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Want to read a story with all the depth, questions and quality of a novel, written by highly skilled writers in about 5% of the space? Short stories can be heartbreaking, mysterious and incredibly detailed; for a perfectly formed, bite-sized smorgasbord of stories, browse our Short Story recommendations here.
Quirky, provocative, and fabulous, these short stories highlight everyday normality and yet firmly shake the roots of your thoughts. Hannah Vincent is a novelist and playwright, I first came across her writing in 2014 when I read Alarm Girl, which I can still clearly remember (bearing in mind just how many books I read, it shows you how powerful her writing is). Although these short stories might leave you with more questions than answers they are actually perfectly formed. Sweary, occasionally shouty, definitely challenging, the mundane is examined, and experienced in a completely different way. She-Clown and Other Stories is a really interesting and decidedly different collection of 16 stories that I can wholeheartedly recommend.
Quirky, provocative, and fabulous, these short stories highlight everyday normality and yet firmly shake the roots of your thoughts. Hannah Vincent is a novelist and playwright, I first came across her writing in 2014 when I read Alarm Girl, which I can still clearly remember (bearing in mind just how many books I read, it shows you how powerful her writing is). Some short stories feel as though you’d like more, want more, these leave more questions than answers and yet are perfectly formed. Sweary, occasionally shouty, definitely challenging, the mundane is examined, and experienced in a completely different way. She-Clown and Other Stories is a really interesting and decidedly different collection of 16 stories, that I really do wholeheartedly recommend.
Just that little bit different (in fact strikingly different), Mexico Street challenges preconceptions and society issues, ensuring a full-on fabulous read. German public prosecutor Chastity is back, this time investigating a series of arson attacks that lead to the death of a man linked to criminal gangs. One thing to note straightaway is that I really feel you do need to have read the others in the Chastity Riley series to fully enjoy this one, otherwise too much would be unexplained and you would have to sprint like heck to keep up. Start with Blue Night, followed by Beton Rouge, both equally readable and also translated with surety by Rachel Ward. As usual Simone Buchholz snared my attention from the get-go. The words stormed my senses, falling like a sword and I found myself on full alert. Short, sharp, shocks of chapters hit, with the chapter headings almost creating their own story. Mexico Street, full of sparks and quirks, is 227 pages of wonderful. Adding to the series beautifully, I just had to include it as one of my Liz picks of the month.
This haunting book focusing on motherhood and post-natal depression is small enough to slip into a pocket, yet the 48 pages really do pack an emotional punch. The narrator quietly builds a picture of her childhood before the story subtly moves in an altogether more chilling direction. A photograph sits centre stage, with memories constructed to fit a need, a want. The supernatural tone builds as the story continues, while the reality of post-natal depression hits home. The Haunting of Strawberry Water is part of the Spotlight collection of books. Spotlight is a collaboration between Creative Future, Myriad Editions and New Writing South to discover, guide and support writers whose voices are under-represented. A ghost story with a difference, The Haunting of Strawberry Water slips into thoughts and throughly provokes feelings.
This debut collection of fourteen fascinating and diverse stories plays out in different countries around the world. At the centre of each story sits the very nature of what it is to be an expatriate or migrant in a different country, and the sense of torn values and feelings between cultures. Author Elaine Chiew was born in Malaysia, graduated from Stanford Law School and worked as a lawyer in New York before studying in London. She now lives in Singapore. Her writing ranges from thoughtful to provocative, pithy and vibrant observations bring these short stories to life. She has the ability to transfer emotions from the page, straight into my heart and mind. You can either throw yourself in from the beginning or take a pick and mix approach. The Heartsick Diaspora is a wonderful, thought provoking collection of stories, I can highly recommend.
