Seasons of Insanity
by Gill Ainsworth & Frank W. Haubold
Apex Books (Dec 2012)
In 2013, I am resolved to read more stories by international authors, and it didn't take long before I had to opportunity to read this collection co-authored by German author, Frank W. Haubold, and British author, Gill Ainsworth. The collaborative effort is published by Apex Books, which usually points towards a quality book, so I had my hopes up with this one.
Seasons of Insanity is presented as a twelve-story collection, offering a short story representing each month of the year moving from spring all the way to the dead of winter. And as Gill points out in the introduction, one of the recurring themes through each story, thus inspiring the title for the book, is the prospect of insanity.
Things kick off with March and a story by Gill called "Cuddly Toys." It's a brief tale, but it packs a sharp jab at the end, and it served as a good watermark for the rest of the book. "He Who Picks the Bones" is Haubold's first story in the collection, a winding road trip through a madman's thoughts. Gil Ainsworth had her turn with a woman's mad obsession with shoplifting in "Thanks, Sharon, Come Again."
It's a dozen stories, which range from good to really good. There isn't a lot of meat on the bone as far as page count goes, weighing in somewhere around 130 pages, but there's plenty as far as story goes. The tone of the book leans more towards atmospheric than overt, focusing on the psychology of each character rather than the situations. I didn't find a whole lot in the suspense department, but there was definitely plenty of creepiness and mundane scenes turned slightly askew to make things unsettling.
There is no one story that is a collaboration between both authors, at least not beyond Enlish translations, which I thought a little odd. It would have been interesting to see what these two authors could have cooked up storywise, but I suppose it's enough that they found a rhythym and a theme for their respective stories in this one book. I'll have to keep an eye out for more from these two, whether it's collaborative or solo efforts.