This is a tiny collection of five short stories; two of them are only a few pages. I particularly enjoyed The Lottery. It’s a bureaucracy the small town is just getting through; a tradition. But all the while, underneath, is something rather more sinister. Think ‘the reaping’ of the Hunger Games, but without the fear of the people or control by the state – it’s scarier. It’s one of those stories that, even though you can predict the ending, it still works and it’s still creepy.
All of the stories are like this – very ordinary people and events with a sneaking unease underneath. I’ve added one of her novels (We Have Always Lived in the Castle) to my to-read list, because if it’s anything like these stories it’ll be great. She also wrote The Haunting of Hill House, which you may know as ‘The Haunting’ (the name of both film adaptations of 1963 and 1999).
I really like these Penguin Mini Modern Classics. They’re slightly smaller than a CD, and only cost a couple of quid. Some are short stories but others are tiny novellas; a nice way of getting a taster of an author (and there are fifty to choose from). Though they are great if you’re looking for a quick read one evening, I think they’re best kept in your bag (or even a large pocket), for those times you find yourself waiting. Sometimes you just don’t have the room or shoulder strength to lug around your current read, and it’s always when you don’t bring it that you find yourself stuck somewhere with nothing to do and low phone battery. Doctor’s appointments, bus stops, perpetually late friends – these books are great to have tucked away, ready to go.