Dreadful Young Ladies: And Other Stories


I can never really tell if I like short story collections.

It’s rarely the fault of the author, its my greedy book hoarder self that is the problem! I want to get lost in a book and short stories feel like a collection of cliffhangers.

Dreadful Young Ladies: And Other Stories by Kelly Barnhill, was a delight and an exception to my unresolved drama with short story collections.

Goodreads Synopsis: “From award-winning, New York Times bestselling author Kelly Barnhill comes a stunning 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 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.
By an author hailed as “a fantasist on the order of Neil Gaiman” (Minneapolis Star Tribune), the stories in Dreadful Young Ladies feature bold, reality-bending invention underscored by richly illuminated universal themes of love, death, jealousy, hope, and more.”


I loved several of the stories, “Mrs. Sorenson and the Sasquatch” and the collections’ namesake “Dreadful Young Ladies” stood out as some of the best writing I’ve read in awhile. “Dreadful Young Ladies”, in particular gave me strong The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One vibes and that poetry collection is one of my favorite reads this year. I disliked a few others, and not in a “vehemently disliked“ way but certainly a “not for me” way aka my reaction to “The Insect and the Astronomer”. “The Unlicensed Magician”, I loved but wanted more of and would’ve read a full-length novel about Sparrow. (Seriously its not you it’s me, short story collections I promise!).

Overall this was a yes for me, I liked it and was thrilled my random pick at the library was a win. It was a perfect dark and creepy fantasy read to have on deck as we move into October (aka HALLOWEEN TIME Y’ALL).

Would I recommend this book? Sure especially to short story fans. 4/6 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

Grab it on Amazon today and let me know what you think! https://amzn.to/2OtjZIM

The Black Witch


The Black Witch by Laurie Forest, was supposed to be my hot date on a Friday night but it ended up being a blind date gone awry. One thing that gets me going is a long ass book, and I was so excited to dive into this one (hello check out the endorsement from Tamora Pierce on the cover) but very quickly it became apparent that The Black Witch was not going to be anything like what I anticipated.

Goodreads Synopsis: "Elloren Gardner is the granddaughter of the last prophesied Black Witch, Carnissa Gardner, who drove back the enemy forces and saved the Gardnerian people during the Realm War. But while she is the absolute spitting image of her famous grandmother, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above all else.

When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren joins her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University to embrace a destiny of her own, free from the shadow of her grandmother’s legacy. But she soon realizes that the university, which admits all manner of people—including the fire-wielding, winged Icarals, the sworn enemies of all Gardnerians—is a treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.

As evil looms on the horizon and the pressure to live up to her heritage builds, everything Elloren thought she knew will be challenged and torn away. Her best hope of survival may be among the most unlikely band of misfits…if only she can find the courage to trust those she’s been taught to hate and fear."


Let's start with the good. Laurie Forest is a fantastic writer when it comes to style. She built a world so compelling I did not like 90% of its inhabitants. 

Now for the bad, this book is slow going which would be fine if the payoff at the end was worth it and sadly that's not the case in The Black Witch. Elloren aka Ren our protagonist is seemingly on what would be a redemption arc but its so poorly executed I found myself wishing she would be killed off or knocked upside her head once or twice more by the other kitchen workers at Verpax University. 

At one point, Ren allows her pseudo boyfriend/stalker/boss/companion dude to intervene in a dispute and he does so by threatening to send a child off to labor camp to meet almost certain death. CLASSY. 

I get it the author's goal was to present a world so blinded by their religion and prejudice that they could not see the truth of the world around them BUT Ren was so unlikable for so long it didn't matter that she eventually (sort of) came around. Her favorite class for most of the book is the class with only Gardnerian students and a full tea service, essentially a revisionist history class, and she feels little to no remorse for murdering her roommates pet chicken, and tells her **SPOILER ALERT** gay brother to keep his sexuality secret because its "too dangerous". All of this would work out to be a great redemptive arc for her if she turned the corner quicker but by the time she'd grown even a little bit as a character I had her firmly in my dislike column. 

I'm curious to see if things change in then next book in this series but would want to wait till I can snag it at the library. 

Would I recommend this book? ...maybe... 2.5/6 stars ⭐️ ⭐️ 

Snag a copy on Amazon today and let me know what you think! https://amzn.to/2p0YW21