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Girls & Monsters

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This dark but uplifting collection of five Young Adult novellas includes:

Death Song: Liz is in love with Joe, but the monster of the lake has other plans for them.

Black Dog: Scarlet is engaged in a struggle for her sanity, but according to the voice in her head, she may be too late.

A Blue Story: When Katherine's beloved dog goes missing, she fears her strange new neighbor might be involved.

Dust Bunnies: Christiane faces her childhood arachnophobia and ends up confronting even greater fears in this test of sisterhood.

We Left at Night: Brooke and her family must abandon their home and their lives to make it out of a disease-plagued town overrun by zombies.

Girls & Monsters is for everyone who has ever been brave enough to confront their childhood fears...and lived to tell about it.

194 pages, Paperback

First published April 9, 2013

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Anne Michaud

22 books107 followers
YA author of dark tendency

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 39 reviews
Profile Image for Anne Michaud.
Author 22 books107 followers
February 6, 2013
Unique tales with dark twists, an awesome collection of novelettes from an amazing writer...

Oh wait, *I* wrote it. Oops ;)

Profile Image for Julie-anne.
297 reviews9 followers
February 9, 2013
I figure I'll do a wee review of each short story.

Death Song: Killer mermaid living in a small town's lake, she takes a tourist every year - they're bodies don't appear for a month. But then she changes her style and starts taking residents - the residents have always been out of bounds, and then she goes for Jo and Liz fights back.
I enjoyed this one. Mermaids are usually painted as "Ariel" types so I like it when authors change it up and make them evil and bloodthirsty.

Black Dog: Scarlet goes to London to try and be a new person, but the voice in her head persists in its annoying her and finally convinces her that she is actually insane.
Another good one, I liked the hints at Scarlet's past rather than a flat out long flashback. One minor thing was the author says at one point the drinking age in UK is 16, it's 18 - no bearing on the story, it just bugged me.

A Blue Story: Katherine takes a job at a pet shop then discovers how many local pets are missing - soon her dog, Sweet Sally, joins the ranks. She hunts for Sally with her new boss only to discover Sally was closer than she thought.
One of the "meh" stories of the book. I found this one a bit boring and didn't really like the main character much.

Dust Bunnies: Christiane has to go with her sister to clear out her grandmother's old house only to be confronted with her childhood monster, but she soon realises the monster might not be a monster after all.
This one hit more to home 'cos I always hated spiders (still do, a little). I liked the setting for this one and the fact that there was really a monster under her bed when she was a kid, but the best bit is when she finds out the spider's origins.

We Left At Night: Brooke sees some strange men in her garden, strange things have been happening for a while now and then the army show up at her door and tell her and her family to evacuate within the hour.
I liked the whole family-sticking-together theme in this one, also the immunity to the zombie-ism. This one has the potential to carry on given the ending.
Profile Image for Samantha Young.
Author 125 books25.3k followers
April 16, 2013
Girls & Monsters is a collection of five short YA stories written in the dark and macabre voice of Anne Michaud. The collection kicks off with the surreal “Death Song” a grim tale of mermaid lore, where a small town mayor makes a deal with the mythological Limnade to sacrifice tourists to her every year in exchange for a prosperous community. Atmospheric and eerie, “Death Song” has a quality to it that reminds me of Angela Carter shorts.

The second tale is “Black Dog”, a disturbing story narrated by Scarlett, a young American girl who is haunted by a voice that spurs her to hurt herself. During a trip to London a black dog follows her, a manifestation of the voice? And is it really a monster or a symbol of something real and far more complicated? This is probably the darkest of all the shorts perhaps because of its allusion to reality within the fantasy, but also the story with the most interesting and vivid prose.

“A Blue Story” is an unexpected twist on the folk tale Bluebeard told from the protagonist Katherine’s point of view. As she goes in search for her missing dog she uncovers her new neighbor’s creepy little secret. It’s an original take on the old tale and is accompanied by feisty heroine a reader can root for. My second favorite of the stories!

The fourth tale "Dust Bunnies" freaked me out the most because I'm arachnaphobic *shudders*. Despite that it's actually has lighter elements to it than the other stories as Chris travels from California to Berlin with her sister Vee to deal with the loss of her nan and to overcome her childhood fears.

And the final story “We Left at Night” is my favorite of the collection. You all know I like a bit of good old-fashioned post-apocalyptic fare. I certainly got that in this tense tale of Brooke and her family’s escape from her zombie-plagued town. In true zombie apocalypse form, “We Left at Night” is bloody, unrelenting and un-reassuring. Loved it!

Overall, inside the pages of Girls & Monsters are unforgiving creatures and worlds without answers. It's a refreshing break from the norm in YA paranormal and definitely only for readers who can handle the reality that sometimes monsters win...
Profile Image for Angie.
1,214 reviews131 followers
May 6, 2013
I’m not a huge fan of novellas and much less compilations of novellas, but I found Girls & Monsters to be quite riveting. The cover played a big role in my decision to request it for review, but so did the title of each novella which got my curiosity working overtime. I wouldn’t say any of these short stories are “uplifting”, as suggested by the blurb, but they were entertaining in a macabre sort of way.

Death Song: Vengeful mermaids aren’t something you read about every day, and as interesting as it was to read about a mermaid terrorizing a community and stealing people through water pipes, the ending was confusing for me and I didn’t know what to make of it. If there was a double meaning to the end of the story, it went way over my head.

Black Dog: I must admit, ever since being attacked by a black dog when I was six-years-old, I’ve had a paralyzing fear of dogs in general, black dogs more than others. The author effortlessly tapped into my fear of canines by creating a story about a girl hunted by a black dog everywhere she goes. Is it real, or is it only her imagination? A riveting read, yet my least favorite of the five novellas. It was too dramatic for my taste.

A Blue Story: Here is where the book really picked up and got a solid hold on me. If you love your dog, cat, parrot, whichever pet you have, this novella will probably make you view your neighbor differently. I enjoyed A Blue Story and it did freak me out somewhat.

Dust Bunnies: Undoubtedly my favorite of all five these short stories. Are you afraid of spiders? You are? Then you definitely don’t want to read this novella. But for those like me whose fear of arachnids isn’t in the top five things that would instantly guarantee a heart attack, Dust Bunnies is an unexpectedly sweet story. I absolutely adored this story since I never imagined it could be possible to love a cuddly, human-sized spider.

