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When a story can make you laugh, think, and empathise all in one sitting, you know it’s something special. That’s exactly what we found in Thomas Moolenaar’s whimsical tale, Spellcaster Start-up, a fitting winner of our short story contest.

At the heart of this offbeat fantasy is Merelyth – a recent necromancy grad struggling with that post-uni phase where you’re left wondering, ‘what next?’. Her banter with know-it-all skeleton sidekick Captain Bones will ring true for anyone with unsupportive colleagues.

What makes the story truly sing is its blend of quirky humour and emotional resonance. This is a story of finding your feet, of misfits, of overcoming negativity in our lives – and it’s just a whole lot of fun.   

In the end, Spellcaster Start-Up won us over with its sheer likable spirit. We found ourselves rooting for Merelyth’s success from the very first page, eager to follow wherever her weird yet wonderful journey might lead.

Our contest aims to showcase fiction that’s engaging, uplifting and original – criteria this story has in droves.


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