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A Most Anticipated in 2021 Pick for The Independent Buzzfeed The Nerd Daily When we came to America, we brought anger and socialism and hunger. We also brought our demons. In Burning Girls and Other Stories, Veronica Schanoes crosses borders and genres with stories of fierce women at the margins of society burning their way toward the center. This debut collection introd A Most Anticipated in 2021 Pick for The Independent Buzzfeed The Nerd Daily When we came to America, we brought anger and socialism and hunger. We also brought our demons. In Burning Girls and Other Stories, Veronica Schanoes crosses borders and genres with stories of fierce women at the margins of society burning their way toward the center. This debut collection introduces readers to a fantasist in the vein of Karen Russell and Kelly Link, with a voice all her own. Emma Goldman--yes, that Emma Goldman--takes tea with the Baba Yaga and truths unfold inside of exquisitely crafted lies. In Among the Thorns, a young woman in seventeenth century Germany is intent on avenging the brutal murder of her peddler father, but discovers that vengeance may consume all that it touches. In the showstopping, awards finalist title story, Burning Girls, Schanoes invests the immigrant narrative with a fearsome fairytale quality that tells a story about America we may not want--but need--to hear. Dreamy, dangerous, and precise, with the weight of the very oldest tales we tell, Burning Girls and Other Stories introduces a writer pushing the boundaries of both fantasy and contemporary fiction. With a foreword by Jane Yolen


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A Most Anticipated in 2021 Pick for The Independent Buzzfeed The Nerd Daily When we came to America, we brought anger and socialism and hunger. We also brought our demons. In Burning Girls and Other Stories, Veronica Schanoes crosses borders and genres with stories of fierce women at the margins of society burning their way toward the center. This debut collection introd A Most Anticipated in 2021 Pick for The Independent Buzzfeed The Nerd Daily When we came to America, we brought anger and socialism and hunger. We also brought our demons. In Burning Girls and Other Stories, Veronica Schanoes crosses borders and genres with stories of fierce women at the margins of society burning their way toward the center. This debut collection introduces readers to a fantasist in the vein of Karen Russell and Kelly Link, with a voice all her own. Emma Goldman--yes, that Emma Goldman--takes tea with the Baba Yaga and truths unfold inside of exquisitely crafted lies. In Among the Thorns, a young woman in seventeenth century Germany is intent on avenging the brutal murder of her peddler father, but discovers that vengeance may consume all that it touches. In the showstopping, awards finalist title story, Burning Girls, Schanoes invests the immigrant narrative with a fearsome fairytale quality that tells a story about America we may not want--but need--to hear. Dreamy, dangerous, and precise, with the weight of the very oldest tales we tell, Burning Girls and Other Stories introduces a writer pushing the boundaries of both fantasy and contemporary fiction. With a foreword by Jane Yolen

30 review for Burning Girls and Other Stories

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Lawson

    Two of these stories were so brilliant and perfect I wanted to marry them. Two were so confusing I wanted someone to explain them to me. The rest were quite good. So a bit hit-or-miss but the hits are so good it makes reading it all.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mara

    This was a really delightful book of speculative, experimental short stories. I think some of the stories are more successful than others, but overall, I was entertained and engaged throughout, even if I didn't end up loving a given story. I will say that I think the first story in the collection, "Among the Thorns," is a true stand out, but I also really enjoyed the titular story and a story about a never ending house construction project. If you're looking a collection of speculative short sto This was a really delightful book of speculative, experimental short stories. I think some of the stories are more successful than others, but overall, I was entertained and engaged throughout, even if I didn't end up loving a given story. I will say that I think the first story in the collection, "Among the Thorns," is a true stand out, but I also really enjoyed the titular story and a story about a never ending house construction project. If you're looking a collection of speculative short stories that have heavy doses of Jewish magic & feminist themes, with a dollop of queer elements, this is for you!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jess ❈Harbinger of Blood-Soaked Rainbows❈

    I requested this from Netgalley because I've read a few of this lady's stories and she is wickedly dark and twisty and delightful. Please dear netgalley, grant my request I requested this from Netgalley because I've read a few of this lady's stories and she is wickedly dark and twisty and delightful. Please dear netgalley, grant my request