We Left at Night: I’ve read many zombie apocalypse novels and novellas and am at that point where they’re all starting to sound the same. Surprisingly, the author managed to write something a little different to the usual zombie-theme, and at the same time keep me on the edge of my seat and nervously chewing my nails while the characters in this novella run for their lives. Out of all five stories, this was the only one in which I found the characters to be fleshed out and I actually felt a connection to them.

Overall, I’d recommend this compilation of dark novellas to sensitive readers new to the horror genre; readers who enjoy stories that prey on their fears, and those who like to journey into the darkest parts of the mind. It is blood-, guts- and gore-free and the author didn’t succumb to shock techniques to give this book a voice. Five well-written novellas that are sure to keep you awake for a while makes Girls & Monsters a great read.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
Profile Image for Kate.
481 reviews17 followers
May 16, 2013
3.5* (rounded up to 4*)

A YA collection of five stories about women and horror.

Death song - A town's prosperity is linked to tales of a deadly mermaid. I didn't think much of this story when I read it but it has stayed with me long after I finished it.

Black Dog - One of my favourites, this atmospheric story centres around Scarlet who has taken a trip to London and starts seeing an ominous black dog everywhere. This is the darkest story in the collection and Michaud does a great job creating an unsettling atmosphere.

A Blue Story - Katherine notices pets in her town are going missing, including her own. She soon starts to think the culprit may be her next door neighbour. This was supposed to be a reworking of Bluebeard folklore but for me it didn't work well.

Dust Bunnies - Chris and her sister arrive in Germany to pack their Nan's possessions after she has passed on. Chris soon has to confront fears from her childhood. I quite liked this story but I found the ending a bit sappy.

We Left At Night - The other of my favourites, a great zombie story that is told through the eyes of Brooke and her family.

Whilst this collection was not quite to my taste it was well written and Michaud creates some nice atmosphere in most of the stories.
Profile Image for Kim.
163 reviews69 followers
July 25, 2013
More of my reviews can be found here on YA Asylum.

Please note: I got this ebook from the author in exchange for an honest review. And an honest review I will give. For more information refer to my Review Policies & FTC Disclaimer.


I loved this collection of short stories. They were all beautifully written and creepy in all the right ways. World-building is done fabulously in each of the short stories, along with character development. I really liked all the main characters and each of the concepts are really interesting.


This is the first short story to appear in Girls & Monsters. I would say it's a fusion of YA & NA. The characters are seventeen, then later nineteen in the story. To be honest, I've never held an interest in mermaids before. They've always seemed cuties and whatever -- just not my thing, this might have to do with the fact that the first (and only time) I saw the Little Mermaid, my aunt's evil freakin' Chihuahua bite the crap out of me. Since then, I've been pretty sour towards the idea of mermaid anything. When I saw the opening for this story: Limnade: Greek mythology, mermaid living in fresh water. My reaction was: uh-oh.

Luckily, I really enjoyed this short story. Mermaids are best like this, in my opinion. Evil, disgusting creatures. I loved the way the Limnade mythology warped the town of Lakeside View. Elizabeth, the MC, was a really relatable character that I felt for and I instantly got attached to the Jo/Liz relationship. There were authentically creepy moments in this story. I have never enjoyed open bodies of water, particularly lakes and rivers, and this just justifies that dislike all the more. Who's to say the next lake someone begs me to go to doesn't have a Limnade?

The ending broke my heart a bit.

Horror Level: I would say this is horror-esque. There are generally creepy things going on in this story and the atmosphere is set right for a horror story. There's nothing gory or grotesque about this story though -- so if you're reluctant to pick up a gory horror, don't worry.


This story can be interpreted in a few different ways. It could be a dark paranormal tale of a girl trying to find herself, only to be hindered by the spirit of a black dog that won't leave her alone. Or it could be the story of a girl battling mental illness, trying to find a way to fix herself. It depends on which you prefer and what you take out of the story, which is something I really like. I love stories that have double meanings, that you can twist to fit what feels right for you.

Scarlet is a protagonist I can really sympathize with. She knows something is wrong with her, that she's different, and wants to badly to be normal. She's not one of those girls that keeps thinking: Oh! If only I can be normal! and goes off and laments about it in a quiet corner. Scarlet puts herself out there. She goes, alone, to London for a group tour. That's a really scare situation to place yourself into, if you're an introvert like Scarlet (and me, and I know how scary this can be because I've done it myself, in London no less).

My favorite part of this story was the voice. It's third person present tense with some flashbacks in first person past tense. Usually switching up POV like that bothers me, but not in this case. The voice was so dark and vivid in the third person present tense -- I was thoroughly impressed with this. I also thought it was really clever for the evil voice to nickname Scarlet Scars.

And the way this story ended? Yeah, that's how I like 'em.


This is a Bluebeard retelling. I'm not a huge fan of this fairytale. Generally speaking, the girl who is supposed to stay away from a certain room is always so stupid. Every retelling I've ever read, I figured the girl kinda got what was coming. If you're dumb enough to find yourself in that situation, am I going to care when you finally do the equally dumb thing of going into that room? Particularly when ever Bluebeard in the retelling is a huge creeper? No. I'm not going to care. Please knock yourself out. I enjoy a good character death.

Hence why I was so relieved this wasn't the usual Bluebeard retelling. The MC, Katherine (I'm partial to this name to start out with), isn't an idiot. There's twists in this story that are a different take on the fairytale. I must warn you there is animal deaths. I know that's a deal breaker for some people. This might sound horrible, but I generally care twice as much for an animal that dies in a movie or book than when a person does. How can you not love a dog? Seriously? And what could that poor puppy ever have done to anyone else?

I'm off topic. The writing was really good in this story. There were two or three lines I could've lived without and this ending wasn't my favorite out of the Girls & Monsters collections. But I still liked this story.


I love that this story takes place in Europe (Germany, to be exact). It's always interesting when the characters are in a different environment. This story was a little bit like a sci-fi fairytale, if there could be such a thing. The main character, Chris, lost her parents and now lives with her older sister. One day, they lose their only living relative, their grandmother, who lives in Germany.

They have to go clear out her place, which is the very last thing Chris wants to do. In fear of the monster she knows that lives under her grandmother's bed. It's an interesting story and there are some creepy moments. Girls & Monsters as a whole is a collection I really enjoyed, but this wasn't my favorite story. It seemed to rush together at the end. Plus: bugs. I just really don't like them.


Zombies. Need I say more? I suppose. I love zombies and this short story was put together so very well. The tension and the wtf is going on moments. Brooke comes alive as a character, as does her family. Her dad is kind of useless, since he breaks down and says some pretty harsh things and her mom is kind of crazy in my opinion. She's a nurse so she goes out of her way to help people, which made me feel sorry for Brooke and her little brother, Rory. (And, yes, Whovians, I thought Rory Williams too.)

This was probably my favorite short story in the collection. Brooke's voice was vivid, the tension was brilliantly executed, and there are zombies.
Profile Image for Diane Ehlers.
Author 5 books38 followers
June 19, 2013

Originally posted on Paranormal Sisters http://www.paranormalsisters.blogspot...

Death Song: This one was okay. It turned out different than I thought it would and I really didn’t see where the story was going either. I also kinda don't see the meaning behind it. These short stories are about girls conquering their fears and I really didn't see the main gals fears. Yes, an evil mermaid is scary and she did conquer it but who wouldn't be afraid of that kind of monster. What I didn't see was a fear within herself. The only fear I think was only to end up as friends with the love of her life *shrugs*.

Overall I did like the tale to a point. In the beginning it was good and the action was just starting to pick up then it changed in a blink of an eye. So it started to slow down a bit for me. The story felt off and then the action picked back up again. But still something felt off and I just couldn't fall completely into this tale. But beside the disconnect I had with the characters and a bit of the tale, I did enjoy the description. The description of when the beast was around, the small town they lived in, and the way certain characters acted when trouble was around.

Individual rating: 3/5 Hearts

Black Dog: Hmm, another one where I don't really see what she actually conquered. Like I know she had another voice in her head, telling her what to do and she finally stood up to that voice but the ending made me feel like the only way she could truly stand up to that second voice was for her to die. So if that's the case, I don't really like the ending. Are all of them supposed to not end well for the main girls?

I did too like this for the creepy detail. This young female cuts herself and because of this she lost the people she cared about. So she decides to go off and away to try to become a new person. However this voice in her won't let her go and if she gets too close to someone they might get hurt. Seeing behind the eyes of a cutter is crazy, brought chills to my arms on how she thought. I mean, she wanted to throw herself down the stairs just to get the thrill of the adrenaline. That's crazy and scares the freak out of me that people out there actually think this way. So because of all of that this short gets a 4/5 hearts

A Blue Story: I felt no connection. I really liked the story but I felt no connection. No connection between the characters, no real connection of the mystery, just no connection. Short stories and mysteries I don't think they go super well together. They can yes but I don't think there were enough pages to make this one a good one. I feel bleh at the end and again, what did she really conquer? I liked the detail when she found out who was taking the pet animals but other than that it was just okay. The story I think just moved too fast for me to really enjoy it, though I do like the darkness creepiness in this one too.

Individual rating: 3/5 hearts

Dust Bunnies: Oh boy, when a friend on Goodreads wrote a review for this book of anthologies I just had to see what she said about it. Then at the ending of her review she forewarned everyone that might be afraid of spiders to walk away from Dust Bunnies. Guess what guys? I am deathly afraid of them. Just thinking of them just makes my skin crawl and yeah, I have yet to conquer this fear like the young adult in this short. But did you think my fear made me turn away from this short? Nope. Instead I was ever the more intrigued now. I know I'm strange that way haha. But come on, these story are supposed to scare you. To make your skin crawl and to make you want to hide beneath the covers. So to get the best result of that then why not read what scares you most in the dark. Yeah, this was a favorite and started to turn my opinion around on this book.

Individual rating: 4 1/2 hearts

We Left At Night: I thought Dust Bunnies would have been my favorite but then I got to reading this one. This one was the absolute best. Not only did the zombies make me want to run and hid but when the government, our own people, turned against us that always makes my skin crawl. Like serious, that is like the freakiest thing ever and so much more scarier than a bunch of brain eating zombies. This small tale reminded me of the movie The Crazies (2010 version, sorry folks that like the original. I've only seen part of that one haha). You know how in that movie they go to that gas station and find all those shells from the billions of bullets that were fired at the people, well it was like that but throughout this shorty. This tale was great and was about a family trying to survive that zombie apocalypse. The ending was great and totally surprised me.

Individual rating: 5/5 hearts

Overall if you happen to fear evil mermaids, big black dogs, creepy taxidermy, giant human hugging spiders, or crazy zombies and government turning against us then pick up this book. I mean, who doesn’t like to get crept out once in a while. Anne, the author, wrote with great detail and it was all pretty much smooth, the one that was just too short didn't feel right to me a bit. However I believe 4 out of 5 shorts were great in length and I was really able to fall into the stories. A great book if you're looking for some dark horror. Though I'd not read it before bed, it may creep you out to the point that you can't go to sleep. This book will play on your fears and have your mind over imagining things in no time. So cannot wait for more from this Author!

Sweet Readings!
Profile Image for Jenny.
48 reviews20 followers
May 30, 2013
I've been following Anne Michaud for a few years now. This is some of her best work. The stories build in mood as the book progresses until the reader has a hard time sitting still, antsy for the climax which never fails to deliver. Each story is masterfully crafted to be taut with intensity and full of vibrant characters. Each set of characters a little different, a little strange.

Death Song is a new twist on the origins of mermaids. The tale weaves through a few years in lives of best friends and a small town that has dark secrets buried in its waters. The ending left me breathless and wishing for a film adaptation.

Black Dog was the most difficult of the bunch to read but only because of its tough subject matter. It is a very eerie and bittersweet story following a couple days in Scarlet's trip abroad with the hope of re-inventing herself. She's unhealthy in many ways and possibly being followed by a large black dog whose intent is unclear.

A Blue Story, the story of a girl who notices that, along with businesses, pets are disappearing at an alarming rate in her town. This didn't seem to fit in this group as well as the others and is the reason I gave the book 4 stars instead of 5. It felt awkward and sometimes the passage of time wasn't clear. It was, nevertheless, deliciously dark.

