Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbour's Baby: Scary Fairy Tales” as Want to Read:
There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbour's Baby: Scary Fairy Tales
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbour's Baby: Scary Fairy Tales

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  3,528 ratings  ·  508 reviews
A woman finds herself filling a pit in the forest in the middle of the night; a family lock each other in their bedrooms to battle a strange plague; a wizard punishes two beautiful ballerinas by turning them into one hugely fat circus performer; a colonel is warned not to lift the veil from his dead wife's face; and a distraught father brings his daughter back to life by e ...more
Paperback, Penguin Modern Classics, 206 pages
Published 2011 by Penguin Classics (first published September 29th 2009)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

Popular Answered Questions
Bronislava Vieri, zdá sa, že to slovenské vydanie je zozbierané z celej tvorby a poviedky vyberali prekladatelia. Doplnila som do popisu zoznam poviedok (https:/…moreVieri, zdá sa, že to slovenské vydanie je zozbierané z celej tvorby a poviedky vyberali prekladatelia. Doplnila som do popisu zoznam poviedok (

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.62  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,528 ratings  ·  508 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbour's Baby: Scary Fairy Tales
The soul will never return to that former time, that other life. It needs to drag along in this current one, unfortunately. Because it’s the former life that’s always dearest to us. That’s the life coloured by sadness, by love – that’s where we left everything connected to what we call our feelings. Now everything is different: life just carries on, without joy, without tears.

Playing with the familiar beginning of many a fairy tale, the title of Ludmilla Petrushevskaya’s short story collection T
I grew up listening to West African stories as deliciously weird as these ones, so once I perused my shelves and once again came across this collection by Petrushevskaya, I found myself interrupting my other reads, on a Sunday night, just to revisit these stories. While I don't agree that the collection is a Halloween one, I find that it is daring in its simple majestical and mystical storytelling. These stories include the strange, the surreal, the supernatural, the things that will have you sh ...more
Dark and haunting, Petrushevskaya's stories have a deeper meaning to them than you would think at first glance. They might start off as fairy tales, "There once lived ...", but they soon turn less-than-ordinary. There is this strange and surreal feel to them, a certain otherworldly quality, bordering on the supernatural. In them we encounter people struggling through poverty, war, diseases, sadness and death, often experienced through a parallel realm, called Orchards of Unusual Possibilities, s ...more
This was actually a pretty big disappointment. It totally sounded like the kind of book I would love (scary Russian fairytales! Yes, please!). Sadly however, the stories got pretty repetitive after a while, it was written in a very cold and distant way throughout and thus, I never felt any sort of connection to any of the characters. Consequently, I was also never actually truly scared by what happened, even though some weird sh*t happens in this book! Just not the kind of weird sh*t I could gra ...more
Now that's a puzzling title, who almost screams: "Marketing plans!", because there is no story with such title in this collection. There is one story with the idea, yes, but the title is less shocking and more evocative - Revenge. I've learnt my lesson, in that I'll be suspicious of books with flashy titles from now on.
The title of another translation of her stories is even flashier: There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister's Husband, and He Hanged Himself. C'mon!

The stories are grouped
The story referred to in the title is the one called "Revenge". It's aptly titled because it is about relationships.

I love this book.

I've only read one short story by Petrushevskaya in another collection. I picked this up over the weekend at a bookstore. I had heard good things about it.

It's nice to know that sometimes the hype is correct.

This book is a collection of Petrushevskaya's more fairy tale genre fiction, so fantasy, magic realism, and fairy tale. It is split into four different section
Jan 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Some of these are better than others. Hygiene, The New Robinson Crusoes, The God Poseidon, and Marilena's Secret were the best in my opinion. ...more
Cody Sexton
Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, is a virtual unknown here in the States but a very big deal in her native Russia.
Many of these stories fit roughly into a category of literature that Franco-Bulgarian structuralist Tzvetan Todorov calls the Fantastic—simply put: texts that cause the reader to hesitate between natural and supernatural explanations for the events described, much like Henry James' The Turn of the Screw.
The fantastic can be present in works where the reader experiences hesitation about wheth
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a collection of nineteen short stories that reflect the agony, suffering and helplessness of the ordinary Russian citizen ,especially women in the past decades.
To understand Ludmilla's writing ,it is crucial to understand her native country ,Russia and it's people .This is a harsh country with a history of harsh governments ,harsh weathers ,harsh famines and harsh revolutions and people who have managed to survive through it all .Ludmilla ,herself, never had it easy .She grew
Kim Lockhart
May 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you like your short stories mostly concise and very very psychologically dark, this collection is for you. I thoroughly enjoyed them. Scary Fairy Tales should be a genre. Delightfully unsettling.
We in the West love to stare at Russia through our screens -- maybe we watch any of the various collections of Russian news clips that reveal what we presume to be a nation of track-suited and vodka-soaked toxic males and leggy Slavic beauties in five-inch stilettos and crazy driving and Putinist operatives.

