Newest Short Stories Reviews

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Capturing Emilia by Brooke Adams

3star.jpg Women's Fiction

He's Charles Devereaux, thirty-eight and a partner at Wickham Jones, the Mayfair letting agents. She's Emilia, twenty-nine, librarian and archivist in the heritage library next door. Emilia has read The Secret but she's moved on from new age books like that, which leave you dependent on someone else's philosophies, to something a little deeper. Charles is more of a Jack Reacher man himself, but, above all, he's shocked that Emilia reads The Guardian. They're obviously not at all compatible, so why can Charles not get this woman out of his mind? She's not his usual type at all: it's obvious to his friends. And given that Emilia regularly feels repulsed by Charles's superficiality, why does she feel drawn to him? The relationship's obviously a non-starter, isn't it? Full Review

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Cursed: An Anthology of Dark Fairy Tales by Marie O'Regan and Paul Kane (editors)

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Curses. They're there throughout tales of faery and other fantastical folk – people being cursed to do this, or not to be able to do that. Children can be cursed, as can princesses on the verge of marrying, and older people too. It seems in a way there's no escaping it. Which is why the theme of this book of short stories is such a standout – we may well think we know all there is to know about this accursed character, that demonised place, and that other bewitched person. We'd be very wrong. Full Review

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A Winter Book by Tove Jansson

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction, Short Stories

Tove Jansson's worldwide fame lasts on the Moomin books, written in the 1940s and later becoming television characters of the simplicity, naivety and sheer 'goodness' that would later produce flowerpot men or teletubbies. Simple drawings, simple stories, simple goodness. What is often forgotten outside of her native Finland is that she was a serious writer…that she wrote for adults as well as children…and that she had a feeling for the natural world and the simple life that not only informed those child-like trolls but went far beyond any fantasy of how the world might be. Full Review

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Watchwords by Philip Neal

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Short Stories

This satisfying collection of short stories has a provenance at least as beguiling as the provenance of the antique watches that inspired it.

Philip Neal lost a watch. It was a watch he was fond of and had been told was like a 1930s Cartier. Instead of mourning its loss, he began to collect vintage watches that resembled it. And that's how he became a watch collector. An eBay purchase led him to the Antique Watch Company watch repairers in Clerkenwell. The eBay purchase was a fake, but the friendship that grew between the buyer and the repairer of watches was not and the seed of an idea for a book was born. Full Review

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Return to Wonderland by Various Authors

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Confident Readers, Short Stories

In following a young girl called Alice down the rabbit hole a few years ago, when the first book she was in hit 150 years of age, I found that I didn't really find too much favour with it. The wacky-for-the-sake-of-it did not gel, and I don't remember loving it more as a child. But I would suggest I am the perfect audience for this book. I had every chance to enjoy these short stories that come at the core from a tangent, that show the benefits of the oblique glance. I've always preferred coming to an author's output through their least obvious, allegedly throw-away pieces, and it's the same with franchises – I'd more likely go for Bree Tanner's short novella than the whole Twilight saga (although that remains just a hunch, for obvious reasons). For another thing, there was every reason to expect some kind of greatness here – with Carroll much loved by millions, surely pieces written with that love in mind could only provide for success after success? Full Review

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Exhalation by Ted Chiang

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Science Fiction, Short Stories

Over the past twenty-eight years Ted Chiang has published fifteen science fiction short stories, these magnificent stories have won twenty-seven major science fiction awards so if you are a science fiction fan it is likely that you have already come across some of the work by Ted Chiang. If you haven't than take this opportunity to do so now. Trust me; your imagination will be grateful. Full Review

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Nights of the Creaking Bed by Toni Kan

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction, Short Stories

Nights of the Creaking Bed is a collection of short stories by Toni Kan. The series of stories tell of the lives and lusts of an assortment of characters living in and around Lagos, Nigeria. Nigeria, in this collection, is imbued with its very own heart of darkness. Danger stalks the shadows and people are killed for nothing more than a wrong look. Kan writes with a vitality and passion that allows these cynical stories to achieve a glimmer of hope. Full Review

