My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Nota bene: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, via Netgalley. All my opinions are my own 🙂
How does one review a short story collection? Specifically, a large anthology with a wide selection of authors and styles, encompassing both speculative and mainstream fiction? I wasn’t entirely sure, and had never tried to write such a review before (especially spoiler-free; what would one talk about when there is no over-arching plot?) but wanted to give it a go anyway.
I started out keeping notes on each piece, and making lists of my favorite stories, but about halfway through I put that list aside and decided to try and reflect on my thoughts in a more holistic way.
There is a lot of content in Outcast Hours, and I took longer than I usually do to read a novel of comparable word count. Part of that was down to Christmas rush and other deadlines, but partly I found that I enjoyed reading a few stories, taking a break, and then coming back for more. Some of the heavier stories required reflection, or sometimes the style of a particular piece didn’t suit my mood, so I would instead return to the collection a few days later.
With an anthology of this size, it is likely that not every single story will appeal to every reader. However, every reader will certainly find something they enjoy, and the pieces are well-selected. The anthology creates a kind of mental mosaic of a thousand different humans in a thousand different situations, passing through the shadows of one long night. The experience reminded me of setting off into a vast metropolis, late at night, and encountering a dizzying array of characterful people. Some you like, some you love, a few you loathe–but all are interesting, and all have something important to say.
In short, Outcast Hours is a startling and visceral snapshot of humanity’s darkest moments, captured from voices all across the globe. I very much enjoyed it, and found the collection intriguing.