Longlist for the Fantasy Book Review Short Story Competition

Back in April 2011 we launched the Fantasy Book Review Fantasy Short Story Competition. As with any competition in its first year we were unsure as to how it would be received and how popular it would be. Thankfully it was a success and the excellent entries have given – and are still giving – us hours and hours of reading pleasure.

I know that many entrants have been waiting patiently for the release of the shortlist of 9, which I have had to keep pushing back while we read are way through almost 100 stories that came in during the last 2 days of the competition. And we still haven’t finished but we are almost down to single figures now!

Although I hadn’t planned to do so I cannot think of any reason why I shouldn’t publish the longlist as it currently stands. The list below will grow larger should any of the remaining stories score highly enough.

Before you look at the the list I just want to quickly explain the rating system we have used. We marked every story out of 40, awarding up to 10 marks each for originality of fantasy theme, characterisation, plot and overall quality. Any story that received 32/40 was very, very good. However, the stories listed below all received 33/40 or more and as such were just that little bit special.

The list below will be whittled down to 9, and then to 3. If you were on the longlist but do not make the shortlist then I hope you are not too upset – I reckoned (hopefully accurately) that you would like to know just how good we thought your submission was.

So, without any further ado, here is the current longlist, ordered by the date they were read and rated. I have included small snippets from the judging notes to help explain what exactly it was we liked about each story:

  • Adlers by Elaine Peake
    A thoroughly delightful story, well-written and featuring great characters and a great plot. Both engaging and charming;
  • The Price of Envy by Stephie Hall
    A great story that gets right to the root of what fantasy literature is all about and why it can have such a significant and everlasting effect on a developing mind. It also shows clearly how the loss of imagination and the loss of innocence are unfortunate side-effects of maturity. Powerful with bitterness and realism;
  • Night Swimming by Judy Upton
    A near-faultless short story written with great confidence and skill;
  • The Ladder by Pete Clark
    A chilling tale, containing elements of horror. A disturbing and excellently written short story that will make any parent confront their worst fears;
  • Of Demons by Tomos Lloyd-Jones
    A fantastic little story with a nice touch of dark humour at the end. Laugh out loud at some points, it is well written, amusing, and highly entertaining. Overall a great short story;
  • Horrific Accident by Alice Whitfield
    Top-notch characterisation as the author shows a keen observational eye. It was a brutal, depressing story of real life in a tough and often uncaring world;
  • The Dwarf by George Poles
    In a Brothers Grimm-style tale, the beautiful people of a kingdom buy deformed dwarves, the uglier the better, which they place beside them in order to set off their own good looks even more. A short fairy-tale that contains a lesson to us all;
  • Spellbound Dreams by Dawn McKinley
    A short story from a very talented author – everything was to a high standard;
  • Coin-Operated Boys by Kirsty Logan
    In an unusual short story, women can buy coin-operated boys who are perfect mannequins that act like humans, to be hired and used by ladies who need some company. An inventive plot, with a sinister undertone;
  • The Hearing by Mark Torrender
    A superb short story of a man who sues his Guardian Angel, for not saving him from a life changing injury, only to find out some home truths;
  • Legacy of the High King by Robert Kelley
    An excellent and interesting story about a man who is dragged into a story he doesn’t understand, where no one tells him the rules;
  • Night-whisperer by Ian Smethurst
    A tale of revenge against a Necromancer of intense power who is beaten by a victim of one of the Necromancer’s spells. Interesting to read and intelligent;
  • The Tower of Truth by Oliver Eade
    A fantastic story about a man who, at a fair, enters a ride and is shown the past/present and future, but unfortunately doesn’t heed the warnings given;
  • Scholar’s Reprisal by Thomas Dipple
    A story of betrayal from a king who wants more power but is served instead revenge by the people he tried to betray. It would make a good longer story as well;
  • Senescence by David Rudden
    Original, great characterisation and plot and all held together by an excellent narrative. A real gem of a short-story, powerful, thought-provoking and memorable;
  • The Ogre’s Elevator by Noel Williams
    A lovely, magical little story featuring paper aeroplanes and ogres;
  • Can you keep a secret? by Fabienne Maria
    Well, this one was a bit of a surprise! It took me three days just to open the attachment, and when I did the story itself did not have a title. Not the best of starts… But the story itself turned out top be a little gem, very original, good plot and characters and a great plot. A really unexpected success;
  • To Ashes by Kat Zantow
    I really liked this story of two people who have escaped from a firestorm that has destroyed their city, but who go back to finally lay to rest the ‘Patron’ who ruled and eventually cursed it to ruin. Moving amongst significant points, the ashes are mixed and tattooed onto the girl’s back, in a prison for the Patron. It’s very well written, with an urban fantasy feel but more fantastical, with magical tattoos and hellhounds roaming the charred city streets;
  • Howl by Rheanna-Marie Hall
    A wonderful little story about a Halfling whose son is taken from her and the revenge she seeks on the humans that stole him;
  • For All Time by Jean Marino
    An intriguing story of time travelling. When a man from the past falls into our future, sparks erupt between him and the woman who rescues him;
  • River Song by Cheryl Hartsell
    A beautiful story of two people who are no longer living, finding each other with the help of their dead relatives;
  • Arran of the Blood Red Army by Martin Leyland
    A great story about a boy on a trip with his aunt and uncle who discovers that he is able to see into a magical realm and discover his destiny, by helping protect very powerful magical artefacts.
  • The things we don’t say by Sonya Selbach
    An intruiging story of love lost and conspiracy. The story twists from memories to the present so we never know the full details, it leaves you wanting more.