Discover and be transported by eight wonderfully diverse stories based on the myth, legend and folklore at eight English Heritage sites from the toe of Cornwall to the tip of Northumberland. Editor Katherine Davey, English Heritage, and September Publishing have worked their magic alongside the authors while Clive Hicks-Jenkins has created striking and disquieting illustrations to accompany each story. To give you an idea as to the quality on offer, the authors in order are, Edward Carey, Alison MacLeod, Paul Kingsnorth, Sarah Hall, Graeme Macrae Burnet, Sarah Moss, and Fiona Mozley. Journalist James Kidd introduces the tales, highlighting the importance of folklore, and states that: “The moods of the eight stories are similar eclectic, by turns comic or uncanny, absurd or scholarly, angry or fanciful, unsettling of poignant”. The location each story has been based on, sits at the end of the story, as while some are obviously of the site, others hover, offer, suggest. The afterword by the knowledgeable Charles Kightly explains the background to each of these new stories, the history and tradition that each site is steeped in. From sharp and pointed, to lyrical and whimsical, the creative and inspiring stories in These Our Monsters twisted in my mind. If you enjoy an original and wonderful blend of folklore, myth and legend, stop right here!
Confetti and Lemon Blossom is a collection of stories from Don Pericle, the wedding organiser. This story conveys in a way that is insightful and sweet, the ups and downs of wedding planning. As it says in the synopsis, Don Pericle has to fit the mould of a guru, a mentor, friend and problem solver. Each chapter sees Don Pericle help a new couple in Villa Lingualarga, and the course of planning a wedding doesn’t run smooth, does anything? It’s a brilliant idea to set a story focused around relationships, love and weddings from a different perspective, it adds a unique twist and added insight into people’s behaviour to have the weddings described by an “outsider”. Confetti and Lemon Blossom is a lovely short read, the Italian flavour and setting make this perfect for soaking up on holiday. While there may be ups and downs, mishaps and misplacements in each wedding scenario, the basis of the entire book are love and relationships, which makes this a sweet and heartwarming book. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a relationship story, or collection of relationship stories from a slightly different perspective.
Stunningly gorgeous short stories and wonderful illustrations make for an absolute treasure trove of a book. I have quite simply fallen in love with Foxfire, Wolfskin, it makes my heart sing. Discover 13 short stories about shapeshifting women, the shortest story being three and a half pages long. All are “either reimaginings of older tales, or contain characters, beings and motifs which appear in older tales”. On opening the book, I felt as though I was walking into an age old story, the descriptions are startling, vivid, touchable. I began with Wolfskin, which is sharp and edgy, it hurts, it feels… right. After finishing Wolfskin, I immediately read it again, this time out loud. I fell headlong in once more, and at the extraordinary end, emotional goosebumps skitter-scattered down my arms. All of these stories have a unique strength to them and I disappeared into each one. Just a note on the accompanying illustrations by Helen Nicholson. They are fresh, original, and yet have that same age old feel of the stories. At the very end you will find notes on each tale, the inspiration behind them and where the idea appears in folklore. Foxfire, Wolfskin is full of beautiful stories that take hold, bite, leave their mark and I adored it so much I had to add it as one of my picks of the month!
A perfect stocking filler for anyone who likes a little spooky darkness to pay a visit at Christmas time. Twelve short stories are set in and around, or somehow connected to the Essex Witch Museum. If you haven’t yet explored the series, don’t worry, you can most certainly enter here. Can I just say that the cover is absolutely delightful, skulls and snowflakes sit perfectly alongside each other, as if they were always meant to be. Some of the stories tiptoe around Christmas, others stomp into it, all verge on the different though, and all have a certain chill factor. Syd Moore has a wonderfully light touch, humour sits alongside the macabre, and I was never quite sure what was going to come next. Can I just say that Doreen and her demonic Hoover was a particular favourite of mine! The Twelve Strange Days of Christmas really is a fabulous little book, full of the weird and wonderful I adored it!
