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Defining Moments, by David Niall Wilson
Genre: Horror Anthology
Publisher: Sarob Press
Published: 2007
Review Posted: 5/15/2008
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated

Defining Moments, by David Niall Wilson

Book Review by Ray Wallace

Have you read this book?

Defining Moments is a collection of thirteen short stories by David Niall Wilson. It opens with the titular tale which deals with a petty criminal named Albert and the night he kills a man while trying to rob him of his wallet. After this unplanned murder Albert seeks comfort from his friends Chance and Maudlin and a bottle of wine. In a story reminiscent of the early works of Poppy Z. Brite, the author demonstrates his skill at quickly creating mood and building characters. It is a story that leaves much for those that follow to live up to which most of them do quite admirably, I'm please to say.

The second story is called "The Lost Wisdom of Instinct." Here we meet a college student obsessed with continuing the research begun by his mentor and discovering the secret behind the older professor's sudden and mysterious death. Next up is "For These Things I Am Truly Grateful" which explores the grey area between compulsion and insanity by bringing us into one man's world as he tries, not very successfully, to complete the simple task of visiting his local grocery store. In "Cockroach Suckers" we are introduced to Bobby Lee, a man who's stumbled upon a nice little get rich quick scheme. You see, he's going to charge people to take a look at the World's Largest Cockroach. And much to his friend Jasper's amazement, the plan actually works. But there's a catch, of course. There's always a catch.

"More than Words" relates the story of a scholar drawn into an ancient evil through the scroll he is working to translate. In "The Call of Farther Shores" a young man finally uncovers the mystery of the wooden statue of a woman -- a skillfully carved ship's figurehead - - located in the barber shop he used to visit with his father. "Bloody Knife and Morning Star" takes us back into the Old West and offers the reader a drastically different view of the massacre at The Little Bighorn than what is found in any history book. In "The Gentle Brush of Wings" a man who has dedicated himself to the collecting of moths from around the world has his life changed by the discovery of a very unique specimen. And with "The Death-Sweet Scent of Lilies" we are drawn into the world of Vlad the Impaler and shown the reasons behind the gruesome actions that have marked his legacy.

Further stories include "To Dream of Scheherazade" (a tattoo artist is commissioned to create his most bizarre and enduring work), "A Taste of Blood and Roses" (a crippled man must release the dark power residing within his ruined body to save the woman he loves), "The Milk of Paradise" (a woman goes to extremes to experience the mystery at the heart of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's most enigmatic and profound work), and "'Scuse Me, While I Kiss the Sky" (a half crazed pilot uses a crop duster to give a group of redneck partygoers the buzz of a lifetime).

Defining Moments is a dark and entertaining collection by an author in control of his voice and pacing. The stories offered here do not force-feed their revelations but offer them in slow and, ultimately, satisfying increments. This is a strong collection where every tale feels as though it belongs. No weak efforts mar the whole which, unfortunately, cannot be said for many of the other myriad collections offered by small press publishers every year. Fans of dark fantasy should not miss this one.
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