Normal Rules Don’t Apply: Stories

Books on Tape Sept. 2023. 5:38 hrs. ISBN 9780593749050. $57. F
Atkinson (Shrines of Gaiety) offers a collection of short stories that will have listeners pondering life’s profound questions. Each of the 11 tales centers on a phenomenon called the Void, a mass-death event that recurs for five minutes each day. Though the premise may sound heavy, each story—from a young girl’s sentient toys dealing with upheaval after a tragedy, to a family that inadvisably ignores a fairy-tale warning—brings unexpected pleasure. Atkinson blends mystery, fantasy, drama, and speculative fiction to deliver a deeply satisfying and thought-provoking collection of witty and quirky tales. Narrator Paterson Joseph is a standout performer. With impeccable pacing, sensitive characterizations, and a truly beautiful voice, he brings his A game to each delightful tale. His ability to seamlessly transition from comedic moments to chilling ones enhances each situation and provides a thoroughly engaging listening experience.
VERDICT Atkinson’s many fans will love this collection, and newcomers will be enchanted as well. Showcasing Atkinson’s ingenuity and Joseph’s nuanced narration, this audio is an essential purchase for all libraries.
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