Title: Perfect: Stories of the Impossible by Sally Emerson
Published by: Quadrant Books
A clerk working in a public register office begins to receive death certificates dated in the future, but can she alter fate and save their victims? A woman unable to have children discovers a way of cloning her husband, but is their cloned son destined to repeat the mistakes of his father? A suburban mother is prescribed health supplements with rather amorous side-effects; can she resist its sway and keep her hands off her neighbours?
Emerson’s beguiling tales of quotidian life invaded by forces beyond our control are both uncanny and charming, and ultimately uplifting as she celebrates reality and unreality in its many forms. Fantastical, humourous and unfailingly honest in its depiction of humanity, Perfect will stay with the reader long after they leave the magic of its pages.
It’s been a while since I’ve felt compelled to read an entire book in one sitting, but Perfect, Stories of the Impossible captured my attention right away and I literally couldn’t put it down. It’s such a fascinating and thought-provoking read.
It contains seven short stories about ordinary characters being impacted by extraordinary events and how it shapes their lives. While I enjoyed the majority of them, my favourite stories are Death Certificates and Fairy Tales. Death Certificates follows a clerk in a public registry office who begins to receive death certificates dated in the future and she’s given the chance to change the fate of the victims. I found this so interesting and I couldn’t wait to see what she’d do. Would she feel compelled to save these strangers or would she let them die knowing she could have prevented it? I enjoyed going on this journey with her and seeing what impact it had on her.
Fairy Tales follows two young students who rent rooms from an elderly woman, but they soon fall ill and realise they’ve fallen into a trap, but will it be too late for them to escape? This is one of the longer stories and that’s probably why I enjoyed it. The events that take place in this one are slowly built up and it’s hard to guess what will happen because you’re lulled into a false sense of comfort. Like the two students, I was also taken in by the elderly lady and wasn’t suspicious in the slightest. I’d like to reread it and see if I can spot any clues now that I know the events that take place.
While the stories were quite short, I was surprised at how much detail was packed into them and how well you got to know the characters. The stories are beautifully written and very thought-provoking. I couldn’t help but wonder what I’d do if I was in a similar situation, especially in Death Certificates.
Even though I didn’t like all of them, I was completely entranced the whole way through and I was really looking forward to reading each story. Sarah Emerson is a very talented writer and I’ll definitely be checking out her other books.
A massive thank you to Grace Pilkington Publicity and Quadrant Books for sending me a copy of this book and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour!