Enter At Your Own Risk!
by Timothy R. Bartlett
Westwood Books Publishing

"Every event is uniquely done for each perfect stranger, like yourself, who happens to pop in for a day or two of adventure."

Fans of twist endings and surprise details will be in for dozens of delights with this collection of short stories that has been steeped in cleverness. From the ghost towns of the Old West to the farthest reaches of outer space where starships wage war and planets function simply as prisons, there is no limit to what the reader will find on every page. A gang of flies will get the karma coming to them for harassing the other insects. A naval journey across the world will result in inexplicable torture and the exposing of a ring of spies. A jewelry shop will be robbed, and all of the inventory will return itself to the shelves. Transcending setting, genre, and expectations, these stories are designed to be enjoyed, shared, and read aloud.

Across hundreds of pages and tens of stories, each selection offers a fresh look at the mundane, a glimpse of the impossible, or an imagined world beyond what we currently know. What these tales all have in common is the earnest way they are told in order to entertain their audience. Short by name and by nature, each one occupies only a handful of pages at most, providing a reasonable length to memorize and retell or offer a quick break from the day’s events so one can unwind without losing a whole day reading. The book offers up something for everybody, but when discovered, that something may prove to be a surprise.

Readers of this collection may be reminded of the classic formula of The Twilight Zone, knowing that anything that looks, sounds, or feels normal probably has a secret waiting to shatter expectations. If each story ended with a drastic reveal, it would surely create fatigue in the reader. Fortunately, there are plenty of selections that finish with a cheeky turn of events or a sly wink to the reader. By incorporating so much variety, Bartlett ensures that the reader can never truly fall complacently into a rhythm beyond the general idea of expecting the unexpected. Even with that mantra, the author takes a number of inventive routes to catch even the most veteran reader off guard in a way that feels organic and not completely out of left field.

Perhaps most impressive of all the things that this book accomplishes is how much the author is willing to surprise the reader, not just with twist finishes and narrative choices but within the contexts of what all he includes in this volume. Not only are there a number of different genres and approaches on display but also a handful of exciting conventions to discover. Some stories stand alone, others link together to tell a larger tale, and one even includes multiple endings, forcing the reader to choose which path to take. All of these elements work together to create a read that puts fun on a pedestal and which is a true delight to enjoy either alone or with a crowd. With so many adventures and worlds to explore, readers will absolutely find something that sparks their imagination.

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