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sahitya

    Average Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.8 I knew nothing about the author or this collection itself when I requested an arc of this book. All I saw was that stunning cover and title, and I knew I wanted to read it. And it didn’t disappoint. While there were a couple of misses, this is a beautifully written collection of stories about women - resilient women who have to find the strength within themselves to overcome very harsh circumstances - they might not always succeed but they never give up. The writing i Average Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️.8 I knew nothing about the author or this collection itself when I requested an arc of this book. All I saw was that stunning cover and title, and I knew I wanted to read it. And it didn’t disappoint. While there were a couple of misses, this is a beautifully written collection of stories about women - resilient women who have to find the strength within themselves to overcome very harsh circumstances - they might not always succeed but they never give up. The writing itself has a very fairytale-esque feel to it and it made the whole experience quite magical but also horrific at times. Definitely worth a read if you enjoy short stories with feminist fairytale themes and lots of Jewish religious and cultural elements. Among the Thorns Featuring a mother goddess and young girl full of grief, this is a story about antisemitic violence across centuries, how it has affected so many families, and what might happen if someone decides to take revenge. This is also the tale of a mother's love and her abundant capacity for compassion, even in dire circumstances. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ How to Bring Someone Back from the Dead This was too short for me to form a concrete opinion about it. But its about what lengths you will go to for the one you love and while its an interesting theme, the story didn't live up to it. ⭐️⭐️ Alice: A Fantasia This seems like some kind of a retelling of Alice in Wonderland, but the second half was very confusing after a fascinating first half. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Phosphorus Set against the backdrop of unskilled workers strikes for better wages and working conditions during 19th century London, this is a poignant tale of resilient women doing everything they can to survive their brutal circumstances and unimaginable suffering. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Ballroom Blitz CW: gore, depression, self harm Another story where I might not have completely understood the point, but the depiction of rage, despair, helplessness and depression through the writing was very on point. ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 Serpents This was quite frankly very weird because I am terrified of snakes and this story was full of very vivid descriptions of snakes as well as other creatures. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Emma Goldman Takes Tea with the Baba Yaga An excellent mix of history, politics and fairytale - this is a story about the promise of revolution; particularly the Bolshevik revolution; but how ultimately it turned on its own principles and its people, becoming a dictatorship that oppressed everyone. Despite the hopeless tone of the story, it’s also a call to remember that revolutions may not be kind, but the present regimes are equally cruel. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 Rats CW: body horror, self harm, drug use, mental health issues This was a difficult read and the story was very bleak, but it’s also about the futility of self harm and how so many young teenagers across the world are dealing with drug abuse and mental health issues, and how they need more support instead of recriminations. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Lost in the Supermarket CW: animal mutilation Ironically, I was also lost in this story and not in a good way. It was interesting to read but I just couldn’t figure out what it was meant to signify. Or atleast the bit that clicked for me was about how our supermarket aisles are filled with varieties of every item and some of us find it hard to even choose, but there are so many others who still go hungry. Vividly written but probably it just wasn’t for me. The numerous pop culture references (which I had no clue about) didnt help either. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Swimming This was another weird story but I have to give it to the author, the descriptions here were very impressive and amusingly grotesque. And I think I understood the idea of losing ourselves so much in our ambition to achieve something, that we forget why we started out in the first place and that’s why it’s important to keep our feet on the ground always. ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 Lily Glass The story of two young women trying to find their identity and come into their own, this was beautiful, emotional and bittersweer. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Revenant CW: child abuse This was another difficult read and the author truly captures the loneliness and troubles of a young girl who just needs someone to listen to her but life isn’t fair. The author explores trauma in a speculative manner and I thought it was very well written. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Burning Girls The author ends this collection with another story that sets off against the backdrop of antisemitic violence, which forces two young sisters to move to the New World, and fight both human and supernatural demons in their struggle for survival. It is exquisitely written, full of emotion and wonder and pain and I can’t think of a better conclusion or titular story. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  5. 5 out of 5

