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Getting Even: Revenge Stories

edited by Mitzi Szereto

" “I am Lucifer. Beelzebub. Mephistopheles. The Prince of Darkness. Satan. Or the Devil, for short.” He gave me a saucy wink. “But you can call me Alf.”
The King of the Underworld and his name’s Alf? Had I drunk the nail varnish remover after all?
“Well you’re not quite what I expected, Alf.”
“No? What’d you expect, sweetheart?”
“Well, definitely not some geezer who sounds like he runs a market stall in Petticoat Lane.”

Reviewed by Avis Hickman-Gibbs

Through life we all have times when we feel we’ve been dumped on. Those of us who are destined for heaven move on and forgive freely those transgressors against us. But anyone who has ever fantasized of a suitable payback for someone who’s ever done them wrong will delight in this delicious collection of seventeen stories of revenge. The whole anthology is an engrossing read, and to someone who has a robust sense of humour (count me in there!) it is a rich mix of stories guaranteed to keep a body enthralled. Mind you, it could give you ideas! 

Getting Even is a collection of stories all about the sweetness of revenge, and they all deal with revenge, in one form or another. Some of these unsettling tales detail revenge from beyond the grave, such as the spooky and desolate Remember Me by Dee Silman. 

The whole collection is littered with downtrodden women who have suffered abuse over their years, as in the (death)wish fulfilment blueprint of How to Kill an Aries by Tony Fennelly. And we have one or two heroines who are quite frankly completely off their trolleys, such as in A Cake Story by Josie Kimber – who of us hasn’t wanted to get even with a bitchy “sister” – but 99.99% of us wouldn’t carry matters to this extreme. 

Danuta Reah treats us to a delightful, full-bodied tale in Glazed, which starts the collection off with a story which has you cheering for what she doesn’t do. This is a satisfying tale of a woman scorned, and out of the unwitting revenge scored, beauty is created. 

The haunting Payment in Kind by Stella Duffy, details a woman definitely not coping after her partner’s suicide; and painstakingly paying back in full the people who she is convinced caused it; herself included. The French say that revenge is a dish best served cold, and we have a unique take on this in the last tale of the collection, Esprit de Corpse by Jean Lamb; it gives whole new meaning to the accusation of frigid. 

But in my heart of hearts while I read, I have to admit that overall I found I had a sneaking sympathy for the twisted, browbeaten heroines I found between these pages. And for their fighting back against bullying, selfish, self-interested... men in the main (there were one or two women targets, like poor sweet-toothed Jennifer from Cake Story) when these dismal dollies have had enough. Who hasn’t had thoughts like these when life goes wrong? The difference is that we are asked to believe that the heroines in these stories have scored one for the underdog. And I for one can well believe they could really happen. It is a bonus that the collection as a whole is well written and easy to gallop through. 

This would be a very good book to take your mind off a nasty bout of ‘flu, or to throw into the suitcase when heading off for some sun. But if you’re male, a word to the wise, don’t give a copy of Getting Even to your wife/partner/girlfriend – it might give her (or them) some ideas.

Read an excerpt from one of the stories from this collection on Mitzi Szereto's Weblog.

Avis Hickman-Gibb lives in rural Suffolk, England. She gained a BSc. in Environmental Chemistry more years ago than she cares to admit, and worked in the fledgling computer industry whilst still a babe-in-arms. She is currently working on a novel, a book of short stories and is addicted to writing flash fiction.
Avis' other Short Reviews: Alexei Sayle "Barcelona Plates"

Ian Daley (ed) "Bonne Route"

Gary Schanbacher "Migration Patterns"   


PublisherSerpent's Tail

Publication Date: 2007

Paperback/Hardback? Paperback

First anthology?No

Authors: Danuta Reah, Umi Sinha, Stella Duffy, Tony Fennelly, Niall Griffiths, Josie Kimber, Becky Bradford, Mitzi Szereto, Georgiana Nelson, Rosie Jackson, Dee Silman, Clare Colvin, Vicki Hendricks, Madeleine de Chambrey, Chris Dunning, Tara Ison, Jean Lamb

Editor bio: Mitzi Szereto is an author and anthologist with more than a dozen books to her credit. She is a pioneer of erotic writing workshops in UK & Europe. She’s earned the American Society of Authors and Writers’ Meritorious Achievement Award for the anthologies she had edited. She lives in England.

Read an interview with Mitzi Szereto

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What other reviewers thought:

Monsters and Critics

The List

Hags, Harlots and Heroines

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The Independent