Sandcastle Mixes Sumptuous Prose With Pitch Perfect Storytelling {Review & Tour}

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Sandcastle and Other Stories by Justin Bog {A Review}

I don’t take the chance to read nearly as many short story collections as I should. For some reason, the longer form stories seem to dominate my attention and something about reading short stories reminds me of taking lit classes in college and I feel like I’m going to be graded on my interpretation of the work. But I’ve always loved short stories, and I feel now with my limited time my problem is more that of knowing where to turn for the really good ones that are worth my time.

But when I was offered a chance to review this collection I read some excerpts of the stories online and was immediately hooked. The writing was that good.

This reissue of the debut story collection by Justin Bog is impressive. Originally published in 2013 by Green Darner Press the collection garnered high critical praise, was named one of the Best Books of 2013 Suspense Anthology by Suspense Magazine and a 2014 Ohioan Award Finalist.

It’s not hard to see why. This collection of 12 twisty psychological literary suspense stories runs the gamut when it comes to colorful characters, and the author manages to inhabit each of them with the ease of a well-seasoned pro. He slips into the mind of a 75-year-old gardener, a new mother, and a young child with equal aplomb.

The stories are imaginative and wonderfully mundane at the same time. Focusing on small details with such shocking honesty that they fascinate and resonate at the same time.

Sandcastle, the title story in the collection is masterful. It’s features the collection’s signature gorgeous, sumptuous prose and gives us a glimpse of what seems at first innocent voyeurism but ultimately turns to something much darker, more sinister. And then we as the readers, the ultimate voyeurs find ourselves helpless to stop the scene unfolding before our eyes. It’s a slow-motion train wreck full of characters making questionable choices with an ending you still won’t see coming.

Many of the stories in the collection play with human nature’s darker side to varying degrees touching on everything from apathy and want to murder, and it’s delicious to read about in the hands of this author because it is done so well. There is not a false note to be found. He also plays around the edges of mental illness with characters that have suicidal tendencies, delusions, or (in separate stories) girls who want nothing more than to be trees.

Though most of the stories are firmly rooted in the here and now, a few give nods to the fantastical. Poseidon Eyes, for example, is almost an Alice in Wonderland tale set under the sea. And The Virtue of Minding Your Own Business has one word in it, a reference to a “holographic” will which thrusts it into the realm of something that could be defined as science fiction.

Overall these stories were enthralling to read. At times deliciously disturbing, utterly relatable and beautifully moving. I highly recommend this collection to fans of short form and literary fiction, but I really think there is something in this collection for every type of reader to enjoy.

four-half-stars (1)

About the Book

Sandcastle by Justin Bog

Sandcastle and Other Stories: The Complete Edition

By Justin Bog

Genre: Short Fiction/Psychological Literary Suspense

The Complete Edition of Justin Bog’s First Collection of Dark Psychological Suspense Tales.

An award-winning collection, Sandcastle and Other Stories reveals twisted secrets that are mined like plutonium. These twelve literary tales are nothing short of an adventure through a roiling sea of emotion. With authenticity and eloquence, author Justin Bog holds a provocative and compelling mirror on the human condition.

“The stories are those of everyday people who might live next door or in the walk-up across the street . . . A man with a personal crisis takes a singles cruise – a woman leaves her toddler girl at the beach while having a romantic tryst – a B-list actor’s character is killed off – a girl is sucked below the sand into an underwater chamber . . . an old gardener who has dark secrets interacts with the bosses daughter in a most unforeseen way. The only commonality in these tight, little stories is they are unexpected. Having this book is like having a string of black pearls – each one slightly different, but each a perfect, dark, little gem . . . Bog paints pictures with words as Titian did with oil paints – startlingly detailed with deep perspective and rich complexity.”

–Rosi Hollenbeck, San Francisco Book Review

Available Now:


*The author will be selling two new stories separately in one bundle under the title: Speak the Word! as an eBook only for $1.99

Little Details

Review Copy Courtesy of Author / Sage’s Blog Tours

Publisher: Booktrope

Publication Date: May 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-1620158890

Format: Ebook

Length: 226 pages

About the Author

Justin Bog

Justin Bog lives in the Pacific Northwest on Fidalgo Island. Justin Bog was Pop Culture Correspondent and Editor for In Classic Style. He enjoys cooking, lawn mowing not so much, and spends time walking and handing out treats to two long coat German shepherds, Zippy and Kipling, and two barn cats, Ajax The Gray and Eartha Kitt’n.

Follow Justin:

Website | Blog | Twitter | Goodreads

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