The best Australian short story collections with real bite

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a horror writer to the core, always have been, so few things get me as interested as a great collection of short stories. I can remember a few corkers that really put the wind up me as a kid, and it seems I’ve been chasing that feeling ever since! Australia is my home, and it has a broad and diverse genre scene that deserves a lot more attention – I’ve befriended a great many authors of horror, fantasy, SF, and all points in between, and to a person they are lovely, generous, and talented. I’m doing my part to draw attention to the proliferation of vital voices down here.


I wrote...

Bites Eyes: 13 Macabre Morsels

By Matthew R. Davis,

Book cover of Bites Eyes: 13 Macabre Morsels

What is my book about?

Within, you’ll find ghosts celebrating heartbreaking holidays, deadly music that spells death for any who hear it, unsettling children who take extraordinary steps, lethal butchers lurking in plain sight, ancient evils, and much more.

Collected together for the first time, these thirteen macabre morsels offer a taste of the terrifying, the sinister, the dangerous, and the disturbed. Every bite’s a pleasure, yet comes with a delectable thrill of fear.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Dead Sea Fruit

Matthew R. Davis Why did I love this book?

Kaaron is a heavy-hitting award winner and a regular in Ellen Datlow’s anthologies, and here are over two dozen reasons why.

Her stories hum with a dark, merciless truth that makes their often-outlandish nature all the more believable; the worlds we find here are weird indeed, the peoples who populate them lonely and unsatisfied, the fates that await them uncaring and memorable.

But the writing is far from dour, imbued with a wry humour and implacable intelligence, and while it ranges unrestrained across bizarre horror, grim fantasy, and deeply personal SF, Kaaron is always entirely in control.

Lend her your attention and she won’t steer you wrong – her imagination and integrity have been an inspiration to me for many years.

By Kaaron Warren,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dead Sea Fruit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book by Kaaron Warren


Book cover of Cut to Care: A Collection of Little Hurts

Matthew R. Davis Why did I love this book?

Much extreme horror presents us with cardboard characters who are ripped and torn with no real consequence – but Aaron gives us deeply felt people who pulse on the page, which means it really hurts me as a reader when he subjects them to brutal and unforgiving fates.

His fiction aches like unacknowledged truth, displaying an empathy that doesn’t gloss over the horrors of this world and the next, and feels intimately personal whether he's delving into family dramas, failed relationships, queer themes, or sophisticated splatter.

While his work mostly details the horrors we inflict upon each other, even with the best of intentions, it’s too broad to be kept in one box – and if it was, it would surely cut its way out and come for your heart next. 

By Aaron Dries,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cut to Care as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An agency that sends social workers into the homes of grieving families to impersonate dead loved ones... The kind old woman who saved a teenager's life but now finds herself haunted by the weight of a cheated suicide... And the daughter of a candlestick maker as she tries to survive a painful existence after her father's execution for making human chandeliers of drunken cowboys... These stories and more-ranging from supernatural to the frighteningly domestic, Splatterpunk to the weird and cosmic-stain the pages of Cut to Care: A Collection of Little Hurts by Aaron Dries. They serve as a timely reminder…


Book cover of Hard Places

Matthew R. Davis Why did I love this book?

Kirstyn is another stalwart of the Australian scene whom I have always admired, and this recent collection of her stellar short work is so overdue it’s almost insulting.

Like the best of our number, she delves deep into the heart of her characters to present tales that never feel rote or disengaged, and her tales have teeth in the most unexpected places.

Her weirdness is never dispassionate, her horror never tame, and she returns from the darkness with gifts of many hues.

These are modern fairy tales for the grimy backstreets and dimly lit suburban kitchens down here at the bottom end of our haunted globe.

By Kirstyn McDermott,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hard Places as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Kirstyn McDermott's prose is darkly magical, insidious and insistent. Once her words get under your skin, they are there to stay." -Angela Slatter, author of All the Murmuring Bones and The Path of Thorns


Hard Places collects the very best of Kirstyn McDermott's short fiction written over the past twenty years along with a previously unpublished novella. From unsettling obsessions and brutal body horror to unexpected monsters and ghosts drifting through suburbia, these stories run the gamut of horror and the contemporary gothic. By turns harrowing, provocative and poignant, this collection will haunt you long after the last page is…


Book cover of The Gulp

Matthew R. Davis Why did I love this book?

