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Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  1,569 ratings  ·  326 reviews
Author Kelly Barnhill has written a collection of stories, teeming with uncanny characters whose lives unfold in worlds at once strikingly human and eerily original.
 When Mrs. Sorensen’s husband dies, she rekindles a long-dormant love with an unsuitable mate in “Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch.” In “Open the Door and the Light Pours Through,” a young man wrestles with g
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 20th 2018 by Algonquin Books
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Average rating 3.75  · 
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 ·  1,569 ratings  ·  326 reviews

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Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

Magical, mystifying, and comprised of lurid prose. Barnhill’s sorrowful short story collection demands to be savored. The only thing dreadful about this wonderfully weird book is that it’s over too quick, lingers on the tongue, and incites cravings for more. Every book that follows pales in comparison.
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Melanie by: Hannah Greendale

This is a beautiful collection of eight short stories and one novella by Kelly Barnhill. And you will very quickly learn that their writing is lush, lyrical, and absolutely haunting. But sometimes the speculative fiction felt a little too speculative for my personal tastes. But if you like lyrical prose and speculative writing? You will love this collection.

I'm going to break down each short story with my thoughts, opinions, and individual star rating!

Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch - ★★★
Janelle Janson
Thank you so much to Algonquin Books for providing my free copy of DREADFUL YOUNG LADIES AND OTHER STORIES by Kelly Barnhill - all opinions are my own.

This is a dazzling collection of eight short stories and one novella that make for a fantastic read! The writing is beautiful, poetic, dark, disturbing, and speculative. I would describe it as magical literary fiction. I’m not sure if that’s right but that’s how it felt when I was reading it. I didn’t know what to expect when I started as fantasy/
I was really excited to read this collection, mainly because of the title.

I had an idea that dreadful young ladies would be the theme of these stories, with some sass and subversion and lightheartedness.

But this book is really none of those things. The theme of all the stories is death, and the style is mostly magical realism, with some poignancy, some sweetness, and some downright gruesomeness. (For instance, the dreadful young ladies of the title story really are dreadful, with no tongue-in-
Renee Godding
3.5 stars

"It is our flaws that make us beloved by heaven. It is our scars and handicaps and lack of symmetry that prove that we are-or once were-alive."

Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories drew my attention with its stunning cover and the promise of whimsically dark stories, with more than just surface level themes. With 8 short stories and a novella, this was also a perfect introduction to Kelly Barnhill’s writing for me.
Shortstory-collections are always a little difficult to review for m
Nov 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These are beautifully written stories, sharp-edged, humourous, melancholic.

-Mrs Sorensen and the Sasquatch: 4 stars. Read this before, and liked the humour.

-Open the Door and the Light Pours Through: 4 stars A bit of a mystery story, at first, of a husband and wide writing to each other and not telling each other certain things, which transforms into something quite sad.

-The Dead boy's Last Poem: 3 stars. Not sure what to make of this one.

-Dreadful Young Ladies: 4 stars. A story of a several dea
Ashley Daviau
This collection is a prime example of why I’m always on the fence about short story collections. They typically turn out to be only a few gems thrown in amongst the stinkers. And that’s exactly how this collection turned out! With 8 stories featured, I only REALLY thoroughly enjoyed 2 stories and that’s not a great average. The rest left me feeling either indifferent or bored out of my mind and wanting to skip through them. That’s a lot of stories to feel indifferent about and I was definitely d ...more
This is one of those books that I put on my to-read list, then let out an audible squeal when I saw it among the new books at the library. I mean, LOOK AT THAT COVER! But, as it turns out, this book and I did not get along so well. The fact that I eagerly started reading on October 18, and finally finished out of a sense of obligation two months later says it all. Looking back at titles of the stories, I can't remember any of them. Not a one - even the one I finished today.

