Miriam’s short story, ‘Mermaid on Ice’, was published online by Fairlight Books in December 2019. This short story is a “spin-off” from Miriam’s latest novel, The Dowager’s Dream.
Two of these stories, ‘The Doll’ and ‘My Fall’, are taken from a full-length collection (unpublished) which was shortlisted for the Scott Award in 2010. In ‘The Doll’, a little girl in foster care is given a sinister doll; in ‘My Fall’, a high-wire artiste sees something she should not. The third story, ‘Horns’, is a darkly comic tale in which a government minister undergoes a terrible metamorphosis.
Reviews of The Doll and other stories: Strange Tales:
“‘All was colour and light, but beneath the festive veneer there was a sense of menace’; so comments the main protagonist of the concluding story of The Doll, as that tale rushes toward its climax, summing up a central thematic preoccupation of the stories. The three stories which make up the sequence are multilayered, the surface tale in each case compels the reader’s interest by means of an ambivalent story-telling strategy, which as much as it reveals its main narrative, also conceals much of its complex meaning beneath the surface. . . .
“These strange tales are compelling and thought provoking. Reaching out beyond the expected conventions of the genres in which they best fit, each one left me unsettled. I think that is because for all their strangeness and apparently out-of-the-ordinary phenomena, they provoke me to look at contemporary reality with fresh insight. In ‘Horns’, it is bizarre bodily changes, that turn out to be not so extraordinary in our fetish inclined society; in ;’The Fall’, it is the way that a demand for more and more extra-spectacular dare-devil exploits – seemingly beyond the bounds of possibility, are not far from what is currently in vogue in our world – the way-out tricks of magicians we see on our TVs, or, the appetite for more and more far-fetched and risky exploits undertaken by the most reckless of us.” Dr Julie Sampson.
“Miriam writes with varying shades, textures and tones, such that the stories remain with you for a long time afterwards.” Vine Voice.
“In these three delightful short stories by Miriam Hastings nothing is quite as it seems. ‘The Doll’ is an eerie tale told from a little girl’s viewpoint. It’s a deceptively simple tale but harbouring a complexity of emotions. Though short it is full of tension. Dark wit runs through the deliciously satirical ‘Horns’ about an MP who has some – how should we say – rather strange things happening to his body. Finally, ‘My Fall ‘ is an unusual and haunting piece about a family of acrobats. The endings are always understated which I go for. Miriam Hastings has a gift for story-telling in which she utilises symbolism and an element of the surreal to maximum effect.” The Bub.