I don’t often review short stories because they begin and end before any real depth of plot can be developed. However, I made an exception for “Soul” by Erika Lindsen (from Solstice Publishing, 2012) because the blurb enticed me. Imagine being a demon, one management level down from hell’s VP, who is assigned the task of gathering souls for Lucifer’s benefit. And not just any souls. The souls this "Taker" demon gathers must be obtained by suicide. It’s the demon’s responsibility to plant both thoughts of suicide in his “patsy”, and to make sure his patsy follows through.
I found the premise intriguing because some people believe those who commit suicide could actually be driven by demonic forces, and you never get to ask the successful ones why they did it. My own drive to continue breathing is powerful, so I’ve always wondered how anyone can overcome that drive to self-terminate. I had hoped for a little philosophical insight, but I didn’t get it. The story isn’t about what drives a person to take his or her own life, but about a young woman’s infatuation with the Taker demon. It was similar to “Twilight”, but with a demon instead of a vampire.
That said, I believe “Twilight” fans will love this story. Serious students of human psychology, however, won’t. But let’s face it, the “Twilight” series wasn’t intended to be serious – “Soul” isn’t either. It’s a love story with the force of love pitted against evil. I won’t say which force wins – you’ll have to read it to find out.
Overall, I was sorry the author missed the opportunity to present "real demons" that haunt young people who kill themselves, but I might steal the “serious” side of that concept in a future work of my own. Once I got past that misunderstanding, which wasn’t the author’s fault, my only real problem with “Soul” concerned punctuation and grammar. I tripped over several incorrectly used semicolons and commas, some passive voice and a few misspelled or missing words. I’m just picky; most people won’t notice. Nit-picking aside, I'd give it four stars.