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Two short story collections you should read now

I hate short stories.


Wait, that’s not true. I don’t hate short stories. I love a good short story. I just have trouble finding a short story that I enjoy.


For me, a key to horror fiction is having a main character the reader cares about. You don’t have to like them. Hell, they can hate the main character – negatively caring for a character is still caring, I need to care what happens to the character in the story. If the main character depicts and awful person, I want bad things to happen to them. If they’re a good person, I worry about what will happen to them. Either way, I care about the outcome.


That’s the weakness a lot of short stories – making readers care about a character while at the same time telling a complete and entertaining story in a minimal number of pages.

I marvel at authors that can do that.


I have recently read two short story collections that I need to recommend to everyone – “And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe,” by Gwendolyn Kiste and “All That’s Fair,” by S.H. Cooper. They are both standout examples of how to write short stories the right away.

The stories in Kiste’s collection read like dark fairy tales (although if you read Grimm’s Fairy Tales, they’re pretty damn dark themselves).


Kiste’s “The Rust Maidens,” was one of the best books I read last year and the writing in “And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe,” is very reminiscent of that book. Kiste’s writing is magical and I find it delightful.


Highlight stories in her collection include “The Tower Princesses,” “All the Red Apples Have Withered Gray,” and Something Borrowed, Something Blue.”


All of the stories have what I would describe as a beautiful sadness.


Cooper’s “All That’s Fair,” restored my faith in short story writing when I read it a few months ago. I had pretty much given up on short stories. I had not read a good short story collection in what felt like forever.




Bu then I bought “All That’s Fair,” based on the cover alone. I didn’t even read the description and did not realize it was a short story collection until I opened it up to read it. I remember being irritated by that, but that irritation quickly disappeared due to how much I enjoyed it.

Although I enjoyed all 22 stories in the book, my favorites were “Any Miyoko Waited,” “Auntie Bells,” “Vermelda” and “No Love Lost.”






And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe

Gwendolyn Kiste Journal Stone (2017)

210 pages Click here to buy


All That’s Fair


S.H. Cooper

Independently Published (2020)

229 pages

Click here to buy

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