ESLAMI_-_HIBERNATE_COVER_JPGReviewed by Alisha Churbe

Hibernate is a collection of eleven rich short stories.  Each of these stories need a bit of time to marinate after they are read.  I tried to read two or even three in a single setting, but I found myself distracted by the story I had just read that it was too difficult to focus on a new story too quickly.  Short stories should very much stand on their own and demand singular attention.  Eslami has done a wonderful job of creating this emphasis, both in character and in the settings, in each of the stories that appear in this collection.

The title story, “Hibernators”, follows a young couple who are determined to embark upon new experiences.  They give up their ordinary life to head out on a new journey.  In “Victory Forge”, Eslami tells us a story of a boy who becomes a soldier and goes to war.  She shows how this boy changes throughout all the new experiences.  The story is narrated in second person, giving it the feeling of extreme distance and it felt like a secret you are not supposed to know.  The storyteller in “Yana Land,” is immediately intriguing when presented to the reader and narrator, “Maxwell Yana whispered a story in my head, his lips so close my ear began to thaw.” Eslami’s storyteller​s​ and narrators do a terrific job of grabbing us from the very beginning and holding on until the very end.  Each of the eleven stories have their own merits and will keep you reading in their own unique way.

Eslami’s storytelling is quirky, sometimes leaving large gaps in written word, leaving the reader to continue the narrative before the next part picks up.  Others use point of view placed at an unexpected angle or distance, distorting the known and the unknowns.  I enjoyed this style, it lent to the mysteriousness of the stories and was well intended, well executed.  Her stories can have dark undertones and subject matter, but there always seems to be a moment of clarity, redemption or hope that peeks through.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Part-time fiction writer, Alisha Churbe lives in Portland, Oregon. In the rare instances when you can pry her away from books, Alisha can be found travelling in foreign countries, cooking, or hiking with her husband Michael and dog Euro.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by BookSparksPR. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.