The Arnolfini Art Mysteries' by the prolific writer Rich DiSilvio is a collection of six all too short stories featuring Armand Arnolfini, a former FBI agent in the disbanded Art Crimes division and supposed descendant of the groom in Jan van Eyck's 'Arnolfini Marriage' portrait. Set in the late 70s and very early 80s, the stories are mainly told in 'real' time, with only one an account told over dinner. The collection is handsomely illustrated with many works of fine art pertaining to some of the stories, as well as pictures of artefacts and buildings featuring in others. Arnolfini, now a highly regarded private investigator in the art world, with particularly detailed knowledge of Renaissance and Baroque art, is faced in each story with a different crime requiring his expertise and powers of deduction. 'Armand had come across all sorts of thieves in his career', the author tells us. 'Some were seasoned thugs with deadly connections, while others were penny ante novices or disgruntled artists seeking revenge or justification for their unnoticed talents'. T The thugs with deadly connections in question are former Nazi plunderers of priceless assets during WW2, a period of history closely studied and written about by the author. Alongside the sometimes violent crime thriller element of the book, a love interest develops from the third story onward, when Armand meets Andrea St John, curator of a museum he is called in to help. She proves to be the perfect companion in both his work and private life. I especially liked the stories centred around fine art theft and forgery and learnt a lot from them, so I'm hoping to read more in any further stories the author might pen in future, this time perhaps with a husband and wife team conducting the investigations. A highly recommended read. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
Crime and mystery aficionado Maxim Jakubowski has gathered 17 short stories from an oh so talented bunch of writers for your reading pleasure. In his introduction, Maxim explains that each author has offered: “a brand new story to celebrate the genre, irrespective of theme, period, or style… every one came up trumps with a tale that epitomises their storytelling talent”. Shall I tease you by saying a new Jack Reacher story features, or let you know that authors from the US, UK, France and Israel have contributed? I love anthologies and just adored Invisible Blood. I threw caution to the wind, let the book open where it wanted, and jumped in. I found and adored the stories from some of my favourite authors. I met a couple of new writers, whose words really connected, and left me wanting more. I particularly love a satisfying short story, there really is nothing like that intense burst of gratifying pleasure. So, if you need a crime and mystery fix, look no further, as Maxim himself says: “we are experiencing a Golden Age of crime and mystery writing”. Invisible Blood slips so easily into being one of my picks of the month, I was absolutely wowed by it!
In a bold, compelling and challenging novel, I found just under 250 pages of pure and utter reading pleasure. British Intelligence Officer Jake Winter is under huge pressure after recruiting a young male who has been enlisted in a terrorist plot. Can he foil the terrorists while at the same time answering questions from an enquiry into an earlier bombing which targeted rush-hour commuters? I found Jake to be absolutely fascinating, he sits centre stage in this story in such an understated way. Nicholas Searle regularly slingshots new characters into the fray ramping up the intensity, creating an almost unbearable tension. The severity of the situation is highlighted as each additional character helps to build a picture which alters, expands, and provokes. The ending is hugely powerful and I sat in contemplation for a while afterwards. You will quite possibly see me hanging off a few rooftops shouting about A Fatal Game. It comes as so highly recommended from me, I have chosen it as a Star Book, and a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month.
There is a real skill in being able to conjure a whole life in just a few pages, to be able to leave a reader with an enduring feeling in just a short time. Here you will find lasting stories about life the universe and everything, from authors you already know as novelists and some that will be knew and welcome friends. We love a good short story, not just because they provide great reading in bite-size chunks - perfect for the trip to work, or a moment when you just want a small piece of brilliance in your life – but also because they are (if they are good) a perfect piece of art, capturing the human condition in a snapshot that stays with the reader for much longer than it took to write. As Graham Greene put it; “a novel can seldom have the sense of perfection which you find in Chekhov’s story, The Lady with the Dog.” From Chekhov to Julian Barnes via a whole host of other perfectionists, we have hand-picked the very best of short story collections for readers of all tastes.