    Liv Sol Lilith Oschlag

    First of all, I might as well state my biases. This is a feminist short story collection with queer flavor, and I’m a queer feminist. So, there. Feminist spins on fairy tales, mental illness, worker's rights, immigration and Jewish folklore as well as Jewish persecution throughout the centuries form a cohesive foundation here; these are threads that weave through the entire collection, like trails of breadcrumbs for the reader to follow through each story. Another bias: I have Jewish heritage, b First of all, I might as well state my biases. This is a feminist short story collection with queer flavor, and I’m a queer feminist. So, there. Feminist spins on fairy tales, mental illness, worker's rights, immigration and Jewish folklore as well as Jewish persecution throughout the centuries form a cohesive foundation here; these are threads that weave through the entire collection, like trails of breadcrumbs for the reader to follow through each story. Another bias: I have Jewish heritage, but grew up outside any sort of Jewish community, so the folklore elements are really intriguing to me. With all this in mind, while I do think that I got extra enjoyment out of some of the stories specifically because of these biases, this is a short story collection that I think anyone who wants a good read should pick up once it’s released (March 2021). This collection starts off incredibly strong with “Among the Thorns”, Schanoes’ follow-up and response to The Brothers Grimm’s fairy tale “The Jew Among Thorns”, wherein the titular Jew’s daughter sets out to avenge her father’s gruesome death at the hands of gentiles. Considering the stark antisemitism that permeates the original story (as well as others found in the Grimm oeuvre), “Among the Thorns” makes for not only a captivating tale of revenge, but a powerful reclamation of the narrative as a whole. Having been utterly enthralled by this first story, the following two stories, “How to Bring Someone Back From the Dead” and “Alice: a Fantasia” have a tough act to follow, and they didn’t resonate quite as well with me. But they are both very short, and so do not overstay their welcome. This is something that I felt rang true for a lot of the shortest stories in this collection – like they were deeply weird momentary glances into some trauma or other, momentary lapses of sanity, their narratives often oblique in nature. Like maybe I’m not meant to understand them fully, because they weren’t written for me… which is okay, because the longer stories definitely were. All of the stories in this collection are gorgeously written, though, so I still found enjoyment in the shorter ones, despite not feeling as connected to them emotionally. Schanoes shines stylistically – an Associate Professor of English, she certainly knows what she’s doing from choice of words to formatting, and it shows. In “Phosphorous”, one of the longer stories, we get kind of a horror take on historical events – we follow poor, young matchstick girls suffering from phosphorous necrosis who attempt to unionize for better working conditions and a living wage. The vibe is, of course, very socialist, and Marx is quoted. It’s a harrowing tale of poor people slavery and the human cost of industrialization and capitalism. There are actual horror elements in here, but they take a backseat to the horror that is laissez-faire capitalism. Ten out of ten, comrade. The theme of the plight of the working class is of course also present in “Emma Goldman Takes Tea with the Baba Yaga”, in which we see the legendary political activist Goldman, disillusioned and burdened by years of struggles and betrayed by her own revolution, sit down with the equally legendary witch of the woods. Half of it reads as a history lecture, the other as a fairy tale, and both are equally interesting. I loved the concept, and I loved learning more about Goldman from a different point of view, through a magical lens. Also, since it’s rare that “older” women (middle-aged and up) get to be the main characters in stories, this story gets brownie points for featuring an “older” Emma. And, of course, while on the theme of worker's rights... “Burning Girls”, which won the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Short Story in 2013, closes out the collection in style. Here, too, the story is thick with Jewish folklore and mysticism, explores Jewish persecution, pogroms and immigration, and I was completely transported by it. Its complex and cursed characters became very tangible for me, and at the end of the story, I wanted to reach through the pages and hold these women’s hands through everything befell them, much the same as I felt with the main characters of “Phosphorous” and “Among the Thorns”. Now, I have to give special recognition to the stories that broke me the most: “Rats” and “The Revenant”. “Rats” is a brilliant retelling of the doomed life of, and romance between, Nancy Spungen and Sid Vicious. That’s not all it is, though. It’s also a meticulous and harsh examination of how we as a society tend to romanticize destructive relationships, mental illness, self-harm and substance abuse, to the point where we, over 40 years later, wear the faces of those who died too young on our t-shirts. Sid and Nancy were just children of parents who lost them way too soon, but in death, they have become icons, their fate portrayed as somehow darkly romantic by profit-driven companies who commodify their tragic deaths. Neither of them got the help they needed in life, and the saddest part is of course that thousands upon thousands of Sids and Nancys are out there right now, suffering, hurting themselves or others and receiving no help. Of course, their eventual tragic ends won’t be commodified, but they won’t be any less tragic for happening outside of the public eye. So, finally, “The Revenant”. I don’t know where to begin with this story. It tore me in half, but it stitched me together again at the end, because this is a revenge story that left me feeling somewhat personally vindicated. It is, tragically, a tale as old as time: a young girl, naive to the ways of the world, is taken advantage of by an older man. The young girl is cast aside, broken, having lost her innocence, having to live with her trauma for the rest of her life. The older man moves on basically the second he walks away from her, going home to his family, because in the end, she was nothing but warm meat to a predator like him. We know this story. Perhaps we’ve lived it. But here is where the magical element shakes things up. The broken girl, now a damaged but outwardly functioning grown woman, resurrects a revenant – the ghost of the girl she was, the girl who died a long time ago in the older man’s embrace – and this revenant emerges with a terrifying and bloody purpose... Listen. Do you have any idea how many times I’ve fantasized about what I would do to my own predators, my aggressors, my rapists? Maybe you do, if you’ve ever lived through an assault. Then you will truly understand how gratifying it is to read someone else’s revenge fantasy, seeing it play out, basking in the glory of it all. And this dreamed up, horrible violence, blood for blood, might not heal the trauma. Maybe nothing ever will. But there is something in me, too, an ugly and twisted but justified shadow self which cannot help but rejoice at revenge as sweet as this… leaving them violated, broken and traumatized in return. And this story touched that part of me, deeply. This collection stands out to me, because while I’ve read similarly feminist tales, none of them have had the strong focus on Jewish history and folklore that I found here. That sets it apart for me, and having read it, I’m more excited than ever to learn more about my heritage and my roots. That’s a huge plus. And I’m equally as excited to read whatever Schanoes writes next. Huge thanks to the publisher, Macmillan-Tor/Forge, for letting me read this in exchange for an honest review!

