- On: 12th Jan 2023
- Category: Reviews
I love a good subversion of expectation, and this anthology does just that: in the foreword, once again written by Lost Boys Press’s editor-in-chief, Ashley Hutchison, she says she turned to the romance genre, but rather than happily ever after, heartbreak and the loves that were forever never to be were chosen!
The authors of the stories in this beautifully tragic anthology have crafted tales in multiple genres, from contemporary fiction to fantasy, set in the future and set in the past – and each time, detailing the tragedy and cruel ironies, each in their own way. There’s something for everyone in this anthology, but here are a few of my favourites from the collection!
He Wore a Poe Smile by L. T. Ward
A great story to start off the anthology with, Ward shares with us a dark tale of a broken-hearted author, Anthony, who has given up on writing and life. When a fan becomes a lover, Anthony is inspired to start writing again, but as life and art start to imitate each other, even his second chance is doomed to fail.
I really enjoyed this story. There was a nice duality between the world of the story and the story within the story, creating a dark, tragic, and meta tale with several good twists that make this narrative to read!
Betrayed and Buried by K. A. Warhurst
What could be a better fit for the anthologies theme than ex-lovers meeting years after they parted ways, reminiscing about how much they lost and how much they’ve changed? That’s exactly the story Warhurst gives us, Matilda and Charles meet on the battlefield, fighting on opposite sides of the very war that drove them apart in the first place. As one of them lies dying, they share memories of their past and note how much they’ve changed in their time apart.
This was one of the stories in the anthology that felt particularly attuned to the theme, with Warhurst capturing the fading life and growing regret of his characters. Definitely a story to check out!
Goodbye to Jerusalem by Harry F. Rey
This heartbreaking tale captures both the ignition of love and its extinguishment. Set in what I believe is the Six-Day War, two young men, a Jordanian Muslim and an Israeli Jew, discover and share a forbidden love before and during the war, but fate drives them apart as Israel annexes East Jerusalem.
I thought this was the most grounded and tragic story of the anthology, obviously due to its historical setting and the ideas and situations present at that time. Rey captures the anxiety and naivety of youth, the nervous excitement and passion of a first love, and the fear and tragedy of war. Another great read to enjoy!
Nameless by Jess L. Tong
Last but not least, as I saved the best for last – this was by far my favourite story of the anthology! Set in a world where people must be given a name at birth, or else they become Nameless, individuals restricted from and locked out of society. An additional consequence of being Nameless is that you don’t have a Madmark – a tattoo-like mark – the name of your soulmate. Without this mark, the Nameless are also doomed to live loveless lives. When two Nameless meet, one is in possession of some knowledge that a shaman can grant the Nameless names.
Jess has written a fantastic story. I thought the concept was great, I really loved the ideas of the Nameless and the Madmarks, and a brilliant twist at the end really makes the story and delivers the promised heartbreak! This is absolutely a must-read story!
In summary, I recommend picking up a copy of the Not Meant For Each Other anthology. Lost Boys Press’s second collection of stories is another success, following its debut anthology, Chimera (read my review of those stories here!). Whilst the characters in the featured stories might be barred from their happy endings, this review is far more fortunate – so check these tales of tragedy and heartbreak today!
Cover for Not Meant For Each Other used with permission from Lost Boys Press
Background image by Casey Horner on Unsplash