I see lots of five-st
LynnDee (LynnDee's Library)
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc, short-stories
I received an ARC of this to review for Booklist, so my official review will be published there first, but this short story collection was creepy good.
Dec 10, 2020 marked it as dont-want-to-read
I haven't read this book, but I wanted to just make a note here. My daughter has read at least one other book by this author, and she presumed that the author writes only middle-grade fiction. So for this collection of short stories to be called "Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories" and described on the cover as "a playful witchy collection of addictive tales" illustrates an utter failure to reach the correct audience. My daughter spent around $15 of her own money on this book, eagerly purch ...more
Isa Lavinia

Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch ★★
Open the Door and the Light Pours Through ★★★
The Dead Boy’s Last Poem ★★★
Dreadful Young Ladies ★★★
The Taxidermist’s Other Wife ★★
Elegy to Gabrielle, Patron Saint of Healers, Whores, and Righteous Thieves ★★★★
Notes on the Untimely Death of Ronia Drake ★★
The Insect and the Astronomer: A Love Story ★
The Unlicensed Magician ★★★

I rated these stories on the author's skill, not on my enjoyment. I must admit, apart from Elegy to Gabrielle, I truly enjoyed none of t
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Most of these were "okay." Interesting, but not real stand-outs, for me. The only one that I couldn't make it through was "The Insect and the Astronomer," which just didn't engage me at all. But the Last story, and, I believe, the longest is Wonderful! "The Unlicensed Magician" is utterly lovely and memorable. ...more
lucky little cat
GR's blurb is the best part of this grim little collection of morbid fragments pretending to be short stories.

there's nothing wrong with fragments as long as they're meaningful
Robin Bonne
My favorite stories in this anthology were the strange, Kafkaesque love stories, ‘Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch’ and
‘The Insect and the Astronomer: A Love Story’
Dec 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook, arc
I enjoyed most of the stories in this collection. I mean who wouldn't enjoy a book that starts put with a story about a woman and a sasquatch in a relationship. The magical realism was done well throughout. My only complaint is with the first few stories not being divided enough. I got confused without a clear starting and stopping point between each story. If you enjoy Barnhill or fantastical stories that both intrigue and occassionaly scare you, then this book is one I would recommend.

Thank y
Kelly Barnhill's Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories is a real treat for those who love lushly imagined weird worlds. Barnhill's style reminds me of early Jeanette Winterson ( i.e. Sexing the Cherry; The Passion) with their blend of magic realism and folklore. Though I found some of the stories a little too long, others linger in my mind like vivid dreams. Recommended for fantasy lovers.

I received an e-ARC from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am someone who always wants to enjoy short story collections but I never do. Usually, I find that collections have one good or great story and then everything else is ehh, or the author tries to do magical realism but the stories are just weird.

Dreadful Young Ladies, however, is full of well written magical stories that are dark and/or fun and I enjoyed every single one.

If you're interested, this book just came out on Tuesday!
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've only read the first story so far. It's about a widow who starts dating Bigfoot. It made me weep, it was so beautiful. I'm not kidding. ...more
Ellen Morgan
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
It’s hard to assign one rating to a collection of short stories. There were definitely a few in here that stood out to me as exceptional, and some I didn’t love as much. But overall Kelly Barnhill’s imagination and expression are lovely.
Having only read one book by Barnhill previously (and a middle-grade book, at that), I can say I wasn't nearly prepared for the strangeness of her fiction. Each story is full of bizarre creatures that are not quite fully formed - you only get a hint of what it is you're actually reading. I guess that's just part of the whimsical/psychotic style she prefers, and by that I mean as you read each story, you feel the narrator is somehow a bit cracked, not to be trusted, but even more so, they seem li ...more
Apr 22, 2018 rated it liked it
The ladies in Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories aren't dreadful so much as they are: rebellious, powerful, magical, revolutionaries, ghosts, lovers, and saints.

My favorite story was Elegy to Gabrielle, in which a magical daughter is borne out of the sinful coupling between a clergyman and a gifted woman. I loved the religious and subtle feminist undertones, reminiscent of stories I used to read about Catholic saints, minus the more horrific torturous aspects.

In Open the Door and the Li
Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Kind of a mixed group of stories. I loved The Unlicensed Magician, Mrs. Sorenson and the Sasquatch, and Elegy. A few of the others didn't hold my attention quite as well. But still a very good collection of short stories filled with magic. ...more
Mandy Kirkendall
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Kelly Barnhill’s beautiful writing is everything! This is not a collection to dart through, but one to be savored. I’m already happily looking forward to a second read.