  6. 5 out of 5

    ʚϊɞ Shelley's ʚϊɞ Book Nook

    This rating is based on my personal enjoyment of the stories and not the authors ability to write. The subject matter just wan't my thing and neither is speculative fiction. To be honest I clicked-on "Request" by mistake but thought I'd give it a go because I loved the cover. I know everyone really loved these stories - I must have missed it. I'm a huge reader, this just was not that interesting to me. Please note Veronica Schanoes is a wonderful writer I am just the wrong reader f This rating is based on my personal enjoyment of the stories and not the authors ability to write. The subject matter just wan't my thing and neither is speculative fiction. To be honest I clicked-on "Request" by mistake but thought I'd give it a go because I loved the cover. I know everyone really loved these stories - I must have missed it. I'm a huge reader, this just was not that interesting to me. Please note Veronica Schanoes is a wonderful writer I am just the wrong reader for this collection Disclosure: Thank you NetGalley, Veronica Schanoes and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an impartial review; all opinions are my own. #NetGalley

  7. 4 out of 5

    Beth Cato

    I received an advanced copy of this book through NetGalley. Veronica Schanoes's new collection from Tor includes an incredible breadth of work across a span of time and fantasy. The voices that she evokes are mesmerizing, intense, and memorable. I had read two of the included works before: "Phosphorous" and "Burning Girls," both being historical fantasy with resilient female immigrants and an exploration of socialism and corporate injustice. Those two stories alone are well worth the price of thi I received an advanced copy of this book through NetGalley. Veronica Schanoes's new collection from Tor includes an incredible breadth of work across a span of time and fantasy. The voices that she evokes are mesmerizing, intense, and memorable. I had read two of the included works before: "Phosphorous" and "Burning Girls," both being historical fantasy with resilient female immigrants and an exploration of socialism and corporate injustice. Those two stories alone are well worth the price of this book. Every story in the collection is taut and well-written, but the historical fiction works are the ones I really enjoyed. "Among the Thorns" is just plain devastating. "Emma Goldman Takes Tea with the Baba Yaga" is an intriguing twist on the Baba Yaga mythology. "Phosphorous" and "Burning Girls" I'll mention again, because wow. They epitomize what I feel historical fantasy should be: deep and educational, and enjoyable, too. The other stories in the book were just a bit weird for my personal taste, but that's okay. I loved the book nevertheless because when Schanoes's stories resonated with me, they resonated hard. This book will be released in March 2021.

  8. 4 out of 5

    niri

    loved every single story in this

  9. 4 out of 5

    Cheri

    Intense and oh so good.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ana

    3 stars *may change TW: self-harm, death, antisemitism I'm a big fan of short stories-and by that I mean I like reading books under 200 pages so I can complete my reading goal quicker. This isn't technically that, but it is an anthology with multiple short stories telling of different characters going through different depressing scenarios. I don't think it needs to be said that, obviously, some shorts are better than others. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find an anthology that has a completely 3 stars *may change TW: self-harm, death, antisemitism I'm a big fan of short stories-and by that I mean I like reading books under 200 pages so I can complete my reading goal quicker. This isn't technically that, but it is an anthology with multiple short stories telling of different characters going through different depressing scenarios. I don't think it needs to be said that, obviously, some shorts are better than others. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find an anthology that has a completely perfect selection of tales. That being said, I did quite enjoy some of them as well. There was one (I'm not even going to try to name the stories because I was listening to the audiobook and I have no idea what their names are) told in the second point of view, and /man/ was that hard to listen to. It just reminded me of reading Wattpad y/n self-insert fanfiction. that's not exactly the author's fault, I just think all second POV stories are horrendous. There was another one where I can't even name a detail from it to tell it apart because I thought it was so dull. The writing in this book is lovely-captivatingly so. But sometimes it just speaks without really saying anything. On the other hand, the stories of the 101 nights and the burning girls (cue title sequence) were the most captivating to me. I think the author's writing style really came out in them in a way that didn't show in some of the other ones. This is a Jewish own-voices novel which, while having multiple themes throughout, always seems to be handling something dark. Antisemitism plays an important role in multiple stories and influences decisions even in the ones where it's not the main focus. Similarly, it also deals with death, self-harm, depression and mental illness, involuntary hospitalization, etc etc. I think these darker themes were handled with care and precision alongside the flow of the writing style and its poetic nature. It's not a nice story to read about by any means, but the horrificness of it truly shines along with the way its written. I think it was a lovely audiobook and anthology, although it did reach too far at some points where I think the prose was more of decoration than actual importance. Nice either way. Thanks to NetGalley for an advanced reader's copy.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Shaw

    This is an intriguing collection that plays with genre and skillfully blends folklore, myth, fantasy, and history into strange and fascinating configurations. There were some stories that hit me more than others, but the whole collection is memorable and powerful. I recommend this for fans of feminist fairy-tale re-tellings, historical fantasy, experimental fiction, and feminist fiction.

