I feel bad for giving Barbara Ann Marjanovicís Collection II a negative review. After all, it did provide me with hours of entertainment. I read almost the entire book aloud to various friends and family. We laughed, we cried, we laughed some more. There was a lot of laughing.
Unfortunately, Collection II is supposed to be a collection of horror stories.
Itís hard to tell, because Marjanovic seems both unwilling and unable to worry her readers overmuch. Tense situations are explained before they occur, loose ends knotted before theyíre cut. The situation is not helped by Marjanovicís basic writing skills. Seeking to draw readers into sympathy with her stories without giving the characters or situations room to grow, she relies heavily on description, and her descriptive skills arenít up to the task. Itís possible Charles Dickensí descriptive skills wouldnít be able to resuscitate these lifeless tales; but in the hands of a writer whose idea of terrifying invective is ďdisgusting little trout,Ē the cause is fully lost.
I canít say this is the worst writing Iíve ever encountered; by unfortunate coincidence, itís not even the worst written horror collection I encountered this week. But itís better to have a leg amputated than to die in a fiery car crash; that doesnít make amputation a fun weekend getaway. Collection II is written with obvious enthusiasm, and Marjanovic sometimes breaks what little rhythm the stories have to give them all strong moral order. But good intentions donít make for good stories.