You Shall Never Know Security is a collection of thirteen short stories; this is dark fiction that’s not afraid to go off the beaten path and into the psychological forest. One of the strangest and most effective stories, Come In, Distraction, begins with a man using his British heritage to pick up women – his attractiveness as a Brit isn’t based on having a “cute” accent, but on something much more disturbing. My two other favorites would have to be Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction and Sorrow Has Its Natural End. The titles alone are works of art – they evoke a mood and a set of expectations that are averted and turned inside out by the stories themselves.
Hamantaschen’s style is lean and energetic. The dialogue is realistic and the situations suitably bizarre. I appreciated the lack of optimism, cute pets, and goody-two-shoes protagonists. This is dark fiction/horror. It goes to the edges of normalcy and asks what’s on the other side.
If I had one criticism, it would be that some of the characters seemed flat. I didn’t get a strong sense of who these people were (except for Max and Dennis in Sorrow Has Its Natural End). I am more than willing to overlook this, though, since the stories never resort to clichéd resolutions or plot twists that have been done a million times. Yes, there’s an alien, but it’s not the kind you expect. In these pages you’ll find body horror, intrusions from other dimensions, human psychosis, and originality. I wouldn’t mistake a Hamantaschen story for one by any other writer. There’s a consistency to this collection that reinforces the experience.
One last thing: the weirdness of this book seeped into real life. When I prepared to write this review, I checked my bookshelf for it. I check the basket of library books (and books in progress). I looked in the car. I went through every room in the house and couldn’t find it. This wouldn’t have bothered me if I’d been reviewing a crime novel or a fantasy epic. But because it was this book, I started to get the creeps. Fortunately, there was nothing sinister behind the mystery; I simply didn’t recognize it among my library books the first time around. I think it’s a testament to this book’s power that it caused me a few minutes of real-world paranoia.
I was graciously given a copy of You Shall Never Know Security in exchange for an honest review.