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Reviewed by Ankita Shukla for Readers' Favorite
A Shadowy Realm of the Imagination that Defies Reality, the subtitle of the book, aptly describes the theme of Tales From the Gray Area by Curtis Stephen Burdick. The seven novellas stimulate readers with extraordinary tales of aliens, reincarnation, new species, hell, and whatnot! These stories are so diverse in nature that it is hard to pick one as a favorite. If I had to, then Sorceress is one of my most preferred tales. Betina Putzina's struggle to help her daughter, Marika, escape the same fate as hers was palpable. Although by using her intelligence she managed to achieve the mission, she could not give absolute freedom to her daughter. Marika had to forge the documents to fool the people who would do anything to punish her. She changed her name and residence frequently. The only constant in her life was the fear of getting caught until her path crossed with a twenty-two-year-old journalist, Beth Collins. After a long time, Marika found herself trusting somebody; however, could the skeptic in Beth believe Marika's bizarre story and answer her plea for help?
Curtis Stephen Burdick has done a fabulous job of selecting the stories for this anthology. The authentic characters of each story ensure that building a connection with them is easy; and easy, it was. Whether it was Beth's desire to be known for her work and not looks or eighty-year-old Ernie's attachment to his town/village, every character has a motive and a fire to keep moving. The reader meets these characters only for a few pages but creates a bond with them. Regardless of the novella the reader picks, it begins with a strong, mystifying hook, proceeds to a gripping narration, and ends with a cliffhanger. Tales From the Gray Area by Curtis Stephen Burdick is a perfect book for readers who enjoy short stories that explore the unimaginable and leave them gasping for air.