The Winners of the 2021 Shirley Jackson Awards

The past year’s Shirley Jackson Awards have been handed out, celebrating the best horror of 2021! Jackson herself was known for her works of poetic beauty and heat-stopping suspense, most famously in the novels The Haunting of Hill House and the short story The Lottery, but also leaving behind acclaimed works such as We Have Always Lived in the Castle, The Sundial, and Hangsaman. Winners in the past have included such great works as The Ballad of Black Tom, Little Eve, The Starlit Wood, Ormeshadow, Night of the Mannequins and Burning Girls. In that tradition, this year’s crop of winners includes works that play with genre lines and and even include direct tributes to Jackson herself.

This year’s Best Novel was My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones, who previously won the award for The Only Good Indians. My Heart is a Chainsaw, the planned start of a longer series, tells the story of Jade, an abused girl living in a town plagued by sudden murders- and as a fan of horror films experiencing plenty of mundane horror in her own life, she’s kind of excited to star in a real life slasher movie! The winner of Best Novella (a format slightly shorter than your average book) was Flowers for the Sea by Zin E. Rocklyn, which dips farther into speculative territory. Survivors of a flood are trapped on a ship together, but there’s more for them to worry about than just the chance of drowning. This is especially true for the outcast and pregnant Iraxi, who has to worry about just what she might be pregnant with. Awards for novelletes and short stories go to E. A. Petricone and Isabel J. Kim.

And this year, a special award goes to the anthology When Things Get Dark, a collection of stories inspired by Shirley Jackson’s work. Edited by the great Ellen Datlow, it includes works by Stephen Graham Jones, Gemma Files, Elizabeth Hand, Kelly Link, and other luminaries of horror, crime, literary fiction and combinations of all the above. As Jackson did in her own work, these writers strive to capture the feelings of dread and contemplation that come along with truths just outside our reach.

We at Pandemonium hope you will use these winners as a place to start exploring the best of today’s horror! There will be something out there for you to scare you on cold winter evenings in the best possible way.

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