This past Halloween weekend, I spent my nights engrossed in a book of short stories that was well-written, intriguing, and surprisingly, incredibly hard to put down. The Whisper Jar, by author Carole Lanham, speaks to the little kid in us grown-up GeekMoms that still like fairy tales, but with a deliciously wicked and weird twist.
The book was released October 31st, 2011, fittingly on Halloween, from Morrigan Books. According to her website biography, Carole Lanham has published twenty-four short stories and one novella since she began writing full time in 2004. Seven of her stories have received honorable mentions in Year’s Best volumes, one story was short-listed for the Million Writer’s Prize, and one was chosen as a Notable Story of the Year in 2008 for the Million Writer’s Prize. She has won two writing contests and two of her stories made the Preliminary Ballot for the Bram Stoker award for Outstanding Achievement in a Short Story. She is also a monthly contributor at Storytellers Unplugged.
Carol contacted me via Good Reads, after noting that I gave positive reviews to History is Dead, edited by Kim Paffenroth, in which her story, The Moribund Room, was published in a few years ago. The collection The Whisper Jar opens with a long poem, titled after the book, that lets the reader know exactly what a whisper jar is and how it is used. I loved the poem and found myself reading it aloud. Seven stories and another poem follow, each its own separate tale. I can’t really say that I had a favorite; every time I finished one and decided I liked it the most, the next one would make me change my mind.
Carole must have known what she was doing when she contacted me to review this book. How could I not love a collection of stories that include vampires, fairies, zombies, and more? The best part is that she doesn’t reinvent anything here; Ms. Lanham made the creatures her own by creating characters that are altogether interesting and disturbing, to say the least. I wouldn’t recommend this book to children, but it may be okay for older teenagers. There is no graphic sexuality, but it is implied. The only gripe I have about the book is that I wish it was longer. That really can’t be a bad thing to say about someone’s writing, though, can it?
If I had to give it a numbered review, I would give it four out of five. I would recommend it to readers who like books like My Mother She Killed Me, My Father She Ate Me, a collection of fairy tales edited by Kate Bernheimer, or the graphic novels Fables from Vertigo Comics. Below is a listing of the stories and poems in The Whisper Jar.
- The Whisper Jar
- The Good Part
- Keepity Keep
- The Blue Word
- Maxwell Treat’s Museum of Torture for Young Girls and Boys
- Friar Garden, Mister Samuel, and the Jilly Jally Butter Mints
- The Reading Lessions
- The Adventures of Velvet Honeybone, Girl Werewuff
- The Forgotten Orphan
I received a free digital copy of this book from the author for review purposes.