Lately, we have been delving into the world of short stories/novellas/novelettes all of which are very underrated. It is difficult to believe that a story can be good, diverse and full of character development despite being only a few pages long but these are definitely the exception.
Here are our top picks!
Coraline & Other Stories by Neil Gaiman
Length: 278 pages | Format: Collection of short stories
When Coraline moves house, she finds a door which leads to a house exactly like hers – except this house has another Mother and another Father, who are far more attentive towards her than her own overworked parents. However, when the Other Parents want Coraline to stay, she has to play them at their own game in order to get back home. Most people have seen the film adaptation, read the book, or heard of Coraline, but this collection of short stories alongside Coraline is just perfectly creepy and sinister – very true to Gaiman’s form.
Lips Touch by Laini Taylor
Length: 278 pages | Format: Collection of three short stories
Lips Touch is essentially three short stories of three first kisses – but since this is Laini Taylor, these naturally aren’t your traditional first kisses. These kisses involve goblins, curses, mysterious and unknown pasts, monsters and demons. An illustrated version is also available which adds so much to Laini’s already beautiful prose.
…And a Happy New Year? by Holly Bourne
Length: 224 pages | Format: Novella for The Spinster Club series | Full review here
A novella in the Spinster Club series, set around a year after What’s a Girl Gotta Do? It’s a short but sweet update on what the girls got up to since they left sixth form, set at what should be a New Year’s party to remember that Amber is hosting. However, each of the girls is keeping a secret from the other two, and as the Spinster Club slowly begins to fall apart, can the girls open up enough to save their friendship?
Silently and Very Fast by Catherynne M. Valente
Length: 127 pages | Format: Standalone short story
Silently and Very Fast follows Elefsis, an AI of sorts, and Neva, whose family have been working with and developing Elefsis for generations. In a way it feels almost like a coming of age story; it’s a story of growth, family, persecution, what it means to be different and what it means to be alive. I loved Elefsis’s means of communication – they mostly do this through unusual metaphors, such as covering their “body” with blooming flowers to reflect happiness and in their dreamscapes, they become gender-fluid. A purely magical story.
The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
Length: 79 pages | Format: Standalone short story
This short story by the amazing Gillian Flynn (also read Gone Girl ok?!) encapsulates eerie atmospheric writing in such a small amount of time and leaves you desperate for more. Told my an unnamed narrator with an endless supply of jobs to help ends meet, one day as she is reading auras, she is visited by a beautify, rich but deeply unhappy woman. The source of her misery is an old Victorian house with a few secrets within its walls.
The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz
Length: 65 pages | Format: Standalone eBook
This is the cutest little book I’ve read in a long time. We follow the story of Clara, a highly-skilled technician specialising in ‘RAISE’ which are AI companions. Never staying in one place for too long because of her roots, Clara moves to Seattle and is recommended a cute but different tea shop. Here she meets Sal, an original (and now illegal) robot who still runs the shop years after her owner’s death. The two form a beautiful bond, Clara is asexual and Sal is unable to be physically intimate. Together, they tackle what it means to be able to move on.
The Terracotta Bride by Zen Cho
Length: 51 pages | Format: Standalone eBook
The Terracotta Bride follows Siew Tsin, a resident in the tenth court of hell. She was married off to the richest man in hell, despite her best wishes, but realises that in a place based upon wealth, she could be in a much worse situation. However, everything changes when one day, her husband brings home a new bride, Yonghua – an artificial woman constructed entirely from terracotta. The story then builds upon the relationship between Siew Tsin, Yonghua and their husband’s first wife, Ling’en. Despite it being so short, these three women were wonderfully developed both as individuals and as a group. I loved Siew Tsin and her gentle demeanour despite literally being in hell, Yonghua and her curious nature and Ling’en and her strong will. The three become a force to be reckoned with against their husband. I’m so here for female relationships when they look out for each other – even if the rest of the story hadn’t of been my cup of tea, these women brought it to life.
Do you have any short story recommendations for us? Let us know in the comments!