Insanity by Increments: Stories
by Alaric Cabiling 
Amazon Digital Services

"It's like there's this stranger deep inside of you, sharing space in your mind, whispering, sabotaging everything."

Insanity by Increments is a collection of nine short stories, each filled with progressively ascending tension; each walks the fine line between reason and the dark impulsive tendencies of the human mind.

While the novel takes the title of the final story, the stories prior are the build up. In the opening story, "Once Found, Once More Forsaken," the image of the dead swans in the forest thrusts the reader into a somber mood and ensures that there will be no fitting, happy end. "The Illusion of Progress," paints a grim, albeit real portrait of life: marriages fail, accidents happen, and even when one might think they've hit rock bottom, there's still further down to go.

Cabiling does an incredible job of using the setting to depict the ominous mood of his narrative. Examples include phrases like, "furniture would sit somberly like tombstones."

"Winter’s Eden," is the story that stands out. The phrase Eden plants the forbidden fruit idea into the audience's mind. Whether it's the tension between Amy and her Uncle Henry, or Henry's reluctant fulfillment of his obligations to his paraplegic wife, Leticia, this story pushes the envelope.

To have a collection that repeatedly trumps predictable behavior is refreshingly original. "Frailty" toys with the macabre and will certainly get a gasp from its readers as the story spirals into a darkening world.

Interestingly, sexual tension is almost ubiquitous. However, the story with the least is possibly the most depressing: "Omens of Winter." Set in Scuttlefield, Cabiling shines light on a painstaking life of toiling the farm and resigning one's self to a lifetime of despair.

Overall, the simple structure makes for an easy read. The content, at times, resembles a fusion of Poe and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Other times, it shatters the barriers of reason and lets readers dive into the horrific reality that is depression.

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