It's a vision that as far as I can tell is not 100 percent wrong, but it belies the fact that this all comes from something much darker and older. And this is what Petrushevskaya taps into --
Recommended for those at the center of the universe, in absolute and utter darkness, along among the stars.
Dec 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually did not intend to read this all in one sitting, but it happened for better or for worse. These nineteen stories (or "fairy tales") are comfortably short reads. They all are mystical and dark, with some undertones of Edgar Allan Poe and Anton Chekhov. I picked up on the Chekhov primarily because of the whole Russian Connection thing, but also because I just finished The Portable Chekhov. I mean, it's sort of hard to miss now.

These are the kinds of stories I like - totally bizarre, not
Stephen Durrant
Jan 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is subtitled "Scary Fairy Tales." Well, perhaps. But I did not find Petrushevskaya's wonderful collection of stories particularly scary, nor do I feel comfortable with the term "fairy tales." In fact, the closest I can come in my own lexicon for a term to describe this collection is from classical Chinese: 志怪 zhiguai. Loosely translated, this meas something like "accounts of the bizarre" and refers to a genre of Chinese stories that became particularly popular during the Six Dynasties ...more
I don't have much to say beyond a resounding "meh." Maybe I wasn't trying hard enough to find the moral in each story, which I thought was the point of fairy tales? Or maybe the sensibility was just too foreign, and the drama of the plots eluded me. Or maybe these were just dark stories, and mediocre. I'm thinking something was probably lost in translation, both linguistic and cultural. Disappointing. ...more
This book is wacky, wild and very blunt short creepy stories that YOU JUST HAVE TO READ! I enjoyed these very much and look forward to reading more of this author.
Missy (myweereads)
“It's no secret, of course, that souls sometimes die within a person and are replaced by others — especially with age.”

There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbour’s Baby - Scary Fairy Tales by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya is a collection of the most bizarre tales which will surprise you in many ways. The stories in this collection cover all kinds of themes like vanishings, nightmares, apparitions, mysterious ailments and supernatural haunts.

I came across this book whilst browsing in the
Jim Elkins
Older forms of imagination

There are two kinds of stories in Petrushevskaya's imagination:

1. Those that come from a desire to be black, surreal, spiritual, ghostly, and macabre. The desire is a familiar in Russian and other European fiction, and surprising as some of these stories are, in the end it is exhausting and uninteresting. It's an old desire: it goes back to the nineteenth century, to fin-de-siecle mysticism, and to late romanticism, and so it's as if modernism and postmodernism hadn't q
Madly Jane

A major force in Russian literature. These are fables and fairy tales and so well written, I can't think of an American writer that really does better with this kind of fiction, which is of course, great literature, but also using the fairy tale mode. The author is writing cautionary tales that sting, but sometimes she attempts to quiet the struggling mind. These are moral tales.

This is about life and our struggles. Read them and weep or cry for joy that you are alive and able to read
English Title: There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby: Scary Fairy Tales

I can't say I'd recommend this collection as a whole, but there are a few gems that are well worth a read. There are a lot of stories crammed in, as most are very short, but many also focus on very similar themes and events, which meant either that each story was rather predictable or that, if you read them one after another, it's very easy to get them confused. I tried to read the whole collection sl
Ryan Mishap
I'm not sure what to say about this....

I like the creepy atmosphere and otherworldly intrusions into our world that are described in these short stories, but can't help but feel that something was lost in translation.