80 Replies to “Longlist for the Fantasy Book Review Short Story Competition”

  1. UPDATE: We are currently working on publishing the three winning entries, the work which includes the design of three individual, specially-designed PDF templates and comment on the winning entries from Frank P Ryan and the winning authors themselves. Thank you for your patience.

  2. Holy… How did I miss being on here? Thanks for letting me know in my feedback, Lee. I’ve spent the last half-hour clinging to cloud nine. I feel so honored! Thank you so very much for everything,

  3. Tonderai, you must understand that this is an extremely busy time and I have clearly stated already that providing feedback will take time as there is much demand for it. Until now everybody has been most kind and patient.

    In answer to your October 22 post… No, I cannot help turn your story into a short anime film or graphic novel.

  4. i have been waiting to receive my free book 2 no avail & what was my mark. lee you haven’t given me feedback on 22october post. i know Africa is far but…I feel a little short changed when it comes to feedback

  5. Hey Lee! Can’t wait to read the winners. Can I get the feedback on my story Sword of the Ironskin? Maybe it can give me the direction I need to make it publishable.

    Thanks again for your kind words.

    Matt Hiebert

  6. First of all, congratulations to all winners.
    Congratulations to all who entered the competition, also to those who have completed a nice piece of work, it does not matter if they are not on the shortlist.
    Lee, as I can see you are informing writers about some of the comments of the judges on their stories and since it is not all about winning but also about learning to become better in your work, I would be thankful if you could kindly tell me the comments even the bad ones, on the story “collage”
    Looking forward to hearing from you

  7. I have been travelling right across europe, and only just got back. So it was a great and pleasant surprise to learn that my story had made it onto the longlist. Thank you so much Lee, and all the others who have worked so hard to make this such a great competition, and congratulations to all who entered.

    *raises a toast to you all*

  8. Hi Lee,

    Thanks so much for the feedback.

    Can’t pretend it was the best thing to prepare me for my day at work the other day, because of course anything anyone has to say that doesn’t correspond with exactly what I meant to correspond is bad :). My ride to work wasn’t over pleasant, and I can’t pretend I didn’t have a few close encounters with a couple of impatient cars, but I do appreciate it. Tremendously. I will work even harder on the next competition this site has to offer, and any other competitions I happen to come across.

    Thank you again, and again best of luck to all those awesome authors long-listed.


  9. Hi, Lee!
    I know you’re probably buried in requests for feedback right now, but I hope you don’t mind if I join in. The name of my fantasy story is “The Freak’s Gift”.

  10. Is it too late to curry favour or offer bribes? it’s getting increasingly difficult to type with crossed fingers and without fingernails.

  11. Beth M and K. Sumthin, feedback has just been emailed across to you both, I hope it is useful to you.

    The shortlist of 9 is now 90% complete – I will be publishing it on this site in the next day or so, with Frank P Ryan then selecting the 3 winners.

