This is the post where I try, desperately, to narrow things down enough to pick just ten – just ten! – short stories to talk about for the year of 2019. This is more short stories than I’ve ever put on my list before, and it was hard to just pick ten. There were so many short stories in 2019, though, and I do not read widely but still find myself overwhelmed each year. These are, in the end, my favorites of only that very few I’ve managed to cram in my eyeballs.
Disclaimers issued, let’s get to it.
“A Catalog of Love at First Sight” – Brit E.B. Hvide
We’ll start with my favorite story this year, published in Uncanny Magazine. It’s a list story, and it is perfect. I don’t have a lot more to say about it except that it’s about loves of all kinds, and what makes life worth living in a drowning world.
“The Thing About Ghost Stories” – Naomi Kritzer
Also from Uncanny, I have to include this lovely ghost story. I loved that this story was about ghosts and hauntings, but I think my favorite part was the folktale taxonomies and how that worked into the narrative. I’m pretty much a sucker for that. Plus it’s a mother-daughter relationship story, which is guaranteed to make me tear up.
“Cavity” – Theresa DeLucci
On revenge, with numbers! It’s another list story, which is apparently a theme for me this year. This story is from Strange Horizons, and it’s about murderers and hunger and teeth.
“Hare’s Breath” – Maria Haskins
Switching gears a bit, we have a lovely story from Cast of Wonders dealing with forced sterilization and magic. Bringing us to another theme for this year: having your choices taken away from you. There’s some purely dreamy atmosphere in this one, despite the heavy subject matter. As always, Maria Haskins does not disappoint.
“Tiny Teeth” – Sarah Hans
As noted by the author on PsuedoPod’s site: “This story was inspired by and is dedicated to all the people around the world who have been forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, especially those who didn’t survive it.” It’s a horror tale with a hopeful ending, taking the issues of choice and women’s health in a very different direction from “Hare’s Breath” but one no less poignant in its way.
“Seonag and the Seawolves” – M. Evan MacGriogair
From Tor.com this year, another tale with deft and mesmerizing language. This story is about outcasts and magic and safe havens. It’s also about regrets and systems of power. An intoxicating read.
“The Leash of Foxes, Their Stories Like Barter” – Cassandra Khaw
Cassandra Khaw continues to weave creepy, lovely tales in this Lightspeed story, reminding us all of a valuable life lesson: You should definitely never stalk people, especially when they have married eldritch trickster spirits.
“The Red Cloak” – Vanessa Fogg
This fairytale retelling by Vanessa Fogg comes from Truancy Magazine, and is a lovely piece about how violence is carried down from generation to generation.
“The Dead in Their Uncontrollable Power” – Karen Osborne
Possibly the only truly science fiction title on the short story list this year, this tale from Uncanny takes place on a generation ship and deals with how we inherit the mistakes of our forebears, and struggle to rise above them.
“Some Kind of Blood-Soaked Future” – Carlie St. George
Last but not least, one of my favorite stories from this year is a found family story from Nightmare Magazine. We are not what people do to us and all of us deserve a home and hope.
I hope you enjoy all of these tales! Happy reading!