Published by Atmosphere Press in 2019, The Devil’s In The Details is San Diego based writer and artist V.A. Christie’s debut fiction collection available in both paperback and e-book formats.
The Devil’s In The Details represents quality storytelling that pushes the borderlines between realism and fantasy, with stories crossing genres, borders, and planets ranging stylistically from noir to science fiction, to the surreal. These are not either the typical characters who are challenged and transformed for better and sometimes for worse; they are the powerful as well as the powerless, with the potentially malevolent narrator of the title story observing a group of astronauts stranded on Mars.
The short story “Heartless” won the Pen 2 Paper Audience Choice Award in 2020 and follows a detective investigating a crime and his own faulty memory. Other stories include the segmented story “Complex” in which a serial killer pursues his intended victims. However, this tale, which both begins and ends the collection, comes with a twist; it is the hunted rather than the hunter who narrate the conclusion. And this perhaps is the central tenet of each story in the collection, that, however familiar a setting or plot may seem, the reader will see it unwind in an unexpected way.
For all the high stakes and long odds presented, there is a surprising degree of humor, albeit some of it pitch-black. Anyone who reads the collection may never look at the word “turducken” the same way again.
In these stories a mirror may not be the kind that reveals the truth, while the mirages may be hiding a maze in deceptive simplicity. The only way to find the answers is to read the stories, but as one character observes prior to entering a labyrinth both literal and metaphorical, “I hope you have a spool of thread” because you may not finish the collection with the same perspective you entered with.
I enjoyed each of the stories contained in the collection and highly recommend The Devil’s In The Details.