Dust Bunnies gave me the shivers. It's a short glance into two sisters visiting Germany to pack up their recently deceased Grandmother's belongings in an apartment that holds a very large, very bizarre secret. The spark of romance in this added just the right touch but I read it with the lights on.

We Left At Night was the best story to end this book with and my favorite of the five. Ever the zombie-story-lover, I was drawn in immediately by the urgency and fast pacing set up from the start. I wanted to understand everything that was happening and go on the journey with the family. A couple places were a written a little fuzzily so that I couldn't quite picture what was actually happening but it added to the fear factor of a zombie laden tale.

Overall a fantastic effort on the part of Ms. Michaud. I'd recommend this to all horror lovers, especially those who love female protagonists and don't require a happening ending every to single story.
Profile Image for J.A. Campbell.
Author 75 books223 followers
February 24, 2013
Overall this was a really great, well written anthology. It’s described as dark, and it is. A few of the stories have threads of hope running through them, a couple have very dark endings, but the stories are quite good. All of the main characters are female teens, as you may have guessed from the title.

Death Song is probably one of my favorites. (The other fave is Black Dog.) It’s about a girl and boy, young love, and a lake monster that “protects” a small, prosperous town. It’s a really fun and creepy story, but don’t eat while you’re reading it. Some of the descriptions of the lake monster are so well done they turned my stomach while I was trying to eat dinner.

Black Dog is a powerful story about a girl trying to overcome mental illness on her own. There’s a moment of hope where you think she might make it, and that part of the story makes the rest of it that much more powerful. Being in this character’s head is an interesting ride and to me really captures what it could be like to have schizophrenia.

A Blue Story is probably my least favorite, but it’s still quite good. It’s a terrifying tale of missing pets and the sadistic bastard who is taking them. It has an interesting resolution and the MC kicks butt and takes names. It is horrific and any pet owner dreads the day their beloved one goes missing.

Dust Bunnies… Spiders… big ones… creepy, very creepy, but another interesting story with a really neat twist. It also involves childhood friends who could potentially turn into something more, especially brought together by this creepy frigging spider.

We Left at Night—Zombie apocalypse. This story really captures the terror of not knowing what is going on, having your neighbors and the military turn on you, fleeing in the night, and the loss involved with any sort of apocalypse, leaving things and loved ones behind while you flee to safety and an uncertain future.

I would recommend this to anyone who likes dark tales.
Profile Image for Todd Russell.
Author 5 books105 followers
September 16, 2013
In my early teens, besides reading, I was a huge Dungeons & Dragons RPG fan. The general feeling I got from reading these stories was sort of a modern telling of D&D-like adventures. I couldn't identify with the girl protagonists except that they seemed like girls I might have encountered in a modern D&D setting (which was neat to me). I enjoyed the monsters and the use of domiciled pets in several of the tales. For a thematic collection, there are a couple stories ("Death Song" and "Black Dog") that stayed with me for a bit after reading. I think more in theme and by being curious what the author was doing rather than the stories themselves. While that might not sound like a significant compliment, it is. Writers that make me think are usually onto something I find worthwhile.

I rarely seek out and/or read many YA stories these days and, being honest, I was least excited about reading this DarkFuse collection of five stories over anything else they've published in 2013. However, I think the writing style was more adult than YA, with only the younger characters presenting this as a YA read. Also a plus was the atmosphere in the tales, which was done really well. I liked the first two stories considerably more than the final three stories, but they kept my interest. The biggest plus for me was that the author was able to engage me with characters that I found difficult to identify with and stories that were very modern day fantasy. I don't know who I'd recommend this to (hopefully my review is clear enough to point some interested readers the right way)--this was an unexpected change of pace for DarkFuse from their typical novellas or novels (although they are planning to begin publishing anthologies of short stories from different authors quarterly in 2014)--but I enjoyed reading this for the most part. 3 stars. 2,573 Kindle locations.
Profile Image for a_tiffyfit.
759 reviews92 followers
June 20, 2013
This is a compilation of a few short stories about coming of age girls finding inner strength in a time of crisis. Just when they believe they cannot, they find the resolve necessary and overcome the situations at hand. All five stories are incredibly compelling and capitvating.

In "Death Song" Liz Burton faces the Limnade, the lake's mermaid, and saves the guy she is in love with, a guy she has grown up with since childhood. Liz discovers the the town she has always lived in, Lakeside View, has a hidden secret. And worse, its people have made a trade-off so that they may prosper. Essentially all alone, Liz battles this evil.

"Black Dog" is a story of a young girl's fight with an inner demon. The story gives an insight to how the mind works in a person afflicted with this demon: her mind. The Black Dog tells Scarlet, the protagonist, many negative things about herself which of course is not the truth. But the mind's power over Scarlet is great and tells her that the only way she'll get relief is by cutting herself. It is a powerful story about the workings of the mind of a girl trying to feel like she is present in the living and that she has control when everything around is spiraling out of control. The Black Dog is a symbolism for Scarlet's illness, it is her mindfuck. She runs away to London hoping to rid herself of her illness and to have fun. She meets her love and with the powerful strength of that love, she is able to overcome her demon.

The final story, "We Left at Night," is keeping up with the modern obsession with the Zombie Apocalypse. It's a short but heartpounding tale and incredibly enjoyable.

This book is a fun collection to have at hand when you're looking for short, thrilling reads!
Profile Image for Imran Siddiq.
Author 7 books60 followers
May 15, 2013
I've been wanting to try writing some chilling horror, or to at least see how it can be done. And then along comes Anne's Girls and Monsters. The cover caught my attention and the snippets of dark horror within made it a definite to-read.

Girls and Monsters is a collection of tales rather than one, but don;t let that put you off, because what we get are 5 well constructed tales with great beginnings and even better endings. The tales are there to tingle your spine, but unlike others they don't want you to feel like despair has fallen upon you. Instead, they deliver courage and hope from the female protagonists. I really liked that - because if I want to read about doom and gloom (and let's give up), I can watch the local news, but to have characters trying to overcome the danger was refreshing.

Blue Story, and Black Dog (2 of the 5 tales) were great to read. In one way, I cringed (with empathy) at the content regarding a missing pet (because I own 2 cats), but appreciated what the author was trying to tell us. And the use of schizophrenia in Black Dog reminds us of the challenges that people with mental illness will have.

