nine finishes the collection of in stupendous fashion.

It truly is hard to find fault with this collection. I’ve been very picky about giving books the full 5 stars this year, but after careful consideration, I found it impossible not to with The Sea Is A Fair Master. This is a book that comes with my highest recommendation. My favourite Unnerving release thus far.

5/5 sunken ships from the Grim Reader.

Pick up a copy from Unnerving.

Or, pick up a copy from Amazon.

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