WINNER of the Australian Shadows Award “Best Collected Work 2017”.
Long-listed for the 2017 Bram Stoker Award “Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection”.
One of Aurealis Magazine’s Top Picks of 2017.
Nominated for the Aurealis Award “Best Collection 2017”.
A collection of twenty-one dark fantasy and horror stories. Mysterious. Creepy. Disturbing. A funeral director, who steals body parts for cash, takes delivery of an unusual corpse. The crew of a nineteenth-century fishing boat encounters an unknown but irresistible danger. A dog-sledder on a secret mission in Antarctica fights for his life against the monsters that have fuelled his every nightmare since the Vietnam war. And much more…
WHERE TO BUY
- Ebook – Amazon US / Amazon AUS
- Paperback – Amazon US / Amazon AUS
BRAM STOKER AWARD 2017 BALLOT NOMINATION
I’m absolutely thrilled that my horror collection, Perfect Little Stitches and Other Stories (IFWG Publishing Australia), made it into the preliminary “Bram Stoker Award” 2017 ballot for Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection. While I didn’t make the shortlist, just to be mentioned on the same page as industry heavyweights like Joe Hill is a tremendous honour.
For the full list of the Bram Stoker 2017 Preliminary Ballot, please click here.
EXAMPLES OF READER REVIEWS:
Anne McCluskey 5/5 stars (Facebook/Amazon): I love it! Every story is unique & exciting. It’s a treasure trove. Marvellous book! Excellent stories beautifully crafted.
Matt Bird 5/5 stars (Goodreads): Perfect Little Stitches and other stories is an eclectic mix of horror and dark fantasy tales. You know you’re in good hands from the offset. Sheldon is a writer who knows what she’s doing in this collection of superbly characterised, entertaining, solidly written tales. Some stories are tongue in cheek, while others chill and linger. However, among this collection of twenty-one stories you’ll find something to satiate most horror and dark fantasy tastes. There are hints of Bloch and Bradbury in this excellent anthology, and Sheldon skilfully explores folklore, superstitions, old wives’ tales, and urban myths, weaving them into stories you won’t easily forget. I enjoyed all the tales in this anthology, although the standout stories for me, in no particular order, were: What the Sea Wants, Species Endangered, Angel Hair, A Haunting in Suburbia, Stagecoach from Castlemaine. Although my particular favourite was Will o’ the Wisp . Here Sheldon finds a perfect balance between folklore, superstition, paranoia, fear and psychology, and actual horror. It’s reminiscent of Edith Wharton’s Bewitched and is equally as haunting. However, how the events in Will o’ the Wisp are to be interpreted, you’ll have to read it and decide for yourself.
Louise Zedda-Sampson 5/5 stars (Goodreads): I really enjoyed this book. The stories were all different and the collection was put together well. As I was coming to the end, expecting to finish quietly with a few more horrific reads, the last few stories upped the pace rather than tapered it down. They left me wondering about the characters, filled will ‘eww’s and ‘I wonder’s and left me hungry for more.
Bianca (Goodreads): I loved this book. Full of creepy stories that were set all over the globe. One of the stories was set in Antarctica and had a really cool Alien vs Predator vibe.
KENDALL REVIEWS (originally posted October 2019)
Deborah Sheldon’s “Perfect Little Stitches and Other Stories” won the Australian Shadows Award for Best Collected Work 2017, was shortlisted for the “Best Collection” Aurealis Award, and was long-listed for the Bram Stoker Award “Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection”. It is easy to see why. This is an immersive and intricate collection where every ending lingers.
There are a total of twenty-one tales in this collection, and each one is unique and markedly different from the last. It provides a curiously disjointed but thrilling read, you never know what you will be thrown into next. Short stories can often be hard to perfect, but Sheldon has mastered the art with ease. She skilfully manipulates her readers, sending them hurtling into the darkest corners of her imagination without allowing them to pause for breath.