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The Long Path To Wisdom by Jan-Philipp Sendker

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Short Stories, General Fiction

On my travels around the world, I have a tendency to end up in any bookshop that is selling English-language books, and while I buy as many second-hand escapist tales as the next person, what I'm really looking for is the 'local' – the cookbook maybe, the maps definitely, but above all: the folk tales. If I ever get to Burma, I won't need to hunt, I can read before I go. Full Review

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Alternative Medicine by Laura Solomon

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Short Stories

Laura Solomon's publisher describes the short stories in Alternative Medicine as black comedy with a twist of surrealism. I'm rather glad that I didn't see this until after I'd finished reading as I'm not normally a fan of either, but I've come to two conclusions about the book: what the publisher says is correct - and I really enjoyed it. The comedy is not too black and the surrealism is gentle and perhaps best described as a twist or flick of reality when you were least expecting it. Your comfort zones are going to be invaded in the nicest possible way. Full Review

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Tales of Love and Disability by Laura Solomon

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Short Stories

I've always believed that less-able writers produce longer books: it takes a great deal of skill and talent to write a short story which holds the reader and keeps them coming back for more. There are far too many collections of short stories which are all too easy to put down and forget after you've read a couple of pieces. I've recently read a couple of novellas by Laura Solomon - Marsha's Deal and Hell's Unveiling and enjoyed them, so I was intrigued to see what she could do with an even shorter form. Full Review

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Going To The Last: Short Stories About Horse Racing by K D Knight

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Short Stories

In the opening story a man whose wife has deserted him visits Sandown with little money, but comes away with cash in his pocket - and his wife. In A Grey Day an owner struggles with the problem of whether or not to run his horse in the Gold Cup when the ground is against him. My favourite was The Story of H, the story of Foinavon. H is depicted as a kind horse who only wanted to please people. After changing hands on various occasions he came to the yard of John Kempton. H (or Foinavon) was entered in the Grand National and considered a no-hoper. In one of the most dramatic runnings of the race, a pile up occured at the 23rd fence. Foinavon, who had been many lengths adrift, cleared the fence and galloped to the line, winning the race at odds of 100/1. Full Review

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Hell's Unveiling by Laura Solomon

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Short Stories, General Fiction, Fantasy

A little while ago I really enjoyed Marsha's Deal and I was delighted by the opportunity to read the sequel, Hell's Unveiling. It's probably not much of a spoiler to say that Marsha bested the devil in Marsha's Deal, but the devil is not one to take defeat lying down. He's out to wage war on Planet Earth and particularly on Marsha (who's thought of as a 'goody two shoes' in Hell). Although a strong person, she's vulnerable where her foster children are concerned. Daniel is framed for a crime he didn't commit and sent to juvenile detention and refused permission to return to live with Marsha. Then, of course there are all the other children who are not only targeted, but - worst of all - subverted to the devil's evil ends. He's out to prey on their fears and weaknesses and as with many foster children, their self esteem is very fragile. This is no small-scale operation, either - the devil has set up a training complex on earth, complete with an elevator to Hell. Full Review


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Marsha's Deal by Laura Solomon

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Short Stories, General Fiction, Fantasy

Marsha didn't have an easy ride in life the first time around. She'd been afflicted with fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva, a rare disease which turned parts of her body to bone when they were damaged. Finally she was unable to stand her life any longer and went to Dignitas, the Swiss euthanasia clinic. She'd thought that would be the end, but after cremation her body went straight to hell and she found herself face-to-face with the devil. And that was when she made the pact. In exchange for details about some of those who had been close to her - their strengths and weaknesses - she would be reborn on the same day to the same parents, but would live her life free of disease. Full Review


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Roses in December by Matthew de Lacey Davidson

