Night Shade – Joan Hartenstine-Lemon (Outskirts Press)

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Night Shade

By Joan Hartenstine-Lemon

Published by: Outskirts Press

111 pages

Anthologies books are a interesting type to read. The editor/writer picks a theme and either  fills out with their own original content or invites other writers to contribute a story. Some are great, some good and some are pretty much just filler.

Writing an intense short story with a beginning, middle and solid ending is a real challenge and not one that is always met. And in anthologies this is a steady constant as that’s what the reader is going to get. Which is why a solo writer has it harder to present several good stories that holds one’s attention.

Night Shade is the debut of Pennsylvania based writer,Joan Hartenstine-Lemon.

To do a collection of horror stories is very ambitious for a first novel and Hartenstine-Lemon does a fairly good job here. Some of the stories are pretty bumpy but the ones that work….are excellent and showcase the promise of her future writing.

  Night Shade contains 11 stories including a very unique story that has ties to a Stephen King short story that ended up being made into “The Shawshank Redemption”. Joan’s story,”A Buxton Tale” is the story about the convict that was killed  during Andy Dufresne’s (play by Tim Robbins) first night at prison.

The real gem of this collection is the interesting and heartfelt “A Letter from Bill” in which the founder of  Alcohol Anonymous, Bill Wilson sends a letter to a local ABC board urging them to take steps to save lives from the menace that is alcoholism. There is a nice twist to this tale and the real life horror of alcoholism makes this story even more powerful.

The nine other stories featured range from fair (Reigning Cats and Dogs) to first time jitters (“Oops”). Enough to get excited about Joan’s future writings and wanting to see what she can do in a full length novel. 

My only drawback about this novel is the publisher’s disservice to Hartenstine-Lemon by making this slim volume 21.99 and a hardcover. It would have been better served at a lower price and as a paperback…making her book much more affordable for a first time reader.

Recommended.

For more information: www.OutskirtsPress.com