The butcherbird stories by A.S. Patric

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Transit Lounge, 2018. ISBN 9781925760101
(Age: 16+) Recommended. Short stories. The butcherbird sounds nasty but it is actually a sweet singing bird, and it is the magpie that hovers dangerously to snatch the cookie from the child's hand. At night, the child has a nightmare about the birds hiding in the shadows of the room. How can Daddy be sure that they aren't still hiding there in the dark? Whilst offering reassurances, the father himself becomes aware of the shadow of possibilities that lurk around the edges of a swimming pool in the night-time when a man and a precocious teenager paddle there alone. Like the sharp peck of a bird's beak, danger may break anytime into the thread of each story in this book. They are intriguing stories that will draw in your curiosity to find out what happens next.
In 'Dead sun' there is the mystery of a man, recovering from a trauma or an addiction, staying in the room of an elderly couple's son, long gone, and observing another son and his attractive mother next door. What happens next could be as harmless as a sleepwalker in the night or as menacing as a stalker . . .
'Memories of Jane Doe' brings together the stories of people linked by the death of an unknown woman found dead in the river. 'The flood' tells of a taxi driver navigating through pouring rain, texting for news from his wife in hospital, and maintaining a conversation with a passenger whose intentions are gradually revealed. They are unusual stories, exploring the tenuous line between life and death, innocence and danger.
Some of the stories are just a few pages, providing insight into a key moment, others are longer more complex intertwining of lives, all are fascinating as they balance light and darkness, and the good and bad in people. They will leave you wanting more from this author.
Helen Eddy