Calvin Demmer creates a gruesome collection of flash fiction in The Sea Was a Fair Master. With 23 stories, the book numbers just 83 pages. Each word is considered and not one is wasted. I’m in awe of the atmospheric, creepy tales he creates in so few words. The descriptions are intense, and Demmer’s use of language is unique.

Every story is strong. They range from those I’d like to read more about to those I’d be inclined to leave in the freezer overnight so as not to disturb the creatures within. But don’t misunderstand. I loved every minute of these stories. I just prefer to read them in the light of day.

I’m not inclined to summarize each story here. First, because flash fiction is short. By the time I give you the gist, you might as well read the story itself. And also because the element of surprise is what makes these both strange (in a good way) and enjoyable.

Demmer takes many everyday situations, like opening Christmas presents or stopping in a restroom, and very creatively turns them on their head. His monsters are primarily humans, although a couple stories do have supernatural elements.

A few of my favorite stories explore the theme of grief. But again, it’s anything but a typical exploration. Demmer takes his horror very seriously, except when he makes you laugh rather than scream or moan.

My conclusions:

Very simply, I’d definitely like to see some of these stories developed into longer works. Alternately, I’d pick up a Calvin Demmer book and read it for a good jolt of horror. I hope this author is on the cusp of continued success and recognition.


Many thanks to the author for the opportunity to read a free copy of this debut in exchange for an honest review.