I have drawn these two short stories together, as companion pieces, released under their own covers (on Kindle only) and because I found them intriguing. Author, Alan Scott, has created ‘The Storm’ series, which currently comprises a trilogy of novels and three books of short stories and ‘Tea’ was taken from “Stories of a Storm Filled Night”(2014). The stories are set twenty five and twenty six years respectively, after the events detailed in ‘Scions of the Storm’ (Book 2 of the trilogy) and signpost the reader towards “Echoes of a Storm” (Book 1), where it all begins. It’s an interesting promotional strategy, which offers the prospect of a much more developed dark fantasy, but hinges on whetting the readers’ appetite through two short abstracts.
The signs were good, when having immersed myself in ‘Tea’, I was very quickly loading the follow-up onto my tray for the conclusion to the initial story and therein lies a clue. The two stories are of their nature – short and centre on the curious relationship between two very different characters, who come together annually on the longest night, “when the shadows were at their deepest and darkest”. This single night, established as the briefest of respite from their respective experiences of isolation, stands testament to the value of companionship and the healing potential of hot tea and warm attention. In these brief pages, the seemingly mundane traverses life, death, loss, duty and identity and gives the reader the sense of epic events distilled into a cup of tea shared between people, with whom a special affinity exists.
It is very much a case of less is more, yet the quality of the writing leaves the reader wanting to understand the broader context for the short stories and learn more about the enigmatic ‘Shadow Killer’ (William) and the diffident tailor (Samuel). Certainly, for fans of dark fantasy, these morsels will surely have readers seeking the main course and spurred by these tasters, I have added The Storm trilogy to my tbr list.