In the wonderful world of fiction writing there are so many different types of genres and stories that virtually any reader will be able to find something which they enjoy.  Even within the same genres there are different approaches to writing which are really only limited by the author’s imagination.  These great authors will grab words from the air and put them down on paper so that they are colorful, captivating and intelligible.  They can provide the reader with much needed entertainment and escape.  While doing so, some authors pen their stories in such a way that they can only be described as beautiful and poetic.  This is the case with Susan Mary Malone’s anthology, Over the Pass, and Other Stories.  For those who are seeking superb writing which carefully examines the human condition, this collection of literary fiction may be exactly what you seek!

Over the Pass and Other Stories is actually a collection of short tales which have been assembled together as one book.  There are 12 short stories which take place from the breathtaking beauty of Montana to the vast lands of Texas.  While the first few stories contain the same characters, each story is unique and distinct and stands on its own.  From a once passionate love affair which is gradually falling apart, to a rat infestation in a vineyard which is really not about rats at all!  While each tale is indeed unique, they all have one very common characteristic…that of thoroughly exploring the human condition.  In particular, the female experience within this framework.  Be that as it may, this collection of literary fiction manages to tap into our own innermost emotions as we read, irregardless of which gender you may identify with.

While reading this collection of stories, I personally experienced sadness, happiness, surprise and disgust.  What is more, I was virtually transported into the tales and felt part of the actual experience.  For instance, we have all fallen into and out of love have we not?  The author presents this concept in such a way that we are emotionally invested in the tale and feel elation, sadness and even nostalgic as the story progresses.  To have the reader feel “part of” the story is really what true engagement is, and no easy feat.  Susan Mary Malone manages to accomplish this task very effectively!

While the plot and overall theme of these stories is engrossing, the compelling character development and beautiful setting description is entirely captivating as well.  The characters contained within the various tales are quite ordinary people.  There is nothing particularly heroic about them.  However, that is what makes them so easy to relate to and identify with.  Even within each short story we are able to see a great deal of growth within the characters and we ourselves are able to reflect upon such growth.  In some instances it is like looking at our own reflection in the mirror.

In regards to the setting description, the author really shows how well she understands her craft.  Putting forth the time and place of a story (or stories) with enough description to capture the reader’s interest can be tricky.  Quite frequently however, the reader will become tired of elaborate description and begin to lose interest.  That is simply not the case in these tales.  The writing which describes the setting is poetic beauty.  Literary devices are used throughout as a way to paint a picture of the setting with words.  They are never used just for their own sake.

As there are some adult themes in these stories, I would recommend them for an adult audience.  Lovers of excellent and descriptive writing will find something to love within each of these tales.  Highly recommended!

5 out of 5 Beautiful Stars for this one!  *****