So one of the great things about the internet is that many authors have started to release tie-in short stories to accompany their novels. Of course, nothing too curial can happen in these (they save that for the books!) but it does give the reader the chance to get some added insight, often from a different character perspective. And the best part is when, like the two I'm reviewing today, they're free.
Tortured is set between Caragh O'Brien's debut novel, Birthmarked and its sequel, Prized. I think it works best if you've already read the first two books, just because there were some aspects of Prized that I didn't expect, and if I'd picked up Tortured first that would ruin them. Definitely not to be read until after Birthmarked though!
This short story is written from Leon's perspective, and it gives the reader a chance to experience first hand what a strong character he is. The Birthmarked Trilogy is really driven by the strong, female, lead character Gaia, so it was nice to see that O'Brien gave her a courageous love interest. Tortured is also heart-breaking because Leon, like Gaia, doesn't know if the other has survived. Having read Prized, and knowing what happens next, makes Tortured all the more painful. Overall, a nice short addition to a fantastic trilogy, recommended if you loved the books.
In Fracture, Megan Miranda's debut novel, a lot changes in eleven minutes for Delaney Maxwell. Those are the eleven minutes she spends trapped under the ice, while her best friend Decker tries to save her. In the free tie-in short story, Eleven Minutes, the reader gets the beginning of Fracture from Decker's perspective, including the time Delaney spends in a coma. Because Eleven Minutes is written from Decker's perspective and takes place early on, there is no hint of the paranormal that haunts Fracture. The result was actually a short story I preferred to the full novel.
Unlike Tortured, I actually think Eleven Minutes works on its own as a short story, but if you read it without having picked up Fracture it will likely leave you desperate for answers about what happens next.
I think what surprised me most about Eleven Minutes was what a compelling contemporary story it was– it even left me hopeful that Miranda decides to write a full-length contemporary in the future. There were also some beautiful phrases, like "Is this how it feels to drown? Maybe you didn’t even realize you were cold, dead, until something living touched you." And of course, having a look into the events from Decker's perspective only made me more fond of him.
Ultimately Tortured and Eleven Minutes are very different, but what they have in common is that they are two short stories, two different love interests having their say, and two great, quick reads for fans of the books they accompany.