Ambushing the Void: Local Philadelphia Author Review from Frayed Edge Press

in #bookreview11 months ago (edited)

"I hear figures in the shadows, calling out the names of sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, partners, ex-partners, colleagues, neighbors, babysitters, nurses, surgeons, bankers, bus drivers, all of them God’s children, the names wailing through the night, rising and falling like a natural thing, the sun, the moon, the tide coming in and out, washing our love away."

Ambushing the Void is a collection of short stories set in the 21st century, the likes of which are far more fitting to the current climate than might be comfortable. In fact, the discomfort you may feel almost certainly signifies that the writing is fulfilling its intended purpose. These are not cozy stories, nor should they be. Author James McAdams uses the inexact power and mystery of liminal spaces and combines it with a world adjacent to the one we know so intimately to create a collection of powerfully unsettling stories about the grit of reality and the askance nature of the imagination when put into humanity's hands.

The world created here is recognizable, yet incomplete: a puzzle of jagged pieces written together by an author skilled with the creation of such a world and the language necessary to create it. Characters dip in and out of reality, built from McAdam's unique use of perspective. Humanistic stories are conveyed unconventionally: the romantic partner of a doctor speaking through symptoms presented, drug addiction as told in the number of people lost in the abstract, vacant voice of someone who no longer cares. The writing aches and it moves, breathing as its own entity thanks to the ingenuity of the author.

My only complaint is that these stories feel as though they wish to be more than short stories; that there is a narrative behind them untold that is occasionally not always well condensed into the single scene often required of a short story. However, the characters and skillful mastery of language to create the dicey, alt-reality of the universe contained in Ambushing the Void is a fresh perspective on the "slightly to the left" skew of reality that haunts us all of late. From explorations of addiction to the personification of Alexa herself, this collection contains a slice of contemplative weird for every variety of reader.

“This memoir reminds the reader to always view the glass as half-full”

You can purchase a copy of this book for yourself at Learn more about author James McAdams at