The Itching Scars (The Scars Book 1) by Mohy Omar, May 9th, 2017, Genre: Anthologies/Psychological/Suspense. Warning: May Contain Spoilers.
by Leigh Holland
The Itching Scars is the first anthology of short stories released by Mohy Omar. It contains three short stories. The anthology currently sells for $2.99 at Amazon and is available through Kindle Unlimited for free reading at the time of this posting. The Itching Scars is a collection of stories tied together by a central theme, namely, that being human is hard and we all carry the scars of our failures and defeats. We can hide the scars, but even so, we know they’re there. They “itch”, affect our choices and behavior, and shape who we are as human beings. Omar excellently weaves this theme throughout three different genres in turn.
The first tale is “To Court Death”. In this story, the narrator reflects on those he has known who have passed into the great unknown. Gritty and dark, our narrator takes us on a journey into the past of these acquaintances and lovers, causing us to wonder where the tale is taking us. What lies at the end is horrifying, and it is only at the end that we see how these deaths linked together in the narrator’s mind.
The second story is “The Space Above, The Space Within”. We’re abruptly thrust into a dystopian future long after the Hate War ended. The authorities are taking Votum’s father to be slain for believing in God; in fact, they are executing him for opposing the ‘truth’ of the regime. Votum wants his father to live, wants to save him, as would anyone. Omar once more builds to a horrifying conclusion.
The final tale is “Under the Rust”. Told in a first-person perspective, this story focuses on a grim conversation between the narrator and a summoned demon. He confesses his sins to the demon. The demon is anxious to get to the root of his worst sin, to remove it from him and take his soul in the process. He wants desperately to unburden himself, but has difficulty admitting to his true crime. The ending is interesting and unexpected.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this anthology. Much of the narrative style reminded me of the narration from “Sin City”; particularly in “To Court Death”. The most horrifying situations not only chilled me, but made me think about what I might do if I were in that character’s shoes. As the author writes, “They never said being human could be this hard.” As a fan of gritty, grim tales, I was left wanting more. My only complaint was that there were only these three tales in this anthology. I read the collection in forty minutes. I’d recommend this anthology to readers of short stories who love dark tales that examine the underbelly of humanity.
This book can be found at The Itching Scars.