May 2022 short story reading post

Photo of notebook with handwritten notes — key sections extracted below

This post is a roughly tidied version of my May 2022 tweets about short stories. It’s quite long, so I’m putting the rest of it below the cut. There’s a list of all stories at the very end of the post.

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Advance copies of A G Slatter’s The Path of Thorns

Photo of hand holding The Path of Thorns book with purple foil lettering
Cover design by Julia Lloyd

Look what’s arrived! My copy of A. G. Slatter‘s newest novel, The Path of Thorns. It is released in June, and you can pre-order it from all good bookstores and usual online places now.

There will be a launch in Brisbane on the 17th of June — it’s free to attend but you will need to pre-register here: Eventbrite.

Photo of back cover of The Path of Thorns
Cover design by Julia Lloyd

A lush and twisted dark fairy tale suffused with witchcraft, dark secrets and bitter revenge from the award-winning author. Exquisite, haunting and at times brutal, readers of Naomi Novik and Erin Morgenstern will be entranced.

Asher Todd comes to live with the mysterious Morwood family as a governess to their children. Asher knows little about being a governess but she is skilled in botany and herbcraft, and perhaps more than that. And she has secrets of her own, dark and terrible – and Morwood is a house that eats secrets. With a monstrous revenge in mind, Asher plans to make it choke. However, she becomes fond of her charges, of the people of the Tarn, and she begins to wonder if she will be able to execute her plan – and who will suffer most if she does. But as the ghosts of her past become harder to control, Asher realises she has no choice.
 
From the award-winning author of All the Murmuring Bones, dark magic, retribution and twisted family secrets combine to weave a bewitching and addictive tale.

And this time, instead of drawing for Angela, I got to do a cover quote! Here’s the full quote:

Angela Slatter's The Path of Thorns is beautiful and vicious. Although it is a ruthless, Gothic tale, bright and bitter as poison, cold as a crypt, its chinks are stopped against the bleakest wind with deft, jewel-toned tales, and at its bruised heart, it is as loving and warm as a wolf curled around her cubs.

A loose collection of thoughts on other people’s appreciation of things

A drawing of a compass, sample borders, a scroll with "elsewhere" and an arrow, and a comment saying "good coffee here!"

I’m taking delight, lately, in appreciations of things.

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April short story reading post

Photo of double-page of notebook with some handwritten notes on stories (elaborated below)

This post is a roughly tidied version of my April 2022 tweets about short stories. It’s quite long (although the month’s reading was abbreviated by Covid), so I’m putting the rest of it below the cut. There’s a list of all stories at the very end of the post.

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March short story reading post

Photo of notebook with handwritten story notes

This post is a roughly tidied version of my March 2022 tweets about short stories. It’s extremely long, so I’m putting the rest of it below the cut. There’s a list of all stories at the very end of the post.

Parts will very likely end up in other posts in the future. There are ideas coalescing, including thoughts on e.g. stories of revolution, loss, communication, witness, and the metaphorical weight of birds — and thoughts on the emphases and accents of speculative fiction, and the evolution of stories on given themes.

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February short story reading thread

This post is a roughly tidied/slightly edited version of a Twitter thread I’ve been keeping, tracking my February 2022 short story reading. It is extremely long, so I’m putting the rest of it below the cut. Parts will very likely end up in other posts in the future. And at the very end of this post is a list of all the stories read.

Read on…

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January 2022 Big Giant Three-Mood Story Reading Thread

Photo of handwritten notes — key sections extracted below

This post is a roughly tidied/slightly edited version of a Twitter thread I kept, tracking my January 2022 (and late December 2021) short story reading. It is extremely long, and I plan to extract sections of it into more concise posts in the future.

However, for posterity, here it is. Story notes are in regular text, my thoughts are in bold, in case that makes it easier to skip around. Feel free to ask for more detail/clarity. And I’ll edit this with links to related posts from time to time. [Note: I’ve started to drop in some very brief story descriptions to jog my own memory, but it might take a while to complete those, due to the aforementioned memory] [Further note: there is now a full list of stories read at the very end of this post]

It’s based on previous three-moods posts. See Story Shapes — Three-Mood Stories for background. The short version:

  • I like breaking short stories into progressions of three moods (rather than beginning-middle-end, etc). I find it more revelatory, intuitive and useful, both for reading stories and for writing them.
  • I use “mood” very broadly.
  • Each dot point is one shape — one way of reading the shape of the story.

Also now up:

Read on if you dare.

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Beautiful Australian Gothic Books

Gouache painting in pinks, purples, blues, and greens, of standing boulders, grass, birds flying against clouds
Painting by me, after a trip to Hanging Rock, while working on Flyaway — more on those illustrations at Illustrating Flyaway

Tor.com (who published Flyaway) asked me for a post for their Five Books About… series. I promptly forgot how to count, so here are:

Six Stories for Fans of Beautiful Australian Gothic

Flyaway among NPR’s Best Books!

Flyaway has been included in the NPR’s Best Books of 2020!

You can sort the full list by a number of categories, which I recommend doing as there are many and varied books on it. Jessica P. Wick’s review of Flyaway is here:

And you can buy Flyaway through all good bookstores and the usual online suspects.

“The Heart of Owl Abbas” reviews

Here are two reviews I missed for my (Eugie Foster Memorial Award-shortlisted) short story “The Heart of Owl Abbas” (and an excuse to post Audrey Benjaminsen‘s beautiful illustration for it again).

art by Audrey Benjaminsen (I love it)

Charles Payseur: Quick Sips – Tor dot com April 2018

“Framed as a bit of history, part anecdote and part fairy tale or myth, the piece is quietly moving and archetypal, sweeping and sweet and dark all at once…. It’s a piece that looks very much at the almost accidental power of small good things.”

Iseult Murphy: The Heart of Owl Abbas by Kathleen Jennings

“not only does it produce a literary treasure, it’s also a story very much about music, and she somehow manages to incorporate its movement and emotional resonance into the narrative as well.”

You can read the story for free on Tor.com, or buy it as an ebook at the usual online locations.