The Green Flash

The Green Flash and Other Tales of Horror, Suspense, and FantasyThe Green Flash and Other Tales of Horror, Suspense, and Fantasy by Joan Aiken
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I couldn’t believe my luck when I found this collection at a local used book store! It didn’t finish quite as strongly as it started, but there are pieces that were clinics on short-story writing. Here’s how I thought of each story…


“Mrs. Considine.” I don’t describe too many stories as “chilling,” but this story of a girl with a gift bonding with an older woman with another gift is just that. 5*

“Marmalade Wine.” The reason I snatched this collection from a used book store was this story, which was adapted as a segment for Rod Serling’s Night Gallery. A decent straightfoward story about comeuppance. 4*

“Sonata for Harp and Bicycle.” The expository middle didn’t stop this from being a story of the most romantic exorcism I’ve ever read. 5*

“Follow My Fancy.” This is not a “science-fantasy” story. It’s both a scifi story and a fantasy story, rolled into one. 5*

“Smell.” Saw the ending coming a mile away. Hate when that happens. 3*

“Searching for Summer.” If you let yourself get too caught up thinking “What REALLY happened here?” you’ll miss the beauty of this story. 4*

“A View of the Heath.” 5* ‘cos who said a mystery story has to have anything to do with a dead body?

“Belle of the Ball.” If I’ve ever read a story that was very proto-Aimee Bender and the like (Sarah shun-lien Bynum, etc), this is it. 4*

“Summer by the Sea.” This calls to my mind Karen Joy Fowler’s Nebula Award-winning “What I Didn’t See.” You could argue that any sf/f/h genre element is non-existent, depending on how you read it. I will say that reading it one way makes this a better story. 5*

“Minette.” Not quite as chilling as “Mrs. Considine,” but it is another wonderful example of what happens when two supernatural forces meet. 5*

“Dead Language Master.” Very engaging at the sentence level. But to the other mechanics of the piece, my reaction was, “Just…no.” 3*

“The Windshield Weepers.” Some aspects of this story really seemed ahead of its time. The ending really didn’t do it forme though. 3*

“The Green Flash.” It pulled me along quite nicely at sentence level. Unfortunately it became obvious that this was 2 or 3 stories thrown together as soon as I gave the plot a second’s thought. 3*

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