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"I laughed so hard, I almost dropped my tablet." Halibut, Herring and You: Short Stories b

Title: Halibut, Herring and You – Short Stories

Author: Carla Billinghurst

Genre: Short Stories, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Book Blurb:

A collection of fantasy and sci-fi stories from author and blogger Carla Billinghurst.

“Carla is one of my favourite as-yet-undiscovered writers.” Nike Sulway (Rupetta, The Bone Flute)

Sometimes dark, sometimes tragic and sometimes just hilarious, she brings you stories about our uneasy relationship with nature, about star-crossed lovers a long way from Earth and about the endless absurdities of life as a human.

“My favourite and beloved piece is Counting... it's short, beautiful and it made me cry.” Sandra Hogan (

In a universe where the absurd slider control has been moved almost to maximum, Milton wants to live life as a penguin, the Zombie Apocalypse comes to Australia…and Transylvania…and to Cinderella’s night at the ball.

“By far the best Halloween story I've read. Brilliant stuff.” Jane Rawson (A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists)

And when it all gets too much, there is always The Emergency Cat.

“Just the right mix of absurdity, gore and humour. And a cat. Mostly the Cat.” – Damien Miller

My Review:

This is a fantastic collection of fairy tales, fantasy and science fiction short stories. Carla is a talented writer and her stories reminded me of Roald Dahl. I loved her take on the Zombie Apocalypse infiltrating the Australian Bush. Her fairy tales are modern yet a valuable lesson is hidden underneath fleshed out characters and outrageous circumstances. Here is my summary on each story:

Halibut, Herring and You - My favorite story in this collection. Take one penguin trying to fit in amongst us humans. I laughed so hard, I almost dropped my tablet.

The Usual Precautions I - The Australian Zombie Apocalypse - Imagine what the Zombie Apocalypse would look like out in the Australian Bush. Crikey, I can just hear Paul Hogan muttering about blood-thirsty crocs and other creatures. I loved the new spin on the zombie genre.

Rachel - A delightful cautionary tale for parents on what happens when you don’t listen to children. I cheered at the end.

Fire - A burning fire unveils unexpected results.

The Usual Precautions II - Zombies attack France. While I did cheer for the zombies a time or two, I thoroughly enjoyed this story.

Counting - A tale of counting. Reminded me of Lewis Carroll for some reason. Delightful.

Seven Hundred - The author mentioned this story was the result of re-reading The White Goddess by Robert Graves. I found it poetic and thought-provoking.

Counting Back - This is part two of Counting. A tad dark but brilliant.

The Usual Precautions III - Watch out, Cinderella, the zombies will eat you! I loved this and it’s my second favorite story.

Shopping - In the same vein as The Matrix and other futuristic tales, Shopping takes us into the future where aliens have taken over our retailers. I loved it for its main character and my favorite line was when the shopper paid in cash. *gasp* Shocking, but then that’s the same response I get nowadays.

The Usual Precautions IV - Dracula meets Zombies in this fun tale.

Lilies - A murder mystery that didn’t capture my attention like the other stories in this collection. It seemed out of place.

The Usual Precautions V - The hero of the Zombie Apocalypse arrives and yet is not prepared. A lesson is learned here and I liked the ending.

Nanny - Aliens in desperate need of a nanny go to great lengths to get one. A funny tale that I thoroughly enjoyed.

The Emergency Cat - Move over Grumpy Cat, Emergency Cat is here. I loved this story and Marvel should look into this for a new line of comics.

The Youngest Serf - A fairy tale inspired by Sleeping Beauty and I enjoyed it.

The Usual Precautions VI - The final tale in the Zombie Apocalypse and it was very fulfilling.

The End of the Line - An inventive story that was originally a competition entry.

Favorite Character:

My favorite character was the penguin from Halibut, Herring and You. I love penguins and Carla did an amazing portraying a penguin with a sarcastic wit trying to make his way in a world over-crowded with humans. I want more!

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Buy it now:

Author Biography:

I write about fitting in.

I write about how hard that is and how beautiful it can be.

I write about how we all need to fit in somewhere even if we don't need the same things.

When I'm writing I want to have the same sort of dangerous fun that I can have improvising theatre.

I want readers to look up from my work and see the world around them in archetypal form: giants who can be brought down, sleepers who can be woken, magical helpers who can be seduced with crumbs and songs. I'm looking for the happy ending for our culture.

When I said I wasn't sure how to live with my collection of auto-immune diseases, my husband, a painter, said write a story about someone who does.

Solutions to our difficulties can be that simple.

Of course it's not that simple because I ended up writing a story about someone who wanted to be a penguin...

Social Media Links:

Reviewed by: Mrs. N

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