Jerusalem Ablaze: Stories of love and other obsessions by Orlando Ortega-Medina

Review by Anouk from Breakaway Reviewers

Richly textured, thought-provoking and atmospherically charged – a sparkling collection of short stories that will leave you clamouring for more.

Ortega-Medina’s debut collection of short stories centres on themes of passion and obsession. Often dark and menacing, the stories fold like origami, into something unexpectedly beautiful. The collection is thoughtfully interwoven; each tale faintly echoing its predecessor, sending the reader on a breadcrumb trail, but to safety or destruction I have yet to decide.

Lyrically written and richly layered, these stories are emotionally driven and thoughtprovoking throughout. They are shadowy and atmospheric. The author builds tension so artfully that even the shortest in the collection, under two pages, left me breathless. And without exception, every character in this collection aroused my interest – they are flawed and broken, and we see but a snapshot of their lives.

I believe the mark of a successful short story is being left desperate to know what brought these people to this point, and where they go from here. There’s not one tale in Jerusalem Ablaze that left me satiated – I need to know what happened to that woman in Oregon to make her want to bring a corpse into her living room; did the beaten wife take her revenge, or did her resolve fail at the pivotal moment; and did Jean-Jacques ever chase tigers again?

I admit, I am a fan of short stories, so I know how rare it is to find a collection where each entry is as strong as its fellows. If you’ve never tried them before, I would urge you to start with Ortega-Medina’s Jerusalem Ablaze: I promise you won’t be disappointed. At least not until you try another collection and find that here is a diamond among a sea of cubic zirconia.

Breakaway Reviewers received a copy of the book to review.