Reviewed by Sandra Scholes
From the author of Reformed, The Soul Bazaar is the author’s way of telling the reader he started out with one line of dialogue, short and sweet and nothing to go with it – at first. “Welcome to the Soul Bazaar!” was all he had, but by the time he had finished, Anthony had written eight of them all based on similar themes of death and afterlife. Most are in the setting where the Soul Trader is at the soul bazaar with his first victim.
In the first story, at the Soul Bazaar, Bryn is the man with a tarnished soul who readers would connect with in a personal way that eases them into the story. In the Author’s Note, Anthony takes readers through the inception of each story of how he came up with the idea and how he thought it might turn out. Death and rebirth are the two main themes in these stories and the Soul Bazaar is a story he was right to begin with. Bryn thinks he hears a burglar at his place, but soon realises the dark place he calls home has a visitor who takes him to a very different and darker place too horrible to accept. Bryn is no innocent, though he has done wrong and as his soul is tarnished from his past acts, he ends up in a cage with the Soul Trader in possession of his soul. The meaning of the soul bazaar is that the bad people of the world would have their souls taken from them to be sold there to the highest bidder. In this case, the darker the soul, the more tempting to the bidder.
Others on sale are regrets, bad decisions and poor judgements or curses and damnations.
This story isn’t what I thought it would be as it is set in a time all of its own and has a creepy air to it. While The Cauldron is obviously set in modern day with two girls who meet on the internet, or at least that is what Martina supposes, but doesn’t happen as she never gets to meet her friend. Instead of ever meeting her, she meets Debbie and this short story introduces us to the Tor, which is a novel mentioned later in the book called The Complete Tor and concentrates on James and Rebecca’s relationship, or the start of it (and is reputed to be grim and violent.) After the Disease: Part One: The Cure and After the Disease: Part Two:Last of my Kind are separated between other stories like an after thought. The Hollow and Wake are the two shorter ones that provide quicker satisfaction as separate stories unconnected to the rest.
The Soul Bazaar is a strange and disturbing set of stories, which was thankfully better than the cover art. The object of these stories is to make us ask the question of whether death is the end, who we are and what will happen to the rest of the characters. It deals with the darkness inside us all and answers whether good people go to Hell or not rather well.