From terrifying mermaids to murderous prehistoric birds; naive grave robbers and a plague of malevolent, tiny spiders, these stories are overwhelmingly dark and tense. Sheldon writes powerful characters extremely well, and is adept at exploring human emotions in even the unlikeliest of narratives. She doesn’t shy away from pouring the poison, in fact, she drenches every story with the dark. Sheldon writes about horrible things happening to good people, and she invariably ends her stories on a dour note. Good does not often triumph over evil in these tales, but I found that enhanced my experience — it made the stories feel so much more real.
Sheldon has researched and written numerous medical factsheets for the Better Health Channel in Australia, and her intimate knowledge of the human anatomy and the many ailments it can suffer from most certainly adds an extra disturbing layer to her fiction. In her titular story, Sheldon describes the mechanics of illegal organ harvesting in exquisite detail, inserting an incredibly vivid and visceral image in the reader’s mind. I found the details fascinating, and while I would usually shy away from gore, somehow the preciseness of her descriptions and methodological approach made the blood-loss in her more violent stories much easier to bear.
One of my favourites, ’In The Company Of Women’ is a well-researched historical horror which tells the story of Philantha, an Amazon warrior, and her unexpected encounter with two harpies — repulsive creatures, half-hag and half-bird. For me, it felt both mythological and metaphorical and spoke very astutely of female power and conflict. I loved the attention to detail and the layered, almost lyrical prose.
My other favourite ‘Will o’ the Wisp’ was a heartbreaking and beautifully written fairytale. From its stark and chilling opening lines to its inevitable and mournful end, the choices of a mother determined to do the right thing for her child whatever the cost is a thoroughly unsettling read. You are told what to expect from the very start, but even so, you can’t help but hope for some divine intervention which might alter her child’s terrible fate.
Another notable story, ‘The Brightest Place’ entwines nightmares with reality; demons with time travel. We are never explicitly told which world is real and which is based in fantasy, but as we are dragged into the main character’s confusion, Sheldon describes it so keenly I felt his panic almost as clearly as if it were my own. It reminds us that what we perceive as reality might not always be the truth. That we can’t always believe what we think we see.
This collection is, without a doubt, quite a bleak one. There are very few happy endings, and the characters often have to endure quite horrible things without any promise of revenge or retribution. There were a couple of stories I found very difficult to read, not because they were poorly written, indeed quite the opposite, but because Sheldon managed to peel away at my emotions like she was picking at a scab. Her words were often raw and unflinching, and I felt quite battered by the end. That, for me, is a sign of excellent story-telling and an impressive wealth of talent, something which Sheldon clearly has in spades. I truly loved this collection, and I cannot wait to read more of Sheldon’s work. If you like your short horror fiction to have a fierce bite, this anthology will definitely not disappoint. – Tabatha Wood
AUREALIS #123: REVIEW
Deborah Sheldon’s disquieting short story collection Perfect Little Stitches offers twenty-one unique dalliances into micro-worlds of horror.
The stories are eclectic—except for the common thread of horror, there is little to connect them. They feature grave robbers, the undead, harpies, mermaids and aliens. Settings span the present day, the past and the future. At different times Sheldon draws on folklore and mythology, dark fantasy and horror tropes, and embraces realism. The book is a skilfully disjointed read that provides endless variety.
Sheldon’s mastery of character and plot set-up is evident in every story. The reader is absorbed into each new world quickly and effortlessly. The characters are multi-dimensional and have meaningful relationships with the world around them. Sheldon elicits empathy from the reader, successfully amplifying the ensuing fear.
Sheldon is consistently concise. Her writing style and tone shifts between stories. Excelling at the short story format, each plot is carefully crafted. Suspense and mystery prevail.
Sheldon relies heavily on the unknown, meaning most stories lack resolution. While this is frightening in some instances, in others it is frustrating. Adding to this frustration, when read in quick succession, the short stories provide an onslaught of depressing endings.
