Protectors: Stories to Benefit PROTECT edited by Thomas Pluck

This anthology exists to raise awareness and funds for PROTECT. What is PROTECT? PROTECT and the National Association to Protect Children are there to help stop and prevent child abuse in. It is a worthy cause and if like me you happen to live in another country this book will make you consider issues you’d rather see as headlines. The next time you are considering charitable donations think of the children.

I nearly didn’t bother writing this review as the forward in it says everything I want to say a lot better than I could. There is one line in the forward that I’ll paraphrase for you. It sums up everything that is important when considering child abuse. There are two numbers that are important when considering child abuse. One is too many abuse victims and zero is the only acceptable number of abused children (it really is put better in the book so go check it out).

The first couple of stories are classic examples of what most of us would consider the normal (there is nothing normal about abuse so please excuse my flippant choice of words) view of child abuse and all the disturbing details that entails. I found these first few stories really difficult to read. They certainly are not for the faint-hearted. Keep reading though as the tone changes. Every story involves a child being in jeopardy but not always in a way I would have considered before. Some of the stories are very subtle and make you consider your own upbringing. There was one story in particular that involved bleach and a baby. I couldn’t believe anybody could be that evil in real life. The very next day there was a story about a woman giving a bottle of bleach to a random small child in a fast-food restaurant. There really are some nasty people out there, but more importantly there are children who need the help and support of every single one of us.

I’m not going to talk about the individual stories as there are over thirty of them. I will however mention the one that had the most resonance with my own upbringing. Black Shuck by Thomas Pluck. I’ve read a few stories by Mr Pluck and have really enjoyed all of them. When I was a kid over here in England we had stories of The Black Dog. Anybody who saw the dog will die. It was a tale all of my friends growing up heard round the fire or at a sleep-over. I only knew two people that claimed to have see the dog and both of them died within six months. They were both heading to the gutter at terminal velocity through severe drug issues but the story is still there in the back of my mind. It seems I am not the only one. This story like a lot of the others is one not to miss.

One of the things I like about this anthology is that the transition between stories is not too harsh. It flows like an old rock album. It starts out hard and grabs you by the collar before chilling out a little and finding a groove. Then the second half gradually increases in intensity until the conclusion. It is a well written and put together collection of fictional stories, BUT the jeopardy is real. There are children out there that need us. If you do nothing else for them buy this book. Even that could help save a child.

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