I’m going to do something a little different for this review, because these short stories are *short*—flash fiction typically clocks in at 1,500 words. None of these stories has much in the way of plot. They’re more like snippets in time, each showing a single moment in a relationship.
The benefit, therefore, to reading a collection like this, is in getting a sense of the author’s voice, without the time commitment. The downside is that in stories this short, you will likely not get worldbuilding AND character AND conflict AND romance, so if you want a fully immersive reading experience, flash fiction is not a good bet.
So what did I learn about Elva Birch here? She writes shifter romances. Her stories have a sense of wit about them, which I expect would translate into her other writing. I mean, the very first one in the collection is about a Dodo shifter, and the shame he feels about turning into such a lame animal (this one was one of my favorites, by the way—even in a small space, I got a great sense of the world, the Dodo hero, and his internal conflict about asking out his co-worker). She explores different kinds of shifters beyond your standard apex predators, and how people’s animal identities might impact their lives. The stories tended to lack tension, which is likely attributable, at least in part, to the form; but given how much I got a sense of the way she plays with shifter tropes, I would say that tension and conflict is either a weak point in her writing or something she chose to downplay in this collection.
I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.
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2 thoughts on “Mini Review: Prompted 2: 14 Flash Fiction Stories, Sweet to Spicy by Elva Birch (2021)”
As a fan of anything Elva Birch writes, I can assure you that tension and conflict are not weak points in her writing, but are, as you suggested, downplayed in her flash fiction.
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Good to know! Erin, another one of our reviewers, has really enjoyed Birch’s dragons of Alaska books, so I suspected as much. 🙂