BOOK REVIEW: The Twofer Compendium

The Twofer Compendium edited by Ruth Littner and Ann Stolinsky (Twin-Themed Story Anthology, 2019).

This e-book anthology packs in 35 short stories involving twins of all imaginable sorts. I approached it with a mild fear of possible repetition, but I need not have worried. Editors Ruth Littner and Ann Solinsky did a fine job of selecting a varied assortment of capable and often quite intriguing stories, none of which resembled each other to any too great a degree. Aside from the obvious skills of the various writers and the editors, having a wide range of genres represented further aided in the content’s fresh-feel.

Of course, certain aspects of the twin experience were repeated. As an example, the book has 3 stories involving the fates of physically conjoined twins. Yet each story approaches the subject in its very own way.

My favorite of these (and one of the very best in a quite solid anthology) is by Sharon Frame Gay and is a moving account of the surviving twin’s struggle to go on after emergency separation surgery from her dying sister.

In contrast, but of nearly as great appeal to me, is “The Last Hallowe’en” by Tony Conaway. This book-ending entry puts a science fictional/end-of-the-world spin on the conjoined state.

And Bruce Meyer explores bitter sibling rivalry and jealousy between sisters who can never escape each other’s presence due to their physical joining. Their mutual doom is assured when one finds love.

Many other stories also struck my fancy.

Rose Strickland offers up a variation on the Snow Queen myth that also features the familiar idea of twins trading places.

In Emily Martha Sorensen’s fun tale, a literal “Mirror Image” emerges. It’s in marked contrast to Danielle Ackley-McPhail’s funhouse horror adventure, “Skippy.”

Gerri Leen’s “In My Image” is a SF/crime blend where a thief ruthlessly uses her clone as a cover/alibi for her activities–until love again messes everything up.

A twin in one of M. Louis Lambert’s 2 offerings here uses ESP to avert the tragedy of a stillborn brother. His other effort concerns energy beings exploring the human condition in twin form.

Sometimes the true nature of one or more twins are not clear until we get a twist ending, as happens in S. P. Mounds’s story about a ‘killer’ twin who isn’t at all what even he imagines himself to be.

And then there’s the final humorous turn in John H. Dromey’s tale of a scheming crook undone by his well-meaning but not too bright (non-twin) brother.

An all-too-permanent cure for insomnia based on the mythology of twin Gods emerges in Frank Kozusko’s dark yet wry contribution. While elsewhere ghostly twins, the mystical twin-driven reset of the Mayan calendar, rival twin kings summoning were-creatures for war and an Old West sheriff dealing with his not-overly-honest twin brother are among the interesting characters found in these virtual pages.

Overall, this is an enjoyable and on more than a couple occasions a truly fascinating anthology.

I recommend it!

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