Review: A Sliver of Darkness by C.J. Tudor

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Synopsis:

The debut short story collection from the acclaimed author of The Chalk Man, featuring ten bone-chilling and mind-bending tales

Timeslips. Doomsday scenarios. Killer butterflies. C. J. Tudor’s novels are widely acclaimed for their dark, twisty suspense plots, but with A Sliver of Darkness, she pulls us even further into her dizzying imagination.

In Final Course, the world has descended into darkness, but a group of old friends make time for one last dinner party. In Runaway Blues, thwarted love, revenge, and something very nasty stowed in a hat box converge. In Gloria, a strange girl at a service station endears herself to a cold-hearted killer, but can a leopard really change its spots? And in I’m Not Ted, a case of mistaken identity has unforeseen, fatal consequences.

Riveting and explosively original, A Sliver of Darkness is C. J. Tudor at her most wicked and uninhibited.

Review:

Since 2018, C.J. Tudor has released a new novel every year. I have heard really good things about her last novel, The Burning Girls, but I had not read it. As she notes at the beginning of A Sliver of Darkness, her novel for this year just was not working right so as an emergency move, Tudor decided to release this collection of short stories. Writing short stories is much different than writing a novel. You have to build characters, setting, tension, and plot in a much smaller space. Some authors can really pull off both forms, but some excel in one form or another. I do not have any of Tudor’s long works to compare her short stories to, but I feel like she might be a little better at writing novels than short stories. 

I say this on the strengths of this collection. The three stories that really stick out for me, that are the most developed and have the best story are also the three longest. The book opens with “End of the Liner”, a story about the end of the world and the only population still alive are on cruise ships. This world building and plot are fantastic, and this is a five-star story. I love every minute of it, and if there were any of these stories that I would read again as a novel form, this would be the one I would be most excited about reading. “Final Course” is the second best story. Another apocalypse story, the world has gone dark, and Tom and his daughter are invited to a dinner party with some old schoolmates. When they get there, nothing is as it seems, and the scene unravels quickly. “Butterfly Island”, the last story in this collection, is about a group of people who travel to an uninhabited island and get more than they bargained for. All three of these stories have the end of the world as a theme, and it is interesting the differences that C.J. Tudor uses with each apocalypse. 

This is not the say that the rest of the stories in A Sliver of Darkness are bad. I enjoyed all of them to some degree, but the longer ones seem to show off Tudor’s writing strengths more than the shorter pieces. All of them are pretty good, even the very short ones like “Copy Shop”, but as a whole, this collection makes me more interested in catching up on Tudor’s novels than anything. If they are nearly as good as “End of the Liner” then I am in for a treat. This is a good introduction to Tudor’s work, but her fans might enjoy this more than those who are reading her for the first time. 

I received this as an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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