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Monday, November 07, 2011

Book Review: Checkmate and Other Stories

Icy Sedgwick is a #FridayFlash regular on Twitter (she tweets as @icypop), and Checkmate is a collection of 15 of her short pieces. It’s a good choice for a rainy weekend afternoon or plane trip.

Price/Length: $0.99 / 15,000 words

Synopsis: A collection of Icy’s flash fiction, published between 2008 and mid-2010. The stories run the gamut of fantasy, sci-fi, and horror, and are arranged in chronological order of publication.

Storytelling: ★★★★★ Icy has an amazing ability to write dark fiction with an oft-humorous twist. While all of them are well-written, six of the stories stand out as particularly memorable for me:

Midas Box — a young woman’s life takes a turn when she is given a very special box.

Checkmate — in which the fate of the world is decided over a coffee shop chessboard.

My Bleeding Heart — a macabre twist on an old pun.

Bleed Them Dry — a vampire has more than one way to draw blood.

The Mirror Phase — a creepy story of a little girl fascinated with a mirror.

The Dead Do Listen — sometimes, the dead want to set the record straight!

Writing: ★★★★★ Like most #FridayFlash participants, Icy is versatile and can write well in many genres. In fact, her Western novel, The Guns of Retribution, was recently released in paperback and eBook by Pulp Press.

Editing: ★★★★ Checkmate stands out in the self/indie-published arena as having very few typos or other editing issues. I ran across maybe one or two minor issues. All books — indie or otherwise — should have this much care put into them. The only real glitch I ran across was a formatting thing: using the Kindle’s “five-way” to move between stories put the original place of publication at the top of the page, and the title at the end of the previous page. This may have been something Smashwords did.

Summary: Brief as it is, this is a steal for 99¢. If you enjoy dark fiction, you’ll find big enjoyment in these short works.

If you like Checkmate, you might be interested in some of Icy’s other work:


  1. I'm really glad you enjoyed it. I hate that weird formatting glitch but rest assured, future self-pubs will be coded in the ePub format as I don't think the Kindle converter does .doc files very well!

  2. Hi Icy — thanks for the clarification. You handled that a lot better than I would have — if I had a formatting glitch like that, I would probably have a very public meltdown if I couldn't get it fixed right away. (You should have heard me recently, using a bunch of "magic words" while tweaking Scrivener to get the output just right.)

    Scrivener actually uses the KindleGen utility to create MOBI, but it appears to use ePUB as one of its possible input formats. Odd… I thought it used RTF. Makes me wonder if Scrivener creates & discards an ePUB when it builds a MOBI. Would be cool to do both at once.


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