Sliced and Diced by Joan De La Haye has a title that implies horror, gore, violence, and material not suitable for a general audience. That is not true for this novel. The language is sedate and non-offensive. I would think its style is British except that the setting for several stories is South Africa. Other countries are represented, but South Africa is the setting for many accounts. With its seventeen short stories, the novel offers a few hours of pleasant reading. As with any collection, the quality of stories varies. Although there are many stories I rate four, there are several others I rate at 3.5. This review will appear on Amazon with four stars.
Black Shuck ***** Thomas, Richard, and her father went out on the moor to hunt the legendary, almost thousand-year-old demon dog, Black Shuck. Sandy had lost many of her family to the demon, and tonight she might lose more. Sandy had identified the Black Shuck as a bitch. Tonight, the Black Shuck would identify Sandy.
Death Express ***** The Death Ride at the amusement park was unique in that all the travels took part in one’s mind. A rider saw their death experience played out. Sandy didn’t believe it until David told her about the experience he had on the ride. There is a moral here somewhere.
Death of a Parrot ***** She hated the African Gray Parrot, but Pierre loved it. He had bought it for her as a pet. Therefore, she had to clean after and take care of it. Tensions rose daily, and the parrot had to go. But how could she separate Pierre from his parrot? The perfect solution arrived as an avocado.
Fat Werewolf in the City ***** Jim never wanted to be a werewolf. He had planned to sell the butcher shop and move out of the city. Too late. Jim hadn’t expected the large dog to be so aggressive. After the bite healed, changes followed. There were good things and bad things about being a werewolf. Eyesight and hearing improved. His hair was thicker. He still had a beer gut. He was doomed to be a fat werewolf. And oh, there were werewolf hunters.
Firelight ***** Sister Mary Margaret should never have taken the shortcut through the woods, but she had lived in the village all her life, and it had never been a problem. She didn’t know what or who she met, but “it” had all the signs of being the devil. She had escaped from the entity after only one horrible kiss and was now in the local inn telling Father Peter what had happened. A new guest arrived. What the hell?
Impundulu ***** The power was around forever carried by the Impundulu acting as a familiar for the human host. The older woman was the current host, but physical aging had taken its toll, and it was time to pass the power on to her daughter, Miriam. The older woman wanted to exact one last act of revenge for a rape that had taken place a few years earlier. She visited the house of the rapist and channeling fire through the bird form of the Impundulu; she destroyed the home of the rapist. Suddenly, the Impundulu acted on its initiative and killed the rapist’s wife and son. The familiar’s power was becoming challenging to manage. Maybe Miriam could manage the familiar better. After revenge, the older woman went to Miriam’s house trailed by the familiar and an unexpected village girl. Miriam should not have killed the village girl. Miriam was getting as tricky to manage as the familiar.
Jack’s Lament ***** Jack had made money, built a plantation, and lived the good life out of profits from slave trading. He was returning home from a collection mission and was looking forward to home and pregnant wife. But the house was burned down, his foreman and pregnant wife dead. Philip, formerly one of his slaves and now in charge, was said to possess dark arts. The potion he gave Jack opened an all-new world.
My Life as a Peeping Tom ***** Unnamed narrator of this story not only had no name; he had no life. Everything he experienced was through the binoculars he used to spy on a neighbor. He never saw the neighbor eat or rise from a table where he appeared to be writing. Weeks went by, and one night, the neighbor visited. The mystery was solved.
Slice ***** After reading this, readers may not want to go into secluded, forested areas for covert liaisons. Something lives in the woods. It is fast, deadly, and it takes trophies.
The Bride ***** The older man and his wife needed a bride for their son. He had died unmarried weeks before. A ceremony allowing him passage into the afterworld could not be done without a bride to accompany him. The marriage broker knew just the girl.
The English Soldier ***** This story is about resting in peace. After death, the body that is buried in a grave must retain its bones to prevent a ghostly presence looking for completion. In this story, a government agency had removed some bones from a military burial. The occupant wanted his bones back. Substitutions of the bones of others was possible, but there had to be bones to go with the rest of the corpse.
The Forest ***** She and her friends were extras on a TV shoot in Johannesburg. This session was better than most because there were a few well-known actors; there might be possibilities for networking leading to work further. Who would have thought the shoot would turn into a morality lesson?
The Head of Anubis ***** Gloria had long wanted to visit Egypt to have and photograph an adventure. She had no intention of being the adventure. This story had graphic descriptions of the disassembling of a body.
The Reunion ***** This story does not end well for anyone. There will be another ending in the future that will also not be good for the participants.
The Trial ***** For readers contemplating a career in writing, this story might give them pause. In a world of overcrowding, governments have begun to cull (kill) unimportant people. Like writers. The judicial process leading to execution is brief, perhaps one day, and soon Marin Brown will find an answer to questions she posed in her writings.
The Violin ***** The spirits gave Magda a gift that would only last seven years. At the end of seven years, she was to give back the gift that allowed her to play superior violin music. Magda spent a part of the seven years thinking of plans to extend the offering forever successfully.
Trapped ***** Josephine was looking for fun when she and her friends went to Dark Carnival. Toward the end of the evening, they arrived at a tent occupied by Madame Zinzi. All her friends treated fortune telling as a joke, but all were terrified when she predicted imminent death for all of them, except Josephine. For Josephine, there was a very different and unique event coming soon.
Sliced and Diced is available as a free purchase on Amazon.