Perfect Little Stitches exudes terror and trepidation. It is an ideal collection for horror fans looking for a rapid fright. – Megan Kelly, August 2019
AUREALIS #106: REVIEW
Grave robbers, changelings, mermaids, and ghosts are just some of the characters Deborah Sheldon introduces to us in her latest release, Perfect Little Stitches and Other Stories.
From the traditional sirens to the prehistoric cassowary, harpies to were-cow, Sheldon produces what may be the most disturbed showcase of monsters you will ever meet. A roll call of the gothic and macabre to unsettle.
Each story is lovingly conceived and well-executed, a nightmare wrapped in prose. Most surprising is the length. A majority of the stories read only a few pages in length, but the tension is relentless in the best possible way. Taut and tightly paced, this is a finely crafted collection, with each story challenging reader expectations and comfort levels.
Best in the series may be the opening story, “Perfect Little Stitches”, but Sheldon immediately challenges that with the subtle and surprising “When This You See, Think of Me”. The collection is so solid that there isn’t one single story that shines above the rest.
Sheldon has an uncanny gift for unnerving imagery and story. Her characters are well drawn and sympathetic, which makes their demise and survival all the more compelling. Definitely a collection not to be missed. – Aimee Lindorff, November 2017.
AUREALIS REVIEWER’S PICKS OF 2017, AUREALIS #106
This may be one of my most, and least, favourite collections. Short gothic horror stories filled with monsters, old and new, that leave you perpetually unnerved. It’s not a collection to be read in one sitting, but, like cockroach things from outer space, you can’t help but devour it. – Aimee Lindorff.
THE HORROR TREE REVIEW
This collection of dark fantasy and horror stories, 21 in all, is from the imagination of Australian writer Deborah Sheldon. The book comes with an impressive pedigree -Long-listed for the 2017 Bram Stoker Award- “Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection”. One of Aurealis Magazine’s Top Picks of 2017. Nominated for the Aurealis Award “Best Collection 2017”.
It lives up to all this promise and delivers with a kick. The collection is peopled with the weird, macabre, ghostly and the alien. The titles of each short story are brilliant and clever. A shout out too for the cleverly designed cover art.
Each story creates a micro world of strangeness filled with strongly written characters and relentless tension; there are no weak links in this collection.
We meet harpies/mermaids (not the pretty cute sort)/ aliens in the attic/ the undead/a were cow masquerading as a sundowner/a killer prehistoric bird and grave robbers. Just your usual Friday night crowd down the pub. Yes, if you drink in Hell’s Grave.
In the opening story which provides the title for the collection, a funeral director who has a financially lucrative but unethical sideline, gets his comeuppance in a horrifying fashion.
In one of my personal favourites, written in a visual almost filmic fashion, ‘Species Endangered’, a day at the beach for a couple becomes a fight to survive when they’re attacked by a blast from the prehistoric past.
‘Nocturnal Fury’ evokes the legend of the Old Hag who visits at night to feed on your life force, but she’s imaginary isn’t she? The doctor is on the case so all will be fine.
Sheldon plays with our expectations, keeps us off kilter, making the normal situations of everyday life, topple into the bizarre and dangerous. We are watching through distorted mirrors and playing with shadows. Sheldon is very good at packing in a great deal of detail and terror into a few pages never outstaying her welcome.
This collection should be on every horror reader’s list for 2018. – Alyson Faye
BOOKWORMS CORNER BLOG SPOT REVIEW
This collection of bite sized horrors has bite!
Each story is very different and very frightening. I can honestly say that there was not one that I disliked. I don’t have a favourite but I genuinely enjoyed (felt creeped out) by every one of them. From space to sea, complete fantasy, to tales with their roots based in myth and legend each story is completely unique and really cleverly written.
Like all the talented horror authors Deborah Sheldon knows to leave us with the fear of the unknown. Cleverly crafted and well researched, the stories have a sense of possibility at times.
This is a book that should not be passed by any lover of the horror genre.