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Short Stories

Roses in December is a collection of twenty-two short stories. And when I say short, I mean short, with each just a few pages long and some brushing the flash fiction genre, such is the brevity. I think the shorter the story, the harder it is to write and the more difficult the task of engaging, then satisfying, the reader. So it is to the immense credit of Matthew de Lacey Davidson that I sighed in appreciation many times while reading. He has a good sense of which moments of the human experience to capture in order to make the point he wants to make. Some highlights: Full Review

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Quick and Quirky: Short Stories with Quips! by Fred Onymouse and Ann Onymouse

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Short Stories

Quick, and indeed, quirky, are positive attributes, I'm sure you'd agree – apart from perhaps in surgeons. I like things that have a quirk, and I approve of the quicky. I've been dabbling in the world of creative writing for a few years now, and whenever anyone asks what it is I mostly write, I define it with the catch-all safety net of flippant. So this book should be right up my street, being as it is a bijou selection of illustrated and fairly large-print short stories. Full Review

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Strange Weather by Joe Hill

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Horror, Fantasy, General Fiction

Strange Weather is a collection of four short novels all linked by, unsurprisingly, strange and cataclysmic weather. Each novel is distinct and showcases Hill's restrained yet vivid style which takes everyday events and makes them bitingly, acerbically macabre or blindingly beautiful, often switching from one sentence to the next. As Hill himself says the beauty of the world and the horror of the world were twined together, never is this truer than in Strange Weather where moments of abject horror are coupled with raw beauty. Full Review

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An Almost Perfect Christmas by Nina Stibbe

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Humour, Short Stories

Christmas – the time of traditional trauma. You only have to think about the turkey for that – once upon a time it was leaving it sat on the downstairs loo to defrost overnight, and if that failed the hair-dryer shoved inside it treatment was your next best bet. Nowadays it's all having to make sure it's suitably free-range and organic – but not too organic that you can go and visit it, and get too friendly with it to want to eat it. Christmas, though, is of course also a time of great boons. It's cash in hand for a lot of plump people who can hire red suits and beards, it was always a godsend for postmen with all the thank-you letters to aunties you saw twice a decade that your parents made you write out in long-hand as a child, and as for the makers of Meltis Newberry Fruits – well, did they even try and sell them any other time of the year? Full Review

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Philip K Dick's Electric Dreams by Philip K Dick

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Science Fiction, Short Stories

Philip K Dick's stories were originally published in the 50s, but they are more present than past. On the big screen Blade Runner 2049 relaunched the Dick-inspired cult classic to reviews of pure praise; and on slightly smaller screens, Channel 4 has adapted the author's short stories for TV. Startlingly, Dick's current relevance reaches beyond fiction and into the factual: his topics from intrusive advertising and loss of privacy to the increasing machination of society are all headline material in today's news. It is as if half a century after their inception, Dick's electric dreams are becoming reality. Full Review

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Fifteen Minutes by Erinna Mettler

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Short Stories

Our world is obsessed with celebrity culture - and in this advent of social media, the updates on celebrity come 24 hours a day, delivered to us on our televisions, our magazines, on our phones and our computers. In focusing on these heightened and airbrushed lives though, are we missing the more interesting and human stories that are out there? That's what Erinna Mettler considers in 15 Minutes - short stories that feature celebrity encounters told through the eyes of ordinary, but no less compelling, characters. Full Review

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The Dark-Blue Winter Overcoat and other stories from the North by Sjon Hodgkinson and Ten Hodgkinson (editors)

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Anthologies, Literary Fiction, Short Stories

A compilation like this should be nigh on brilliant. It's not one author's best short works, it's that of a dozen. It's not from one snapshot in time, as some were written the year of publication and some in the 1960s. It's not from one tiny patch of author's desk or one set of laptop keys, but from the entire Nordic world, whether that be urban Scandinavia, the Faroes and other island groups, or Greenland. That is a world that's changing – as the Greenland-born author now living in Brooklyn, and the Iraqi blood on these pages, testify. It's a world where new roads and new building works mean a family living on the edge of the forest at the beginning of the story are being surrounded by other life by the end, and with the influence of centuries of folklore featured, a lot more than that changes – sometimes it seems to be even the characters' species… Full Review