Cover image for Dreadful young ladies and other stories
Dreadful young ladies and other stories
Barnhill, Kelly Regan, author.
Uniform Title:
Short stories. Selections
First edition.
Publication Information:
Chapel Hill, North Carolina : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, a division of Workman Publishing, [2018]

Physical Description:
288 pages : illustration ; 22 cm
A short story collection featuring elements of magic realism while touching on the themes of love, knowledge, grief, hope, and jealousy. Teeming with uncanny characters whose lives unfold in worlds at once strikingly human and eerily original, these stories demonstrate the strength and power -- known and unknown -- of the imagination.
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.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
FICTION Adult Fiction On Display
FICTION Adult Fiction Fantasy
FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



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 .

With bold, reality-bending invention underscored by richly illuminated universal themes of love, death, jealousy, and hope, the stories in Dreadful Young Ladies show why its author has been hailed as "a fantasist on the order of Neil Gaiman" ( Minneapolis Star Tribune ). This collection cements Barnhill's place as one of the wittiest, most vital and compelling voices in contemporary literature.

Author Notes

Kelly Barnhill is a children's book author. Her novels include The Mostly True Story of Jack, Iron Hearted Violet, The Witch's Boy, and The Girl Who Drank the Moon, which received the 2017 John Newbery Medal. She has also received the World Fantasy Award, the Parents Choice Gold Award, the Texas Library Association Bluebonnet award, and a Charlotte Huck Honor.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Newbery medalist Barnhill (The Girl Who Drank the Moon, 2016) dazzles in her short story collection for adults. Featuring a few previously published short stories, along with the World Fantasy Award-winning novella The Unlicensed Magician, Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories proves that Barnhill is a born storyteller. The dreadful young ladies in question are both dreadful and enigmatic ladies who are not quite what they seem. In Mrs. Sorensen & the Sasquatch, the titular heroine finds love with an unlikely partner. Elegy to Gabrielle is a story about the lengths a mother will go to to keep a child safe. And in The Unlicensed Magician, we meet a man who will do anything to bring his mother back. This is a well-crafted short story collection featuring elements of magic realism while touching on the themes of love, grief, hope, jealousy, and more. Fantasy readers especially fans of Neil Gaiman or even Kelly Link will appreciate this spellbinding collection.--Wathen, LynnDee Copyright 2018 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

The eight short stories and one novella in Newbery Medalist Barnhill's collection are haunting and beautifully told. Each tale features characters, mostly girls and women, who chafe at rules and rebel in ways both quiet and extraordinary. The titular widow of "Mrs. Sorenson and the Sasquatch" dismays her neighbors by taking up with a huge furry humanoid. In "Elegy to Gabrielle-Patron Saint of Healers, Whores, and Righteous Thieves," the young pirate Gabrielle Belain frees slaves and is defiant to the end. The poignant novella "The Unlicensed Magician" tells the story of a young woman, known as the Sparrow, as she quietly brings prosperity to her small town despite her country's murderous dictator. Barnhill skillfully incorporates fairy tale elements and makes them freshly unsettling: many of her heroines have unusual effects on animals, and the title character of "Notes on the Untimely Death of Ronia Drake" faintly echoes Cinderella's dead mother. Each story is written in intensely poetic language that can exult or disturb, sometimes within the same sentence, and evokes a dreamlike, enchanted mood that lingers in the reader's mind. These tales are made to be reread and savored. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

The stories in this collection by Barnhill (The Girl Who Drank the Moon) mainly center on transgressive women: pirate queens, fugitive sorcerers, and casters of dangerous spells. A lonely widow finds companionship with an affectionate monster, a witch's spell for beauty backfires in unexpected ways, and a young woman inherits both supernatural powers and a pirate crew. There's a fairy-tale tone to many of the offerings; even the stories set in modern America maintain an otherworldliness. The two stories that don't feature female protagonists are "Open the Door and the Light Pours Through," a slowly unfolding ghost story told in letters between a young soldier and his betrothed that is literally and figuratively haunting, and "The Insect and the Astronomer" in which an educated and lonely insect scientist seeks his counterpart. The latter half(ish) of the book consists of "The Unlicensed Magician," a tale about a country under the heel of an immortal minister who uses children born with magic to power his obsession with eternal life and the one nearly invisible girl who evaded his agents at birth. English voice actor John Lee narrates with gravitas and intensity, with occasional doses of humor that throw the strangeness into sharp relief. VERDICT Readers who enjoy their fantasy with a dose of weirdness and atmosphere-Neil Gaiman and Ray Bradbury come to mind-will enjoy this collection. ["In her debut short story collection for adults, YA author Barnhill highlights fantasy's breadth with unusual settings and extraordinary characters living outside of the realm of reality. A magical volume for fans of the genre": LJ 2/1/18 starred review of the Algonquin hc.]-Jason Puckett, Georgia State Univ. Lib., Atlanta © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

The Newbery Award-winning author expertly pens eight exquisite short stories and one heartrending novella for this collection. The fantasy elements Barnhill is known for is on display here, but this work contains even more twists and turns than her children's books as well as the occasional tale dealing with topics such as marriage and divorce. Most of the characters are full of love; it magically spills out of them as they heal, hope, and make the world a better place. The novella, "The Unlicensed Magician," focuses on magical children who are sacrificed to the Minister until one special infant survives to grow into a teenager who defies him. Though brief, the title entry packs a punch, describing four women who murder children and create natural disasters. Teens will find themselves marking well-worded passages in these pieces that are reminiscent of fairy tales and written with a deliberate and delicate turn-of-phrase. VERDICT Perfect for readers of the weird and fantastically wonderful. Give to fans of Alice Hoffman, Laura Ruby, and Seanan McGuire.-Sarah Hill, Lake Land College, Mattoon, IL © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.