An orphanage for wayward stories. A labyrinth of secrets. A home on the border of reality…Open each door to find a world of magic and menace waiting for you, if you dare.
In The House of Untold Stories, every page is a door, and every door leads to a new tale of heartbreak, triumph, horror, or imagination. Wander into an enchanted mansion of pocket universes and miniature tales, where each door leads to a micro-fiction story. With tales about anger thieves, a deadly pizza delivery service, haunted music boxes, and more, each room will take you on an unexpected journey.
Fifty "pocket-sized" microfiction stories show flashes of profundity but mostly drown in their own glibness in this gorgeously illustrated but scattered collection from Chiykowski, the creator of online microfiction project The Shortest Story. A lovely framing conceit that positions the tales as taking readers into "places half-remembered, half-forgotten, or fully imagined" and softly distressed photo illustrations clash with stand-up comedy style vignettes that often collapse into punch lines, as in the oddly mean-spirited "Life Everlasting." Chiykowski shows a flair for inventiveness, but lacks the stylistic range to pull off his far flung concepts, frequently revisiting themes and over-relying on the trick of literalizing metaphors. The resulting stories often conjure an initial sense of wonder that reduces to a mundane snicker by the final line, as in "Pull Down a Star." The author's at his best when gesturing at honest emotion, as he does in the zombie apocalypse short "The Bones Beneath," but even the keenly observed insights of pieces like "The Anger Thief" can't help but be undermined by an uncomfortable, shrugging joke. Devotees of Joey Comeau and Emily Horne's webcomic A Softer World will feel at home with Chiykowski's mix of gentle aesthetics, subtle surrealism, and brief bursts of emotion, but others will leave craving substance. \n