Favorite Reads of 2014: Short Stories

Following up on my favorite novels and anthologies for 2014, here is the promised short fiction post to accompany it. Of course I’m nowhere near caught up. There are so many fabulous stories out there, there’s no way I can keep up with all of them. However I did do better in terms of reading things actually published this year than I did with novels and anthologies. In my opinion, 2014 was a strong year for short fiction as you’ll see from the length of my list. There were other works I enjoyed throughout the year, but these were the ones stuck out and stuck with me the most.

Jackalope Wives by Ursula Vernon – a fresh take on the idea of animal brides, which strips away the romance to leave the brutal and painful truth at the heart of the legend.

21 Steps to Enlightenment (Minus One) by LaShawn M. Wanak – a story about family, and finding your place in the world, wrapped in lovely, poetic language.

Who is Your Executioner by Maria Dahvana Headley – a story that perfectly captures just how creepy most children’s rhyming and chanting games are.

The Tallest Doll in New York City by Maria Dahvana Headley – a charming, glittering tale about architecture in Manhattan.

The Days When Papa Takes Me to War by Rahul Kanakia – an effective story about ants, human brutality, and Ernest Hemmingway.

The End of the World in Five Dates by Claire Humphrey – sometimes the world not ending can be an apocalypse in itself, and you have to learn to live with the potential messiness and pain that comes with just being alive.

Starcrossed by M. Bennardo – a story of love across lifetimes, and the idea that even destiny isn’t always a sure thing.

The Colorless Thief by Yukimi Ogawa – a story about race, objectification, and the sacrifice required by beauty, shot through with lovely imagery.

In Her Head, In Her Eyes by Yukimi Ogawa – a retold fairy tale that gives agency back to its main character and lets her take control of her own story.

The Devil in America by Kai Ashante Wilson – a twist on a classic deal with the devil story, woven in with painful issues surrounding race relations and slavery.

Falling from Earth to Haphazard Sky (Tadople Remix) by E. Catherine Tobler – a gorgeously poetic story about coming home (or not), and the alienation of being human.

A Box, a Pocket, a Spaceman by E. Catherine Tobler – another story wrapped in lovely language, poking at the reality under the tropes of the genre.

The End of the End of Everything by Dale Bailey – a decadent apocalypse, soaked in art and blood.

The Earth and Everything Under by K.M. Ferebee – a more grown-up take on the idea of a romantic, mystical quest to the underworld, and the lover left behind.

Communion by Mary Anne Mohanraj – a story that explores the meaning of family, death, and the possibilities and complications unlocked by genetic manipulation.

The Paradox of Color by A.M. Dellamonica – a time travel story centering on hard characters and hard choices.

The Contemporary Foxwife by Yoon Ha Lee – another story exploring the animal bride motif, expected gender roles, and the idea of servitude.

A Cup of Salt Tears by Isabel Yap –  a grown-up take on a familiar tale, this time the trope of the supernatural lover.

Anna Saves Them All by Seth Dickinson – a story about making impossible choices and living with the consequences.

Last Dance Over the Red, Red World by Gary Klosterman – a lovely, futuristic take on Poe’s Masque of the Red Death.

We Are the Cloud by Sam J. Miller – a painful story about love, heartbreak, and the exploitation of the most vulnerable members of society.

A Stretch of Highway, Two Lanes Wide by Sarah Pinsker – sometimes an arm is also a highway, and sometimes the loveliest stories are the ones that don’t feel the need to provide an explanation for why such a thing might be so.

Like a Wasp to the Tongue by Fran Wilde – a story of fierce women, reckless dares, and a medical mystery, all hinging on wasps.

Hunting Monsters by S.L. Huang – a mash-up of fairy tales with darkness at their core.

The Husband Stitch by Carmen Maria Machado – an incredibly tense re-telling of an old ghost story that also looks at gender roles and trust.

Mothers by Carmen Maria Machado – a twisty, slippery tale of broken relationships, blurring the line between what is and what might have been.

What Glistens Back by Sunny Moraine – a beautiful story about falling, memory, and finding peace in the last moments of life.

A Whisper in the Weld by Alix E. Harrow – a ghost story exploring the brutality of life on the home front during WWII, told from an often overlooked and marginalized viewpoint, that of a woman of color.

Persistence of Vision by Orrin Grey – an unsettling apocalyptic story full of creepy imagery and unexplained supernatural occurrences.

The Mussel Eater by Octavia Cade – yet another take on the animal bride motif and the idea of changing, taming, and possessing another person under the guise of love.

Skin in the Game by Sabrina Vourvoulias – a story about the power of family and community, mixed with the supernatural.

Griefbunny by Brooke Juliet Wonders – sometimes grief manifests as a giant rabbit, and that’s okay.

The Drawstring Detective by Nik Houser – a story perfectly balancing charm, heartbreak, and humanity, all encapsulated in the titular character – a most remarkable wind-up toy.

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