Review: Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical

Posted 5 August, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical
By: Robert Shearman
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

The first love song in the world, as composed by a pig in the Garden of Eden.

The Devil, alarmed when his hobby of writing romantic fiction begins to upstage his day job.

A man finding love with someone who has an allergy to his happiness.

Another losing love altogther when his wife gives him back his heart in a Tupperware box.

By turns macabre and moving, horrific and laugh-out-loud funny, Robert Shearman’s short stories come from a place just to the left of the corner of your eye. Following his World Fantasy Award-winning Tiny Deaths, this new collection puts a bizarre twist on the love story. What is love, why does it hurt so much, and how is it we keep coming back for more? Sometimes poignant, sometimes cruel – but always as startling and fresh as Shearman’s fans have come to expect.

Book cover image found from Big Finish. My copy has a slightly different typography

A bit hard to tell with the way my book reviews have been scheduled these last few months but a) I’m on a bit of a roll with the short stories collections lately; I find them very easy to turn to when you’re busy studying for exams (supposedly) 😛 and b) this is the second collection by Robert Shearman I’ve read in the span of a month. I’ve read his later books Remember Why You Fear Me (review) and They Do the Same Things Different There (review) and loved them both. Slowly but surely I am tracking down his earlier collections now and checking them out 😉

I guess to start, if you’ve read his later books–Remember Why You Fear Me and They Do the Same Things Different There–then you’ll certainly recognise a few familiar stories here. But they make their first appearance in this book, which is cool, and together with other stories I haven’t read until now they make a very interesting collection thematically with themes of finding and losing love, and pondering on the nature of it. Some of the stories are amusing (“Love Among the Lobelias”) and strange (“Sweet Nothings”) and incredibly short (“Sharp”). As always, there’s a few stories that very haunting and that lingered on long after I read it, such as “This Creeping Thing”.

As always, Robert Shearman tells such a story in such a short amount of pages; even in a two-page story I really get a sense of character and the history he was conveying. Readers who enjoy reading short stories and speculative fiction should really check out his books, including this collection; they’re quite different and fantastic.

And now I reaaaaallllllly need to pick up Tiny Deaths 😉

Rating: ★★★★★

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