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...and the winner is... (drum roll please)


"This is one of the most powerful and beautiful stories I have ever read. On each new reading there is more and more depth to the writing. It has a very filmic quality, believability, intelligence, realistic descriptions and superbly believable dialogue. The poetic, sensual way it begins lulls you which is suddenly broken completely by the reality of a chip shop job and the golden waves turn grey. The description of cooking oil is stunning I’ll never think of it in the same way again but there is harm as he purposefully burns himself to feel the pain he has inside. The shop’s cooking oil comes back as a motif later as he has sex with jazz and when we know this man runs for his life in fear he’ll be tortured by oil. I loved the seemingly unlinked historical snippets about the Civil War , French Revolution, Socrates snd Galileo. They are intriguing and lead the reader on - who is this intelligent man, why is he heartbroken and washed up in a chip shop sending bland, blank seaside postcards home? The writer is extremely skilful in setting the scenes, drawing us in and gently leading us to the terrible truth."

The winner of the 2022, first, Axe River Books Short Story Competition is:


Ripe Apricots and Boiling Oil by Clare Reddaway

It is fair to say that we were blown away by the quality of all the entries and overwhelmed by the volume.  We'd like to apologise for the delay in announcing our winner, we never expected the level of response or the depth of dilemmas we faced in a million years... and absolutely every word submitted was worth it.  Our judges would also like to make special mention to the following 14 stories which were submitted and were very, very close to being outright winners in their own right.  

The Lavender Witches by Willow Hewett

Seven Vials to Test the Limits of Sisterly Love by Sarah Evans

Wanting to be John Wayne by Paul Barnett

The Real Fake News by Paul Barnett

The Theory of Nothing by Paul Barnett

Happy New Year by Millie Capon

A Day in the Life of The Seasons by Millie Capon

Echoes by Mark Chivers

The Curse by Jude Painter

Cinderella (the True Story as Recounted by Her Step-sister to Our Royal Correspondent) by Jude Painter

Angel Eyes by Jennifer Moore

The King's Shilling by Hamish MacNeil

Juggler by Fenja Hill

Once For Yes by Amanda Wynne

As per the competition rules every entry was judge strictly anonymously and scored by our judges on how the story moved them and made them feel.  For the last couple of months we have laughed, cried, shrieked and got angry with your characters, been dumfounded, shocked and heart broken by your story telling.  This was our first go at running a competition and your efforts and skill will live long in our memories.

Look out for news of a publication coming soon.  In the meantime, from the bottom of our hearts...

...thank you for letting us read your stories.  

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