Shadow Play: Ten Tales from the In-Between by Sarina Dahlan is a collection of short stories that all have an element of the otherworldly. Most of the stories have a death or ghost element and they are all filled with emotion. Through many of them, you are waiting for a reveal that never lets you down.
My personal favorite is the first, and titular, story. You are dropped in a world rich with details and have to figure out its secrets. I actually got to beta read The Bench after meeting Sarina on Twitter. That story won an honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest.
As wonderful as the emotions and speculative elements are, they are only a part of what makes this book worth reading.
Sarina says on her site that she was “born into an Indonesian family in Thailand, and immigrated to the United States at the age of twelve.” This unique cultural background is what fills the worlds of her stories. There is not enough speculative fiction out there from this perspective.
I was going to talk about how Sarina blends the stories and the culture, but that isn’t accurate. The stories come from the culture. They don’t exist outside of the worlds she shows us.
And they aren’t about the difference between cultures. They aren’t stuffy and didactic. It’s the perfect way to introduce people who may be unfamiliar to these cultures.
If you’re looking for a great start to your 2020 reading list, pick up a copy of Shadow Play.
I for one am looking forward to more of Sarina’s work.
And, please, if you do read it, take the time to leave a review. They are vital to the career of a new author.