    Good luck to all,

  12. Hi Lee

    Just wanted to add my thanks to all of those posted above. I am gutted that ‘The Darkmurk’ didnt make the longlist, but would appreciate your thoughts if you have the time.

    Best regards


  13. Ohhhh, I didn’t make it either? Oh well, I guess I didn’t really have a chance as I am the youngest. Thanks for the opportunity anyway.


  14. Hey, Lee.

    I would like to be added to the (long, LONG) list of people who would like a little additional feedback. I’m especially worried that my story may have had some Deus Ex Machina that I didn’t manage to root out all of the way; I’m used to writing longer stories.

    We don’t mean to run you ragged here. Thanks for everything!

  15. Hi,

    I just wanted to add my thanks for running the competition and getting so many stories read and rated so quickly. I had great fun entering – it was the first time I’d written a story since GCSEs several years ago so I’m not surprised I didn’t make the long list but think I learnt a lot from trying. Looking forward to reading the winners and getting the feedback to find out just how low my score was 🙂

    BTW – I never got a copy of The Snowmelt River, so if you could check when you have a moment (… so probably Christmas LOL) I’d much appreciate it.



  16. Hi Lee,
    I have no idea if my story has been read yet as it was a late entry, but that’s not the point here. Having entered other contests, I really just want to let you know how impressed I am by the time you have taken to respond. That is so rare, and it is appreciated. The offer of feedback is really amazing. You’re spoiling us, I think.
    Thanks again. This has been a great contest experience and I look foreward to entering in the future.

  17. Hi Lee,
    Is there anyway you can send me my feedback through my email? The story is “Journey to the Green Heaven”.
    Thank you very much.

  18. Hi, I am the author of ‘Can you keep a secret’. I always title my stories after writing them and I must have forgotten to add the title to my document before submitting it! Sorry about that. The actual title was ‘The Secret Keeper’ however the current one is fine!

  19. Thanks Lee! It’s really kind of you to spend your time on us losers. Really appreciated. Also, in case you read this. Please don’t feel bad about being negative (you seem like a nice guy and might want to ease our wounded pride a bit). I’d rather hear the negative than the positive in order to improve.

    Also, small question. Since I failed is it acceptable for me to re-use Pulse sometime?

  20. Hello everybody,

    I have managed to send feedback to about 8 people so far and am trying to speak to 2 people each day. There has been quite some interest in receiving feedback so it may be 3 weeks or more before some receive an email from me… but rest assured, it is definitely on my to-do list.

    All the best,

  21. I’m still upset but will there be a science fiction story competition? (I know I already asked that, but I’m just checking).

  22. Hey Lee,
    Thanks for my feedback (although it’s waaaaay up the page now!). I’m pretty pleased with my score – I think I did well on originality but let myself down on characterisation, I was hitting my head in frustration on the 5000 word limit! Still, plenty of room for improvement for next year!
    Looking forward to reading the winning entries when they are published – lets see if any of them reached the lofty 40/40!
    Amy 🙂

  23. Hi Lee, can you help get my short story, the one I entered (Tonderai Chiyaka’s The Fable of Mermaid MaSiziba) into a short anime film or and graphic novel because I think it would make for a gripping and dark view of true, original African fantasy. I feel like I have already watched the fantasy flick as it keeps replaying in my mind; every time even more vivid than before and hope to share it with the fantasy universe.

  24. Thanks 4 d opportunity Lee… Though I didn’t make it into the longlist I would still love to know how my story ‘An old Griot’s Tale’ fared and rated. Cheers to those who made it. I’ll try and drink to that… Lol

  25. Hi Lee,

    It would be nice if you let me know the score of my story “Time, Space & God”. Also how close was my story in the contest?

    I wish all the very best for the writers whose stories have been chosen.


  26. Hi lee, i didn’t make the longlist but thats certainly not going to stop me finishing my story!

    If possible could i receive feedback on my story?

    Thank you and congratulations to all.


  27. Hi there. Is it possible for me to know what score I got? I’m curious as to what areas I need to improve on in future.

  28. Hello, I wrote Warlock, and I didn’t get long listed. Could you tell me what I scored anyway please? Thanks.

  29. Ah well, had fun writing the blooming thing anyway. Congratulations on everyone who made the short-list; please be sure that if I ever see your name on any book in the shop, odds are I will pick them up. you know, if I have the money.

