Becky’s One Hundred and Twelfth Book Review: “No Reflection” by John Caliburn

“No Reflection” is a collection of short horror stories. The book is John Caliburn’s debut and I have to say, for a first book, it was pretty entertaining. The biggest downside I would say is that most of the stories left me wanting to read more and since they were short stories, there was no more. I liked the majority of the stories though and would definitely pick up something else Caliburn puts out. I’m going to do a short review on each story since there were only seven individual stories and a poem.

The first story is ‘No Reflection’ and I think was the story I liked the least. The main character works in a museum storage room and comes across a mysterious, ancient mirror called ‘The Mirror of Divination’. He is not a very likable character to begin with, he seems like a bum with no regard for anyone else. I am not sure if Caliburn made the character a jerk on purpose, but the whole time I was reading the story, I was hoping it would end the way that it did. So at least that worked out for me. I wouldn’t have led with this story in my collection personally.

The second story I found much more entertaining. It was called, ‘A Child’s Imagination’ and is nice and disturbing, which is how I like my horror stories. (Why do you think I read so much Stephen King?) This short story I could have read a lot more of if Caliburn had expanded it to a full novel. Owen, the main character, is the son of two individuals who own a restaurant that is failing. The really interesting thing about this story was how we were able to understand just how upsetting Owen’s parents troubles were to him. They upset him so much that he became rather twisted. Whenever he fell asleep, he would dream of a magical world where he was surrounded by various animals who were all his friend. Then Owen realized that his friends could all be ingredients for his parent’s restaurant. Pretty entertaining, although disturbing.

The third story was ‘Delusional’ and it is about a mental patient trying to explain to his doctor what had happened to his wife. Her death was the reason that he was institutionalized. The patient explained that he couldn’t go to sleep or the world would end. I found this whole concept to be rather interesting. It was also a different sort of take on a guy in a mental institue. I would have loved for this story to be expanded.

The next story was called ‘Rustling Sheets’ and I didn’t love it. A family moves into a home and the little boy is so excited to finally have his own room with bunk beds. That is until he realizes that he has something else in the room with him. It didn’t get much more exciting than that.

The next story was ‘The Magician’s Assistant’ and I really enjoyed it. The premise of the story is this woman is dating a magician and she is his assistant. Then she finds out that he has been unfaithful and decides to take revenge in the sickest way possible. I don’t think this story could really be expanded upon, although I would have loved to read more about it. One of the best stories in this collection by far.

The next story was ‘Fear of the Shadows’ which was very intriguing. It was a different sort of take on a child being afraid of his stepfather. In this story, the child is forced to chose between his fear of his stepfather and his fear of the dark. He knows that the dark hides theses frightening creatures that can hurt him, but then there is his stepfather who can hurt him as well. It was interesting to read and there was a fair amount of language that really engrossed my attention.

The last story was ‘Watery Grave’. The main character, Alan, just had a huge estate left to him by the aunt whom he killed. Shockingly, she came back to haunt him. Not a great story. I wouldn’t have ended with this personally.

The collection of short stories is concluded with ‘Closet’, a poem. It is short and sweet. I wouldn’t have minded reading some more poetry by Caliburn.

Overall, I think that the collection was very well done. I think that Caliburn has some real potential as an author and I look forward to seeing what he does next. Would I recommend this book? Not to everyone, but I think most individuals who enjoy the occasional horror story would enjoy several of the short stories featured in “No Relfection”. There were definitely some disturbing parts of the stories, so they wouldn’t be for everyone.


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