This is my first outing in the Demain series of “short sharp shock!” Books, I’ve read a couple of Ross’ books, Juniper and Tome, and based on the easy flowing narrative voice Ross brings to his work, I happily ordered three of his other books when I got a present from an author friend of an Amazon voucher. This is the first of those, and Milk kisses delivered on my expectations.

There are three short stories in the volume, ‘Pareidolia’, Milk Kisses’ and ‘Hemangioma’. Each is told in 1st person perspective, so they are all up front and emotionally loaded. There are going to be some people who rebel against that chosen pov, that’s life, it made zero difference for me, a story should be presented in the best possible medium for the voice it contains, and I think Ross chose well.

The three stories are not of equal length, the first, “Pareidolia” takes up 50% of the book, but I also have to say that it’s a good length for the idea contained within it. “Milk kisses” lands a deeper emotional impact right from the get go, Ross telling you up front that whatever comes in the story is already a tragedy, and he delivers on that promise. Having had two children, a lot of the details in the story hit home, smells, feelings, all remembered as soon as you read them on the page, so he managed to get a connection there, and it made the story even more poignant.

‘Hemangioma’ is a tale similar to something I’ve come across before, in various formats (perhaps the weirdest would have been in Total Recall, but I’m fairly certain there was something from 2000ad that is on the edge of my subconscious – chopper, perhaps?), but Ross has brought his own horror-based style to the story, and I loved the removal of portions of the problem element to it all. For me, the ending of this was vague, but I guess that was the point. 

It’s a solid short story collection, very quick read, all of the stories in it are good, there’s no filler here. My favorite? That’s a tough one – I’m tempted to say Milk kisses. Yeah. I like the lasting note of horror and despair Jeffery leaves us with. 

Though I am looking forward to Ross’ next book, I need something with a little more meat – this was a great appetizer, but I want to get to the main course. “Only the stains remain” can’t get here quick enough. And in case I miss the actual date, Happy Birthday, Ross. 

Austrian Spencer

Austrian Spencer


Austrian Spencer does not watch horror films, though enjoys horror books.  His influences include Alan Moore, Dave Sim, Neil Gaiman, Frank Miller, The family King, Iain M.Banks, from whom he wishes to learn. Be inspired. He owes them everything, despite their beards. The Sadeiest is Austrian’s debut novel. 

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