I ADORE dark fiction novellas. I think that novella length is the perfect form in which to tell a lean and powerful horror story. Every word has to count, anything that isn't important is left out. Because I love them so much, I tend to read a lot of novellas. This year, I decided to give them their own category and so without further ado, here are my top ten of the year. (Please click the book covers below, if you'd like to see my original review.)
1. by John Boden. Spungunion is poignant, powerful and lyrically written at times. In my humble opinion, John Boden, (along with Chad Lutzke, see below), are the REAL DEAL. I will, with pleasure, continue to read anything they write.
2. by Chad Lutzke. Two parents gone and an upcoming spelling bee. It doesn't sound like much, but in the hands of Chad Lutzke it IS much. Almost too much at times. This novella touched me and I related to this poor kid in just about every way. As I said above, I believe Chad is an author to watch.
3. by Stephen Graham Jones. This man is so prolific and thus far, I've only managed to read a few things by him. Mapping the Interior was another poignant story on this list, involving lost parents and life as a Native American in today's harsh world. Much like the two stories above, I'm finding it very difficult to describe why this tale affected me so much, but it did. Perhaps it will affect you in the same way?
4. by Kevin Lucia. This is yet another poignant tale about a man caring for his dying father, an area where I have some personal experience. Perhaps, that's why this novella hit me so hard? Or maybe it's just that it was brilliantly and beautifully written.
5. by Chad Lutzke. This is a powerful novella about addiction. Never, ever underestimate the power of drugs or alcohol. People often do just that and end up in dire straits. This was so well written that as I was reading I thought for sure that Chad had personal experience with drug addiction. It turns out he doesn't, but that should give you an idea of how real-feeling this novella was.
7. by the Champion Mojo Storyteller himself: Mr. Joe Lansdale. He's probably the biggest, most well known name on this list. Author of the popular Hap & Leonard series, he writes in all genres and he's always funny as hell. This was a mystery involving Hap & Leonard, and it made me chuckle. Plus, it's a story about a bookmobile-how could I not love that?
8. by Kay Brandt. As far as I know this is the only novella written by this author. It had a very cool premise and I think she pulled it off. Ms. Brandt has an interesting career going for herself, but I think if she chose to pursue dark fiction, she might do very well.
9. by Hunter Shea. This is Mr. Shea's second entry on this list. Both of these novellas were part of a series titled "Mail Order Massacres" and were based upon things you could order through the mail via the ads in the backs of comics. Though JUST ADD WATER was my favorite of the three, MONEY BACK GUARANTEE placed a close second. Never mess with a mom who spent some of her hard earned money on a product that nearly killed her kid. Pure F U N!!
10. by Anthony Hains. I admit to not knowing what an Aswang was when I started this tale. Now that I do know, I wonder why Aswangs are not the subject of more horror stories-because have no doubt: Aswangs are freaking SCARY! I had quite a few novellas ranked 4 stars this year, but I chose to include this one because of the sheer originality and fun of it.
If you've stayed with me this far, I thank and appreciate you! I hope that you'll join me in 2018 as I seek out and hopefully discover more great dark fiction novellas!