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Instant Review

Posted by Rob Smales on March 31, 2016 at 4:35 PM

I was in Portsmouth New Hampshire the other night, at the Author's Night by the Sea, when an older woman came by our table and was fascinated by my Carol of the Bells chapbook.

"Well," she said, "my name is Carol."

"Oh," I replied with a smile. "So is the main character in this story. That's where the title comes from."

"It's only four dollars?"

"Well," I said, "it's very short—just forty pages."

"I'll take it!"

I did warn her that, though the book cover was designed to resemble a Christmas card, it's not a happy Christmas story. I even pointed out the skulls worked into the cover art. Nevertheless she bought the book . . . then walked to a nearby refreshment table where she took a seat and proceeded to read it not fifteen feet away from me.

Yikes?

I couldn't help but glance over from time to time, wondering if she'd gotten to the bad part yet. She was a rather sweet-looking woman, and the temptation to slip on over there and tell her whether the Carol in the book makes it or not was huge, but I resisted. It is, as I said, NOT a happy Christmas story.

Eventually she closed the book, slipped it into her handbag, stood, and, leaning on her granddaughter, started for the door—by way of our table.

Oh, terrific, I thought. Is she coming by to express disappointment that it wasn't what she was expecting? Perhaps ask me why I write this kind of stuff? Wave a grandmotherly finger in admonishment?

She walked right over to take my forearm in a gentle grip, much as she held onto her granddaughter with her other hand, and give it a gentle shake.

"This is good!"

I melted.

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