Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Novellas


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. They created the meme because they love lists. Who doesn’t love lists? They wanted to share these list with fellow book lovers and ask that we share in return to connect with our fellow book lovers. To learn more about participating in the challenge, stop by their page dedicated to it and dive in!

This week’s topic: Top Ten Favorite Novellas

Mogsy’s Picks

The theme for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday is “Read In One Sitting”, which opens the topic up to a myriad possibilities. Bloggers are invited to post anything from ten of the shortest books they’ve ever read to recommending the top ten books to read when you are short on time, or even top ten books that will make you read the whole day away, etc. Pretty much anything goes, so I’ve decided to take this opportunity to talk about an under-read category of mine: Novellas. As you know, I’m not the biggest reader of the short fiction format, but I’ve been doing better in recent years! In that time, there have been some really good novellas I’ve come across, and I’d like to take today to talk about some of them. And yes, most of these were devoured by me in one sitting!

The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson

The Emperor’s Soul has the distinction of being the first novella that I’ve rated a full five stars. It took me less than two hours to read, but encompassed everything I like about Sanderson’s works, including a new and unique magic system. While it takes place in the same world as Elantris, the book features a whole new cast of characters, is set in a new location, and plays out perhaps in another time. In fact, only passing mentions of certain places in the story’s world reminded me that it was the same universe. Regardless, so much of this story spoke to me. Brandon Sanderson may be a writer, though in a way he is an artist himself, his medium being his words. Certainly this book shows he thinks like an artist, or at least knows how one feels. This is a brilliant short novel, with a powerful message.

We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory

This novella made me an instant fan of Daryl Gregory. It is an average-sized novella, a very quick read, and yet it is just so densely packed with goodness. It just begs to be experienced firsthand. True, it might not be an easy read at times, with its disturbing themes and bone-chilling violence, but I did also find it tremendously addicting. It’s also the characters that make We Are All Completely Fine – mainly because they are all so completely not.  Unraveling each character’s mystery is the first step of this hair-raising journey, and definitely my favorite part of this story. After all, no one would believe them if they told their personal tales of what really happened to them… (Read the full review)

The Last Witness by K.J. Parker

Every once in a while, along will come a novella that is so bizarre, so offbeat and so unlike anything I have ever read before, that somehow, against all the odds, it just…works. The Last Witness is such a novella. Its protagonist and narrator is a man with a very special talent. He would be quick to tell you that it is not like mind-reading, not really. What he does is something much more fiddly and delicate. What he can do is enter your mind and take away your memories. A single one or all of them, it doesn’t matter; they would be transferred to his own mind, and it would be like you never had them. By all rights I should have found this book unfulfilling, given the story’s disorganized structure and how impossible it was connect with the character and his haphazard perspective, but it ended up really resonating with me. It’s strange, but in the best way possible. (Read the full review…)

Sin du Jour series by Matt Wallace

Gonna cheat a little here and feature the full series, since the books are all short enough to be read in one sitting. Imagine Hell’s Kitchen meets Dresden Files, marinated in a flavorful blend of action and thrills, seasoned generously with humor. Two ordinary down-on-their-luck New York chefs suddenly find themselves landing the gig of lifetime at Sin du Jour, an exclusive catering company owned by one of the city’s hottest celebrity chefs. However, it soon becomes clear that Sin du Jour is no ordinary catering company. For one thing, their clients are demons. If a couple hours with a bite-sized, light-hearted urban fantasy novella sounds like a good time to you, then you need to check out this series. (Read the full reviews…)

Legion by Brandon Sanderson

I still can’t believe I’m so in love with a book that’s listed as a mere 88 pages. I often find myself struggling with novellas that are less than a hundred pages because that’s usually not enough to give me all the plot and character development I want. But I should have had faith in Sanderson. There’s a reason why he’s one of my favorite fantasy authors. I love the stuff the guy comes up with, especially his unique magic systems and characters’ fantasy powers. Legion is no exception. To the outside world, protagonist Stephen Leeds appears to live by himself in a huge mansion, but his reality is in fact very different. His mental condition allows him to generate a variety of hallucinated people who share his space with him, and they are all unique with their individual personalities, skills and knowledge. They in turn advise and share their expertise with Leeds whenever he needs to know about certain topics. This unique “power” in turn makes Leeds one hell of a detective/investigator. Sounds cool, doesn’t it?