The final tale regarding Zombies gave me insight into how to thrust the reader into a situation where everyone suspects anyone, and no-one can be trusted.

All in all - this was a great read, and I'm looking forward to what other sinister tales Anne will create.
Profile Image for Meg.
Author 2 books66 followers
March 4, 2013
The strength of Anne Michaud's Girls & Monsters comes from blending dark and disturbing monsters with relatable, honest teenage moments. The first story of Girls & Monsters involves a flesh-hungry mermaid, but the weirdness of the premise is mitigated with the detailed believability of an unrequited teenage crush in a tiny tourist town. A story about a giant spider is mixed with a long-distance crush and sibling conflict, which is all suitably awkward and teenage. (Via Anne Michaud's 'Girls & Monsters' on Yahoo!)
Profile Image for Kim (Wistfulskimmies Book Reviews).
428 reviews12 followers
August 31, 2013
This is a collection of novellas with a dark Young Adult theme running through. Each story plays on a childhood fear, and one or two explore the theme of madness as well.

I am not a huge fan of Young adult books so I surprised myself by thoroughly enjoying these short stories. Anthologies have always appealed to me, as you can dip in and out as suits. For me it was an excellent way to take my YA in little bites! I would recommend this to ages of sixteen and over as some of the themes are quite dark and horrific. Indeed one of them, I shall be checking under my bed before I go to sleep for quite some while!!
Profile Image for Majanka.
Author 45 books409 followers
June 10, 2014
Book Review originally published here: http://www.iheartreading.net/mini-rev...

Girls and Monsters is a short story collection, all featuring stories by Anne Michaud, and all stories have something to do with girls and monsters. The writing is of great quality overall, and the stories are original enough to entertain. “Dust Bunnies” was my favorite story, mostly because I’m scared of spiders, and this story played on that fear. Overall the stories offer unique twists, but I found “We Left at Night” to be a bit of a letdown.
Profile Image for Kimberly.
1,698 reviews2 followers
April 26, 2013
This being a collection of stories, I went with a middle rating. I felt that the last story was the strongest, the one before it was "different" enough to catch my attention, but the earlier ones just didn't impress me.
Author 5 books1 follower
April 17, 2013
Awesome stories! They're very dark, but the main characters, all young women, deal with a lot of very familiar teenage issues. The endings of some of them are really surprising, too!
Profile Image for Daniel.
2,382 reviews36 followers
March 23, 2017
This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 4.0 of 5

Girls & Monsters is a collection of short, dark tales from the very talented, Anne Michaud.

Michaud's is not a name with which I am familiar, but then other than the occasional book, I don't read a lot of dark/horror fiction. I don't haunt the magazines the way that I once did, so I shouldn't be surprised by the new players in the horror/dark fantasy genre. The stories collected here are solid works.

"Death Song" deals with a community that has a dark secret - there's something living in the lake and that something (a dark mermaid-like monster) will take a tourist - just as it has done each summer. But the monster has decided to take a local this time, and some are fighting back, finally.

In "Black Dog" the monster is that little voice inside the head. In this case the voice is telling a young woman that it's too late - the voice has won and the girl really is crazy.

"A Blue Story" is the tale of a girl and her dog. Neighborhood pets are going missing and a young girl, who hopes one day to be a veterinarian, takes an active interest in the missing animals. This definitely has a surprise ending.

"Dust Bunnies." Shiver.... This might be my favorite (though I liked "Death Song" an awful lot as well). I'm typically not one to feel uncomfortable with spiders in a story, but this one definitely steps it up and delivers a punch.

"We Left at Night" was probably the story with the most potential but the biggest let-down because it didn't quite deliver on the promise. What's in it? Oh, just some people scared of zombies is all...

This is really an impressive collection and I'll be keeping my eye out for more works by Michaud. I'd definitely like to see how she handles the long form and if she can maintain a sense of horror through the course of a novel.

Looking for a good book? Girls & Monsters is a collection of short, dark fiction, well delivered, by Anne Michaud.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for JR Dabbles.
84 reviews2 followers
March 28, 2020
This collection mixes the young adult woman's experience with horror in a delightful way. I love how the read world issues are blended flawlessly with the horror concept. I highly recommend this one!

Now I'm breaking down each one:

*Death Song

Premise: A story about a town both blessed and cursed by a lake siren called Limnad. Liz is a young troublemaker who leaves then returns to the town. When her best friend, Jo, loses his fiance, the two go to the lake to face off against Limnad.

Thoughts/Feelings: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
I really enjoyed this story. The pacing was good, slow enough for us to get into the world and get to know Liz as a character. But we get to the climax at a decent clip. The overall concept is interesting and I like the twisted ending.

*Black Dog

Premise: Scarlet goes to London to try to reinvent herself and escape herself.

Thoughts/Feelings: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I really loved this one and the unraveling of Scarlet's past and issues. I think this was an interesting spin on the black dog tale.

*A Blue Story

Premise: In a dying small town, pets have been disappearing but no one knows why. Katherine, a resident struggling with family and money issues, is soon pulled in when her dog ends up missing too.

I liked the mystery and it took a turn I did not expect. The growing friendship between Debs and Katherine also sold me on it.

*Dust Bunnies

Premise: Chris has many things to deal with: the fact most of her family is dead, her sour  relationship with her sister, her feelings for Lev and a giant spider.

Thoughts/Feelings: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
There was a surprising amount of character and relationship development in the story. Also I really "enjoyed" the spider bits.

*We Left at Night

Premise: The zombie apocalypse can't save a broken family, or can it?

Thoughts/Feelings: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I was on the edge of my seat for this one. I loved the slow reveal. I also loved the messed up family dynamics and how it falls to Brooke to be the adult. I usually don't like zombie stories but this one was good.
Profile Image for Justine.
1,418 reviews68 followers
January 26, 2020
I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book was fine. I didn’t care for the cover. Some stories were better than others. I absolutely hate when stories have any type of hurting animals so those ones are my lower ratings. I didn’t particularly find any of the stories very frightening.
I probably wouldn’t read anything but this author again.
Profile Image for Renee.
Author 14 books123 followers
April 19, 2013
I got an ARC of this!! Woot woot!! Can't wait for it to come!

