I got a Kindle for Christmas two years ago, and since then I have been devouring novellas. The mini-novels don't get a lot of love in the traditional book formats, but as ebooks they are really coming into their own. I feels like more and more are getting published with the rise of ebooks, and 2013 saw quite a few gems. Here are five that I think dark fiction fans should check out if they haven't already.
Hell's Door by Sandy DeLuca - This mystery/thriller from DarkFuse was the second novella by Sandy this year, the earlier one being Messages from the Dead, which was pretty darned good in its own right. Hell's Door, however, may be the best of the DarkFuse novellas I've ever read. Mind you, they publish a novella each month, and I just can't keep up with that. Still, the blend of police procedural with slick horror made this one a standout.
A Wind of Knives by Ed Kurtz - Horror, sci-fi, and fantasy get a lot of airplay on the blogosphere, but what about the western? Well, Ed Kurtz wrote one helluva story of a grieving rancher on a wayward warpath to find the men who killed his beloved ranch hand. He took a surefire premise of revenge and added some elements to give it a unique appeal. Ed writes in a lot of genres, but I hope he gives the western a little more love in the years to come.
Nightsiders by Gary McMahon -Here's another novella published by DarkFuse that hit my TBR pile with a splash. Take reality and turn it on its head. That's what Gary McMahon did here. It feels a bit like a haunted house story, a little like a psycho-stalker story, but it becomes something all its own before it's all over. And when I finished it, I actually had to go back and re-read passages to see what I missed. I don't re-read stories that often, so that alone ought to be enough to make this little ol' list.
What Makes You Die by Tom Piccirilli - I don't know Tom Piccirilli. Never met him, likely never will. But I will say I was genuinely relieved to find out he is walking around cancer free right now after a harrowing ordeal in 2012 with a brain tumor. Apex Magazine published this novella while he was on the mend. I initially thought it was going to be something in the fantasy or sci-fi genres, since that's their specialty. But this novella showed off Tom Piccirilli's specialty, which is keeping readers on the edge of the seat with darkly tinged character studies.
Whitsable by Stephen Volk - Okay, I'll just say it: this was my favorite novella of the year. I could just as easy pick any of the five as the very best, but from the books I read this year Whitstable managed to tap into the nostalgia element with an homage to Peter Cushing, while still presenting a tightly-plotted, suspenseful story of grief, justice, abuse, and frailty. Spectral Press on their worst day puts out real, good stories. The day Whitstable was published, that was their best day.
And let's throw in an honorable mention for Hope for the Wicked by Edward Lorn. A run-and-gun thriller with a pair of hired killers, a metric ton of twists, and one vicious ending.
So, read any good novellas lately?