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The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night

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3.77  ·  Rating details ·  2,462 ratings  ·  571 reviews
'These days, you can find anything you need at the click of a button.
That's why I bought her heart online.'


Spirits in jam jars, mini-apocalypses, animal hearts and side shows.
A girl runs a coffin hotel on a remote island.
A boy is worried his sister has two souls.
A couple are rewriting the history of the world.
And mermaids are on display at the loc
...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 12th 2018 by Two Roads (first published November 2nd 2017)
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Jen Campbell It's a bit creepy and disturbing in places, so a small warning for that, but I'd say it's suitable for ages 14-15 up. Depends on what people are…moreIt's a bit creepy and disturbing in places, so a small warning for that, but I'd say it's suitable for ages 14-15 up. Depends on what people are comfortable reading. It's all subjective.(less)

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Average rating 3.77  · 
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Amalia Gavea
"There isn’t anything quite like holding love in your bare hands."

I don't know....I don't know how to describe the feelings I've experienced while reading each page of this book. I am not easily carried away by anything but when such a creation comes your way you cannot help but ending up staring in awe. And for now, I will let the stories speak for themselves....

"Animals": A story that left me speechless with each passing paragraph. A dark, cruel, violently haunting world where hearts can be bough/>
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☆High Lady of The Night Court☆
"There are many different types of beginnings. And who’s to say we haven’t imagined our lives up to this point? Who’s to say we haven’t been propelled into this world from a parallel universe? One that’s just come into existence? This could be the very beginning of it, now. I mean, there’s no one else here. Listen. It’s completely quiet."

When you read stories written by different people, the stories tell you a lot about the person who wrote them. Reading this compilation of the most amazing t
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Kirsty
Dec 10, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, december-2017
Reader: please be aware that Jen Campbell did not like my review of her short stories which follows; in fact, she removed me as a friend here on Goodreads because of it. I would like it to be known - although it should already be obvious - that all of the reviews which I write express my own personal opinion. I have never, and will not ever, compromise my standing and integrity as a reviewer by pretending I love books which I am indifferent to or, in this case, which I was markedly underwhelmed by. A lo ...more
Maxwell
Full disclosure: Jen Campbell is a friend of mine and the publisher sent me a free copy of this book. However, all opinions expressed are completely my own, and there is no obligation on my part to review this. I do not, however, give star ratings to books written by friends.

I've been lucky enough to know Jen online for a couple years now, and it's been really cool to follow her journey as an author. With this collection, she dives into short fiction—and she does so wonderfully. These stories a
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Sara
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night is a collection of short stories based around the concept of fairy tales and magical realism in the contemporary world. We have people who use animal hearts to gain love and affection, a mermaid living in a local aquarium and and a sister with two souls.

It's obvious that the author has a strong fondness for fairy tales that shines through in each of the tales. The stories are a
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Jennifer
I enjoyed this so much, even though the description didn’t sound like my kind of book (bizarre short story concepts have burned me in the past – I don’t care how weird a story idea is, I care if it’s executed well). This is a collection of 12 stories, many inspired by details from fairytales and folklore. My favorite thing about it is how all the stories build on each other in subtle ways throughout the collection – tiny echoes of previous questions and themes pop back up periodically, and whene ...more
Dannii Elle
This is perhaps the strangest and most beautiful anthology I have ever read. Strange and beautiful in equal measure, as the two battle each other for dominance in this expertly delivered series of short tales.

Each of the stories, contained within, had a bizarre focus and a whimsical vibe that made this an abstract and surreal insight to life. This crooked view of the world somehow made the everyday chaos of our own reality make a little more sense and provided an alternative approach
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Figgy
RTC


Animals - 4/5
Throwing punches from the first line!
Set in a world where using animal hearts for transplant is commonplace, and told by a man who is maybe not so unusual in this world of easily replaced hearts, but also takes a look at rape-culture and a woman's right (or lack thereof) to choose what she does with her own body.

Jacob - 3/5
After "Animals" this one lacks a lot of oomph, and it's a bit of a mystery as to whether it even fits the rest of this collection (too early to t/>Jacob/>Animals
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Alice Lippart
Really, really enjoyed this. It was magical, imaginative and wonderful.
TheSkepticalReader
Review originally posted on A Skeptical Reader.

