The Redemption of Galen Pike by Carys Davies

The Redemption of Galen Pike is a collection of flawless short stories and flash fiction. Setting, character, and plot are of such a variety that the strongest similarity between the stories is that each is more surprising than the last. Davies deftly turns every situation, and the world, on its side.

In surprisingly few pages, Davies creates whole worlds, one story after the next. The titular story is not only about the vile Galen Pike, but also shows the residents of a small town striving for civic improvements in spite of the indifference of local officials. One story tells of both the lives of a New York family and the personal history if their immigrant nanny. Another story, revolving around a body washed up on the beach, unveils a shocking reality, a world unseen at the story’s onset. In fact, that is the uniting characteristic of all these stories: each one contains a twist, a surprise that leaves the reader shocked and puzzled, often to the degree that you may find yourself re-reading the story to find clues. The twist is never cheap though, never tacky, and the stories themselves are not misleading. Instead, each story unfailingly finds the heart of the matter and strips it bare.

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