  12. 4 out of 5

    RoshReviews

    This interesting collection comprises retellings not just of popular fairy tales or folklore but also of lives of pop culture icons, with a dark and/or fantastical twist. The name of the original tale/person isn't always revealed at the start so you can only guess what it could be as the story progresses. The stories are all from speculative fiction or dark fantasy. In most anthologies, the stories fall in three categories. Most stories would be fantastic or average, with just a few being really This interesting collection comprises retellings not just of popular fairy tales or folklore but also of lives of pop culture icons, with a dark and/or fantastical twist. The name of the original tale/person isn't always revealed at the start so you can only guess what it could be as the story progresses. The stories are all from speculative fiction or dark fantasy. In most anthologies, the stories fall in three categories. Most stories would be fantastic or average, with just a few being really bad. In this anthology though, the second category is missing. So the stories either really hit the mark or they go completely off tangent, leaving us confused. Of the 13 stories, I really enjoyed Among the Thorns, Ballroom Blitz, Lily Glass, Rats, Swimming, The Revenant, and the title story. That makes it 7/13. Some of the remaining stories begin well but soon become too twisted for my liking. Maybe those who enjoy much darker or gory stories will enjoy that too. I think this indicates my shortcoming as a reader than a problem with the story itself as I don't enjoy excessive animal abuse or child abuse in my reading. The writing though is absolutely gripping. Veronica Schanoes seems to have a firm grip on the language and she knows how to keep the momentum going. No story seems slow-paced. The narrator, Cassandra Campbell, does justice to the audiobook. Her enunciation is wonderful, and her voice clear. Thank you, NetGalley and Tantor Audio, for the Advanced Audio Review Copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. *********************** Join me on the Facebook group, Readers Forever! , for more reviews, book-related discussions and fun. Follow me on Instagram: RoshReviews

  13. 4 out of 5

    Francisca Pinto

    I recieved this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Although I have liked several of these stories at the time, I think I will not remember them all. But I do have to say that the first and last were my favorites and I will remember them fondly. We can see how the Jewish people have suffered just because they are Jews, I liked the fact that this is not written with hatred, it has been written intelligently so that we can sympathize with the characters and love them for being like I recieved this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Although I have liked several of these stories at the time, I think I will not remember them all. But I do have to say that the first and last were my favorites and I will remember them fondly. We can see how the Jewish people have suffered just because they are Jews, I liked the fact that this is not written with hatred, it has been written intelligently so that we can sympathize with the characters and love them for being like are. The issue of discrimination is very big and here it shows us how unjustified hatred can lead to misfortune. We all have good and bad things, nobody is perfect.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    There is no narrative causality, there is no foreshadowing, no narrative tone or subtly tuned metaphor to warn us about what is coming. And when someone dies it is not tragic, not inevitably brought on as a fitting end, not a fabulous disaster. It is stupid. And it hurts. I ate these stories right up. Weirdly, the only one I didn’t love was the title story. Anyway, this was a very inventive collection full of vivid imagery and interesting metaphors and use of language. The stories are fictional a There is no narrative causality, there is no foreshadowing, no narrative tone or subtly tuned metaphor to warn us about what is coming. And when someone dies it is not tragic, not inevitably brought on as a fitting end, not a fabulous disaster. It is stupid. And it hurts. I ate these stories right up. Weirdly, the only one I didn’t love was the title story. Anyway, this was a very inventive collection full of vivid imagery and interesting metaphors and use of language. The stories are fictional and pull from history, religion (Judaism most) and play with fantasy/magical realism. I haven’t read anything like this, I’d recommend it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Zaba Cita Novine

    I'll be honest, I didn't understand all of the stories, but oh man, did I enjoy them. These short stories are MAD. They are dark and creepy and they made me say "what the actual fuck" out loud several times. I felt all kinds of emotions reading this book, and now I have to go and find more work by Veronica Schanoes. I'll be honest, I didn't understand all of the stories, but oh man, did I enjoy them. These short stories are MAD. They are dark and creepy and they made me say "what the actual fuck" out loud several times. I felt all kinds of emotions reading this book, and now I have to go and find more work by Veronica Schanoes.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    Scheduled to publish on my blog at release: Nonstop Reader. Burning Girls and Other Stories is a collection of short fiction, vignettes, and thought experiments by Veronica Schanoes. Due out 2nd March 2021 from Macmillan on their Tor / Forge imprint, it's 336 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats la Scheduled to publish on my blog at release: Nonstop Reader. Burning Girls and Other Stories is a collection of short fiction, vignettes, and thought experiments by Veronica Schanoes. Due out 2nd March 2021 from Macmillan on their Tor / Forge imprint, it's 336 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately. One reason I prefer collections and anthologies is that short fiction is really challenging. It's spare and the author doesn't have a wealth of wordage to develop characters or the plotting. Well written short fiction is a delight. I also love collections because if one story doesn't really grab me, there's another story just a few pages away. The author has an interesting and unflinching voice in many of these stories. There's a strongly folkloric quality (in the old-world bloody and sometimes brutal way that folklore had before it was sanitized by the Brothers Grimm and Mother Goose). Some were very strange, or uncomfortable to read, and several were very very good. The standouts for me personally were the titular Burning Girls, Phosphorous, and Rats (an homage to two departed cultural icons - no spoilers). This is a very well written but uncomfortable read. There's very little smiley cuddly happiness here. Four strong stars. Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Phoebe E

