Friday, September 9, 2016

Marvelry's Curiosity Shop - by John Brhel and Joe Sullivan - Good concept, but I was left wanting something more

3 of 5 Stars     Review copy

I love the concept behind Brhel & Sullivan's newest book.  If you're waiting for the "but," it's coming.

With nearly every story, I'm reading along, enjoying the writing and the imagination that went into the tale, and then...BANG...the reveal or twist and...that's it...over.  It was almost as it the writers would get to a certain word count and then go into hurry up mode to wrap up that particular tale.  I don't know, maybe it's me, but I like a little time to savor and enjoy what just happened in the individual stories. A mini epilogue of sorts for each episode would have been nice.

Marvelry's Curiosity Shop is told in a series of anecdotal stories, each one dealing with an item purchased from or given away by Dr. Marvelry, the shop's proprietor. Marvelry himself was once a world-renowned illusionist, now retired.

The curiosity shop is set in the fictional town of Binghampton, NY.  Think Binghamton, NY, pretty much the same place.

The Victor Talking Machine - The story of Brent and Kevin Buckley, a young couple who purchase a Victor Victrola that came with an old Frank Sinatra record and a little something extra.

Echo's Reflection - Echo Dollinger and her fiancé, Robert Simmons were looking for the perfect bathroom mirror for their Neo-Victorian furnished home.  They find the mirror they purchase at Marvelry's Curiosity Shop shows more than their reflections.

Magician's Complex - One of my favorite stories in the collection, about Peter Myers, a magician looking for a new illusion to give his act a boost.  He purchases a special bureau from Dr. Marvelry and gets more than he bargained for.

The Painter's Premonition - Justin Loza is an artist who walks away from the shop with an antique easel and some squirrel hair brushes.  When he uses them to paint a landscape, what he sees on the canvas is another scene entirely.

A Gift Ungiven - Tom Kopp's son, Chad, buys his father an Iroquois bone breastplate.  Tom is an anthropologist, so the gift is perfect...or is it.

A Made Match -  African fertility dolls.  Need I say more.  Nothing good ever comes of these things and this story is no exception.  Meant to be sold as a set, the two are sold to two different couples. Oh, no.

The Letterbox - When Josh Hart manages to purchase his grandparent's home, he wants to restore it to the way it was during his childhood when he spent his Summers on the property. He finds the original letterbox at Marvelry's and soon starts receiving letters from his mother mailed to his grandparents more than forty years ago.

Seams of Consequence -  What a great title for a sewing machine story.  When Emma Cowden's old sewing machine breaks down she can't really afford a new one.  Dr. Marvelry has one that one belonged to a very successful local seamstress and sells it at a bargain price.  Soon, Emma discovers if she make garments for events she or her husband would like to be a part of, they come to pass.  But there's a twist.

Martinus' Mannequin - The story of a possessed mannequin, but it's not who they believe is doing the possessing.

Siren Song - An organ, sold to Dr. Marvelry, finds it's way back to the apartment complex where the seller resides.

The New Assistant - A tale about what happens when the shop's new assistant, Drew, and the trouble he gets into when left alone to watch over the emporium.

Grand Illusions - A sold story about the second greatest magician in the world.

An Article On Dr. Marvelry From the Sun Press - Much too long for a newspaper article. It is a pet peeve of mine when this trope is used and then the story fails to read like a newspaper article.

There is also a bonus story from the forthcoming Anthology At the Cemetery Gates: Year One called...

A Dark and Desolate Occurrence - A clever tale of a couple who's car gets stuck in a snowbank.

Overall, I did enjoy this collection of stories and can recommend readers check it out for themselves. After all, your mileage may vary.

Published by Cemetery Gates Media, Marvelry's Curiosity Shop is available in both paperback and e-book formats. If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited you can read it at no additional charge and if you are an Amazon Prime member you can read it for FREE through the Kindle Owners Lending Library.

From the bios of the authors...

John Brhel is a writer of fiction from Binghamton, NY. He is the co-author of two books, Tales From Valleyview Cemetery and Marvelry's Curiosity Shop, a vampire hunter serial titled Rita's Midnight Rides and numerous short stories.

Joseph Sullivan is a writer of horror, including Tales From Valleyview Cemetery, Marvelry's Curiosity Shop. and the upcoming Route 12: The Legend Trip. He is also a hiker, songwriter, and co-founder of Cemetery Gates Media. His long-term writing goal is to combine his love of poetry, the American novel, and Upstate New York into one cohesive work of fiction.

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