Also by this author: Dead Trees 2, Dead Trees, Z Children
In dreams, we are free to believe in MONSTERS and MIRACLES.
This short story collection, however, is fraught with monstrosities and painfully lean on the miraculous.
For Eli Constant, all forms of life contain the capacity to become good or evil. “Castle in the Dark” is a keen portrayal of this—where an innocent child dies and merges into the afterlife, becoming a spirit focused on inflicting pain. Then there are also those things that were never alive, or… should not be alive. Like a ringing phone that is not as innocent as it seems and pressing ‘answer’ might be the end of everything. Or a town of resurrected people that are not content to wait and be exterminated, especially when their exterminators are also their creators.
The line between the present and the past, between the living and the not-so-living, is often unclear. That’s how it is in life. That’s how it is in art. In the longest story of this collection—“A History of Youth”—parent and child seek to understand one another. One wants the freedom to choose. The other wants to prevent mistakes from repeating. But it’s too late. It always seems to be too late.
To Scream within a Dream—call it nightmares or call it memories resurfaced—is a human psyche trying to understand the world. It is a response to the unimaginable. A desperate cry against the world’s horrors. A plea to satisfy the strange questions rattling about in the subconscious.
And when eyes flash open, after vivid photos of blood and oblivion, screams will not only ring out in the shadows of the mind, but also out into the darkness of reality.
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It’s not often that I come across a book of short stories and enjoy every single story. To Scream Within a Dream by Eli Constant is definitely full of stories I enjoyed. Some of the stories, I’ve seen before and some are totally new to me.
The very first story, “Memories of Her are Dead”, I have read several times. It’s actually the first story I ever read by Constant. This story has really stuck with me. I keep reading it because for some reason, every time I do, I convince myself that it is going to end differently. It’s a very emotional story that just trips my mind out every time.
“The Devil’s Cell” is a pretty cool story. It’s a unique story for sure. Constant continues her streak of being able to gross me out in “My Body”. “Chick’n Soup for the Soul” was a vastly different story than I’ve ever read. It didn’t go how I thought it would at all. “A Precious Payment” is quite a sad story, and “Drowning in the Hazel” is the one story that made me go “Oh shit!”
“A History of Youth” is a story that will really get to you as a parent if you have kids. It’s one of those stories that most of us can relate to from when we were younger but makes us hope our kids don’t do the same sorts of things we did. As the mother of a teenage daughter, this story made some of my fears come to life. “The Mask Bleeds Obsidian” is another story that is drastically realistic and really touches your heart in a way that makes it tighten up in a good but uncomfortable way. This is a good thing by the way.
I don’t normally include things about individual stories when I write a review of a book like this, but each story in this book is incredibly unique from the other stories that I don’t think I could do it justice by writing a generic review. In my opinion, each story is the perfect length to give the reader enough info to know the story without having filler scenes. Several stories left me wanting to know what happens next, which I think is one of the signs of great storytelling.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for stories that will get to you, but don’t want stories that are long. I had a very hard time putting this book down between stories and I hope you will too.