Two Villains, a Notebook, and a Lump of Coal – Helen French

Alone in a badly-lit corridor in the still of night, Leora wondered if she’d made a terrible mistake. She’d stolen what she’d broken into Namose College to steal and yet it felt like everything was on the verge of going wrong. Nothing good had ever happened to her in this vile magician’s den, that was true. But she was halfway out of the building. Victory, of a sort, was hers. And yet… There was something …

The Book of Regrets – M.J. Gardner

Christmas Eve, 2014, Cobourg, Ontario, Canada When Craig came into the living room with two steaming mugs of hot mulled cider, Adam had already moved the small pile of Christmas gifts from under the tree to the ottoman that doubled as a coffee table. The room smelled of wood smoke and pine and now cinnamon and apples. A two-storey window showed the deep blue Lake silvered by the moon under a black sky. The moon, …

Cinders and Snow – Kathryn Yelinek

The prince was old before his time. Candlelight from ballroom chandeliers softened the gray in his hair. He whirled yet another eligible young lady through a minuet, his movements practiced and sure, but he limped, round-shouldered. He was not yet twenty-five. “The hall looks so elegant,” the lady simpered between steps. “Like a winter wonderland.” “My mother’s idea.” Roderick smiled because he should. “She knew a ball would melt the midwinter cold.” The queen mother …

Family Tree – Lindsey Duncan

“Halett,” Rithshara called out of her dressing chamber, “where is my youngest son?” She pondered the crimson headdress versus the black, and decided on the former, which didn’t pinch. There was no reason menace couldn’t be comfortable. “Serving his unjust punishment in the underworld,” Halett replied. The dark, wiry man with the odd eyes — one brown, one blue — was clever, but occasionally, he tried too hard. She frowned. “My youngest living son, Halett. …

I Will Go Gently – Susan McDonough-Wachtman

They sat in their deck chairs, watching their son fish. “Has he caught one?” she asked, gently rocking. Walter squinted out at the lake. “I don’t think so.” “I think he did.” “Did you see it?” Ellen had the sight, but to Walter’s constant exasperation, she made no distinction between things she saw and things she saw. “No.” He looked at her. Her eyes were on her knitting. “How could you know, Ellen? You’re not …

Of Hair and Beanstalks – William Condon

25 December, being the Birth-day of Isaac Newton, Physicist: Madam, Your stepdaughter has arrived and been installed in the tower chamber, per your instructions. This has already led to the predicted difficulties, as my dinosaurian bulk cannot fit within the narrow tower. When she refused to descend for supper this evening, I was reduced to flying outside her window and poking my face in. I found her combing her long hair, which raises my second …