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Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite
Boarded Windows, Dead Leaves is a small collection of short horror stories by Michael Jess Alexander; so short as to be eligible for the designation “snippets”, or perhaps “brain fodder” intended for more lengthy treatment elsewhere. This is not to be critical of ultra-short fiction, although its massive popularity is a rather modern phenomenon. The effect is pleasing to fans of the “quick read”, like a tiny jolt of adrenaline from a sugary, caffeinated soda. Most required from purveyors of such material is conscientious conciseness of writing shorn of all non-essential adornment, and since micro-stories are all about the key ideas activating them, a strong creative foundation is essential. Mr. Alexander’s writing is as concise as those four bullets blasting through his final story, and his creativity, while founded on the overly familiar tenets of classic horror, always adds a twist of wryness to the reader’s smugly satisfied smile.
When I refer to classic horror, I mean that Michael Jess Alexander “peoples” his collection, Boarded Windows, Dead Leaves, with vampires, zombies, and werewolves. However, he consistently adds his own creative twists to such familiar horrors, and the result creates a pleasant sense of some deeply familiar if twisted world – a perfect home for all horror fiction fans. Perhaps the most sadistic piece is a little gem called Accident at The Laboratory. The accident itself holds one gingerly in suspense, afraid to move a muscle. The uniquely delivered denouement rewards the reader’s tense anxiety with that aforementioned, smugly satisfied smile. One asks no more than this.