Short stories usually leave me cold. I guess I am one of those readers that loves to really get into a big, thick book and who enjoys getting to know the characters through their gradual development and situations that they find themselves in. This kind of a development and depth tend to be lacking in most short stories, therefore I usually do not pick them up. In the case of "The Light, the Dark, and Ember Between" by J.W. Nicklaus I am certainly glad that I went against my self-imposed rule.
"The Light, the Dark, and Ember Between" contains fifteen stories, fifteen perfectly drawn worlds, although we get to see most of them only during a short glimpse. Most of them bittersweet, but filled with light, hope and love, they lead the readers into a series of worlds both alike and very different from their own. J. W. Nicklaus has a gift of making the ordinary appear exquisitely extraordinary, and to make us take the second and oftentimes the third look at something small and seemingly insignificant. His characters come alive, their actions and reactions are well grounded and believable, yet still astonishing. His writing is precise, yet playful and sparkly.
"The Light, the Dark, and Ember Between" is the kind of a book one should keep by the bedside or maybe in the car for those moments when we need a little lifting of our spirits, or just a slight boost to our day. Each of the stories is precious, and each is different. And every single one will remind you of the universal truth, taught in my favorite of those fifteen, "The Paper Doll" – 'Love is the reason you'll never be alone.'