Thank you so much to Algonquin Books for providing my free copy – all opinions are my own.
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 grief and his sexuality in an exchange of letters with his faraway beloved. “Dreadful Young Ladies” demonstrates the strength and power—known and unknown—of the imagination. In “Notes on the Untimely Death of Ronia Drake,” a witch is haunted by the deadly repercussions of a spell. “The Insect and the Astronomer” upends expectations about good and bad, knowledge and ignorance, love and longing. The World Fantasy Award–winning novella The Unlicensed Magician introduces the secret magical life of an invisible girl once left for dead—with thematic echoes of Barnhill’s Newbery Medal–winning novel, The Girl Who Drank the Moon.
“It was easy enough to lose a child by accident.To do so on purpose turned out to be nearly impossible.”
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/short stories are a new territory for me but it absolutely blew me away! I appreciate the collection’s wide variety of topics, as it covers everything from love to greed to death to magic to taxidermy! Barnhill did a phenomenal job writing vivid descriptions with original characters that have so much depth, the stories came alive in my mind. Each and every story is gorgeously written, incredibly unique, and they all completely captivated me. I could not put this book down!
The standouts for me are Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch, Dreadful Young Ladies, Elegy to Gabrielle, Notes of the Untimely Death of Ronia Drake, and The Unlicensed Magician. I have to mention that Dreadful Young Ladies is eerily creepy. Love, love, love… highly recommended!
I rate this magical book 5 / 5 stars!