Review: Short Stories by Steven Penny

This post post features reviews of both of Steven Penny‘s recent short stories, End of the Line followed by Eleventh Night.

★★★33795159

Meet Maeve O’Grady, just eight years old but already well acquainted with the harsher realities of life. Her workaholic mother and womanizing father fight incessantly despite their separation, but Maeve still loves them both equally. After another switching off between her parents, Maeve rides the train home with her mother. As she dozes, Maeve encounters a mysterious figure with more knowledge than he could possibly have.

End of the Line is a fast-paced story that shows the reality of a child living between two homes with parents that have only their child in common. My heart ached for Maeve, who was deprived of the ability to experience the world as the child she was. Instead, she spends her days performing a balancing act, trying to mediate the problems of the adults who were supposed to care for her above all else. The situation reaches a crescendo as Maeve is left to reflect alone as her mother sleeps on the train. Revelations come pouring out and the world turns on its side in a sinister twist that hits like a blow to the gut. End of the Line was published in January 2017.

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39863838★★★★☆

In the midst of the Troubles, our narrator meets the beautiful Sadie Murphy at a dance. Though they have only a fleeting moment together, her memory persists until they meet again, on opposite sides of a town divided. Decades later he recounts the memory of the woman he thought he’d marry over drinks at the local pub.

This story is very brief, but also quite touching. In the midst of conflict that was pervasive Northern Ireland, a love blooms between two people of heritages on either side of the Troubles. Despite knowing they were doomed, it’s hard not to get enthralled as their relationship blooms from acquaintances to lovers over a year. Eleventh Night was published April 16, 2018.

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I received my copies of End of the Line and Eleventh Night from Steven Penny in exchange for honest reviews.