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BSFA Review: Sparks Flying by Kim Lakin

21/02/2024 19:21 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Sparks Flying cover

Sparks Flying by Kim Lakin

(Newcon Press, 2022)

Reviewed by Ksenia Shcherbino

Kim Lakin’s Sparks Flying is a truly miscellaneous collection of short stories: Victoriana and voodoo, cyber punk and morality play, grim industrial dystopia and deluge apocalypse, all the oddballs of deft imaginative writing crafted in evocative and distinct voices. Such an expanse of moods, ideas and genres left me with mixed feelings: this is not a book you can read in one go, instead, you keep returning to it, savouring one story at a time.

My favourite is a steampunk variation of Peter Pan, “The Island of Peter Pandora.” With the unthinking cruelty of a precocious child, Peter Pandora is playing God (or Dr Moreau) on a small island in the middle of nowhere. His lost boys are automatons, his pirates—the Rogues—are hybrid monsters he created by experimenting on dead animals, his main antagonist, Hookie—a family pet turned into antagonist through vivisection and animatronics. The palimpsest of Peter Pan, The Island of Dr Moreau and Frankenstein is poignant and powerful, and Lakin’s ingenuity is a treasure trove of conscious echoes and unconscious ripples. Peter’s sister, Bella, lives with the natives of the island, while Peter is tinker-ing with his boys, is it a linguistic vivisection of Tinkerbell? My inner reader claps in belief. Yet with all this intellectual guess making in the background, it is a story about loneliness and loss and despair, when a child scares himself with monsters not to feel scared of the real world.

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Review from BSFA Review 22 - Download your copy here.


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