Layers by Zuzanne Belec


Eight short stories on the power of the human spirit.

Layers is a debut collection of imaginative short stories celebrating life and the human spirit despite the ever-present spectre of melancholy in our lives today. With their distinctive blend of wit and humour, they light up any underlying darkness.

From the Americas to India, from Africa to Europe, and through a range of genres, voices and styles, layers are unraveled, revealing the textures and contrasts of old and new in the environments and cultures of today’s fast-paced world.

With vivid descriptions, we are drawn into enchanting worlds with characters that leap off the page, leaving the reader lingering long after the pages have been read.

In The Christmas Charge: Instead of enjoying their Christmas preparing eggnog cream pie and sipping sherry by the fireside, three batty grannies go on an African safari. At this stage of wisdom in their lives, nothing can go wrong. Right?

In Paths Taken: When her grandmother ‘kills’ a man on a busy town square, Hecate is forced to face her worst fears and use her own unsettling powers to help her. But where will these new paths take her?

In White Noise: All Earl needs to do is hand his work over to his successor. But is it that easy to let go? And where does one hide from one’s inner noise?

In The Old Man and the Donkey: Deep in northern Portugal, an old man and his donkey go about their lonely routine. When an unexpected visitor shows up, everyone is given a new chance of happiness. But have they all been stubbornly avoiding it for too long?

In the Arctic Haze: Since he was little, bad luck has stuck to George’s soles like clingy dog mess. Some of us are luckier. Or are we really?

In Penny’s Purple Robot: A loving father exceeds himself to make his daughter happy after her mother passes away. But can he force himself to face a brutal truth?

In Mothers: Deep in Africa, a desperate mother accepts her own fate, but refuses to face an even harsher reality. Mothers will do anything for their young. And things may not be as they seem.

In Yeehaw: Running from their regular lives, Sam and Patsy end up in an artificial town – Yeehaw Theme Park. Will they find their true selves in this synthetic world?

If you like a minimalist and dark, yet humorous look at the contrasts we face in the world today, you will enjoy this collection of mixed-genre stories.

Buy Layers here:

Add Layers to your Goodreads To Be Read list here:

My Review

4/5 stars
I read a Kindle version kindly sent to me by the author, Thank You, Zuzanne!

Zuzanne Belec is a well-travelled individual and her interest in other cultures and countries shows in her choice of settings and characters for her stories. Each of the eight stories is set in a different country and I enjoyed her rich descriptions of locations and the people we meet in them.

I found these eight stories to be cleverly thought out, witty and very entertaining. Full of interesting characters and snippets of unexpected descriptive detail. When the ‘three batty grannies’ with a penchant for tea, cucumber sandwiches and sherry go on their safari in The Christmas Charge and find themselves staring down a charging bull elephant, we are treated to the detailed description of his wrinkles, the blood vessel patterning in his ears and the grooves of his tusks. This particular story is tense and we fully expect the poor dears not to survive:

The car wouldn’t start, and the charging bull was now only a few feet from us – trunk raised and ears whooshing gleefully.

Zuzanne Belec

Paths Taken is a detective story set in modern day Brazil which contains magic, zombification and characters with super powers. The message of the story is to be brave enough to face your fears:

“…sometimes it’s the most difficult paths that are the right ones to take!”

Zuzanne Belec

Some of the themes touched upon by the stories include mental illness, work/life prioritization, family stubbornness/forgiveness, facing our fears and making the most of every moment we have in life. As such they are probably of interest to a more mature adult audience – people who have begun to consider such subjects in their own lives – rather than younger readers. They will be enjoyed by people who have travelled and experienced other cultures and countries as well as those who enjoy experiencing travel from the comfort of their armchair.

These stories are of varying lengths and genres and are easy to read. I don’t think there are any themes included which readers need to be wary of.

You can download a free copy of one of Zuzanne’s story, The Unadorned here:

About the Author

Zuzanne is a writer, poet and translator who now lives in the heart of Europe, after being lucky enough to spend her first thirty years absorbing the contrasting textures of Africa.  

After she quit the rat race, she spent fifteen years as a translator before discovering the world of writing.  This discovery, and the encouragement from her daughters, partner and friends, led to her decision to delve even deeper into writing. She then grew a long grey beard and became a hermit, studying the craft and immersing herself into this world that is magic.

About the time when her beard reached ankle-length, she knew she was on the right path when three of her stories were published in Canadian literary magazines.  

Her debut collection, Layers: A Collection of Short Stories, is the result of this passion. And it is only the beginning …

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  1. Pingback: Indie Spotlight – Zuzanne Belec – Sue's Musings

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