Entangled Soul & Other Stories: Chris Marrs & Gene O’Neill
Reviewed By Steve Stred
Sometimes, as a reviewer, I like to jump into the deep end and see what I discover.
Gene O’Neill has won one Bram Stoker award and been nominated twice, yet I’ve not yet read any of his work. Meanwhile, I’ve recently connected with Chris Marrs (who lives in a city near me) but have yet to read any of her work. Chris meanwhile has been featured in a whole swack of anthologies and has a number of acclaimed releases out – yet I’ve not read any of her work.
So, what better way to check out their work? How about a collection that features stories from each of them as well as a brand new, co-authored novella.
What I liked: The stories within ‘Entangled Soul & Other Stories’ are varied, but all are really well done. It was interesting to see the ebb and flow of the two different writers’ styles mix and mingle.
Within a collection like this, it was tough to pick out my favs, but I’ll offer one from each that I really enjoyed.
From Gene, the story ‘Surfing is My Life: Fear and Loathing on the Northern California Coast’ was stunning. This originally appeared in the 2018 anthology ‘Clickers’ edited by Brian Keene. At first, this appears to be a straightforward surfing and debauchery story following a writer for Rolling Stone magazine, but by the end, it was anything but.
From Chris, and this was the standout story of the collection for me and one of the most haunting stories I’ve ever read was ‘Forgetting Mae.’ This was an original story to the collection and wow. Just wow. This follows a photographer who visits a resort to take some photos of the building and lands around it that are purported to be haunted. This one had everything and was equally beautiful and disturbing.
The centrepiece to this collection was the co-authored novella, ‘Entangled Soul.’ I really enjoyed the story and how it played out but the downfall for me was that it happens to have a bit of a boxing element and that is one sport that has never once interested me in visual or written form. So, while it was a good story, some will most likely enjoy it more than I did due to the boxing element.
What I didn’t like: The collection itself features 10 stories including the co-authored novella. Of the nine other stories, 6 were from O’Neill with only 3 from Marrs. I wanted to read a great selection from both, so I found it a bit perplexing that they both didn’t each have five or six and then the novella. Not sure why, but for this reader, I would’ve loved to discover more of Chris’ work.
Why you should buy this: The stories in here are all fascinating and cover a lot of ground. They have a great flow to them from one story to the next and the co-authored novella read as though written from one pen, not two. If you’ve read either of these authors before, this will be a nice collection to add to your shelf. If you’ve not read either before, this will be a fantastic place to dive in and see just how they craft their stories.
Entangled Soul & Other Stories
Entangled Soul and Other Stories contains some top reprints from Gene O’Neill and Chris Marrs as well an original from each.
The highlight is the collaborative story, “Entangled Soul.”
In “Entangled Soul,” Finnegan McCullough is an ex-boxer living in San Francisco. Sophie Lindberg is an agoraphobe living in Seattle. He’s on the run from the present. She from the past. When they begin to share dreams, dreams they come to realize have an effect in their waking lives, salvation comes in an unexpected and violent manner.
Steve Stred is the author of a number of novels, novellas and collections. He has appeared in anthologies with some of Horror’s heaviest hitters.
He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with his wife, son and their dog OJ.
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