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Of Priests and Mermaids


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Well-crafted prose can’t hide derivative ideas and unfulfilling spins on premises

Of Priests and Mermaids is a collection of speculative fiction short stories by J.C. Nova, spanning such topics as military experiments, alien invaders, mermaids, and schoolyard bullying. Not all the stories are speculative; all of them offer – or profess to offer – some sort of twist in their short runtimes.

Unfortunately, while the stories in Of Priests and Mermaids are well-written in terms of craft – Nova’s grasp of prose and description is excellent – the stories themselves don’t do much to experiment with the premises given, and occasionally fall into tropes best left in the cliché graveyard. It’s hard to get excited about a anti-bullying vigilante who feels like an anime caricature of Japanese girls, or mermaids that are exactly the vicious devourers-of-men that they’re depicted in myth. (There’s also a story from the perspective of a rapist that, rather than being fascinatingly twisted or subversive, ends up indulging in all the wrong parts. He meets a bad end, but it’s still a trudge to read.)

Of course, there’s no such thing as an untold story; nor is this the kind of short story collection that any two people will come away from with the same opinions. There are some fascinating ideas and twists on old stories in here, and in those cases, I just wish the pay-off had been better. Overall, though, I’d like to see fewer literary collections with thinly-veiled criticisms of women in every entry, and more that follow through on their central ideas with the same zest with which they’re presented.

I’d recommend this book to folks who enjoy shorter, straight-to-the-point speculative fiction, and people looking for speculative fiction that plays fast and loose with the boundaries between fantasy and science fiction.

Reviewed by

I enjoy reading new books and fiction, and have a fresh, unique perspective as a Canadian queer disabled person.

Under a Silent Moon

About the author

"I'm going to frighten you. Or Inspire you. And if you're neither, well, I tried!" J.C. Nova is a fiction thriller writer with several works credited to him. These include "Kissing Snakes", "Our Favourite Demon" and "Of Priests and Mermaids". He is also a guitar and martial arts enthusiast. view profile

Published on February 20, 2019

Published by

30000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Thriller & Suspense

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