Imagine my surprise at seeing a new short story anthology written by a friend and fellow Trade Secrets contributor available for free on Amazon.
Andrew Salomon is one of South Africa’s best writers and I don’t say that lightly. He is a previous winner of the Pen Literary and Short Sharp Stories Awards. His novel Tokoloshe Song was shortlisted for the Terry Pratchett First Novel Award.
I was delighted to see a chapter from Tokoloshe Song entitled Pit Bull Midwives, included in this collection. It’s a delectable taster for the book, which is a riotously funny urban fantasy adventure set in Cape Town.
Dark Shenanigans is truly wonderful. I read it one night, and wished there were more than just eleven truly superb stories to savour. Full disclosure – a few could have benefitted from a thorough proofread to get rid of one or two pesky errors (tokoloshes perhaps) but rest assured that these don’t distract from the great writing at all.
My favourite story by far was A visit to Dr Mamba, which won the Pen Literary Award for African fiction. Most South Africans will have seen the tatty streetlamp flyers advertising everything from curse removal and love potions to virility and cures for fever. Dr Mamba is one such practitioner who meets his match when a new customer comes calling.
Train 124 was awarded the Short Sharp Story Award. As someone all-too-familiar with the characters you encounter on the Metrorail southern line, this story really resonated. If you travel by train you’ll recognise the chip seller, train preacher and all those who get a little too close for comfort at peak hour.
The collection of stories have a distinctive urban fantasy and noir feel. Many of the characters are offbeat, fringe or downright scoundrels. It’s a colourful collection, full of surprises. Something else that sets this anthology apart is the mouthwatering flavours described in delicious detail. The author’s love of travel is evident and exotic delicacies catapult the reader to far-off, exciting destinations.
Melissa, for example, takes place on Greek island where the food takes centre stage. In Grand Menu at the Hebdomad Society, a diner experiences a strange seven-course menu that makes him recall key moments in his life, past travels and lost loves.
Dark Shenanigans is a highly entertaining collection brimming with adventure and detail. Get yours on Amazon.
See more of my LEGO stories on Tumblr.