    Wow. What a collection of stories! I absolutely loved this book. The narrative voices within each story were brilliant & the stories themselves all blended fantasy & reality, past & present, in such brilliant ways. I found every piece to be engaging and strange and intriguing all at once. Veronica Schanoes has managed to wrap pain, loss, power and femininity all together into a set of stories that left me absolutely moved by what I'd read. The way she also wove Jewish identity and pain into so m Wow. What a collection of stories! I absolutely loved this book. The narrative voices within each story were brilliant & the stories themselves all blended fantasy & reality, past & present, in such brilliant ways. I found every piece to be engaging and strange and intriguing all at once. Veronica Schanoes has managed to wrap pain, loss, power and femininity all together into a set of stories that left me absolutely moved by what I'd read. The way she also wove Jewish identity and pain into so many of these stories was so beautiful and so incredibly important to me. It's hard to choose a favorite out of all of the stories, but one that especially resonated me has to be "Among the Thorns". It was heartbreaking but the thread of revenge it carried was incredible and powerful and I want so many more stories like it. This is definitely a powerful book of stories and an ode to imagination and storytelling in itself and I highly recommend. *Thank you so much to NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for an eARC of this book in exchange for my review!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Nowark

    Among the Thorns - 5 stars "A man will confess to anything when he is being tortured." Ittele's father has gone into an unfriendly city for trade, and was forced to dance in thorns by the townspeople. Years later, she accepts help from a Matronit, or Hebrew goddess, in order to take out her revenge against Herr Geiger and the entire city. I love a good revenge story, and I absolutely loved this one. How to Bring Someone Back from the Dead - 4 stars This is one of the more speculative stories in the Among the Thorns - 5 stars "A man will confess to anything when he is being tortured." Ittele's father has gone into an unfriendly city for trade, and was forced to dance in thorns by the townspeople. Years later, she accepts help from a Matronit, or Hebrew goddess, in order to take out her revenge against Herr Geiger and the entire city. I love a good revenge story, and I absolutely loved this one. How to Bring Someone Back from the Dead - 4 stars This is one of the more speculative stories in the collection, with a mixture of fairy tales used to bring someone back from the dead. I remember enjoying it, but I don't remember much about it. It was one of the shorter stories in the collection. Alice: A Fantasia - 3 stars "Something had been lost in the translation from girl to woman, but then, something always is." Ina is a sullen girl, the older sister of Alice, who is more peppy. Alice cannot see her own reflection in reflective surfaces. Only those around her know what she truly looks like. This is another one I had a hard time with, but I may revisit it at one point. Phosphorous - 5 stars Lucy is a matchgirl for the Bryant and May match company. She makes Lucifer matches, and soon develops Phossy Jaw--a disorder that causes her jaw to rot out of her face, caused by horrible conditions in the factory. Her grandmother, a witch, helps Lucy help her fellow workers in the factory. This one is probably my third favorite story in the collection. It's based on a true story, as most of these stories are, and doesn't allow the history of the matchgirls to die. Ballroom Blitz - 5 stars Ballroom Blitz and the last story, Burning Girls, are probably tied for my favorite story in the collection. A family of 12 boys is stuck forever in a bar, reliving the last night they spent there, forced by Cynthia the bartender. In order for the boys to leave the bar, they must dance for 101 nights with 12 sisters, consecutively. Isabel and her sisters begin dancing with Jake and his brothers. It's a very sad story, and unfortunately one I can relate to pretty closely. A lot of tears were shed with this one. Serpents - 4 stars Charlotte is following the Land of Pins when she discovers a rabbit, which leads her to the subway station. This is a mix of a couple different fairy tales as well, and it was a confusing story, but generally a very enjoyable one. Emma Goldman Takes Tea with the Baba Yaga - 4 stars "This is the nature of time--it dilates during suffering and also during joy, rushes through our fingers into the sea when we seek to hold it tight; when we are depressed, the hours open up indefinitely as we are condemned to endure yet another day of consciousness, and then, and then, we look up and realize that we have lost weeks, months, even years to the sticky-fingered destroyer of joy, never to be regained." Emma Goldman is an anarchist who really existed. She eventually meets Baba Yaga, who wants Emma to take her place. Emma realizes she has to overcome her personal issues to help the people she's been trying to save all this time. Rats - 5 stars "You can't stay high all the time." A man and a woman are desperate to have a baby. They finally conceive Lily, but she is cursed to always be in pain. This causes her to develop a heroin dependency. This entire story had me in tears. "The effort it takes just to open her eyes in the morning (afternoon), just to get dressed is too much and if she could feel desire anymore, if she could want anything, all she would want would be to stop fighting, stop moving, to sink back and let herself blur and dissolve under warm blankets." Lost in the Supermarket - 3.5 stars A woman is faded into the supermarket after being separated by her friends. The Queen of Hearts is soon after her. This one just kind of went over my head, but I enjoyed the ending. Swimming - 3 stars A woman is engaged to Adam, the son of architects (?) who have built an extremely complicated house. She doesn't want to live there, and I believe neither does Adam, and she takes things into her own hands. Super confusing, and if there was a hidden message in there, I missed it. Lily Glass - 3.5 stars Leo meets Lily, who is actually named Rose. She soon falls in love with her stepdaughter in this slightly Snow White retelling. The Revenant - 4 stars "Trauma is suffering that will not stay in its temporal position." Unfortunately, I didn't take notes for this story, but I remember enjoying it. Burning Girls - 5 stars Schanoes really saved the best for last. Deborah was born knowing exactly what her position in life is. She apprentices under her grandmother, a witch. She helps babies be born, she helps women who don't want their babies to be born. Unfortunately, her grandmother has secrets. Soon, her grandmother is killed during a raid of her city. After plenty of trauma, Deborah and her sister soon have to move to America to join the land of the free and plenty. Their grandmothers secrets soon come to haunt them, even in America. This is another story based on a real story, and I absolutely loved every minute of it. It's one of the longer stories, and I was able to immerse myself into it, and I was completely attached to every single character in the story. Overall, Burning Girls and Other Stories is a sold 4 star short story collection. There's Jewish mythology, feminist idealism, witchcraft, mental illness, and even though based in fairy tales, a lot of the stories were very realistic as well. I definitely recommend this collection to anyone who loves fairy tales. Thank you to Tordotcom as well as Net Galley for this advanced review copy! TW: mental illness, drug/alcohol use, abortion, suicide, xenophobia/antisemitism

