This post is part of a blog tour organised by Random Things Blog Tours. I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.
‘The Lost Archive, a collection of stories, is Lynn C. Miller’s fifth book of fiction.
‘Fraught relationships, mistaken identities, mysterious disappearances, and the search for love play out in these stories.
‘Friendships are celebrated, ex-husbands cross the line, and Gertrude Stein attempts to write her memoir.’
In The Lost Archive, by Lynn C. Miller, we spend time with a variety of characters in a wide range of settings across 22 short stories. Many of these stories are character- and relationship-driven, two- or three-handers.
While my preferences lean more towards plot-driven short stories with big endings, I nonetheless really appreciated the quality of the writing, as well as the themes, ideas, and messages that come through.
Miller turns her hand to first-, second-, and third-person points of view with consistent skill, her descriptions of people and places are detailed and vivid, and the dialogue between her characters is authentic and believable.
Themes that particularly jumped out at me were characters dealing with ageing and death in relatives; characters finding the positives in their own ageing; nagging discontents within relationships; postmortems of broken relationships; and women overcoming people and things that have previously kept them down.
I felt uplifted by these stories where women take back control and twist the narrative, namely How Much Is Enough?, Words Shimmer, Flight, and The Last Usher.
There are also less uplifting stories that nonetheless convey important, resonant messages about sexism and rape culture.
Archival Footage is another story that very much chimed with me (or rather, the considerations of memory in my PhD thesis). In this story, university librarian Audra gets thinking about how each person’s memories are unique to them, and ever-changing.
Audra contemplates how it’s up to the individual what they find worth remembering, and people remember the same event in completely different ways, but even so, we find it important and affirming to know a living ‘witness’ who was alongside us at the time.
My favourite stories in the collection were definitely the spooky/eerie ones, though. I was captivated by Pueblo Luna, where a grieving woman finds herself in a house she’s seen in recurring dreams.
I loved Is it Really You?, a Shirley Jackson-esque story about a house out of time. The Last Usher, meanwhile, builds on Edgar Allan Poe’s classic short story about an ancestral home that makes its inhabitants sick, and this was another intriguing concept for me.
I also particularly enjoyed the might-or-might-not-be-paranormal stories Pale Blue and Curiosities, and the atmospheric and fun Noir By Night.
The Lost Archive is a well-written and wide-ranging short story collection that’s full of interesting ideas.