A short story a day review

Category: Horror

“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson

by kattomic

shirley jackson 365“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson


Story 366/366

I’ve been saving my favorite story all year, so will close out this challenge with “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. I first read it in school when I was an eighth graer and it has stuck with me all these years. I think it may be the greatest short story of the 20th century for so many reasons. I feel personally cheated that she died so young (48)and wish she’d lived to write more books and stories. (She would have been 96 this December 14.) “The Lottery” is widely anthologized and available in many places on the web. One of the things that struck me as I re-read it was the sexual politics of the story, in which boys and men draw for their mothers and wives but young girls draw for themselves (and are eligible for the lottery much earlier than young men). The story was published in 1948 (the same week it was written). Times have certainly changed (see Suzanne Collins’ use of the lottery in Hunger Games.) The craft here is just superb, the little details, the mundane setting, the chilling atmosphere. If you haven’t read the story in a while, here’s your chance. You can read it here.

Happy 2013!

“Envoi” by D.B. Wyndham-Lewis

by kattomic

d b wyndham-lewis 365“Envoi” by D.B. Wyndham-Lewis


Story 364/366

This story takes place on December 29, at the tail-end of a long and relentlessly festive Christmas week at a country house. The story appears in A Chamber of Horrors, edited by John Hadfield.

See you tomorrow!

“Bird Count” by Jane Yolen

by kattomic

jane yolen“Bird Count” by Jane Yolen


Story 359d/366

I knew Yolen only for her children’s books and this is very much an adult story. The narrator lives with a beautiful man who lives only for birds. And then a hawk as big as a man appears and he has no interest in the bird watcher at all. This story appears in Sirens and Other Demon Lovers, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling.

See you tomorrow!

“Mirrors” by Garry Kilworth

by kattomic

“Mirrors” by Garry Kilworth


Story 359c/366

A man awakes in a city not his own and follows neon lights and narrow alleyways to a house of erotic fantasy. And then…it gets strange. This story appears in the anthology Sirens and Other Demon Lovers, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. I bought my copy of this book from Datlow herself last year when she was having a Christmas clean-out sale. I’ve never been disappointed by one of her anthologies.

See you tomorrow!

“A Wizard of the Roads” by Therese Arkenberg

by kattomic

threse arkenberg“A Wizard of the Roads” by Therese Arkenberg


Story 359a/366

There’s terrific writing here, especially at the beginning when we meet the boy wizard Will. (Harry Potter he is not.) This is a post-apocalyptic story, so it seems fitting I’m posting it on 12.21.12. This story appears on the Daily Science Fiction site. You can read it here.

See you tomorrow!

“The Children, They Laugh So Sweetly” by Charles L. Grant

by kattomic

charles l. grant“The Children, They Laugh So Sweetly” by Charles L. Grant


Story 357b/366

Grant (a Jim Henson lookalike) specialized in dark fantasy (what he called “quiet horror”). This story is a classic of its kind. It begins with a killer description of a snowfall and then lets the horror build in the cold night. This story is another from Haunted Houses, the Greatest Stories, edited by Martin H. Greenberg.

See you tomorrow!

“Ladies in Waiting” by Hugh B. Cave

by kattomic

hugh b cave“Ladies in Waiting” by Hugh B. Cave


Story 357a/366

The first stories I ever read by Hugh B. Cave were in my brother’s Boy Scout magazine. I really loved them. In this story a husband and wife disagree bout how much the old Creighton place “might do.” This sory appears in Haunted Houses, the Greatest Stories, edited by Martin H. Greenberg.

See you tomorrow!

“The House in Bel Aire” by Margaret St. Clair

by kattomic

margaret st. clair 365“The House in Bel Aire” by Margaret St. Clair


Story 357/366

When Al sees the solid gold toilet and tells his friend Milt about it, it seems like such a good idea to find the house again and help themselves to a few other goodies. But the best-laid plans…This story appears in Haunted Houses, the Greatest Stories, edited by Martin H. Greenberg.

See you tomorrow!

“The Mangler” by Stephen King

by kattomic

“The Mangler” by Stephen King


Story 354/366

It’s no secret that I (heart) Stephen King and the first work of his I read were his short stories. (I think ‘Salem’s Lot was the first novel of his I read and I remember reading The Stand while I had the flu, which made it even scarier.)  He’s written a lot of outstanding short stories, but I am fond of this one because my grandmother had a laundry mangler and I was afraid of it. I believe King could make a toaster seem sinister, but here he imbues the device with a sinister sentience. The Mangler appears in a couple of collections.stephen king

See you tomorrow!


“The Ghost in the Crosstrees” by Frank Norris

by kattomic

frank norris“The Ghost in the Crosstrees” by Frank Norris


Story 353/366

This is a story about a scoundrel and a scheme that doesn’t quite work out the way he planned. Norris was one of the great muckraking novelists, railing against the one-percenters of his time in books like The Octopus. He was only 32 when he died of a ruptured appendix. This story appears on the Story Star site.

See you tomorrow!