My first novella, City of Kaiju, is available for pre-order. Available through Amazon and Books2Read. You can see a preview of the very first chapter here. Check it out when it launches, February 12th, 2019.
We all love bookstores, right? What about magic ones? Well, I have a story to tell. Today’s short story is Exactly What You Need by Brandon Crilly. You can find it here. It’s short, but it contains a spooky, otherworldly tale inside of a magical bookstore. So let’s get reading, shall we?
Where you know what you want.
Imagine a bookstore where you know exactly what to look for. Where instead of choosing a book, the book chooses you. It’s always within reach, and it’s instinctive, like breathing. This bookstore contains an odd magic that makes visitors flock to Hidden Volumes to find their chosen book. But when a Syrian guest enters to bring back the son she lost through a magic book, only then does the magic truly come to life, but not in the way they wanted.
I’ve always wanted a bookstore like this. Magical, whimsical, and most of all, knowing the exact book I want. Sometimes, I go to a store and find exactly what I need in the first five minutes. Other times, it’s not there and I have to use Amazon as a last resort. I’d love for bookstores to be this way, assuming magic existed to begin with. The story starts off innocently enough, Constance, the store owner, is dealing with customers when she meets a Syrian woman who wishes to find a specific book. It’s simple enough, and the diversity is fair enough.
Then, the magic happens as the Arabic guest summons a shadowy demon who offers to bring back her son who was killed in a deadly war (you know, the current conflict in Aleppo) but it requires a sacrifice. One soul for another. This is where the story takes a sharp turn. In the beginning it was innocent enough, but then it got super creepy too fast. It was a bit jarring to go from a magical bookstore to demonic rituals. It was handled better than most, but it still came out of nowhere.
The story takes place in the current year, referencing a few Middle East conflicts such as the attack on Aleppo. Most have seen the news story about it and the horror that came out of it. It does seem interesting that the story references modern events the way it does. I don’t mind that, but I figured it would be a minor incident or even a fictional one than real world stuff. That’s just my thought on it.
Back to the demon, it did appear creepy enough. Shadowy, grim, soulless, almost like the Devil himself appeared and granted her the ultimate wish at the ultimate cost. Thankfully, no one died, which I guess makes up for the jarring shift in tone, and thinking about it, it was handled well. The place is magical after all. No doubt some dark hidden secret awaited. Of course you’d find a book that summons a possessed demon. Any magical place has that >->
The story itself was told very well. It’s clear and concise, and I followed along very well. It does start with a quote which is a peeve of mine. I would like to know a bit more at first. It starts with a professor commenting how it should be impossible to know exactly what you want. Maybe it should have started with the professor staring in shock, at the fact that he found the book he wanted. Or perhaps Constance searching around and then confronts the professor. Seeing the story begin with text feels like I have no idea what’s going on.
Other than that, I followed along pretty well and became a standard tale. The writing again, was clear and readable and didn’t stray too far. I would have liked to see a bit more magic to the book store and maybe incorporate a few of the guests. It feels quick that we go from one customer to chaos in a matter of minutes. Perhaps the mother and son find a book that brings cartoons to life or something. It feels like only one magic book being there feels…off. I mean, yeah, it’s a bookstore in modern times, but it’s a magic bookstore. Have more than demon summoning. Have magical, whimsical, fun things happen. I want the kid in me to want a book store like this, where magical things happen. It was every kids dream back then and the author could have really gone all in.
I did like this story, despite my comments above. It was a magical modern tale, which I love to bits, plus it was nice knowing what could be possible in a world like this. That a little magic could exist in an otherwise ordinary world. I do like the story for that. While it took a few odd turns, it was fun and magical, as fantasy stories should be. And that’s all I need in my life.
That’s all for today. If you liked this post and want to see more, I have a Ko-Fi page set up. Why spend three bucks on a Starbucks Coffee when you can help support hard-working authors like me? Every bit helps and keeps me going. So thank you, and remember, the inn is always open.