  19. 5 out of 5

    Allen Adams

    The world of fiction will always have room for fairy tales. The genre fluidity that comes with literary fiction leaves plenty of space for writers to explore the vast expanse of fantasy and morality that springs from the classic fairy tale. And so when we see modern authors adapting the ethos and entities of those long-told tales, it can be engaging in ways both intellectual and visceral. That’s the energy that Veronica Schanoes brings to her new book “Burning Girls and Other Stories.” It’s a coll The world of fiction will always have room for fairy tales. The genre fluidity that comes with literary fiction leaves plenty of space for writers to explore the vast expanse of fantasy and morality that springs from the classic fairy tale. And so when we see modern authors adapting the ethos and entities of those long-told tales, it can be engaging in ways both intellectual and visceral. That’s the energy that Veronica Schanoes brings to her new book “Burning Girls and Other Stories.” It’s a collection of 13 stories, a baker’s dozen of fairy tale-inspired works driven by the dual powers of the fantastic and the feminist. It incorporates tropes of the fairy tale realm into stories of women fighting back against a society that devalues and others them; there are elements of punk rock and Judaism and revolutionary leftist political thought as well. These disparate elements could have resulted in stories that were uneven and muddled, stitched-together Frankenstein’s monsters of overstuffed pastiche. Instead, Schanoes wields her razor-sharp craft like a scalpel, carving every one of these pieces into something distinct and idiosyncratic and undeniably powerful. Intellectually challenging and emotionally intense, it’s a collection packed tight with highlights. From “Among the Thorns,” the bleak and vivid revenge story that leads off the collection, to the combination immigrant fable/industrial horror of the titular tale that closes things out, “Burning Girls and Other Stories” is filled with memorable, haunting stories. The former is set in centuries-past Europe, the latter in the early 20th century, moving from Poland to New York City. Both are filled with deeds of dark magic. Other personal high points include “Ballroom Blitz,” a story of a group of brothers cursed to spend their lives trapped in the dingy confines of a dive bar, causing chaos at night and cleaning up the aftermath in the day. “Lost in the Supermarket” and “Alice: A Fantasia” offer very different riffs on aspects of the classic “Alice in Wonderland.” “Lily Glass” is a story of tragic love set against a backdrop of old Hollywood. And lest we forget, the self-explanatory “Emma Goldman Takes Tea with the Baba Yaga.” On and on they go, each story a wonderfully self-contained work of controlled chaos and shadow magic. Folktales of long-ago magic and creatures from beyond the veil. Stories of returning the dead to the world of the living. These are tales in which evil is present, but while some of these stories hinge on that evil, others are driven by an understanding that the universe is neither caring nor uncaring, but simply indifferent to us, sufferings and celebrations alike. And again – while the magic of fairy tales carries through, we also get a variety of other influences. The revolutionary ideals of the mid-20th century are prevalent, with figures both real and fictional from that sphere appearing periodically. The protagonists of these stories – almost all women – are also guided by a desire to throw off the yokes of oppression, whether it is by exacting revenge on those who wronged them or moving to a new land of opportunity or simply submerging themselves in an edgy punk rock subculture. There’s a lot to dig about this book, but one of the most immediately striking things one notices upon finishing is the fact that the stories are somehow wide-ranging AND clearly related. They each operate under their own individual parameters while also sharing DNA. Like any family, there are outliers that nevertheless share similarities. “Burning Girls and Other Stories” also has that quality that marks the best short fiction collections – a compulsive readability. Each story is so provocative and so satisfyingly concluded that the reader almost can’t help turning the page and diving into the next. All of this brings us to this fundamental truth: Veronica Schanoes is one HELL of a good writer. To be able to bring together such wide-ranging influences and ideas into stories that are not just coherent, but downright compelling … wow. She’s got an ear for sharp dialogue and an ability to seamlessly and effectively blend historical fact with folkloric detail – all of it in service to stories that have elements of the familiar incorporated into a beautiful originality. Some real writerly gifts on display throughout. “Burning Girls and Other Stories” is a book that I wasn’t expecting, a surprise that became more and more exciting with every turned page. One of the truest joys of my job is discovery – reading and reviewing authors whose work I know and love is great, of course, but there’s nothing like realizing that this new book from an unfamiliar author that you chose is not just good, but more than good. “Burning Girls and Other Stories” is more than good. In fact, it is straight fire.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Dasha Slepenkina

