Book Review: Kaleidoscopes in the Dark

The Book: Kaleidoscopes in the Dark by B. G. Rogers

Reviewed by Erica Challis

These tasty bite-sized stories drop you into worlds that seem familiar — until they’re not. Whether set in contemporary small-town New Zealand, England, or a fairy-tale past, the stories’ vivid descriptions give them a realistic grounding: “The silhouettes of the hills are softened by woolly green shrubs and trees, there’s a smattering of blackfaced, hyphen-eyed sheep in every field…The town always smells slightly damp.”

Children and creatures — especially odd ones — are acutely observed: “She simply stared her soul-snatching death stare and clutched my hand like she was trying to squeeze the blood out of it.” The clear prose deftly captures people’s gestures: “He takes a sip, his mouth pursing like a salmon as he does so.” Such familiar details make the stories’ imaginative twists a darkly delicious surprise.

Cover for Kaleidoscopes in the Dark. Top half is the night sky, lower half is white.

The horror elements have wonderfully unsettling imagery: “You’re not used to sleeping by
yourself, and the idea makes you feel soft-fleshed, like a rat caught on its back, with its
bloated, pink belly in the air for all to pick at.”

Rogers also excels at wry humour: “They dropped her off in a silver BMW 1 Series that
looked like it disliked getting its tyres dirty.” This humour sets the tone for stories that subvert
familiar myths and images, asking, for instance, what if the phrase “lost in a book” were
literally true? What if personifications like Life and Death dealt with mundane office politics
and fractious relationships like the rest of us?

And there are more disturbing what-ifs: What if pollution overwhelmed the world, and Nature
made terrifying adaptations? What if crime and punishment became a reality TV show?
I admired the wise one-liners: “But you’re getting older and everyone knows that people
biodegrade eventually. Not like plastic.” Pausing to reflect on these is a pleasure of reading
intelligent SF.

My only quibble with this collection concerns the editing. Most stories were fine, but some
had missed a final pass from a copyeditor.

More about this book:

At 112 pages long and with eleven gothic short stories inside, Kaleidoscopes in the Dark will
pull you into strange worlds and have you back before tea-time. In the realm of gothic fiction
and dark fantasy, there are twisted fairytales, dystopian futures and our own world with an
extra serving of devil’s coach-horse beetles. For fans of Roald Dhal’s twisted tales, Angela
Carter, Margaret Atwood and the Black Mirror TV series.

Learn more or get a copy at https://www.bgrogers.com/creative-fiction

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