Title: The Sea Was a Fair Master
Author: Calvin Demmer
Page Count: 128 pages
Rating: 5 / ✨✨✨✨✨
The world’s fate lies with a comatose young girl; an android wants to remember a human she once knew under Martian skies; men at sea learn that the ocean is a realm far different from land, where an unforgiving god rules; a school security guard discovers extreme English class; and a man understands what the behemoth beneath the sea commands of him.
The Sea Was a Fair Master is a collection of 23 stories, riding the currents of fantasy, science fiction, crime, and horror. There are tales of murder, death, loss, revenge, greed, and hate. There are also tales of hope, survival, and love.
For the sea was a fair master.
“On these dark-blue waves, it is the sea who is judge, jury, and executioner. This is another realm, where forgiveness doesn’t exist as on land and where spirits do not find freedom among the clouds. Here, they ride the currents of forever.”
I absolutely LOVE short stories, and especially flash fiction. As a kid, I used to select books based on how many pages they were – the more, the better. As an adult, I’ve found that I have so much less time to devote to my hobbies while also juggling more adult responsibilities… And that’s where these bite-sized beauties come in handy the most!
THE SEA WAS A FAIR MASTER contains 23 super short stories, and isn’t easy to categorize into a single genre. Calvin’s fiction is genre-bending, some stories including sci-fi elements, others focusing on crime/thriller plots. Horror is a big theme, as is the ocean – and as someone who is completely intrigued (and terrified) by the ocean and everything about it in literature/movies/life, this was 100% up my book addicted alley.
I honestly couldn’t give anything in this collection less than 4 stars, and I’m fairly picky when it comes to short fiction. I want my stories to pack a punch, and punch me they did, several times throughout reading this! There were a few stories that had endings I did not see coming at all, and I love being surprised.
I felt like this could have been written with me in mind because of all my favorite things that were included: Christmas horror (literally my #1 favorite thing, and Christmas was mentioned IN MORE THAN ONE STORY!), sea creepiness, zombies, serial killers. Each story was fresh and exciting because it was totally different from the last, and in such a good way!
I normally prefer my collections to have centralized themes, although that didn’t even matter here. While this one is pretty scattered in subject matter, Calvin’s written voice really shines through to tie everything together, providing a sense of cohesion overall.
Stories with 5 Stars from Me:
– On the Seventh Day (One of my favs in the entire collection and such a good entry point to the book!)
– Restroom Finds (!!! Please write more about this, okay?)
– Yara (Emotional sci-fi? Yes please.)
– Revenge of the Myth (Repeat after me: CHRISTMAS. HORROR!!!!)
– The Sea Was a Fair Master (Title story! So good.)
– Trashcan Sam (I loved this weird little society so much!)
– Blind Teddy (Okay, it isn’t Christmas HORROR, but it’s like an episode of Law & Order and I’m digging it!)
– The Snakes or the Humans? (I have ophidiaphobia and am down with the removal of snakes, sorry snake-loving friends!)
– Like a Spanish Guitar (If this and Coco have taught me anything, it’s that stealing other people’s musical instruments is WRONG!)
– Hangman (I’d love to see this adapted into a short film so much.)
– Noisy Neighbors (WHOA, that took a turn!)
I’m realizing that I listed over half of the stories here, and that was even after I narrowed it down. Oops? Seriously, read this! My only complaint is that there isn’t more of it to read! I could have easily read 23 more (and then 23 more, and 23 more…) of these stories.
When is the next collection coming, or literally anything else the author writes? I am ready! Calvin Demmer is someone that I’ve seen around the bookstagram/bookloving community; he’s friendly, he’s knowledgeable about the stuff he likes, and he’s got great taste in media. I can officially add “awesome writer” to that list of positives after finishing his debut flash fiction collection, and I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes open for his future publications – and you should, too! Thanks to him for sending this with the agreement that I’d review it honestly – I absolutely loved it.
One last note – the introduction by Gwendolyn Kiste is really good and mentions my favorite King book, so definitely don’t skip that! She’s also an awesome writer I’ve started reading recently, and I’d recommend her as well! You can read my review for her PRETTY MARYS ALL IN A ROW here.
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