The Sovereignties of Invention is a book of short stories – all of which are at least somewhat creepy. Matthew Battles does a good job of keeping readers in a state of curiosity and wonder, which sometimes leads to dread and horror.

This may not be the book for everyone, but I really enjoyed it. If you like stories that include strange situations that leave the reader wondering what happens next, this is the book for you.

My favorite story in this book is called “The Gnomon”. It takes place at a technology convention, where everyone is walking around wearing lanyards with little plastic pockets that serve as their admission passes.

The Gnomon is a black box that has no discernible ports, no lights, and absolutely no one there to explain what it does. It becomes a topic of conversation as people try to figure out what it might be.

Then, it starts following the people who are attending the conference on social media.

There is a point where the story goes from an interesting puzzle to true horror. The reader is never given a specific explanation of what The Gnomon is, or why it suddenly reacts the way it did.

The first story in the book is called “The Dogs in Trees.” It involves a situation where people are noticing that dogs have started appearing in trees. At first, it seems like a quirky story, but it slowly becomes very disconcerting. Only the dogs seem to know why they’ve taken to the trees.

A story called “I After the Cloudy Doubly Beautifully” had me interested in it just from the title alone. A librarian was given the tax of clearing out the “X cage” – a repository of things that didn’t quite fit anywhere else.

The librarian finds a mechanical translator machine, that involves ball bearings with letters on them that are spun around inside a glass dome. A ticker tape comes out with the words that it makes. The machine can translate back and forth into several languages.

The librarian starts translating things from one language, to another, to yet another one. I found myself wondering what the final translation would sound like. But, something happens before the librarian is finished with the machine.

There are other stories that I have not mentioned and will leave the reader to discover for themselves.

The Sovereignties of Invention is filled with glimpses of strange and beautiful things that can also be creepy and unnerving. I found myself thinking about these stories long after I’d finished reading the book.

The Sovereignties of Invention – by Matthew Battles is a post written by Jen Thorpe on Book of Jen and is not allowed to be copied to other sites.

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