Alan is less interested than the preceding authors in distracting poesy and deep characterisation – which is not to say that he is without sophistication, but rather that he prefers to twist the throttle hard and race through his stories like he has a metal gig to catch.

His two-fisted prose pulls no punches in this collection of five linked novellas about an odd Aussie country town, delivering bold thrills, shiversome delights, and wince-worthy kills.

Alan sets an example for myself and other local writers with his upstanding, no-shit attitude and open generosity, and those who don’t have the pleasure of knowing him personally will nonetheless feel welcomed into his world whenever they crack the covers of his books.

By Alan Baxter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Gulp as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Gulp (Tales From The Gulp #1)

Strange things happen in The Gulp. The residents have grown used to it.

The isolated Australian harbour town of Gulpepper is not like other places. Some maps don't even show it. And only outsiders use the full name. Everyone who lives there calls it The Gulp. The place has a habit of swallowing people.

A truck driver thinks the stories about The Gulp are made up to scare him. Until he gets there.
Teenage siblings try to cover up the death of their mother, but their plans go drastically awry.
A rock band…


Book cover of Metamorphosis: Short Stories

Matthew R. Davis Why did I love this book?

Claire is an irreverent delight in person, but you won’t see much of that persona in her stories – this book is heavy with gooey and bizarre body horror that always has a deeply personal context for her characters.

She’s admitted that writing is a vehicle for talking about her epilepsy, but you don’t need to share that with her to relate to the strange changes that take place on her pages.

This is just her first collection, an opening salvo across the bow of Australian horror, so it will be interesting indeed to see how her work evolves and metamorphosises over time – to meet the creature that crawls, slime-slicked and hungry, from the casing of her next books.

By Claire Fitzpatrick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Metamorphosis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This short story collection includes 17 tales of terror. Madeline will never become a woman. William will never become a man. Does June deserve to be human? Does Lilith deserve a heart? If imperfection is crucial to a society’s survival, what makes a monster?


You might also like...

The Blue Prussian

By Eve Penrose,

Book cover of The Blue Prussian

Eve Penrose

New book alert!

What is my book about?

The Blue Prussian is a spellbinding story told by Blake O’Brien, a beautiful, young executive with a globetrotting career. Blake returns to her native Manhattan from San Francisco after escaping—or so she thinks—her marriage to a dashing man who turned out to be a prince of darkness. She had been hoping for a fresh start but learns that she has been poisoned with thallium—a deadly neurotoxin referred to as the poisoner’s poison.

Blake is treated with the only known antidote—Prussian blue—the same synthetic pigment with the deeply saturated hue used in dazzling masterpieces like The Starry Night and The Great Wave. Almost unfathomably, the alchemist who invented Prussian blue was the rumored inspiration for Mary Shelley’s character, Dr. Frankenstein. The similarities to Blake’s financier ex are striking as his true nature is revealed—including the discovery of a secret room in the brooding Victorian home where they lived their married life together.

The stylish enclaves of Beekman Place in New York City, Nob Hill in San Francisco, and the Mayfair neighborhood in London provide the backdrop as this chilling tale of treachery and betrayal unfolds. Blake’s resolve triumphs, and the camaraderie of her loyal and charismatic friends fortifies her as she takes the reader on a tantalizing international pursuit to try to catch her poisoner, who is known to the FBI as The Blue Prussian.

The Blue Prussian

By Eve Penrose,

What is this book about?

"A modern-day Gaslight"

The Blue Prussian is a spellbinding story told by Blake O'Brien, a beautiful, young executive with a globetrotting career. Blake returns to her native Manhattan from San Francisco after escaping—or so she thinks—her marriage to a dashing man who turned out to be a prince of darkness. She had been hoping for a fresh start but learns that she has been poisoned with thallium—a deadly neurotoxin referred to as the poisoner's poison.

Blake is treated with the only known antidote—Prussian blue—the same synthetic pigment with the deeply saturated hue used in dazzling masterpieces like The Starry Night…


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