Title: Once in a Blue Moon
Author: Ken Christopher Ping
Genre: Short Stories
A collection of three short stories. In “Of Sand and Castles,” a lord’s twin sons are complete opposites, the younger always in the shadow of his father’s favorite. In “The Mother’s Day Gift,” Timmy is resisting the temptation to buy bubble gum cards because he’s saving up to give his mother a great Mother’s Day gift – until a careless word makes him wonder if she’s really his mother at all. And in the title story, “Once in a Blue Moon,” the goddess of color loses her will to make things colorful when the god and goddess of love refuse to help a stableboy’s ill-fated romance.
I swear I only picked up Once in a Blue Moon because the request had been sitting in my inbox for a week, and it was easier to say yes than to rationalize a no. Then I thought it through and went, “How the heck do I review a short story collection?”
I’ve never reviewed short stories before. So I’m going to review each story individually and give it my best shot.
The first story, “Of Sand and Castles,” was good. Alex, the older twin, was the bold, adventurous type I would expect from a medieval nobleman’s favorite son. Aaron, the younger, was a gentler, dreamier boy, who wanted his father to love him but couldn’t manage to live up to his brother. It had strong themes of being yourself and living up to expectations, and ended on a bittersweet note that was sad but satisfying.
Out of the three, “The Mother’s Day Gift” was my favorite. Six-year-old Timmy was so sweet, and Ken Ping nailed the innocent kid voice. It was a sweet story of family and a very special Mother’s Day gift. The ending, especially, was brilliant and well-executed.
“Once in a Blue Moon” was okay. I didn’t like it as much as the other two, partly because I was expecting family-related themes like the first two stories and partly because the mythology was a little wacky – a mix of Greek and Roman and Ken Ping’s imagination. But it was a fun, lighthearted, slightly romantic read.
Once in a Blue Moon (the book, not the story), was super short. I think it could have stood to have four or five stories. But the three that it had were good, interesting pieces, and a nice change of pace from novels. I enjoyed the read.
I received a free review copy of Once in a Blue Moon from the author. His generosity in no way influenced, or sought to influence, this review.