“I have dreamed of their hands. I dream of their hands. I dream of a garden overripe and wild. Of a woman gathering the sea into her hands and letting it fall in many colored petals to a green, green earth. I dream of words on a page transforming to birds, and birds transforming to children, and children transforming to stars.” -
Jul 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Very enjoyable... 3 stars overall, 4 stars for the final entry, "The Unlicensed Magician," which was almost a novella in length, and very original and creative. More to follow... ...more
Aimee (Book It Forward)
"It is our flaws that make us beloved by heaven. It is our scars and handicaps and lack of symmetry that prove that we are-or once were-alive."
The Taxidermists Wife

When I first began the eARC for Dreadful Young Ladies I was a bit confused. The chapters weren't titled so as I read there were times I didn't realize one had ended and the next had begun. That is not something that affected my review, but the publisher just made it a bit difficult to read this copy.

Dreadful Young Ladies is a collect
Nov 09, 2018 rated it liked it
So, after reading this (and my brief dalliance with Kelly Link) I have come to realise something about myself as a reader. I don't take well to the absurd. I need some semblance of logic and order to my stories. They may be magical, but I need them to be plausible (if that makes sense?) This collection had both the plausible (a witch pirate) and the absurd (an astronomer falling in love with an insect! -DNF). So now I know. ...more
Stella ☆Paper Wings☆
4.5 stars

So I didn't even know this book existed until I somehow found myself at the bookstore and I saw it and I was like, "Kelly Barnhill wrote a book of short stories, at least one of which is gay?!?", and then I somehow found myself at the checkout and somehow found myself taking it home. Strange how these things happen.

Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch ☆☆☆☆
This is the perfect story to start off the book! It's weird and flowery, but it lets you dip your toe into the book before you're complet
Becky Loader
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Oh, my, gosh! Barnhill had me with the first story!

Do you believe in Sasquatch? Even if you don't, you will enjoy the story of true love conquering all. *snicker* Really. When a young woman has an unusual rapport with animals, she rejects Sasquatch for a human husband. When she becomes a widow? Let's just say, old love doesn't die.

These stories are a little bit twisted in plot and character, and I thoroughly enjoyed them!
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Like any collection of short stories, it's a mixed bag, I would rate some of the stories as anywhere from 2 to 3 stars. But the first story this book, Mrs. Sorenson and the Sasquatch, and the last, a novella titled The Unlicensed Magician easily make up for the others. I would call Mrs. Sorenson 4 stars, and Unlicensed Magician is 5 stars, so that averages out to 4.

Definitely recommended. And if you get a chance to see the author in person at a reading, I recommend that, too -- she's an awesome
Feb 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is my introduction to Kelly Barnhill's work. I've been wanting to read The Girl Who Drank the Moon for a while, even more so after my friend Arlene raved about it last fall. Barnhill has created a collection of diverse short stories, a novelette, and the eponymous "story" which is actually like a collection of flash fiction shorts about some very, very dreadful young ladies, all tied together by their focus on female central characters.

From the very first story, Mrs. Sorenson and the Sasqu
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Kelly Barnhill is an author and teacher. She won the World Fantasy Award for her novella The Unlicensed Magician, a Parents Choice Gold Award for Iron Hearted Violet, the Charlotte Huck Honor for The Girl Who Drank the Moon, and has been a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award, the Andre Norton award, and the PEN/USA literary prize. She was also a McKnight Artist's Fellowship recipient in Children ...more

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“There is, at its center, something immutably miraculous about the substance and process of reading stories. We read because we hunger to know, to empathize, to feel, to connect, to laugh, to fear, to wonder, and to become, with each page, more than ourselves. To become creatures with souls. We read because it allows us, through force of mind, to hold hands, touch lives, speak as another speaks, listen as another listens, and feel as another feels. We read because we wish to journey forth together. There is, despite everything, a place for empathy and compassion and rumination, and just knowing that fact, for me, is an occasion for joy. That we still, in this frenetic and bombastic and self-centered age, have legions of people who can and do return to the quietness of the page, opening their minds and hearts, again and again, to the wild world and the stuff of life, pinned into scenes and characters and sharp images and pretty sentences--well. It sure feels like a miracle, doesn't it?” 5 likes
“I dream of a garden overripe and wild. Of a woman gathering the sea into her hands and letting it fall in many colored petals to a green, green earth. I dream of words on a page transforming to birds, and birds transforming to children, and children transforming to stars.” 3 likes
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