    Lee, thanks very much, on behalf of everyone (although it may have been said about one thousand times already) for taking the time of reading through everyone’s work (I know I appreciate the effort, because I would have gone mad having to read so much in so little time) and thanks for agreeing to give feedback. If only every other competition was as helpful as yours.

    Cheers again,

  30. Hi Lee

    I have sent an email but I just wondered if you knew how many submissions there were overall? I am happy to have made the longlist as I never rate my work that much myself!

  31. Thank you for all you comments (especially the kind ones) and I will answer all over the coming days.

    I think it would be best if I kept feedback solely to email from now on. I didn’t mind publishing those already on the page as they were all positive and I didn’t think the authors’ would mind either. But chances are there may be a slightly less than positive one due and I don’t think posting it on the page is a decent thing to do. So, from now on, all feedback will come through by email.

    I hope that is OK with everyone,

    Best wishes,

  32. Can’t wait to read the winning story. Even though I am kind of disappointed that I didn’t make it, still it was my first try at a writing competition and it was fun 🙂

  33. Thanks for running the competition, Lee. I’ve never checked my email so often or the same site so many times every day than in the last few weeks, waiting for the short list. Congrats to everyone who made it. I’m really looking forward to reading the winners, and I hope I’ll get the chance to read the others short listed as well. Not surprised I didn’t make it, but I still felt a little weak-kneed with general disappointment when we all finally got the news, yay or nay. But I am happy that this competition gave me a goal. I worked very hard on my short story, and I’m looking forward to the next opportunity to enter such a competition on this site. Like everyone else, I hope my story was enjoyed to some extent by the judges.

    Lee, I was hoping to get my scores along with feedback once that’s all sent out, if it’s possible (My story is ‘The Voice’). I need to know what to work on. Or whether short stories just aren’t my thing, and I need to focus on my novels 🙂

    Thanks again, so much.

  34. Ah, didn’t make it. Congratulations to all those who did, though!
    (Lee, is it possible for me to get my score? I wrote the one about the killer mermaids.)

  35. Would have liked to make the long list but happy for those that did. Feedback on The Sliver of Abilon would be very welcome. I’m thinking of uploading it onto Kindle as a free short when its ready. Great competition btw.

  36. Aww, was hoping for a longlist but it can’t be helped I suppose. Best of luck to everyone and I look forward to seeing who wins. Any chance I could find out how I scored? My story was Things that go Bump.

  37. Hi Lee,

    If you could tell me the score/comments for my story “An Unwanted, Helping Hand” that would be really useful 🙂


  38. Hi Lee, I just wanted to ask if this is the official longlist? Also, if i could also get my score for Kendria that would be awesome. Thanks!

  39. Oh, I forgot to put my last name. I think I entered as B. Joseph Love, and my story was called “A Gnome in the Woods.” Just wondering what score I received, or if it had been read yet. Just got the copy of The Snowmelt River! Thanks to Swift for giving the option of a signed copy.

  40. Oops. I put my pen name, J. M. Powers, instead of Jean Marino in comments. Sorry for the confusion. *grin*

  41. Thanks so much for putting up the long list. I appreciate all the work and effort it takes to read and judge each entry. I am honored to be among those in this list. Keeping my fingers crossed–maybe I will make it to the finals. Good luck to everyone on the list!

  42. I would love to hear what the judges had to say about my story ‘Everborn’. I think all 10 of my fingers are crossed that it’s in the dozen that haven’t been read yet and may still make the list (according to the e-mail).

  43. Hi Lee,

    is it possible to get the score for my story “The Egg”? It would be really useful thank you 🙂

  44. Oh well.

    Little disappointed about not making it onto the list, but I’ll just have to try harder for next time. 🙂

    I was wondering if I could know my score, if at all possible?

    Just so I know how much I need to improve 🙂


  45. OK cool, look forward to reading the winning entries. Any chance I could know what score I got? I like to quantify my failures…

    I kid! (Not about the score though.)

  46. To be honest I’m no suprised I didn’t make it to the list, the story I sent in has been drastically changed since
    But could you tell me my scores too? I would love to know what unbiased people thought! (and what I need to work on)
    Thank you

  47. Will there be a Science Fiction short story contest? If so, I can enter then. I’m wondering if I’m the youngest person that entered this contest…

  48. Well, I tried. I’m glad the judges thought so highly of my story. Being 17, just hearing what they thought about it feels like a very big achievement to me.

