Having been familiar with J.S. Bailey's work but having never read any of it, I was excited by the opportunity to read this collection this summer after she asked if I'd be willing to write a short blurb for it. It was the perfect introduction to her writing; this anthology contains a fairly wide variety of stories that could fit into several different genres, giving readers a little taste of each of Bailey's styles. Sci Fi. Fantasy. Thriller. Supernatural thriller. She's got it all.
This collection had a very personal feel to it. It opened by offering short summaries and brief descriptions of the experiences or ideas that sparked each story, and I found that particularly interesting. When a writer publishes a book, they are, in a way, revealing a hidden part of themselves. They're entrusting their readers with a secret. This is why publishing will always be at least mildly terrifying. But since this is an anthology, it's like we're getting glimpses inside multiple parts of Bailey's mind, especially when you stop and consider the origins of each story. Because of those variations in genre, style, mood, theme, etc., it's impossible to pick just one word to describe this collection. Some stories were clever and humorous, while some were more somber, thought-provoking, and even had me on the verge of tears by the end. Others were darker and grittier, and a couple were downright disturbing. In all the anthologies I've ever read, I don't think I've ever seen that much variety.
But despite that variety, each story still contains the same theme, and it's exactly what the title of the collection suggests: ordinary people who find themselves caught up in extraordinary situations. In some cases this is due to paranormal or fantastic circumstances. Other times it's simply a crazy turn of events they never saw coming. Despite the diversity in the stories' settings and environments, all of the characters still display qualities that are inherently human, prompting the reader to root for -- or at least feel for -- all of them in some way. Highly recommended for anyone looking for a fun, quick read that makes you think.
Of note: a few of my favorite entries were Agoraphobia, White Lightning, There We Will Be, and The Weary Traveler.
Ordinary Souls is a standalone speculative fiction collection, releasing October 13, 2016. Pre-order it for Kindle today! Check out J.S. Bailey's other work, including the Chronicles of Servitude series, available in Kindle and paperback formats through Amazon.
About J.S. Bailey:
As a child J.S. Bailey escaped to fantastic worlds through the magic of books and began to write as soon as she could pick up a pen. She dabbled in writing science fiction until she discovered supernatural suspense novels and decided to write her own. Today her stories focus on unassuming characters who are thrown into terrifying situations which may or may not involve ghosts, demons, and evil old men. She believes that good should always triumph in the end.