TOR Shorts - Review Collection 1, pretty much one of the coolest publishers ever, has been releasing free short stories on its website (no strings attached) for years. Groovy artwork attached with each story gives them even more brownie points. There's no way to go wrong there. Every once in awhile I'll compile some mini reviews I've done for various shorts and recommendations.

   Fantasy - Paranormal:

Companion story to Monstrous Beauty. Read Link

Cited as the only extant firsthand record of a mermaid encounter in New England waters, this deathbed letter from a great-grandfather to his great-grandson is more likely an instructive fiction--a parable of regret. Supposedly corroborating the mermaid story, a ship's log (in the collections of the Provincetown Historical Museum) of the schooner Hannah, which plucked Mr. Stanton from South Weepecket in 1788, indicates that the crew saw two figures on the island prior to his rescue, but failed to locate a second victim. However, regarding accuracy and reliability, this is the same crew, under Captain John Merriweather, that reported sightings of a ghost ship and not one, but two sea monsters. ~~James S. Rucker, Archivist, Family Collections, Falmouth Historical Society, 1924

Choose wisely when your time comes. Live—or die—without regret.

Mermaids are amazing, and it's hard to get enough of their legends. At least I haven't had my personal fill of them yet, they seem hard for me to find other than mere glimpses in stories. This is a short story - again, only a mere glimpse of a mermaid tale. The writing is haunting and lovely, the main character a weak man who lives to regret not taking a chance. The writer's pause between reflective thought and her subtlely in dialogue that says it all is skillful.

The mermaid is easy to fall in love with - subtle and sweet but clever. I do think the old hag's story would prove true and to love her is to meet your death, as so many other mermaid legends go, but that brings together the haunting charm of the mermaid tales and voyages in the epic, vast sea. It's haunting, it's whimsical, it's mind-bending - perfect reading. The tone is almost gothic and works well to give me reading willies. At the end of the story there are some questions I wondered though that I couldn't figure. Despite this, was interesting.


"Selfies", by Lavie Tidhar, is a creepy little horror tale about the fate of a young woman who makes the mistake of a lifetime when she buys a new phone in the local mall.

"In the picture something with my face is standing outside and it’s looking back at me and it’s smiling."

Weird little story, a quick read but difficult to follow. The numbers are out of order with days/events/selfies taken. Someone else is after the fun although I don't know who or why. There's a lot of questions left at the end of this one.

Read it for yourself here.

   Dark Fantasy / Dark Comedy:

Just in time for Halloween, we have a funny, sweet, and slightly skewed short story by Aaron Corwin, an up-and-coming writer from Seattle.

All Mathilde wanted for her birthday was a pony. Instead, she got a demon. Sometimes growing up means learning that what you think you want is not always what you need.

Hilarious short story - but poor Ix’thor! Damn people like Becky anyway.

The story is unusual and told completely tongue in cheek. Despite the mini dark lord only having so many lines, it was easy to get attached to the funny thing. My favorite part was probably the description of his rearranging the cage.

The author tells the story well and clearly has a sense of humor. Bravo!

   Fantasy (Surreal):

A young man grieving for his lost sister steps into the world of their favorite board game, in a desperate attempt to find her.

First, kudos on the cover. Second, the writing style is fine and stylish. Third, this is confusing stuff.

A boy is trying to figure out where his missing sister is, while meanwhile living with parents who try to pretend things are okay for his sake. When he's speaking to the board pieces and game, the titles of the characters (like LIBRARIAN) are capitalized. It's mesmerizing but tricky stuff.

The ending cuts off abruptly. The author was trying to say something that must have went over my head completely. Whoosh, it's gone!

Try to figure it out yourself with this link.