Tavistock Galleria is a collection of fourteen short horror stories by multiple authors. Their origin is “America’s Retail Wasteland.” (cover blurb). The stories are best read in order because of connecting threads that can pop up without warning that will tie a story to the one which came before. Or maybe two stories before. But let’s say you are familiar with some of the authors and want to skip to their contribution first. OK, it’s allowed; all stories can stand alone except the last one, The End of Tavistock. The last story won’t make sense without references found in all other stories.
No worries about graphic sexual language or splatter gore violence. These stories are more creepy than horror and there is a nice mix of fantasy. True, the word “defenestration” might suggest some disturbing mental images but the use of it (only once) is not a cause for a trigger warning.
When I review a collection of short stories, if most stories are good, I rate the collection as five Amazon stars. When they are further connected by clever threads, I also tend to give five Amazon stars. This collection qualifies on both counts.
Times Were Different Then***** C.M. Scandreth *** In this perfectly named first story, the title is also advice. Mix the then and now at your own peril.
Prom Dresses ***** Amanda Isenberg *** It is an oft-repeated cliché. “Clothes make the (…).” Ok, it is a new era of political correctness, so I leave it up to the reader to fill in the blanks. In this story, see how Jenny and Andrea fill in the important spaces.
Tavistock After Dark***** L.P. Hernandez *** It was a job he could have gotten without a college education. Matter of fact, it was an insult that he had to take this low-level job of inventorying things before the last of the mall shops closed. All he had to do was follow instructions. But his college education had not even shown him how to do that.
Mall Walkers ***** A.J. Horvath *** Young people can learn a lot from their elders; that is the conventional wisdom. In this story, younger people will get to repay their elders for all the energy they had expended when they were productive and raising their own families. It was a gift not willingly given.
The Fountain ***** Desdymona Howard *** It was a beautiful fountain. He went there with Grams and friends every day. Sometimes they would walk around the Mall for exercise. More and more they would just rest by the fountain … and listen.
Life in Retail ***** Charlie Davenport *** Brick and mortar stores, such as those in the Tavistock Galleria are real, physical things. All my senses respond to their presence. The internet with its online shopping is cyber-something. My imagination creates parts of what it “is.” In this story, we look at what might be if the situations were reversed.
Closing Day ***** William Stuart *** True love and the Tavistock Galleria will live forever.
Fast Forward ***** Blair Daniels *** Mellie borrowed Jenny’s necklace, one that her grandmother had given her years ago, and there were no signs that Mellie would ever return it. But what goes around comes around … just in time.
Retail Therapy ***** Erin B. Lillis *** Yolanda, Gloria, and Denise went to the Mall for shopping but spent the entire day in reflection.
Bitchcraft ***** Samantha Mayotte *** There are some things at the Mall that you do not have a chance to choose. They (or It) chooses you. This is a very different take on multiple personalities.
I Smelled Every One ***** P. F. McGrail *** This story is an illustration of the effectiveness of hiding in plain sight. Does everyone you see in a Mall really belong there?
The Carousel of Tavistock Galleria ***** Candice Azalea Greene ***The Carousel in the Tavistock Mall has a complex history. The horses were carved from wood no longer available. The Carousel works best when it is used most. Energy from happy kids energizes the Carousel. But the Mall is closing.
Destination ***** Ashlyn Walker *** Imagine waking up not knowing where or when you are. You have a feeling of great motivation to fulfill a purpose, but you don’t know what the purpose is. And then … a bunch of voices supplies several clues so that you can begin your journey of self- discovery.
The End of Tavistock ***** Elizabeth Davis *** Dr. Ashes, a somewhat omniscient Medium, will tie together all other stories as she seeks a solution to a sentient and somewhat malevolent Tavistock Galleria. For those readers seeking closure in a novel, this will be the best story. Any description of this story would be a spoiler, so I won’t furnish a description.
I can’t end the review without mentioning the illustrations between the stories. They even looked good on my Kindle.