The Purloined Poodle by Kevin Hearne

What a fun little book! Not to be missed by fans of Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles, and even if you don’t follow the series, it’s worth taking a look. While it would help if you knew a little of the series’ basic foundations, everything else is going to be pretty easy to pick up along the way, especially since The Purloined Poodle is a whole different kind of animal (pun absolutely intended)! For one thing, the entirety of the tale is told through the eyes of a dog. That’s right, Oberon fans, urban fantasy’s most popular pooch gets his very own book. Dog lovers, urban fantasy enthusiasts, and Iron Druid fans take note: if you are one or any combination of the above, I would highly recommend this novella. Reading it won’t take long and it’s the perfect escape. (Read the full review)

Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold

It’s always a pleasure to return to Lois McMaster Bujold’s World of the Five Gods, which is also the setting of her books like The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls—two of my favorite novels of all time. There’s just so much to love about this world, not least of all the phenomenal world-building featuring some of the richest lore and history I’ve ever encountered in the fantasy genre. One thing of note is the major role that religion plays in this universe. Fate and free will are often recurring themes in the stories set in this world, as well as the question of divine intervention. Penric’s Demon is a good example of this, following the misadventures of a hapless mortal caught up in the drama of the gods. There’s even several sequels, and I do hope Bujold will keep on writing more. These charming little novellas feature everything I love about the author’s writing, and don’t underestimate their short length because these compact tales can still pack a lot of punch. (Read the full reviews…)

The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough

This novella couldn’t have been more different than Pinborough’s other work, and yet I loved it no less. A beautiful soul-rending song straight from the heart, this tiny little book packs an emotional punch by shifting gears instead to look at the turbulent nature of grief and the profound effects it has on one troubled family. Despite its label as a fantasy novella, the ties that bind the story to the genre are light and ambiguous. However, it’s the themes that really come through: pain, grief, death, loss. Family, support, togetherness, love. Ultimately, these are the topics that define the sweet poignancy of this beautifully crafted novella. The Language of Dying is an astonishingly good read, simple in its approach, but thoughtful and heartbreaking in its execution. It’s not an easy book to read, but you will be glad you did. (Read the full review)

In Calabria by Peter S. Beagle

Magical realism fans are going to want to take note. In Calabria is a short and simple tale, but packed with some powerful themes. I’ve always loved stories with unicorns in them, especially those that portray them in meaningful ways, and if anyone can be relied upon to write a book that does just that, it is Peter S. Beagle. With the deft touch, the author weaves a strong thread of mythology into this gorgeous and emotional tale about love, sacrifice, and courage. Reading it is like stepping through a veil and into a dream, crossing into that secret and magical place where everyday life comes face to face with the fantastical. Highly recommended for readers who love genuine characters, evocative settings, and storytelling with a touch of pure magic. (Read the full review…)

Snapshot by Brandon Sanderson

Are you really that surprised Brandon Sanderson makes it onto this list three times? Honestly, I have no idea how the guy does it. Whether his books are 1000 pages or 100, they’re always fun to read, not to mention creative as hell. As you’d expect, this was definitely the case with Snapshot. It is a mystery story, but there are so many layers to it that I believe even non-fans of crime and detective stories will be able to appreciate it. For one thing, the fantastic premise adds several extra dimensions to the plot, and our characters are repeatedly thrown into situations that will get your brain juices flowing. I don’t often hand out such high ratings for a novella simply because so few have impressed me to this degree, but I’ll happily throw my full recommendation behind this one, because I thought it was a truly imaginative and brilliant read. (Read the full review)

42 Comments on “Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Favorite Novellas”

  1. I enjoyed the humour in Envy of Angels and will certainly be reading on with the series. I haven’t read the Kevin Hearne one yet but I’m not paying the inflated price it is at which is about double my ebook budget per book!


