By Tabitha Wood
It’s not any secret I’m a fan of T and her work. I have favorably reviewed her first collection of stories, Dark Winds Over Wellington, as well as her somewhat recent novella, All the Laird’s Men. Her latest selection is Seeds and, somehow, it’s even better.
Tabatha has divided this book into four parts, in which the stories gradually grow longer. This seems like an obvious design, but she’s somehow made it unique in formatting and presentation. Take the names each section for example; there’s Shoots (flash fiction), Leaves (short fiction), Buds (medium fiction), and Blooms (longer fiction). Each section contains 3-4 entries.
Seeds opens with an introduction in which Tabatha discusses her writing process and titling. “In this collection, I have revisited old word-friends and cannibalised their bodies. I have chewed them up and spat them out into shapes and forms that better suit their purpose. Not that their previous form was undesirable or incomplete, merely that change and progress are all essential driving forces for my creativity and self-analysis.” Her discussion of this transformation was interesting and familiar for a writer like myself. I especially favored the way she described taking pieces of other stories and Frankeinstein-ing them.
Below are some of the notes I took on my favorite stories featured in Seeds:
Bloom – the first of the flash fiction pieces, this story manages to say so much in so few pages, the ending is magical and mysterious and uncomfortable all the same, a lovely ride that seems simultaneously tainted and blessed
The Path Between the Trees – I liked how she handled the thieves and the twist to the story, gave me a chuckle
Just Deserts – unique, weird, and cool. Really liked this one and it’s magical cakes
The Nameless Ones – very cool and unsettling, I love the idea of this weird woman and her shifting “dog” looking to feed on creeps, the image in my head for this story was exciting and creepy
Marian – hitting the change of life has new gruesome implications, would like this taken further and expanded upon
Best Boy, Best Friend – heartbreaking, the bullying really pissed me off, I’m very glad that fucking shithead got killed in the end
Merry Christmas, Other Me – might be my favorite yet, I would love this premise in longer form, creepy and full of possibilities
Night Wolves – a good one in which a dog leads the MC to a secret gravesite for her lost sister
Birth Rites – this was really unique and interesting and sad, I loved the visuals of boney limbs growing up from the potted plants
Long Drop – loved this one, had a lot of surprising depth for a story that really boils down to a goblin encounter at a roadstop, which makes it even better
Of course, I must point out that Seeds is wonderful from start to finish. Just because I’ve discussed my favorites doesn’t mean the other entries are poor. None of them. There was one or two that didn’t strike me, but they were still good. This was a damn near flawless collection.
Through Seeds, Tabatha proves with vigor (yet again) that she is an infallible writer that will always produce something of merit. This is her best selection yet, one that is as unique as it is diverse and emotional throughout.