short story collections step into the

find something to read by:

Ten Journeys Through The Unknown

Heather Beck

" Clayton knew he was in real danger. Somehow, he had ended up in a land full of sugary treats that liked to eat humans."

Reviewed by Stefani Nellen

I like writers who can let their imagination run wild and just go along for the ride. Ten Journeys Through the Unknown has the potential of being an enjoyable feast of humorous and scary stories that touch on various staples of the supernatural (vampires, witches, gnomes, nightmares) and give them a new, contemporary twist. The stories which are meant to be enjoyed by both children and adults, are satisfyingly long and offer lots of plot and action. There was always a surprising moment or two to make me smile. Clearly, Heather Beck has tons of imagination and loves to tell stories. 

My favorites stories were Gnome Genome, which features (obviously) gnomes, lots of pine needles, a vile potted plant and a wonderfully nasty surprise ending, and The Kingdom of Sugar, where…candy strikes back. These stories were fun to read because they didn’t follow any formula but instead were driven forward by the venerable storytelling impulse of Making Weird Stuff Up. 

However, the sloppy writing and (apparently) non-existent editing made it difficult for me to enjoy the book as a whole. I had to separate ideas from writing so I could enjoy the ideas while cringing at the writing once in a while. This has nothing to do with the book being intended for a younger audience. The writing problems are basic and wouldn't have passed professional editing in any genre. Characters are forever thinking out loud in order to fill in background information, consecutive sentences say the same thing, punctuation and word order seem to follow the erratic suggestions of the Microsoft Word grammar checker instead of common sense, and there are typos all over the place. A rigorous editor could have done wonders for this book. 

As it is, this is a decent collection of humorous horror stories that is not going to do much to counter the prejudice that genre writing isn't quite up to par with literary writing. The ideas here are great; I hope the author's power of imagination will find a less cluttered outlet in future works.

Stefani Nellen writes literary fiction and science fiction. She lives in the US and the Netherlands.


PublisherSaga Books

Publication Date:2006

Paperback/Hardback? Paperback

First collection?No

Author bio:  Twenty two-year-old Heather Beck was born in Canada. She currently attends university where she studies English and a vast array of other disciplines. Heather began writing seriously at the age of sixteen. Her first book, The Paradise Chronicles was published when she was only nineteen. Since then Heather has written several more books. Although university keeps her busy, Heather is adamant about making time for her writing career.

Read an interview with Heather Beck.

Buy this book (used or new) from:

The Publisher's Website: Saga




And...don't forget your local booksellers and independent book shops! Visit  IndieBound.org to find an independent bookstore near you in the US

What other reviewers thought:

Book Bee



MidWest Book Review