I’ve figured out the secret. (Or, more accurately, I’ve been let in on a secret.)
Friends, if you ever experience a book slump, read short stories. They’re bite-sized, more often than not they’re truly incredible, and they will probably get you out of that book slump. I’ve managed to weather some book slumps by binging on short stories, so today, I’ll be sharing with you mini-reviews of short stories that I’ve read! (Note, I will not be doing mini-reviews for The Terracotta Bride and The Paper Menagerie – two short stories I loved, so I want to write more about them!)
I also want to take this opportunity to give a shoutout to Aentee from Read at Midnight, who recommends a lot of the short stories that I read. Thank you so much, Aentee! ❤
ZENITH BY SASHA ALSBERG & LINDSAY CUMMINGS
I do not hate this book. Cause for such a strong opinion often requires substance. Rather, after finishing Zenith I genuinely struggled to find anything redeeming or positive about it.
It is disappointing when you see a potentially amazing premise undermined by its own ambition. Zenith is the kind of story that tries desperately to be likable and badass. It presents a plethora of ideas that seem cool: all-female cast, a proficient murderer/mercenary with a conscience, girls who can kick ass, or the love-hate-betrayal relationship. In theory, these ideas are great; in theory, these ideas are likable. However, Zenith proves that cool ideas do not a good story make. Execution and substance matters, and that is the first failure of Zenith.
Poor delivery of its ideas, lacklustre and cardboard characters that border on inane, unpolished writing, and a whole lot of storytelling that flounders, Zenith fails to develop a sliver of its 62 pages. I appreciate that it is only the first part of a larger story so there is understandably a limited opportunity for development, but Zenith fails to do the one thing that firsts of a serialization should do: capture interest and inspire.
Find this book: Goodreads
GINGA BY DANIÉL JOSE OLDER
I haven’t read Older’s series Bone Street Rumba; I came across this short story when Lucille shared it on Twitter!
What I loved most about Ginga was its enigmatic cast of characters. There’s Carlos Delacruz, the half-dead half-resurrected soulcatcher who is badass but has a sensitive side and a kindness to him, but my absolute favourite was Kia, a teenager who has crushes, a job and homework from school, who fierce, strong, and a force to be reckoned with.
Even if you haven’t read books from the Bone Street Rumba series, Ginga is still an intriguing and enjoyable short story. I had never read any of Older’s books before, but now I’m thinking that I might – his writing style is charming and sharp, and the dialogue is witty and hilarious. Older’s worldbuilding in Ginga was fantastic; I loved the urban atmosphere and feel of New York City haunted and disturbed by ghosts.
Charming and fresh, Ginga is story about Carlos and Kia’s very different lives and how, by chance, they collide and tangle — with a twist.
HUNGRY DAUGHTERS OF STARVING MOTHERS BY ALYSSA WONG
Wow. This short story won the 2015 Nebula Award for Best Short Story and I can definitely see why.
Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers is a horror-fantasy set in Manhattan, about a girl who feeds on thoughts – but that’s all I’ll say for now. The story is dark, a little twisted, the right amount of creepy, but that’s why I loved it. On top of its incredible, deft narrative is an eloquent and subtle tale about hunger (for things other than food), the darkest parts of human nature, and desire. The story also features a diverse cast of queer Asian Americans, all who are fascinating and compelling characters.
Promised to be unlike anything you have read before, Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers is a unique, perverse, and wonderfully strange short story. Excuse the cliche – but it is a must-read.
A FIST OF PERMUTATIONS IN LIGHTNING AND WILDFLOWERS BY ALYSSA WONG
After reading Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers, I was desperately craving more of Wong’s short stories. And so, I found A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers.
I read this short story three times, and with each reading, I found more to appreciate, more to think about, more to love. A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers is a haunting, sad, but strangely beautiful story about two sisters. Wong’s storytelling is sublime, and the structure of A Fist of Permutations gave the story a rare kind of intensity and an escalating desperation with each verse. And yet, there is something peaceful and comforting about the narrative, and how it sits so closely and genuinely with grief and the rawness of it.
Quietly powerful and utterly profound, A Fist of Permutations is a stunning short story by Wong. I cannot wait to read more from her.
Something that I love about short stories is that they, more often than not, can convey so much emotion and so powerfully in such a short time. So if you ever want to read something that makes you think and feel, read a short story! A good starting place is at Tor.com under Fiction – there, you’ll find plenty of short stories, and you can filter by genre! Have fun!
- Do you like reading short stories? Why or why not?
- What are some of your favourites?
- Do you ever feel like you’re ‘cheating’ when you add short stories to your Goodreads Challenge?
- On that note, how many books are you all aiming to read this year?