Fifty beasts to break your heart & other stories

GennaRose Nethercott

Book - 2024

"From the author of the breakout fantasy novel Thistlefoot: a collection of dark fairytales and fractured folklore exploring all the ways love can save us-or go monstrously wrong. The stories in Fifty Beasts to Break Your Heart are about the abomination that resides within us all. That churning, clawing, hungry yearning: the desire to be loved, and seen, and known. And the terror of those things too: to be loved too well, or not enough, or for long enough. To be laid bare before your sweetheart, to their horror. To be known and recognized as the monstrous thing you are. Two young women working at a sinister roadside attraction called the Eternal Staircase explore its secrets-and their own doomed summer love. A group of witchy teens con...coct the perfect plan to induce the hated new girl into their ranks. A woman moves into a new house with her acclaimed artist boyfriend and finds her body slowly shifting into something specially constructed to accommodate his needs and whims. And two outcasts, a vampire and a goat woman, find solace in each other, even as the world's lack of understanding might bring about its own end. In these lush, beautifully written stories, GennaRose Nethercott explores love in all its diamond-dark facets to create a collection that will redefine what you see as a beast, and make you beg to have your heart broken."--

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1st Floor New Shelf Show me where

SCIENCE FICTION/Netherco Gennaros
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Location Call Number   Status
1st Floor New Shelf SCIENCE FICTION/Netherco Gennaros (NEW SHELF) Due May 4, 2024
Fantasy fiction
Fairy tales
Short stories
New York : Vintage Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC 2024.
Main Author
GennaRose Nethercott (author)
Item Description
"A Vintage Books original."--Title page verso.
Physical Description
259 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
  • Showdown at the Eternal Staircase
  • A diviner's abecedarian
  • The thread boy
  • Fox jaw
  • The war of fog
  • Drowning lessons
  • The autumn kill
  • Fifty beasts to break your heart
  • A lily is a lily
  • Dear Henrietta
  • Possessions
  • Homebody
  • A haunted calendar
  • The plums at the end of the world.
Review by Booklist Review

In these folkloric short stories, characters are either hungry for magic or magic hungers for them. In "Sundown at the Eternal Staircase" visitors to an ominous tourist attraction become obsessed with the lurid secrets of an Annihilation-esque staircase, while in "Drowning Lessons" water stalks a twentysomething girl. In "A Diviner's Abecedarian," vignettes depict toxic, increasingly violent friendships among middle-school girls who sacrifice any semblance of individuality to their coven. (Instead of names, the narrators eerily say, "the one of us with the big hoop earrings," or "the one of us with the weird mole on her neck.") The titular story dedicates pages to illustrations and descriptions of 50 different creatures, treating them as décor that can be added to a floral bouquet. Nethercott's (Thistlefoot, 2022) prose is transfixing and poetic yet tonally detached, even disembodied, as if one of the supernatural phenomena featured here is whispering these tales to us from another plane. Recommend this to readers who enjoy cerebral and unsettling fairy tales.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Nethercott (Thistlefoot) collects 14 delectable dark fairy tales which tend to start in worlds that feel almost comfortable--until the shadows thicken and all at once everything has teeth. Some of the beastly creatures featured here are literal monsters, as in the title tale, which is presented as a bestiary (with splendid illustrations by Bobby DiTrani) assembled by three florists who create strange bouquets of creatures. Others are much more human, like the sixth graders in "A Diviner's Abecedarian." Girls playing fortune-telling games in the schoolyard and during sleepovers is a familiar motif--but what if they could tell exactly how the new girl in class would die? Nethercott's supremely confident prose assists--and indeed demands--the suspension of disbelief; of course a woman can become a house, if she wishes ("Homebody"). Naturally, water might leap from lakes and bottles and clouds to drown a girl where she stands ("Drowning Lessons"). And why shouldn't a reality-bending, mind-shattering staircase also be a slightly tacky local tourist attraction ("Sundown at the Eternal Staircase")? That's simply how the world is. By the end of this grimly fantastic collection, readers will have bought in entirely. Agent: Paul Lucas, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (Feb.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

While the audiobook for Nethercott's (Thistlefoot) short story collection lacks the illustrations of the titular story, it doesn't lack any of the emotional nuance. With five narrators, a range of human experience is compellingly explored in a magical if often surreal way. Nethercott takes some of the most challengingly formatted stories--a bestiary, a calendar, and an abecedarian of divinatory practices--and makes them utterly gripping. Narrator January LaVoy stands out for the gentle menace she adds to "The War of Fog" and "Dear Henrietta," as well as the wearier, harsher menace the world inflicts on the undeserving in "The Plums at the End of the World." Gabra Zackman, Max Meyers, and Elena Rey round out the collection, voicing lost love, doomed love, consuming love, and painful yet fulfilling love. The collection is full of layered explorations of love and its effects, as well as foxes, transformation, and lingering memory. There is an ache at the center of these stories, underneath the magic. But perhaps it's the ache felt at the start of the healing process. VERDICT An alluring exploration of relationships through a fantastical lens that may appeal to those who enjoyed Cassandra Khaw's The Salt Grows Heavy or Kelly Barnhill's The Crane Husband.--Matthew Galloway

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Folklorist Nethercott's collection of original spooky stories is hauntingly familiar. Workers at a sinister tourist trap become trapped in their own patterns in "Sundown at the Eternal Staircase." In "A Diviner's Abecedarian," a tight-knit group of girls has a sinister way of welcoming new friends. A boy tries to protect his older sister from near-constant drowning in "Drowning Lessons." In the title story, a group of florists include details of their doomed romances alongside descriptions of mythical creatures. Women lose themselves, sometimes by becoming a house ("Homebody") and sometimes by becoming a ghost of themselves ("A Lily Is a Lily"), all for men who would happily reduce them to nothing. Nethercott's writing takes on the tone of timeless folklore, from fairy tales to urban legends to ghost stories. But what makes these stories read as true and familiar isn't a trick of syntax. Instead, it's Nethercott's insightful exploration of the universal themes that classic stories are meant to capture. Teenage (and adult) heartbreak, class anxiety, societal cruelty against those who are different, and the everyday losses of women trying desperately to conform to patriarchal standards are all explored here with great sensitivity and almost always a surprising twist. Nethercott winkingly thanks her exes in the acknowledgments, saying, "If you think it's about you, it probably is," but luckily for readers, she has a great talent for taking personal pains and making them universal. A memorable story collection that makes the supernatural personal. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.