    • Subterranean Press books are often very pricey because of their collection edition statuses, but fortunately their ebooks are usually more reasonable. As I recall, you’re not in the US right? How much is the ebook where you are? Last I checked at US Amazon it was listed at $5 I think.


  2. Ooh nice! These are all pretty much new to me except for Kevin Hearne’s! Which is still in my TBR pile! Cannot wait to read more from Oberon! I love that pooch! Really need to get caught up in that series too!

    Here’s my Tuesday Post

    Have a GREAT day!

    Old Follower 🙂


  3. That is an awful lot of Sanderson. I am loving the Tor.Com model; lots of nice juicy novellas for me to read. Not all have been a hit but a couple have already.

    OH! Six-Gun Snow White; that was a fairly recent one sitting read for me.


  4. This was a great idea for a list this week:-) I’ve had pretty good luck with novellas, and I have to agree with the three on here that I’ve read. I find they are a great way to test the waters, to see if an author is going to work for me.


    • It’s funny, I never used to read that many novellas, but then there weren’t as many opportunities prior to these last couple years. Looks like changed things, as well as publishers like Tachyon and Subterranean Press stepping up their novella publications 🙂


  5. Something tells me you might be somewhat partial to Sanderson… I don’t know why, but this thought keeps rolling through my mind! 😀 😀
    I loved The Emperor’s Soul and now I want to try out the other two, while I wait for the right time to start on some serious (and heftier!) Sanderson novel…


  6. I really liked Envy of Angels when I read it this summer, I should really read the sequel that has been waiting on my Kindle for a few months now… x)
    I couldn’t really get into The Last Witness, I liked the beginning but I grew bored toward the middle and it was a bit of a struggle to finish actually.


  7. This is nice because I’ve been wanting to read more novellas! I don’t read a ton of them either but I’d like to… especially in SF. Looks like some good choices here…


  8. I grabbed Snapshot a few weeks ago after seeing it mentioned and reviewed here but haven’t read it yet #storyofmylife. I am so glad to see Matt Wallace’s series on here as everyone knows I love that. I’m also glad to say the latest one didn’t disappoint although I haven’t featured my review yet. I may have to check out We Are All Completely Fine and words cannot express how beautiful I found The Language of Dying.


  9. Oh man! All of these are new to me. Which isn’t much of a surprise, because I’m not really into novellas! There are a lot of adult romance novellas that I’ve enjoyed, but not so much in other genres/age levels. Just today I was rereading one of my favorites – Once Upon a Moonlit Night by Elizabeth Hoyt. LOVE! ❤

    Excellent list, Mogsy! Have a lovely week. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!


    • I wasn’t really into novellas either…still not, really, heh heh! But there have been a lot more of them coming out in SFF in recent years, so I’ve been trying to branch out and sample more of them 🙂


  10. I’ve read a lot of short stories–I especially adore Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine–but I’ve read extremely few novellas. Thanks for the list of faves! 🙂


  11. You’ve read quite a few Novellas! Perfect fit for this TTT. I really want to read Penric’s Demon and don’t know why I haven’t yet. I too really love that world. Legion is the only one on here I have read and it is particularly creative and unique! There was a second novella in that series as well, I wonder if he’s done more… Of the others I don’t know why I haven’t picked up on The Sin Du Jour series, that sounds fun and definitely my cup of tea. Great list!!!


    • Probably not as many as others, I’ve really only started reading more novellas in recent years, thanks to, lol! I’m really glad novellas have become a bigger thing these days though, it’s a great way to try out new authors 🙂


  12. I haven’t actually read any of these! Most of the novellas I’ve read have been from, and pretty much all of them were great. I really want to read In Calabria soon though, because who doesn’t love magical realism? 🙂


  13. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Novellas & Short Story Anthologies | The BiblioSanctum

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