James Hutchings has been quietly building an impressive body of work at shorter lengths. Many of his tales are only a page or two long and are very much in the vein of Lord Dunsany. He maintains an active blog with new content appearing almost every day. I very much enjoyed his first collection of fiction and poetry, The New Death, and when he was kind enough to send me a copy of his second book via email, it was a pleasant surprise. (Thank you, sir, for the review copy.)
They Say the Sirens Left the Seas is a collection of poetry rather than fiction. And by poetry, I don’t mean prose poems. Rather most of the 46 selections in this volume have actual rhyme and meter. That works for me. I’m not a huge fan of modern poetry, which tends to be more free form. I’m more impressed with someone who can tell a tale or create a mood and do so within whatever restrictions the particular rhyme scheme they’ve chosen imposes.
While not all of the poems herein are fantastic in nature, Hutchings certainly tends towards that end of the literary spectrum. Several are directly inspired by the works of Lord Dunsany and H. P. Lovecraft.
As one would expect in a collection of poems, the tones and moods vary considerably. Yet these are poems full of wit and warmth and heart, even when that heart is one of darkness. Hutchings commands the rhymes and meters well, choosing the correct word.
The result is an enjoyable collection that I, for one, will return to. Self publishing has allowed anyone to publish their poetry, no matter how awful. These are not the immature scribblings of a wannabe poet. Most of the poems here have been published elsewhere in a number of venues and as such have passed editorial muster.
The production values of this book were quite good. I can only imagine the headache it was to try to get everything right. Furthermore, the author has provided contact information so he can correct any mistakes. I just wish the big publishers were that concerned about quality control.
If you like poetry, be sure to check this one out.