A post recommending short stories is the closest I will ever come to celebrating Halloween. The holiday just seems so incongruous with the Australian summer, and I did not even know of its existence while growing up in Vietnam.
On the other hand, I am someone who’s always been morbidly fascinated by ghost stories and grisly horror. I am particularly invested if there’s a cultural or human element to the story, my faint heart vastly prefers a solid story of human tragedy to an all-out gore fest. This short recommendation list will include a couple of short stories I read throughout the week leading up to Halloween, they all feature diverse author and/or characters.
Trigger Warning for most of the stories for blood and violence.
Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers by Alyssa Wong
I don’t tell her that Harvey’s lies under my bed, that I lick its remnants every night to send my nerves back into euphoria.
An award-winning short story featuring queer, East-Asian females as its primary players – beginning with our protagonist killing a predatory murderer by feasting on his dark thoughts. Aside from being chilling, it’s also introspective, guaranteed to evoke a visceral fear.
It also happens to be free to view via Nightmare Magazine here.
The H Word: The Darkest, Truest Mirror
Horror is only one storytelling mode of many. But it is my preferred mode of entertainment and exorcism, a space where fear can be manipulated and conquered
This is a non-fiction essay by Alyssa Wong on her experience as an Asian-American writer and her choice to write horror. I found it beautifully written and so relatable. Like above, you can find it for free to view on Nightmare Magazine here.
If you’re able to, please consider supporting Nightmare Magazine by purchasing one of their issues. Their October 2016 issue is themed ‘People of Colour Destroy Horror!’ and can be found here.
The Oiran’s Song by Isabel Yap
Her smile slices to your bone and reminds you that you are cruel, that you are part of the war; that all this fighting is designed to break you apart, burn the world with innocents in its midst.
Melancholy, disturbing, and heartbreaking. I savoured this tale of war, love, and monsters both supernatural and human. It follows a young boy in a cruel, cold regiment at war – and an oiran (courtesan) hired to entertain his superiors. Trigger warning for sexual abuse.
Fabulous Beasts by Priya Sharma
My real name is Lola and I’m no princess. I’m a monster.
A twisted tale of girls able to shape-shift into snakes, but where human cruelty are a lot more terrifying than serpents. It’s gripping and compelling, though also at times nauseating. Trigger warning for incest, child abuse, sexual abuse.
It’s free to view on Tor here. You can support Tor by purchasing one of their many brilliant books.
Happy Halloween to everyone who celebrates it! Did you read any books in theme with Halloween this past month? Which were your favourite?