Actually 2.5

The following is a review based on an ARC I won in a goodread give away contest. It in no way affects my enjoyment, or review of the novel.

Girls and Monsters, I was super excited when I read the premise and saw the title. What a great idea, powerful girls, fighting monsters in what the back assured me was a dark but uplifting collection and for who ever has been brave enough to confront their childhood fears and lived to tell about it, I mean YAY! However the synopsis LIED to me because aside from maybe two of the stories this collection was dark as promised and depressing as hell.

I want to start with something positive however before I get into each story. The writing was good, the cover not so much, but the writing was interesting, well worded and edited and kept me engaged. It was the plots and the characters that I had major issues with. I think this author has promise and would be interested in reading more by her.

Death Song is about a small town where en evil Limnade lives and kills people, but she protects the town from the recession. The MC is a poor outcast girl whose father is a drunk. She is in love with Jo, the mayor’s son.

Opinion: The love story is all one sided so that’s kind of depressing and at the end even though people won’t die anymore everyone blames her for killing the creature and their town now being affected by reality. It ended on a sad depressed note and all I could feel was bad for the MC. Also at the beginning the author describes a Limnade as a Greek mermaid….this isn’t really accurate Limnades are Naids a type of water Nymph…. Mermaid and Naids are very different.

Black Dog a self mutilating girl goes to Europe by herself and is haunted by a mysterious black dog apparition as the voice in her head tells her to keep cutting herself…And her parents have no clue she hurts herself…

Opinion: Worst story in the book. Scarlet (the voice in her head calls her Scars) is obviously schizophrenic which she even mentions since her aunt is and that sort of thing does run in families. This is not a monster or a child hood fear; it’s something she honestly needed help for. Also I am a cutter and I have friends who cut. Your parents unless they are idiots will notice if you have deep gashes all over your legs and arms and refuse to wear t-shirts and shorts or bathing suits….Unless you cut some place super sneaky like high up your thigh, stomach or chest, you will get caught. And hopefully, get help. The explanation for the black dog was lame and I didn’t quite know where the author was going with it. Also the girl dies commits suicide at the end to save her “boyfriend” from the dog and the voice in her head, so tell me how this is uplifting.

A Blue Story A supposed Bluebeard retelling about a girl who lives in a town where the pets are disappearing and she eventually finds out it is her next door neighbor and he has kidnapped all the pets. I won’t tell you what he has done with them��.but it’s not pleasant.

Opinion: Eh…. Mediocre…. I didn’t hate it and I didn’t like it that much. This is sad because aside from the 12 Dancing Princesses, I love a Bluebeard retelling the best! The MC was flushed out enough that I could totally understand and get her. There wasn’t a real love story which was nice. The villain however was too much of a mustache twirling “muuuaahhhha I shall spend ten minutes I could use killing you and hiding the body, explaining about my dastardly deeds!” Ended on a not so uplifting note, actually a creep in not a good way note.

Dust Bunnies MC goes with her sister to Berlin to clean their dead Grandma’s apartment and the MC is afraid because when she was small she found out a giant spider lived under the bed.

Opinion: Okay this is the reason for the higher rating on this book. Best story in the novel and one I actually quite enjoyed. There is a nice little twist at the end and it was truly a bit spooky. Mainly because spiders freak me out. This could be a Goosebumps book or a three part mini series on Disney.

We Left at Night Zombie story. Basic, stereotyped, a bit boring. Zombies everywhere, family runs from zombies.

Opinion: Rushed ending, and I think zombies are outdated and over played. I wanted it to end so I could write the review, the MC’s voice sounded like most of the other MC’s in this collection. I don’t know how this qualifies as a childhood fear being over come.

Maybe it’s just me and short story collections are not my thing. Or it’s just in short story collections you will like some and hate some, who knows, collections like these, especially all from the same author, are kind of hit or miss. I would like to see what this author could do with a whole novel. I am supportive of anyone at least TRYING to write a strong female lead.

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This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for A.L. Davroe.
Author 16 books520 followers
June 12, 2013
I was first introduced to this book when the author approached me about doing a feature on my website. As a bonus, she gave me a copy of the book to review.

It's difficult to give a clear explanation of this book because it's a collection of novella-length stories and because they are so short, it's hard to give descriptions without giving away the whole plot to some of them. I'm just going to give my overall opinion of the collection as a whole.

First off, I'd like to say that as a whole, I thought that this book was very good. Each of the stories sticks to an overarching theme of a YA heroine battling with some kind of monster. Each heroine has a unique voice and comes off refreshingly different than the last, as do the stories. The twists in a number of the stories were also quite entertaining -- most of the stories didn't end up the way you expected them too.

There is (as we have all come to expect from many YA novels) a level of romance in most of them -- which I, of course, love. However, there's a strong family aspect to most of them as well -- which I found refreshing for YA.

Most of these are more psychological horror stories, so there's not a ton of gratuitous blood and violence. That said, these are horror stories so they don't necessarily end with happily ever afters.

In my humble opinion, the first story, DEATH SONG, is probably the weakest out of the five included in the book. I say this because of Liz's (the main character) choppy mental narrative. I didn't have that much of a problem with it -- my opinion is that as you come to get used to Liz, you'll find that is suits her. But I can see how it could be a little jarring at first and why some reviewers may not have liked it. So, if you're having trouble with that first story and think you want to put down the book, try skipping to another one of the stories first. I found most of the other characters' narratives to be much smoother to follow.

Who should read this: It's definitely a girl power kind of book, but I think a boy looking for something horrorish might enjoy them because they aren't too "girly." Also, because there's not much by way of bad language or sex, I'd say that anyone from middle grade and up could read this -- however, I would caution that this is horror, so some young folks (and even some older folks) may not do so well with these -- parental discretion is advised.

My cautions for readers: Don't start out reading this collection thinking that because the stories are all written by the same author that they will follow the same format. Each story is told with a different voice and a couple have different tenses. I, personally, think that the collection showcases the author's skill quite well and was compiled to appeals to a wide pallet of reader preferences in both literary style and horrific titilation. However, I can also understand how this might be jarring to some readers who aren't used to some of these styles. I'd suggest reading one story and digesting it before moving on to the next. These are perfect lunch-time size stories with a perfect number of stories (5), so take a week and enjoy the book.

