JAGGED EDGES & MOVING PARTS
By Pete Mesling
Published by Other Kingdoms Publishing
In its description, Jagged Edges & Moving Parts is said to consist of “tales of terror” that “deliver suspense” with a “consistent literary voice.” While I agree there is a literary voice found throughout Mesling’s writing – that may, in fact, be what helps separate his work from others – I don’t think I would consider this much of a horror collection (or one teeming with suspense, for that matter). It’s too motley for such simplistic labels.
As with any collection, you’re likely to have your good and bad. It’s not often that I find a collection that remains consistently one way or the other from start to finish. And when I do have such an experience, it’s usually a collection that blows me away (rather than bomb). With Jagged Edges & Moving Parts, I found a consistency almost foreign to me: faulty.
Throughout my reading, I felt a so-so interest in the stories at hand, rarely finding notable excitement along the way. Though there were numerous times I felt Mesling was on to something – like with “Holy Is As Holy Does,” “The Tree Mumblers,” and “Slipknot” – the potential would be lost or petered off by the end. I think that was my biggest complaint here; I was frequently frustrated by the endings of stories. And in the second half of this collection, I continuously found myself confused by what I was reading.
Rather than carry on with my complaints, let’s turn to the good. This collection is thick, in the sense that you have twenty-seven entries to explore. There’s also a solid variety to be found here, much of which struck me as speculative and genrefluid. Shorts like “Barbicide” provided a quick, entertaining bite; while some of the longer tales, like “The Worst Is Yet To Come” and “On the Strangest Sea,” found primal fears to feed (like claustrophobia and phagophobia). As I previously noted, there are numerous stories included that offer a bounty in potential; for me, it was just a matter of execution and conclusion.
Mesling has a unique style, and for that he deserves props. His writing is good and his ideas are diverse in nature. He clearly has range, but in short form his stories seem to cut him off at the knee. Perhaps I need to read some of his longer fiction to feel more compelled and driven to carry on.
Review by Aiden Merchant