A quick and delightful book of short tales of wonder, magic, and fairytale. Jen Campbell’s passion for storytelling, myths & magic, fairytales, and histories shone through these stories. As an amateurish short story/fairytale reader, this was an enjoyable journey out of my comfort zone.

Stories as follows:
◗ Animals - 4✨ | A story that begins with the arrival of a heart in a box. Love the immersion of fairytale, myth, and histo
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Lotte
3.25/5.
This is a short story collection full of magical, fairytale inspired stories – some of which I loved, some of which I didn't care for. Some read more like individual scenes or vignettes rather than fully fleshed out stories. Others read a little "info dumpy", where I felt like author was just trying to mention as many facts about a certain topic without building an actual story around it. Granted, these facts were all quite interesting, but reading sentence after sentence that starts with "Di
...more
Katie Lumsden
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-stars
I thoroughly enjoyed this - beautifully written, with a great mix of fantastical, surreal and more realist stories. My favourite story was probably 'Jacob', but the title story, 'The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night' was definitely a close second.
Joey Woolfardis
Jul 15, 2019 rated it did not like it
I was recommended this when I asked for Short Story Collections. The cover is lovely and the title is magnificent. Unfortunately, that appears to be the only good things about this.

Okay, so the grammar, punctuation and spelling is fine. In fact, it's very good. And I enjoyed the imagination during some of the stories I read, but above all of that suffocating it was a dullness I couldn't bear and a writing style that left me feeling nothing after every story.

There seemed no heart to the stories
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Whispering Stories
Book Reviewed by Stacey on www.whisperingstories.com

Jen Campbell’s new book, The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night, is a collect of 12 short stories. These are not just any short stories, though, they are very weird, yet surprisingly addictive. They also contain lots folklores and facts thrown in for good measure, like the first story telling you about the different types of swans there are.

I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to actually get on with the book, as the first story was c
...more
Kaitlin
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
* I was sent this for free from the publisher *

This book is one I have been highly anticipating since I first followed Jen on Youtube as she's a wonderful lady filled with bizarre but beautiful ideas. I just knew this collection would be one I really enjoyed, and there was so much in this that I couldn't help but to adore. It's wacky, whimsy, and very wonderful too. Each story felt distinct and even the very short short ones had a story to tell. I would definitely recommend this to a
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Lia
Oct 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was so weird but still so good???
It was like watching an entire season of black mirror if only black mirror had less technology and more paranormal elements.
The writing is special (I absolutely adored the different formats that were used) and, even if some stories touched very heavy subjects and if sometimes I couldn't tell what the heck was going on at first, I loved every single one of these stories.
I highly recommend it and I'm glad I finally gave Jen Campbell and her a
...more
Simon
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful, wonderful series of twisted fairytales that combine to make a fabulous short story collection. We follow men who are making hearts love them in the hope they can be encased in their sleeping one true love. We have death/funeral hotels. We have mermaids in aquariums. We basically have all those magical things we loved as children with an added edge of the modern world and all the intricacies and complexities of adult life, our loves, our loses, our desires, our secrets, our d ...more
Eric Anderson
Nov 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’ve been a fan of watching Jen Campbell’s histories of fairy tales on her YouTube channel for some time. She gives fascinating descriptions of the dark content and themes of these stories which have been passed down through generations and illuminates how the original tale is often far different from a Disney interpretation. So I was incredibly eager to read this series of original modern-day fairy tales she’s written in her first collection of short fiction “The Beginning of the World in the Middle o ...more
Ana
This short story collection is a love letter to fairy tales and storytelling. If I were to rate each story individually I would give it a rounded 4*, but the stories I enjoyed so much overthrown the ones that I enjoyed a bit less, and as a rule of thumb, I only give 5* to those I keep on my shelves as favourites and plan on rereading them. And to prove that this is the case with Jen’s book, I’ve already read the title story “The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night” twice. That’s how much I love ...more
Kirsty ❤️
This was a strange book. It's full of modern day fairy tales. It's magical, its whimsical, there's a lovely way with the words but some of it is very disturbing. The first story Animals about buying animal hearts from the internet, heart transplants and even eating them just weirded me out. 

I've never been disturbed in such a beautiful way before! 