Finally, some of these stories do deal with things that could make some readers sqeemish. If you can't handle spiders: don't read DUST BUNNIES. If you can't do violence to animals: You will probably want to avoid A BLUE STORY. If cutting and schizophrenia hit too close to home: Avoid BLACK DOG

Otherwise, knock yourselves out, kids!
Profile Image for TheGremlin.
53 reviews15 followers
April 19, 2013
Since this book is five separate short stories/novellas, I’ll write my review this way, also. The rating of this review is an average of all five stories.

I don’t want to say too much about each story, because they’re pretty short and I’m trying not to have spoilers in this review, but just in case, here’s my big warning for **SPOILERS**. You’ve been warned.

Death Song: I love when mermaids aren’t the perfect Disney-esque creatures I’ve grown to hate. The only thing I wished was for more characterization. I wanted to feel more for Joe and Liz, but everything felt superficial. But the touches about the mermaid being linked to all water, even being able to use the pipes in buildings to get into bathrooms, was nice. 3 / 5

Black Dog: This one was so confusing for me. I had no idea what was going on the entire time. Scarlet is haunted by a voice in her head, she goes on a trip to England, meets a boy, but the dog she’s seeing isn’t having all of that. Scarlet is terrified that the schizophrenia that her aunt was diagnosed with previously is hereditary, and the ending was a bit... weird. I kept wondering whether the ending was all in Scarlet’s head, like she was wishing it would happen, or if it had actually happened. Or if the whole trip to England was one whole death-trip (a la Christopher Pike’s Road to Nowhere). Definitely bizarre, but pretty good. 3 / 5

A Blue Story: Definitely disgusted me (at least, the big reveal did). I really don’t know how to feel about this story. Stories with pets are always horrible (especially when Bad Things happen to the pets--cutesy romances are all yays for me), but I was hoping for a HEA, at least for the dog. Katherine gets a job working at the local pet store, but quits on her first (second?) day. Her boss, Matt, helps her out with investigating the new, creepy neighbor, and I just want to know why. Why, Matt? I didn’t get it. Of course, the big reveal was horrible in a horrifying sort of way, but what made it more horrible is that you just don’t know. You don’t know. Two weeks go by between Katherine’s dog going missing and the ending scene, so the reader is left wondering just what the heck happened in those two weeks. And the last few paragraphs of Katherine moving into her new dorm at college? Left me with a feeling of “Oh, God, no.” 4 / 5, if only for the “NO” ending.

Dust Bunnies: Spiders. I. Hate. Spiders. This one sent me for such a tailspin. Turned creepy, dog-sized spiders into fluffy companions. NO, and not in a good way. I just couldn’t with this one. Arachniphobia too great for me. 2.5 / 5

We Left At Night: Zombies! Oh, yay, zombies. A slightly different take, as we don’t actually see much of the zombies and they seem more like the infected from The Crazies, but then they act like vampires and I was like, buzh? The entire story takes place during one evening. It’s a little confusing (the narrator is doing homework at one point, even though school has been closed for a week). This seems to be a slow-moving virus. The actions of the military are very weird, sporatically showing up and disappearing as needed. As much as I like zombies, this one was just too off-the-wall for me. 2 / 5
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Pam.
916 reviews40 followers
May 10, 2013
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for an honest review. This is a collection of 5 short stories that deal in a way of things some of us grew up fearing. Each story has it's own twisted tale to make you cringe.

Death Song: Liz is in love with Joe, but the monster of the lake has other plans for them.

Liz left years ago and now has come back to town and knows she is still in love with Joe. The problem with coming back home is the monster in the lake is still around. The monster in fact is a mermaid who needs victims. When she can no longer get tourist she goes after the people in the town. She has Joe in her sights but Liz won't let him go and it is a fight for Joes life. This is a very good tale that will make you rethink mermaids. Liz and Joe are great characters. This is one of my favorite tales in this book.
4 Stars

Black Dog: Scarlet is engaged in a struggle for her sanity, but according to the voice in her head, she may be too late.

Scarlet is being followed by a black dog but no one else can see it or hear. She thinks she is going crazy and doesn't know what to do. I really didn't like this story to much. I couldn't get into it and I really didn't like the main character Scarlet.It just wasn't for me. It is a dark tale and that is the only thing I really liked.
2 Stars

A Blue Story: When Katherine's beloved dog goes missing, she fears her strange new neighbor might be involved.

Katherine loves her dog and when he goes missing she just knows someone took it. Her suspicions lead her to her new neighbor. She is certain he is responsible for her missing pet and for other missing animals. What she does think doesn't prepare her for when she finds out the truth. I liked this tale. Katherine was easy to like and very believable. The tale may bother some as bad to say you hear a lot of this in the real world. I loved the ending of this one.
4 Stars

Dust Bunnies: Christiane faces her childhood arachnophobia and ends up confronting even greater fears in this test of sisterhood.

Christiane has always been afraid of spiders and when she has to confront one it horrifies her to learn she may not have even known a lot about her own family. Have to say this one freaked me out the most as I hate spiders. I don't care how big or small they are I don't like them. It is a good story that will make you see even horrible things can be loveable.
3 Stars

We Left at Night: Brooke and her family must abandon their home and their lives to make it out of a disease-plagued town overrun by zombies.

Brooke along with her family is trying to escape the zombies that have taken over her town. I love zombie stories and I really hated this one to end. It shows what it would like to go through a horrible night for a teen. I love the that spin. Most time you see zombie tales through the POV of adults this looking through a teens eyes. I really hope I hear more of this story sometime.
4 Stars

Each tale is charming in it's own way. Some more than others for me. I think if you like short stories you may enjoy this book. Overall I would give it a 3.
Profile Image for Lys.
244 reviews
February 16, 2013
I loved the idea of Girls & Monsters. It was definitely the sort of collection I would have wanted to read in high school ... and - who am I kidding? - now as well.

" Girls & Monsters is for everyone who has ever been brave enough to confront their childhood fears...and lived to tell about it. "

Or so the blurb goes. But, I'm not positive that it is accurate. The sort of triumph that is suggested here is not delivered in all of the short stories, although it is definitely present in some. However, despair, mental illness, desolation, futility and hopelessness are also present. So, take the promises of the blurb with a grain of salt.

