Book Review – Fortune Box by Madeleine Swann

fortune box

I do enjoy getting my bizarro fiction fix from time to time, you know. It’s not a staple in my literary exploits but now and again I love to delve into some truly weird-ass stories. It’s been a while since I read any so now was as good a time as ever to involve myself once more.

Fortune Box is a collection of nine kind-of related stories and an excellent epilogue that reminded me why I enjoy bizarro so much, and why I should really read more of it. The cover here perfectly encapsulates these stories; quirky and cute, but unnerving and creepy all at the same time.

I say these stories are related, but only in the introductions; each one opens with the protagonist receiving a strange package from Tower Ltd Surprise Packages. Once opened, weird and bizarre (obviously) stuff begins to happen.

These stories really come alive on the page and almost seem realistic, if that’s a term that can be used in bizarro. Such is the easy-reading quality of the writing. They all have a backdrop of modern life, which most bizarro fiction I’ve read seems to bizarre away from. People have regular jobs, relationships, friends; but of course these regularities become twisted very quickly. The tales don’t come across ‘other-worldly’ and you can quite easily imagine them actually happening, kind of. This is what makes them so creepy.

I found the stories drawing me in immediately and the strangeness only seemed to resonate after I’d finished reading. This is credit to the prose, which never goes full-on ‘This is weird!!!’ but instead reads kind of, I don’t know, cute?

Body horror in bizarro is one of its ingredients I enjoy the most, and although there isn’t much of that aspect in this collection, when it comes it’s delivered perfectly. Eyes growing all over a person’s body? Even though that sounds horrendous, the story just comes across almost as fact, leaving the reader to scratch their head at the descriptions with their matter-of-factness. Like I said, thinking about them afterwards makes it creepy as hell.

I sailed through this in no time at all and would recommend it not only to lovers of bizarro, but lovers of stories that start nicely enough, but then take you on journeys you don’t exactly see coming. So everyone, then!

Bizarro yourselves up!!

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