Spoiler Free Summary: In The Desk Mask, from Posh Bytes by C. Rose, Beetle is a mortician who’s tired and lonely. Thyme is a woman who just lost a mother she never really had. As Beetle is about to finish his final service, he realizes he has the chance to do something he’s never done, and doing so means giving Thyme something she’s never had.
Character: It’s been weeks since I’ve read this book, and this story alone would have qualified as one of my favorites of the year so far. Beetle and Thyme really resonate with me. Watching those two was such a charming experience.
Exposition: Here’s where I freely admit that the type of story this is probably has me thinking unfairly high of the story as a whole. There is a lot of exposition that takes some of the drama and joy out of the story. The telling exceeds the showing. I didn’t notice as much because I was so enamored with the characters and their story. It felt a tad like UP. If someone else were to read it and not feel the same, I’d wager this is because this hit the right sort of emotional button with me and it might not with others. The exposition isn’t so bad as it slows things down. Please understand the difference. If it had far too much exposition, no amount of charm from any one character would be enough to hold my interest. More accurately, it’s fair to say this story simply relied a bit more on telling us how things went than showing us.
Worldbuilding: I can’t recall any of these characters overlapping, though it’s probable there’s an Easter egg in there somewhere I don’t remember. Here though, the conflux of character and theme left me feeling a lot like a pleasant summery blend of UP and Speaker for the Dead. To be fair and honest, I’m not saying this story reaches that level of power, but it resonates with those themes and connects to the same emotional scale.
Dialogue: The absence of Valerian detracted from the dialogue. I’m of the opinion the author knew and associated with that character most (Note: I’m discussing development of character and not similarity in behavior). This dialogue probably got a bit forced, but it was natural enough.
Description: Like with Supernova, this story relied on description more, and I could tell the author took more time with it. I hope to see more from Rose at some point, and if that happens, I hope she combines some of the elements that make these stories stronger.
Overall: This is my favorite story of the anthology. Supernova was powerful, but I’m a comedy guy, not so much a tragedy one. That’s not to say that The Death Mask didn’t have it’s share of sad moments, but I felt far more uplifted (no pun intended) at the end of it than I did with Supernova. I mention this because I feel strongly that these two stories alone would be worth the price of the entire anthology.
Thanks for reading