I've not read any of the authors other work before so I suppose I wasn't quite expecting what I got. I do think I'll pro
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Karen
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely loved this beautifully written collection of twelve short stories by Jen Campbell.
Some made me giggle and some brought a tear to my eye
My favourite stories being 'Aunt Libby's Coffin Hotel' and 'Little Deaths'.
Jen's love for the fairy tale beams from the pages throughout and the writing is beautiful.
I love watching her videos on YouTube and recommend 'Fairy Tales with Jen' series in which she talks about the history of fairy tales and where they was originated.
...more
Esraa Adel
I'm not entirely sure I liked this book. I went into this book expecting to find sort of dark and twisty stories and was very disappointed reading what I read. the majority of the stories were "ok". there was nothing special about them. they weren't bad, I liked a few, but I didn't love them. the rest of the stories I felt were a bit pretentious. or maybe I was just too stupid to understand the true meaning of them I don't know. but overall this book just wasn't for me.
Tink Magoo is bad at reviews
So ... in the beginning... In the beginning there was nothing. Not a ripple moved throughout the Universe because there were no atoms, and there was no energy. And then - because that's always how things go - and then. And then there was something.


As with a lot of short story collections I've read, this was a very mixed bunch of good and bad. While I really appreciated the concept of 2 (Jacob and Animal), the rest of the stories didn't quite work for me. They are all strange and could be good ideas to d
...more
Michael
Roll up, roll up boys and girls and welcome to something truly amazing. I know what you are all thinking. Oh, what can it be? Well in order to answer that I have a few questions for you. Firstly who here likes stories on the teeny weeny size and if you do then do you like them to be on the whimsical side? You do, Splendid. What about stories that enchant as much as they inspire you with their creativity. Fantastic, but I know what you are thinking just tell us what it is, patience I promise I wi ...more
Holly Dunn
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favourite short story collection by any author to date. Jen's writing is rich and evocative, sometimes very disturbing. She maintains an admirable level of whimsy, even when the subject matter is at its darkest.

I often find with short story collections that after a while the stories start to blur together in my head. This wasn't the case with Jen's collection. The strength of the idea behind each one of these stories is highly impressive and makes each tale individual and memorable.

M
...more
Mel
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you haven't been around for the few short story collections I've managed to get through, I tend to rate and review per story. I will be doing that with this.

***I give synopsis for each of these stories. In a way they are spoilers because the synopsis gives away the entire plot. Only read if you have read this collection.***

Animals: 4/5

This started on a really strong foot. A story about a world where you can buy hearts, and hearts only represent love and don't really make/>
...more
Renee Godding
5 stars

Based on the tiny synopsis, and the fact that it has Jen Campbells name on it, I was sold:

Spirits in jam jars, mini-apocalypses, animal hearts and side shows.
A girl runs a coffin hotel on a remote island.
A boy is worried his sister has two souls.
A couple are rewriting the history of the world.
And mermaids are on display at the local aquarium.


This sounds like it was made for me!

Yet for a book I was so excited for, I put off reading it for a very/>
...more
Michelle Curie
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"And then I kissed you, and, for that second, just for that one moment, the whole world and all its bullshit completely disappeared."

Can ideas be too good for their own good? The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night is a truly wonderful short story collection, containing twelve tales that are sometimes haunting, sometimes bizarre, but always magical.



It was the cover that drew me towards this book, and as I received a copy of this through NetGalley I dived straight into the stories without knowing what was awaiting
...more
Jack Stark
4.432787 stars.

You can read my more in depth review of this on my blog - Random Melon Reads!

I took my time when reading this collection. Normally, with a short story collection I would read one story and instantly move on to the next. I think I enjoy short stories more when I read one, then take some time to process the story before moving on.

This collection was highly enjoyable. All the stories have a dreamlike quality to them. I love magical realism more than any other genre but it is
...more
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9,866 followers
Jen Campbell is a bestselling author and award-winning poet. Her short story collection The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night is published by Two Roads, her children's picture books, Franklin's Flying Bookshop, Franklin and Luna go to the Moon, and Franklin and Luna and the Book of Fairy Tales are published by Thames & Hudson. Her poetry collection The Girl Aquarium is publishe ...more
“And then I kissed you and, for that second, just for that one moment, the whole world and all its bullshit completely disappeared.” 4 likes
“There are many different types of beginnings. And who’s to say we haven’t imagined our lives up to this point? Who’s to say we haven’t been propelled into this world from a parallel universe? One that’s just come into existence? This could be the very beginning of it, now. I mean, there’s no one else here. Listen. It’s completely quiet.” 3 likes
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