In short, these stories make the concept of 'bad things happening to good people' into a dance; a piece of art that I very much enjoyed being led through. The author is fond of the macabre and of the last second twist. Her writing draws you in fast and hits you hard, as I believe good short stories should do.
I finished the book pretty quickly, and I immediately concluded that the story, "Happy" was my favorite. Not just my favorite, but also the most accessible for me. As I mentioned before, I'm more of an optimist in general and I don't like hearing bad news, and as the title suggests that particular one had a clearly happy ending.
Another of the stories that I found myself emotionally invested in was "The Accidental Dentist". This one I think reflects pretty well on her writing style; she will pull you in one direction while pushing you in another, back and forth during the story. I followed the heart of the dentist while feeling the story of his assistant, hearing their shared life.
Each of her short stories reminded me of having a really good dessert - let's say I'm out to dinner, and I've ordered a slice of chocolate cake. When it arrives I take my first warm and chewy bite; I get the strong sweet notes of exactly what I was expecting - as each story did deliver a good feeling and an immediate connection with the characters.
Then I'm assaulted by the unexpected flavors - sour cherries, bitter clove, or of hints of spicy chili. I don't know if I like it or not but I keep going because I'm drawn into it. The mix of sweet and spicy and sour and tangy words and cake have taken over my thoughts and my spoon and before I know it, I'm done. Only after the plate is clean do I look back on the experience; I think about the mix of elements in the story and wonder how I managed to read it all so quickly and so easily. It was great, I think.
And yet...there's a slight bitter aftertaste. Something that reminds me that not all is right in the world.
If you like character stories with reminders of the cruelty of humanity, then this book may be for you. Let's hope she keeps it up with Volume II.