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Short Stories 365:12

I love novellas.

It's not really fair to call a novella a short story, but I'll defend myself thus: novella are short(er) fiction than a novel, and usually only found in collections, just like short stories. That, and this whole 365 thing is going to be somewhat loose on interpretation anyway (I've already discussed some graphic novels), so I'm not going to limit myself if I see something worth talking about.

Besides, the novella in question rounds out Night Shadows, and does so with a freaking bang and a whimper.

"Ordinary Mayhem," by Victoria A. Brownworth

Oh. My. Gods. This was so damn good. I'm not sure I can do this novella justice given that I'm trying to be spolier free, but I'll try to at least hook you. The tale centres around Faye, who is being raised by her grandparents, and who develops a love of photography beside her grandfather in his dark room. But the photos that develop in the girl's mind are far more disturbing than the ones her grandfather takes for his clients. Thus begins a journey into the mind of a young girl who has - perhaps - seen (or done?) things that are best left unsaid.

So atmospheric, so creepy, and just so damn well written, "Ordinary Mayhem" caps off Night Shadows in such a satisfying way that you're left pondering it - and the collection as a whole - for days after. I would warn you not to start this story until you're ready to finish it. I was in a hotel room at a conference and stayed up far later than I should for Brownworth's story.