Short Take: Five (Michelin) Stars
**Note: I was given an advance copy of this trilogy in exchange for an HONEST review, so here it is.***
Honestly, I don’t like short stories. Honestly, I have generally felt that if an author can’t give me a big, meaty, satisfying novel to gnaw on, then they probably just don’t have much to offer. Honestly, I’m kicking my own a** right about now.
I read the first two parts of the Consumption trilogy while on an Allison Dickson binge. I had read Strings, and one of her upcoming novels, and was looking for more. I hoped that a light snack of a few shorts might be enough to keep the hunger at bay. Even though, as mentioned, short stories tend to leave a bad taste in my mouth.
The appetizer of the trilogy, “Taste” was intriguing, and reminded me a bit of a certain Stephen King story, but with more intensity. It was a decent-enough story on its own, but felt somehow undercooked. I wanted to know more, I wanted to know why and how Marah began doing… what Marah did (no spoilers here!). I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t my favorite story in the collection. (If you’re interested to know, it was “A Debacle of Donuts”, which was delicious in a Twilight-Zone-y way.)
The main course, “Sweetness” is where the story really reaches its boiling point. I dug in with the assumption that since it was just a different perspective of the one I’d already read, it wouldn’t be that interesting. However, hearing Bruce’s side of the story added a deeper emotional dimension, as well as some of the explanation I’d been starving for.
And finally, dessert, which is the best part of any meal: “Love Feast”, the last chapter. I was a teensy bit disappointed that the priest wasn’t one that I had met and adored in another story, (“The Last Wedding in the Midnight Chapel” if you’re curious). Once I was consumed by the ending, though, my displeasure cooled quickly. The finale was graphic and gory, and my inner horror glutton found it delectable.
The Consumption trilogy delivers a lovely sampler dish of storytelling. It starts with Marah, calmly explaining what exactly happened to her husband, spirals downward into the emotional devastation and confusion of Bruce’s life, and ends in a buffet of violence and horror that will have you reading through fingers, because you just have to know how it ends. More than shifting perspectives, Ms. Dickson shifts voices through her use of language and tone, resulting in a complex mix of literary flavors.
In conclusion, if you want all the satisfaction of a heavy novel, but the lean protein of a tightly-written story, sink your teeth into the Consumption trilogy. Honestly, it’s delicious.
The Nerd’s Rating: FIVE HAPPY NEURONS