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In The Beginning Anthology by Month9Books: Deep and Dark Retellings of the Bible

Hey all, it’s Alexa, and this week’s review I’m gonna do a little differently. Because In The Beginning is a short story anthology, it would just be too difficult to individually analyze the plot, characters, and writing of every single story, yet also inaccurate to try and put them all together as one (because they’re not). So what I’m going to do instead is give a two- to four- sentence review for each story, then compile my overall impression of the anthology in a quick paragraph at the end.

So without further ado, let’s get down to business. 🙂

in-the-beginning

Description:

Eight authors come together to build a powerful collection of dark young adult short stories inspired by the mysteries, faith, and darkness found within the Bible. Old Testament and New Testament, iconic and obscure figures alike are illuminated, explored, and re-envisioned throughout this charity anthology from Month9Books.

Story 1: Daniel and the Dragon by Stephen Clements

Interesting and intense, but not the best writing. I found many of the descriptions strong and vivid, but there were also a lot of sections that would slip into telling. It’s a little graphic and a little frightening, leans more towards the horror side of spec-fic, but overall, it did keep my interest.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5.

Story 2: Babylon by Nicole Crucial

Ah, this one was one of my favorites. It was absolutely gorgeous from start to finish—writing, characters, story—but it hurt. I loved these characters and I felt for them and I desperately wanted things to turn out well, even though I already knew how it had to go down. Painful but poetic, heartbreaking but thought-provoking, I’d reread this one a million times.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5.

Story 3: The Isaiah Boy by Mark Hays

Tons of voice from page one plus a brilliant premise, but I felt like there was so much more that could’ve been done with this story. I mean, witch assassins living next door to a friendly witch, the whole Isaiah Boy concept… there were all kinds of epic promises that just weren’t quite fulfilled, because the story moved too fast and ended too quickly. However, I’d love to see it re-edited and fleshed out into a novel.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5.

Story 4: The Demon Was Me by Sharon Lee Hughson

This one was freaking terrifying. Emotionally intense but very well-written, it immediately drew me in and carried a strong message of redemption even through the horror and the pain.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5.

Story 5: The Deluge by Marti Johnson

Unfortunately, this one fell a little flat to me. The writing just wasn’t as strong as the others’, plus the story itself didn’t really interest me until the rain began, and then it was just… sad. On the flip side, the author did a great job portraying the emotions as the story ended, so I doubly felt the horror of the events.

Rating: 2 1/2 stars out of 5.

Story 6: Condemned by Elle O’Neill:

This one grabbed my attention from the beginning, both because of the seemingly out-of-place teenaged guy voice and the Hunger Games-style premise, but I was expecting more from the ending. Mostly because I just didn’t understand what was going on or why. The story was interesting while I was reading it, but there was never an explanation for everything, and, as you know if you’ve followed my reviews for a while, I like to understand the things I read. :p

Rating: 3 stars out of 5.

Story 7: Unwanted by Lora Palmer:

This is another really good but really sad one. I felt so bad for Leah, and I just wanted to be her friend, because ugh, I felt it. Her pain, her helplessness, her desire to be accepted and adored ruined by a greedy father. It made me mad and saddened me at the same time, so I gotta give props for the writing, but it was also a little more melancholic than I personally wanted to read.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5.

Story 8: Emmaculate by Christina Raus:

This one was probably my second favorite, because I was immediately invested in the story and I really wanted to know how all this would go down. Funnily enough, I actually hated almost all of the MC’s decisions, but I also understood how terrified she was and… I wanted things to somehow work out for her. Not gonna say whether or not they did (spoilers 😉 ), but I will say the ending does carry a bittersweet message of hope.

Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5.

Overall, I’ll balance this book out at about 3 1/2 stars out of 5. Honestly, it wasn’t quite what I expected; I had thought the entire anthology would be more along the fantasy lines of the first two stories, but still, it was thoroughly thought-provoking to see these Biblical histories explored and examined in different ways. If you’d like to pick up a copy for yourself, you can find it on Amazon for $4.99.

So do any of you read short story anthologies? How about Biblical retellings? Can’t wait to hear from you all, and I will see you in the comment section!

~ Love, Alexa <3

Note: I received a free ecopy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Content: several of the stories contain cursing, intense topics, and graphic imagery.

3 Comments


    1. // Reply

      Yeah, it is rather chilling!


  1. // Reply

    Thanks for reviewing this (and I would have stopped by when it first posted if I’d known it was here). I don’t normally read the reviews of my books because it can be devastating to my author ego. I had a difficult time writing “The Demon was Me” for all the reasons it chilled you.

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