  49. Thanks for your quick response Lee, the feedback’s useful and has already prepared me for the next competition.

  50. Hi Thomas,

    It Rained that Day received 7/10 for originality and 8/10 for overall quality and the judge really liked the “speech in the middle about destinies unknown” and was left with “the knowledge of the futility of war”. But, the judge did not feel that the the ending did the story full justice and that brought the overall score down to 24/40 rather than the 30/40 it had looked likely to receive. Hope that feedback is useful,


  51. Hi Aaron,

    Yes, the 3 winning stories will be published both here, and on Swift Publishers site on the 8th of November (they will first be announced on the 1st, a week earlier). Hope you enjoy them, even if it is grudgingly :0)

    Oh, by the way, your submission was, according to the judge who read it, “a really funny story, reminiscent of Tom Holt”. I believe she really enjoyed it – thanks so much for sending it in.

    All the best,

  52. Hi Lee,

    Obviously I’m a little disappointed not to be counted among those successful few, could you tell me how well I did with my story ‘It Rained That Day’?

    Congratulations to the Longlisters – I look forward to reading more from you!

  53. I wonder if mine has been read yet? “A Gnome in the Woods” was submitted really late. And if so, may I have the score?

  54. Oh well, maybe next time. Will copies of the winning entries go up on the site or anything for us to enjoy and/or make bitter and snide comments about?

  55. Hi Tonderai,

    One of the things that has really pleased me about this competition is that it has received entrants from all over the world. We had your good self representing Zimbabwe and Africa and also received submissions from the UK, the US, Australia, Canada, China, Spain, India, Slovenia, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Japan, Sri Lanka, Portugal, France, Ghana and last, but by no means least, Nepal.

    Another thing I have liked is that it has also encouraged people who have never written a story before to have a go. And there has also been the ages of the authors, ranging from 10 (which I think is the youngest but would need to check) up to those 60+.

    I am now really looking forward to announcing the shortlist and the winners.

    All the best,

  56. Thanks Amy, I am really pleased that you found the experience enjoyable. Your story, Sarenzia’s Fall, which I referred to in my notes as “Life at a Betty Ford clinic for witches” was a great story, featuring themes of addiction (here it is magic rather than alcohol or drugs) and the difficulty behind making major decisions. You scored 28/40 which equates to very good. Hope this feedback is useful.

    Hi Michael, Cross Words has not been read and rated yet so I have my fingers crossed for you.

    Ron, in your submission email you said that “I hope that my story makes you smile” and that is exactly what you achieved. My notes on your story say “Jack the Ripper meets Mary Poppins” and I have never typed that before and very much doubt that I will again! I thought your story was above average in all areas and rated it 24/40 and would sincerely hope that you don’t give up – I really enjoyed the humour you put into your story.

    Thanks to everyone who has entered the competition, feedback will shortly be with those who have requested it.

    All the best,

  57. Oh well, my story wasn’t good enough. I’m not giving up though. Maybe I’ll try the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine instead. I hope that whoever read it, enjoyed it and if it made somebody smile I’m happy.

  58. Dear Lee,

    Has “Cross Words” been scored yet? After reading the scoring system, I’m thinking it wasn’t the kind of story you were looking for….

  59. Ah, not me this year. Never mind, there’s always next year! There will be a next year, won’t there? 🙂

    Thanks for all your help Lee, in answering questions during the writing phase and since! I had fun!

  60. I’m sorry Narcissus, your entry was excellent, scoring 32/40, just 1 mark off being on the longlist. Here’s what the judge said, “Skyline and .Kate Com: By far the most original entry so far. Featuring poetry and emails the way in which it told its story was a brilliant idea”.

    Rory, once again your story was strong, scoring 29/40 and the judge said, “Rite of Royalty: A young prince loses his brother to a fever and has to undertake a passage of rite to drink blessed waters and become the heir to the throne. A very interesting and a very well written short story.”

    I’m hoping to email all those that requested feedback very soon.

    All the best,

  61. Hi Lee,

    Thanks for putting up the shortlist- obviously I’m a little disappointed but oh well, congratulations to everyone on there! Just wondering whether I would be able to get the score of my short story Rite of Royalty. Thanks.

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