Short Story Review: Hounds by Clayton Snyder

Short Story Review: Hounds by Clayton Snyder

Hounds by Clayton Snyder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Grimdark
Pages: 15 pages (Kindle Edition)
Published: Grimdark Magazine #30, 22 April 2022

Short stories are tough to review, especially in the case of Hounds. There’s a very limited amount of real estate you can work with, and Snyder tips his hand at many new ideas and characters that we barely get to spend time any time with. Before we know it, the story is over, and I’m left wanting more – which is a good thing! On the flip side, why introduce certain elements if they’re never going to be dug into? Not that every detail must be explored, but I felt that a lot of potentially interesting ideas were just barely touched upon and then dropped entirely, be it an allusion to power, a relationship status or history, a mention of ancillary characters, or important world-building elements. In some cases, less is more, but I would have appreciated more being more, here.

Onto the story itself.

Hounds is about making tough choices while raising children out in the wilds of a plague-infested land. In this world, the morality is so grey that our narrator must consistently remind himself to take the higher ground. But as the story progresses, what constitutes the higher ground keeps changing for the worse. When there’s no easy choices left, at what point should survival be considered optional?

It is a bleak story with a dark ending, and Snyder’s writing is powerful and effective at conveying the hopelessness of the narrator’s journey. But without knowing more about the surrounding circumstances, I couldn’t fully relate to the decisions of the narrator. There was a bit of a disconnect in understanding his motivation and reasoning. However, the experience of reading the story itself I very much enjoyed; Snyder has a knack for quickly creating effective atmosphere in his stories and Hounds brings this in spades. If you’re a fan of creeping dread, walls-closing-in tales of paranoia, then this is a story for you.

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