Title: Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories
Author: Kelly Barnhill
Age Group: Adult
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
I’ve heard so many good things about Kelly Barnhill, even before I’d heard about her book that won an award last year, and when I realized that her brand new short story collection was at my local library, I put it on hold for myself. As soon as I was finished with Court of Shadows, I pushed it to the top of my stack; I tend to go for more moody stories and books when autumn comes; it gets me in the mood for horror and with it, Halloween! This book, composed of seven short stories and a novella, contained gorgeous prose, creepy but relatable main characters, and more than a hefty dose of magic. This book was one that was perfect to start the beginning of fall. I’m so happy that I have two more Kelly Barnhill books in my library stack, because I just finished it on Friday night and I’m already going through withdrawal! She has become one of my new favorite authors; I was totally blown away by the dark, creepy stories in this book! As there are six pieces, I won’t be reviewing every one, but giving the anthology a rating as a whole and highlighting my favorites.
Mrs. Sorenson and the Sasquatch is an unusual sort of love story, one that read like a modern fairy tale and had me laughing, crying, and scratching my head in confusion more than once. Mrs. Sorenson loses her husband before his time, and finds solace in the arms of a being long thought to be a legend: A sasquatch! The fellow residents of her small town are perplexed and bewildered by this new development, and before long, tongues begin to wag. But it turns out that even in the middle of heartbreaking tragedy, happiness and new love can still bloom. Dreadful Young Ladies was a delicious, inspired examination of power—both real and imagined—of young women, and it vies for my favorite in the entire collection. It was so surprising and powerful, I loved it a lot. Notes on the Untimely Death of Ronia Drake is a dark, bloody fairy tale, straight out of the Brothers’ Grimm, focusing on the deadly repercussions of a black magic spell. I really enjoyed it, because it was like a modern fairy tale, all the way down to the mysterious, frightening imagery and more than a bit terrifying ending. But my favorite story of them all was the one that came last: The Unlicensed Magician. A beautifully written novella, it takes place in a series of small countries in a not so distant future, where both magic and free will are forbidden, and babies are stolen from their mothers solely for the purpose of giving magic to the great and powerful Minister, who hoards all of the power and magic in their world to himself, all to satisfy an impossible goal. But one child has slipped through his grasp, innately powerful, feared, and longing to be loved: Sparrow, the junk collector’s daughter, who has a plan to love The Minister and set everything to rights. I was absolutely spellbound by this story, and I walked away from this collection feeling awed, jealous, and inspired all at once. I’m so happy that I have two more books of hers in my library stack; I can’t wait to dive into more worlds that Kelly Barnhill has so lovingly crafted. There is so much joy and magic in her words; Barnhill has become one of my favorite authors! The bottom line: A magical, dark and spellbinding collection, Dreadful Young Ladies was a great book to start off autumn! Next on deck: Wildcard by Marie Lu!