In lieu of some kind of year end list (and coming a bit late anyway) I thought I'd just list here five great speculative short stories that I read last year.
The final story in Rebecca Lloyd's 'Ragman and other Family Curses' from Egaeus Press, this is a creepy and original story revolving around sibling rivalry and the Victorian practice of taking portraits of the dead. One of the best subtle creepy shorts I've read for awhile.
A poignant tale of yearning and loss, beautifully told by L.S. Johnson in the style of an instruction manual, here a witch endeavours to give her fading mother the grandchild she always wished for by some rather unconventional means.
This haunting tale is also the title story from Johnson's excellent debut collection of stories.
From the collection 'Almost Insentient, Almost Divine' from Undertow Books, and for me the standout and the most conventional story in the book. This is the tale of a young couple honeymooning in a borrowed cottage where their initial reticence towards each other is eventually overtaken by pagan forces. I have to be honest and say that I found this book a bit of a trial, perhaps because Watt's tales are better read and mulled over one at a time rather than as a collection, but this story certainly leaps off the page.
After a disastrous attempt at conducting an affair, a woman on the way home with her lover runs over a kind of bat-rabbit thing which may or may not represent love. A story everyone can relate to (?).
A peculiar slant on the mermaid tale by the late, great Tanith Lee. This takes it's inspiration from Magritte's painting of a stranded merman with the head of a fish and legs of a man (rather than the other way around). The story tells of a shop worker who becomes enamoured of a beautiful but unresponsive young man in a wheelchair, and the efforts she eventually makes to set him free.