The first thing by Mercedes M. Yardley that I ever read was a nonfiction piece she did for the magazine Shock Totem, and right from the start, I was a fan of hers. However, I was a very hungry fan, bordering on starving. I just didn’t find enough of Ms. Yardley’s little stories to satiate my appetite for them. Oh I would find one here or there, and I’d gobble them all up as quick as I could, but they always just left me hungry for more.
Three cheers then for Shock Totem Publications for releasing a collection of 27 of Mercedes’ dark, and yes, beautiful stories in one attractive volume. Now at last I could gorge myself on those scrumptious stories until I burst, but with 27 treats to choose from, did I find all of them to my taste? Surely there was one or two that I found a little bitter, or undercooked, or perhaps downright unpalatable? I mean whenever you go to a buffet, no matter how good it looks, you never end up liking all the stuff that’s available, right?
Wrong. In this instance that was so very wrong and I could not be happier when I closed the cover to this book and was shocked to discover that I had wolfed down everything Ms. Yardley had laid out, found it all delicious, and I still wanted more. Each and every story here was a winner. There’s not one stinker in the batch, not even one that left me with a “meh” feeling. More impressive than that mean feat was the fact that some of them actually moved me, and I as cold hearted and cynical as any critic can get.
Some of these mouthwatering morsels were little bite-sized bits at best, like the story “Broken” that is just two lines long. Yep, two lines, 20 words, and that’s it. And yet instead of being a throwaway bit of “oh aren’t you trying to be so clever” I was instead thinking, “Hmm, that was pretty damn good.” While none of the tales in this book would be considered big and meaty, all of them satisfied me. That’s a strong testament to Ms. Yardley’s mastery of words that she can be so economical with them and still produce truly tasty things.
It also must be said that there are a wealth of different flavors to be savored here. There is humor and sadness, flights of fancy and dull, gray reality. Yes there is horror that goes deep down to your bones, but there is also hope the floats up with the clouds. After putting this book down and wiping my sticky fingers and still watering mouth, I can honestly say that Beautiful Sorrows offers a little bit of everything. While that line is often used as a cliché, here it is a simple truth.
In fact, these stories were so good that I can’t pick my usual four or five favorites from the bunch as I feel that would be unfair to the rest that I didn’t mention. Also, these stories are so short and so well written, there is no reason for you not to gobble them all up. I did it in a single sitting, but I’m sure you’re a much more refined diner than I am. But however you devour this book, just be sure that you do. Pass up this feast of fancy and fear and you’ll have nothing left but famine and no one wants that. Beautiful Sorrows is beautifully done from start to finish. Consider it highly recommended.