#BookReview: Menagerie by Joan Hall @JoanHallWrites @StoryEmpire #shortstories

Hi everyone! Today, I have a book review for fellow author and Story Empire Contributor, Joan Hall. Having enjoyed many other books by Joan, and knowing how much she enjoys legend, folklore, and the mysterious, I grabbed this one as soon as it released >>>

About the Book:

King’s. The Tower of London. Glass. What do these have in common?

Each is a famous menagerie.

While this Menagerie doesn’t focus on exotic animals, it does contain a collection of stories that explore various trials people face and how their reactions shape their worlds.

Survivors of a haunted bridge. Women who wait while their husbands fight a war. Former partners reuniting to solve a cold-case murder.

These are just three of the thirteen stories in this compendium, encompassing past and present, natural and supernatural, legend and reality. The genres and timelines are varied, but there’s a little something for everyone who enjoys reading about simpler times and small-town life.


My Review:


Short fiction that leaves you with feel-good vibes

Having read and enjoyed other books by this author, I grabbed a copy of Menagerie as soon as it came out.

This collection of 13 short stories, covering roughly 218 Kindle pages, is a great volume to dip in and out of. The tales cover multiple genres from legend and folklore to war and family drama. All share a glimpse of small-town life with down-to-earth characters that draw in the reader. The plots cover love, loss, hauntings, greed, the aftermath of domestic violence, war, and romance, and will appeal to a variety of age groups and lovers of diverse genres. All of them use clean language and have a gentle feel to them, but still hook your attention.

My personal favourites were the stories which brought ghosts, legends, and mysteries into the plot. Whatever the subject, though, each tale gives a feel-good vibe and leaves the reader satisfied. Here are some lines I enjoyed in particular >>>

‘Maggie feared what it said but ignoring the problem wouldn’t make it go away.’

And …

‘The anguished cries of the wounded called to me in my sleep.’

And …

‘The front door stood open as if beckoning visitors inside.’ … I love the spooky vibes in this line.

The story that gave me goose bumps was Storm Rider, and I loved the message in Seven Days, where enforced digital disconnection helped a struggling writer to rediscover herself and what matters in life.

Each story is unique and individual and set in varied time frames, which takes the reader far back in history and on into the 60s and 70s. Most of them hark back to simpler times, and this theme seems to run through even the more modern-day based tales, in which the characters are either compelled or encouraged to ‘switch off’ for a while.

If you like short fiction that covers multiple subjects and leaves you with feel-good vibes, you’ll be sure to enjoy this lovely collection from author Joan Hall. Menagerie gets five stars from me.


NOTE ON RATINGS: I consider a 3-star rating a positive review. Picky about which books I give 5 stars to, I reserve this highest rating for the stories I find stunning and which moved me.

4 STARS: I WOULD PULL AN ALL-NIGHTER — Go read this book.
3 STARS: IT WAS GOOD! — An okay read. Didn’t love it. Didn’t hate it.
2 STARS: I MAY HAVE LIKED A FEW THINGS —Lacking in some areas: writing, characterisation, and/or problematic plot lines.
1 STAR: NOT MY CUP OF TEA —Lots of issues with this book.

I’d love to hear what you think of this review. Thanks for stopping by 🙂


For anyone interested, here are the Amazon links …

UK … https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08R8XRTB2/

US … https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08R8XRTB2/


22 Comments on “#BookReview: Menagerie by Joan Hall @JoanHallWrites @StoryEmpire #shortstories

  1. A fabulous review of Joan’s book, Harmony. I am looking forward to reading it.

  2. An excellent review, Harmony. You captured the tone of the stories as well as some beautiful examples of Joan’s writing. I also enjoyed the variety. Congrats to Joan on another stellar review.

    • Thanks so much, Diana! Sounds as though we both enjoyed it 💕🙂

  3. I am over the moon excited about this wonderful review, Harmony. Thank you so much, and I’m thrilled you enjoyed the stories.

    • Yay! I’m happy you’re over the moon, Joan! A well deserved review 💕🙂

  4. I loved Menagerie – each of the 13 short stories is a treat. Thank you, Harmony, for sharing your excellent review. Congratulations, Joan. Another great endorsement! ❤️