I will say that the stories progressively improve. The first was my least favorite, and the order continued, with perhaps story four being slightly preferable to (or at least on par with) five. Five was the best in terms of writing and development though.
I wonder if the order of the stories is the order in which they were written. If so, I think that I would very much like to read the next thing that Anne Michaud writes, because it is clear that her craft is improving.

All of the stories were interesting. The plots were intriguing and several of the characters were original. The ideas for each story were very good, and it is clear that the author has a lot of creativity.

Most of the stories were "too short" for what they tried to accomplish. But the stories weren't particularly short, as short stories go. The author needs to learn how to convey information in complete and succinct ways - to world-build without heaps of exposition. Early attempts to do this (the earlier stories, at least), tended to gloss important details, but by the final story, quick sentences gave rise to deep impressions. Patterns and characteristics were handily described with choice phrases. As the stories continued, there were less areas that were "glossed" and more that were "characterized". The distinction was important. I didn't have all of the details in "We Left at Night", but I also felt like I knew enough. Contrasted with "Death Song" where years were skipped where everything and nothing changed, or "A Blue Story" when a week that should have been drama-heavy goes by in a sentence, "Dust Bunnies" and "We Left at Night" had much better coverage. The narration also steadily improved.

Overall, I think that the creativity of the stories and the steady improvement in the crafting make the book worth reading. It would be especially useful to discussing the development of writing when read sequentially (if the earlier three stories did come before the last two chronologically as well as sequentially).
Profile Image for Angela.
947 reviews50 followers
February 27, 2013

I was disappointed with this collection by Michaud. From the title and synopsis I went into this collection expecting stories about monsters and for the tone of the book to be a bit like a 'Point Horror'. Sadly it wasn't and I feel a bit cheated if I'm honest.

Out of the five stories, only two really stood out for me and they were 'Death Song' and 'Dust Bunnies'.

'Death Song' was the first story featured in the collection and was about a mass-murdering mermaid. It was creepy and atmospheric and I really enjoyed reading it. This story, for me, was by far the strongest story in the collection. After this one, all the others were mediocre in comparison.

'Black Dog' is the second story in the collection. This one was ok but I couldn't emphasise with the protagonist at all. I know some people will probably prefer this one to other stories in the collection, but it just wasn't for me.

'A Blue Story' is the third story. Looking at the title now I could barely remember what this one was about, which speaks volumes.

'Dust Bunnies' was a fun story about a giant spider. I found this to be rather funny and I particularly enjoyed reading about the origin of Bunny.

'We Left at Night', the last story in the collection, was Michaud's take on the zombie genre. Although not excellent it certainly holds some promise as there is good character development and world building. Out of the five stories I think this one could work as a longer piece.

Overall, I was disappointed but there were two stories I thoroughly enjoyed and one I think would work well as a longer story.

An advance reader copy was kindly supplied by the publisher through Netgalley.
Profile Image for Tas.
113 reviews20 followers
October 9, 2014
2.5 stars

This was a cool collection of short stories, not all of them appealed to me or were as enjoyable as I hoped. There were definitely a few I liked and were gems in this collection, these included:

Death song - This was a pretty good story. The whole evil mermaid aspect entwined itself into the story well. At the start it was an underlying issue but as the story progressed the evil mermaid began to build itself and became the central challenge in the story.

Black dog - I enjoyed this one I great deal out of all of them, mostly because of how it presented the internal struggle as the monster. It was powerful and crafted the story in a way to portray the conflict throughout. It was eye opening to be in the mind of someone suffering from a mental illness and the rollercoaster they were on. There are flashbacks used, usually they would bore me but in this story it gives you pieces of the past which combines to tell you the character's background and how she had come to that particular point. The ending was beautifully written and I was left wanting to find out more.

A Blue Story - I actually didn't expect to like this one much, it hadn't seemed like something I'd enjoy reading. However, this one was a pleasant surprise. I liked the characters and you do get to know them a bit within a short space of time. The pace of the mystery was fast but I didn't mind as it got straight to the point. One down side for me was that I'm not really an animal lover so I couldn't relate to Katherine's pain much. Overall, it was a cool mystery.

All that said and done, none of them were particularly mindblowing but each held an original story of its own.
Profile Image for Megan.
49 reviews
May 31, 2013
I won this book in the first-reads giveaway, which I'm always excited about. Though it definitely wasn't my favorite, I learned that I don't really like short stories. It's all a learning experience, right?

Girls & Monsters is a book of five short stories about girls who confront their fears, the majority of which do include monsters! These range from giant spiders and dogs to a terrible sea creature. I wish I had more good things to say, but I was not impressed with these stories. If I was even starting to get into it, it would suddenly end with an atrocious ending that got on my nerves. I did not feel that these stories are well written and that possibly, if they weren't limited as a short story, they may function better as individual novels. Maybe having more detail and background information would make them more enjoyable.

My main problem, again, is probably that I am not personally a fan of short stories. I felt that they are suddenly cut off and sloppy. I don't know if fans of short stories would think differently about this book, but they would probably get more entertainment out of it. One thing I did enjoy was the unique monster theme. I have not read many books about monsters so it was nice to mix it up for a change. My recommendation would be to the avid short story reader with an interest in monsters or mysteries.
Profile Image for Michelle Birbeck.
Author 16 books141 followers
April 22, 2013
It has taken me a little while to read this collection of short stories, but that is by no means a bad thing. There are some books you want to make last that little bit longer. This is one of them. There are five short stories in this collection.

My favourite of the five has to be Black Dog, closely followed by A Blue Story. The first of which I felt was highly accurate regarding its subject. All too often people try to write mental health issues and self-harm stories and they get it wrong. They miss the mark by such a long way. But with this short story, I felt that the mark was firmly hit and that made for an enjoyable story.

A Blue Story appealed to my twisted side. I always enjoy it when people start doing strange things, and the tie in with the Blue Beard story was right up my alley. That is one story I grew up with that I always found fascinating. The twist on it that this short story gave me fitted perfectly.

The only issue I had, actually, with any of the stories is that I felt like some of them dragged. A couple of them could have been much shorter and still read just as well as they did. However, having said that, they are all worth a read, and for the price, it is absolutely a recommended read.
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