Sent To Me By Strange Books In Exchange For An Honest Review
08.02.2018 / Strange Books / Short Stories / Paperback / 154pp / 978-1979724678
Target Audience: Those who enjoy surreal and thought provoking short stories filled with potent messages. Emotional, existential and fascinating.
About Strange Secrets
Discover the mystery of the two-headed rose and many more Strange Secrets in this new collection of extraordinary stories by Mike Russell.
‘It can’t be real.’ ‘But it is.’
Strange Secrets invites you to discover the magical and the marvellous. Startlingly inventive and constantly entertaining, these unique, vital and vividly realised stories will take you to places you have never been before. Strange Secrets is Mike Russell’s third short-story collection.
Strange Secrets is Mike Russell’s third short story collection and it is another superb addition to his own genre of surreal, existential and meaningful narratives. Strange Secrets easily solidifies my opinion of Mike Russell being a visionary who is re-defining the term ‘short-story’. Russell manages to infuse so much meaning and imagery into the smallest collection of words, it is hard not to be impressed and inspired. Strange Secrets shakes up MR’s brief writing style with longer narratives instead of the minute passages of books past. I did miss the super-short stories that caught me off guard in Nothing Is Strange and Strange Medicine. I do think these longer stories gave me a better chance to sink into MR’s metaphorical and lyrical prose that focus on key modern issues with alternative perspectives.
Mike Russell’s abstract and existential approach to many hard and surreal themes is certainly compelling. Here we have 7 stories that harness unique views on problems such as death, grief, opinions, differences, control, replacement, mental health, corruption and so much more. From Mary Lou and her pursuit of the purest water in the land, a puppeteers rebellion and Billy and his father’s map of the universe to Tina and her pursuit of the fearsome truth. Each story easily captures the attention and the narratives can be interpreted in many ways by a wide variety of readers. I especially loved the way that MR develops the narratives in Strange Secrets, morphing and adding to the message of the story as it progresses.
The stories invoke a whole plethora of emotions and opinions; they challenge our viewpoint on matters and let us stew in the tough decisions we make as humans and as a society. The re-read value of MR’s work is impressive as there is plenty of hidden meaning and insights to be gleaned from another read of each story. I have to be honest and say that these stories are not for everyone. MR writes for those who wonder, those who contemplate and consider; for readers who love subtext and subtle/strong implications. I described MR’s writing as abstract and it is exactly that. The writing may not sit well with more literal readers but I still highly recommend trying it out.
MR’s work has stuck in my mind over the years and I am still mulling over his thoughts and impressions on our world. There have been a few of MR’s stories that I still think about and I am definitely going to be considering ‘Missing Persons’ for a while yet. A moving, tragic yet empowering tale of a young lady looking for her father in a world scared of the truth. That said, not all of MR’s writing strives to have meaning which was another treat. Some of MR’s work is just a cool and vivid exploration of conceptual story-telling which I was glad to be able to experience. Telling stories that amaze and invigorate the reader. The wonder of a two headed rose. I am fascinated to have read fiction that is so far removed from modern writing, with no recognisable influences or inspirations to be seen within Mike Russell work. Truly unique.
Overall I can’t recommend the Strange short stories enough. Strange Secrets was an expansion on MR’s vision of what short stories should be and I am enjoying the path he is taking. I hope Mike Russell is working on another collection as we speak because I can always read more.
About Mike Russell
We at strangebooks.com wish our readers the highest possible outcome from their reading experience. We believe that stories have the potential to be life-changing. So let us not limit the power of the story; let us read with an expectation of the highest possible outcome and allow every story to work its magic.
Mike Russell was born in 1973. He grew up in the small village of Pulborough in the south of England. As a child, he enjoyed daydreaming, art and writing strange stories. As an adult, he enjoys daydreaming, art and writing strange stories.