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Reviewed by Shrabastee Chakraborty for Readers' Favorite
June Bug Gothic is a motley collection of eighteen Southern gothic tales from Robb Grindstaff, ranging from short stories to flash fiction. The first story narrates how the scent of the magnolia tree on summer nights can bring about sweet dreams. In another one, the desert rains mask the approach of an unrelenting lover who has pursued his love interests for decades. The most innocuous people at the airport could turn out to be spies. “Evolution of Love” shows how the universe provides a miraculous sign to even the strongest non-believer. After relocating to an old house, a lonely widower treats unusual patients. In “June Bug,” a little girl does not understand why they cannot see her mother anymore. In the ultimate story, two addicts carry out a futile search for the head of their decapitated friend.
Albeit a quick read, June Bug Gothic made a lasting impression on my mind. I marveled at Robb Grindstaff’s seemingly effortless ability to create such bite-sized tales that enchant readers within moments. Each story introduced an unexplored dimension using only a few meticulously chosen words. For every written word, Grindstaff seemed to leave an entire novel unspoken. The themes were diverse, with the author possessing equal mastery in romance and horror, fantasy and realism. Yet, each tale boasted elements of surprise and intrigue. Many stories, such as “Magnolia Nights” and “Airport Lounges,” left me speechless with their unexpected endings. “Of Was and When” and “Ellie’s Head” left me grappling for an explanation, while “Dreams” and “Sarah Mae’s Holiday” provided dark humor. If you are a fan of the macabre, this is the perfect read for you.