I am fairly intuitive and able to synthesize stories cogently so that I can render short explanations of them that make quick sense, but I am unable to do so here. I can't help but feel like I am missing something in almost every story here. Whether this is due to a failure on my p
Of the most depressing things I 've ever read. ...more

I spent most of this book thinking of other books, which didn't work out to its favor within such a short span. Now, I've read a lot of horror, but that mostly happened back when I was young and impressionable, and the spine tingling sort of thing I prefer these days is the terror provoked by inescapable sociopolitical realities, sometimes subtle, sometimes not so much. A perfect example of the building subtlety to an inescapable crescendo was my recently read Scenes from Village Life by Oz
Nov 12, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russia-ussr
"In art you must always shock your audience; otherwise you'll quickly starve to death." -- from Marilena's Secret

Is that the clue? The key to these stories? I'm not sure it is. What a strange collection. Dreams, visions, visits from other worlds, lots of cat references... These are just weird. Some I liked and some were hard to follow.

There are many sentences that sound like this: "They drove her carefully, changed her attire--for some reason, because of her new outfit, she could no longer see o
Not the biggest fan of this - a collection of short stories around four 'themes', mostly dark fantasy tales. My problem is thatmany of the tales are too predictable. Often on the second page you think 'I bet this character killed herself and this is actually limbo', or, 'I bet this guy is a ghost', only to be proven right 3 pages later.

All stories have a somewhat Russia-under-Putin bent with corruption and random, invisible, state violence often playing a role, as in

She worked in a kindergarten
Kai Coates
Oct 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The subtitle is "Scary Fairy Tales", but I felt it would be more accurate to say "Ghost Stories". Petrushevskaya's stories are more a chronicle of despair than actual frightening stories and ghosts and the afterlife appear frequently. I was very pleasantly surprised by this collection, having never read any of her work before. My favorites were "Hygiene," "The New Robinson Crusoes," "The Miracle," "My Love," and "There's Someone in the House." Although thematically similar, Petrushevskaya manage ...more
So I wasn't that impressed with this book. And I was so excited to read it too, but I just couldn't get into it. It might be the cultural differences or something but it just seemed very dry to me & I gave up. Very disappointing.. ...more
Danielle N
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Russian fairy tales & folklore.
This was a fascinating and haunting collection of what I would be tempted to describe as almost supernatural and beautifully eccentric fairy tales. Each story conceals a brilliant, while sometimes subtle twist that reveals a deeper meaning or moral lesson. While I often struggle with anthologies, Petrushevskaya successfully takes the stage here and owns it, delivering something truly unique. Elements of magical realism mixed in with dismal and bleak settings and scenarios deliver a somewhat othe ...more
petrushevskaya's a living legend so i put off reading her stuff, thinking it might be too dense or symbolic or blah blah NOPE. NOT THE CASE AT ALL. I AM IN LOVE.*

*just don't read any of these before sleep or during an existential crisis
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day
  • Luanda, Lisboa, Paraíso
  • Казус Кукоцкого
  • The Fairest of Them All: Snow White and 21 Tales of Mothers and Daughters
  • De Amor Tenho Vivido
  • Elatsoe
  • The Doll's Alphabet
  • Ponciá Vicêncio
  • Mac and His Problem
  • Suíte Tóquio
  • O avesso da pele
  • The Promise
  • Los conjurados
  • The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine
  • Cooking on a Bootstrap: Over 100 Simple, Budget Recipes
  • Where the Wild Ladies Are
  • Vizinho, Vizinha
  • Report from Planet Midnight
See similar books…
Ludmilla Stefanovna Petrushevskaya (Russian: Людмила Стефановна Петрушевская) (born 26 May 1938) is a Russian writer, novelist and playwright.

Her works include the novels The Time Night (1992) and The Number One, both short-listed for the Russian Booker Prize, and Immortal Love, a collection of short stories and monologues. Since the late 1980s her plays, stories and novels have been published in

Related Articles

Kazuo Ishiguro insists he’s an optimist about technology.  “I'm not one of these people who thinks it's going to come and destroy us,” he...
303 likes · 28 comments
“It's no secret, of course, that souls sometimes die within a person and are replaced by others — especially with age.” 27 likes
“It was in a dream, though, that it happened, and dreams don’t count.” 7 likes
More quotes…