short story, Monsters, Finders, Shifters
, by Nina Kiriki Hoffman, is the tale of a small village where sometimes monsters are born instead of human babies. Deformed, damaged or broken these babies are either culled or forced out of the village to, hopefully, live wild in the surrounding forest. Some members of the village have developed and trained talents – talents to detect and find these monsters before they are born; talents to alter, or shift, these monsters so they comply with the village's human ideals. Bertram is becoming just such a person, a late developer, he ends up finding and shifting a monster before he is trained and has to live with the consequences of that action.
While Bertram is our first-person narrator, the audiobook edition (presented as a downloadable podcast) is read by Jack Kincaid – one of the editors of Lightspeed magazine. Slightly over-dramatic in places, nonetheless it was an enjoyable well-read story. I struggle to fit audiobooks into my reading schedule – they're okay for flights, but too distracting while driving so I find little advantage over 'proper' books or ebooks. However, at only 45 minutes, this was just about the right length to listen to.
Short stories often suffer due to their lack of available words. Once you've put detail and character development in it's stopped qualifing for the description of short. However, in only 6871 words Hoffman has managed to cram an immense amount of story, character and even drama.