This is my first Weekly 5 post. Every week, usually on Mondays, I will be sharing 5 great stories. These posts are similar to my monthly roundups on my blog and at B&N, but while those roundups only include new and newish stories (no reprints), My Weekly 5 can can include older stories as well as new ones.
I'm posting this first Weekly 5 as a public post, but future weekly roundups will be available exclusively for subscribers.
Without further ado, here are five great short stories for your reading pleasure:
1. "Bearskin" by Angela Slatter in The Dark #7 (February 2015)
I am a huge fan of Slatter's fiction, and this story is one of my all-time favourites. It's a story set in the same world Slatter has visited in her novella Of Sorrow and Such, and in her short story collections The Bitterwood Bible and Sourdough and Other Stories. "Bearskin" is a story about Torben, a boy who is being brought up in the woods by a man named Uther and Uther's family. Uther tries to teach Torben how to hunt, and one day in the woods, they have a fateful encounter with a bear cub. What follows is a harrowing tale, but it's the ending that has stuck with me ever since I read this story the first time.
2. "Bear Language" by Martin Cahill in Fireside Fiction (May 2017)
Let's stick with bears for a bit longer. In my mind, "Bear Language" shares a kinship with "Bearskin", even though the setting is quite different, and even though the authors' styles are also very different. In Cahill's story, two children are in a house with their father, and unfortunately he is not a very good parent to them. When one of the children finds a bear named Susan in the house, things take an unexpected turn.
3. "The One Who Waits" by Ray Bradbury originally published in The Arkham Sampler (1949) and later in the collection The Machineries of Joy (1964)
Note: This story is available online, including a PDF version. Bradbury was one of the first science fiction writers I read, maybe even the first one. My dad loved his stories, and we had several of his short story collections at home. This story might have been one of the first my dad encouraged me to read. It's short (flash fiction length) and it is eerie and it is beautifully written, just like the best of Bradbury's work. (I even wrote about this story on my website: 5 Reasons Why I Love Ray Bradbury's "The One Who Waits".) The opening line has stuck with me since I first read it as a tween:
I live in a well. I live like smoke in the well. Like vapor in a stone throat. I don’t move. I don’t do anything but wait. Overhead I see the cold stars of night and morning, and I see the sun. And sometimes I sing old songs of this world when it was young. How can I tell you what I am when I don’t know?
The way this story puts a new twist on the old "serial killer captures a girl and keeps her prisoner before murdering her", is immensely satisfying. Wolfe builds this up exactly like a classic serial killer tale, but right from the start, you get the feeling that something is moving beneath the surface. Even the killer feels it, but he just can't quite understand what it is, until the very end. The attitude of the captured girl is what really sets this story apart and makes it such a fantastic read. Great narration by Ben Phillips as well. This story is a reprint, and was previously available from Amazon.
My fifth pick is a brand new story by the ever-fabulous Mimi Mondal in the latest issue of Nightmare. It involves a haunted printing press, tigers, scandalous romance novels, and a murder most foul. Mondal tells the story so perfectly, fitting tales within the tale, and giving the horror a wonderfully wistful, even sorrowful lilt. And if this tale leaves you hungry for more of Mondal's writing, check out the hugely entertaining "His Footsteps, Through Darkness and Light" at TOR.com.
Last week I read Fran Wilde's new middle-grade novel Riverland, and I really cannot overstate how powerful this book is. If you have a child in the middle-grade or YA age-range, you should definitely put this book in their hands. BUT it is also fantastic read if you're an adult.
It's a book that captures the reality of how kids, siblings especially maybe, can take care of, and feel a deep responsibility for, each other and for their family in a way that can be hard to understand for outsiders and adults. It is terrifying and true and good in the same way that real fairy-tales are terrifying and true and good. There is real danger here, and real magic.
So there we go. That's my first Weekly 5 (with a bonus). I hope you found something to read and enjoy, and I'll be back next Monday with another Weekly 5 roundup!