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Review: Letters From a Dead World by David Tocher

Full disclosure: I've known David Tocher for a while. We've never met in person since we live several provinces away, but we shared a table of contents back in 2012 for Dark Light, a charity anthology edited by Carl Hose with proceeds benefiting Ronald McDonald House. Since then, we have become social media friends and have interacted several times online. We also share a publisher. Letters From a Dead World was published by Next Chapter, the same company who put out all four of my books so far.

In edition to this collection, he's also edited an anthology of his own: Canadian Dreadful, an anthology of Canadian horror stories. (David rejected my submission but I won't let that effect my review)

Letters from a Dead World is a short collection of s

ix short stories (you can read it in a few hours) David has written over the years. One of those, Confidence Man, I read back in 2012 when I received my copy of Dark Light. It was a great story and it was fun to revisit it.

The cover and description of the book would hav

e you believe these are horror stories. Whether you agree or not depends on your definition of horror. Personally, I don't see these as horror stories. These tales weren't frightening. This doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the book. Quite the opposite.

David knows his strengths and he sticks to those in all six of these tales. These are stories about people. I could be wrong, but I imagine he comes up with the characters first, then writes the story around them. The problem with short stories is there isn't much room for character development, but David still manages to pull it off. The characters feel real and while they aren't all likeable, they are relatable to an extent. With character development like this, it's easy to see Stephen King's (the master of creating realistic characters) influence on David's work.

And while I didn't find this stories scary, they still pull at a wide range of emotions. Because of the realistic characters, David is able to make us feel what the characters feel. He can pull emotions out of you and make it look easy.

I don't consider these stories horror but they all contain elements of dark fantasy and they make you think. These are not stories you can just read and forget about. They stick with you long after you finish reading.

Another of David's strengths is description. His descriptions pull you into the story to the point where you don't feel like you're reading a story. You can tell he puts a lot of effort into his word choice. He's definitely a talented author and will hopefully be releasing more work soon.

He's a writer to watch and I definitely recommend this book.

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Joseph Mulak

Canadian Crime and Horror Fiction Author

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