Celebrating all things short

“To say more, is to say less.”

So said the great and prolific writer of short fiction, Harlan Ellison.

So in that spirit we are celebrating all things short this Thoughtful Thursday and we would love to know about your favourite short novels.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsA few days ago upon reading Illyria, Elizabeth Hand‘s World Fantasy Award Winner for best Novella, I was reminded of what a wonderful thing it can be to skip through a short novel as if your life depends on it. I raced through Illyria, not for lack of time, but out of sheer enjoyment, and was left positively breathless at the end. It was a beautiful story, only enhanced by its diminutive stature.

After all, good things do come in small packages. (At 5 foot nothing, I repeat this maxim to all and sundry).

Funnily enough when I think of novellas I am drawn to the classics — Steinbeck, Hemmingway, Graham Greene — and I must admit I haven’t explored the world of fantasy novellas anywhere near as much as I would like. So I am taking this opportunity to find out about your favorite novellas. Your suggestions are very much welcome.


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KATIE BURTON (on FanLit's staff September 2015 -- September 2018) was a solicitor in London before becoming a journalist. She was lucky enough to be showered with books as a child and from the moment she had The Hobbit read to her as a bedtime story was hooked on all things other-worldy. Katie believes that characters are always best when they are believable and complex (even when they aren't human) and is a sucker for a tortured soul or a loveable rogue. She loves all things magical and the more fairies, goblins and mystical creatures the better. Her personal blog is Nothing if Not a Hypocrite.

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14 comments

  1. Margo Hurwicz /

    I’ve been reading novellas lately because of time constraints. I very much liked Ruth Nestvold’s Looking through Lace. I also enjoyed The Gravity of the Affair by Mike Martinez, both for the story, but also because it introduces the world of his Daedulus Trilogy. I’m going to have to check my Goodreads page for the title, but Nora Jemisin has written a novella recently that extends the pleasure of spending time in the world of her Inheritance Trilogy. It might be called The Awakened Kingdom. Finally, Aliette de Bodard’s On a Red Station, Drifting is an excellent novella loosely based on the classic A Dream of Red Mansions (I’ll have to check for the full title on the classic too).

    • Margo, I’m also reading a lot of novellas recently, for the same reason: time constraints. I love some of Hugh Howey’s shorter novels.

  2. I haven’t read many novellas, but I have N.K. Jemisin’s The Awakened Kingdom in my TBR pile. It’s “part” of her Inheritance Trilogy, and was published in the omnibus printing that contains the three main books. (And yes, the omnibus is a BEHEMOTH. :D ) So far I’ve only read the first installment, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, but I can’t wait to read the other two novels as well as the novella at the end.

  3. RedEyedGhost /

    My favorite novella is Richard Matheson’s I am Legend. It has one of the most powerful endings I’ve ever read… I sure wish Hollywood could get it right.

  4. susan emans /

    I’m just over 5ft tall, and I love Ilona Andrews’s The Questing Beast and Of Swine and Roses.

    • Let the short people unite! I have always had an interest in legends and mythical creatures so Questing Beast certainly sounds interesting.

      • susan emans /

        Questing Beast is science fiction and was available for free download on Smashwords.

  5. Looking through the remainder of the World Fantasy Award winners is not a bad place to find more high quality novella material. Generally speaking I prefer science fiction over fantasy, but I still think the World Fantasy Award has been the most consistent over the years at recognizing quality work. The Hugo, Nebula, etc. have their ups and downs, but the WFA, with its informed judges rather than fan voting, flies on.

  6. I guess I don’t read many novellas, but I don’t know why. I don’t see people talking about them much, I guess. I will take a look at the WFA list.

  7. April V. /

    I don’t read a lot of novellas, mostly because the library doesn’t carry too many of them unless they are in anthologies. I’ve found that I tend to like novellas that are part of but different from a series – like when you get a different character’s POV in a novella (thinking of Thomas and The Dresden Files) that fits in the world but isn’t part of the main arc of the story.

    I also enjoyed the Riyria novella that introduced Royce and Hadrian and and the novellas in the Vorkosigan series are great too.

    My only problem with short fiction is that it is generally too short!

  8. Ren Bedell /

    My favorite novella is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Actually I would put it as my favorite book. I loved it as a kid but I can reread it over and over again as an adult too.

  9. Jim B, if you live in the USA, you win a book of your choice from our stacks.
    Please contact me (Marion) with your choice and a US address. Happy reading!

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