    A big thank-you to NetGalley, the author, and publisher for giving me a copy of this book for an unbiased review. 2/5 - It was okay. The problem with this book is that there are stories which I would absolutely rate at a five and others which I absolutely did not like. The collection is book ended by two brilliant stories - "Among the Thorns" and the title story "Burning Girls" which both deal with well-known fairy tales from a powerful, raw perspective centered around the pain and strength of a A big thank-you to NetGalley, the author, and publisher for giving me a copy of this book for an unbiased review. 2/5 - It was okay. The problem with this book is that there are stories which I would absolutely rate at a five and others which I absolutely did not like. The collection is book ended by two brilliant stories - "Among the Thorns" and the title story "Burning Girls" which both deal with well-known fairy tales from a powerful, raw perspective centered around the pain and strength of a Jewish identity. These stories, along with “Phosphorus” and "The Revenant," felt like the strongest of the collection - if I had only read these four, I'd have thoroughly enjoyed the book and its creative, fresh, powerful take on traditional fairy tales. However, many of the stories in the book were neither enjoyable to me nor accessible - and I read fairy tales and folklore constantly. There is an absurdist slant to stories like "Alice: A Fantasia" and “Lost in the Supermarket" which I found fatiguing. There may have been a point but it was thoroughly masked by indirect allusions and I struggled to even see a connection to folklore in "Lost in the Supermarket." I found many of the other stories to be rather drawn out - they did not pack the same powerful delivery as the first and last stories. What I did appreciate is that Schanoes's writing was always vulnerable, always clearly laced with a message important to the author. But I found myself growing impatient with how much work it was taking to puzzle out what it was. Perhaps the story which disappointed me most was “Emma Goldman Takes Tea with the Baba Yaga.” I am Russian. I grew up with stories of Baba Yaga. I could not wait to see how this story would shape out. But Baba Yaga was absent from half the story and I felt that so much more could have been done with this rich character - one who is based on ancient goddesses, who is either the most powerful evil witch in all of Russian lore or the most useful guide. This story felt like it was scraping at that surface, but never going deep enough. And it didn't help that the narrator (I was listening to the audiobook) kept pronouncing "Baba Yaga" incorrectly. It's YaGA, not YAga. I understand why so many love this book - several of the stories are some of the best I've ever read and the concepts behind many of them are brilliant. There is careful attention to folklore tropes and details, explored through unique lenses of the author's identity and personal history. The narrator, aside from the Baba Yaga misadventure, is brilliant. But in the end I lost patience with it and I simply did not enjoy reading much of it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Miriasha

    Burning Girls and Other Stories by Veronica Schanoes Thank you to NetGalley and Tantor Audio for the audiobook Advanced Reader’s Copy, which I received for free in exchange for an honest review. The forward, by Jane Yolen, sold me completely on this book. Now that I’ve read the book, I agree wholeheartedly, and am blown away by the haunting beauty of so many of these stories. Our protagonists, in true fairytale fashion (but perhaps better than I’ve ever seen it) are pushed by circumstance and histo Burning Girls and Other Stories by Veronica Schanoes Thank you to NetGalley and Tantor Audio for the audiobook Advanced Reader’s Copy, which I received for free in exchange for an honest review. The forward, by Jane Yolen, sold me completely on this book. Now that I’ve read the book, I agree wholeheartedly, and am blown away by the haunting beauty of so many of these stories. Our protagonists, in true fairytale fashion (but perhaps better than I’ve ever seen it) are pushed by circumstance and historical context and prejudice and sometimes cruelty, into situations where they seem to have no choices left. It’s then that the fantastical elements of the stories come in. Through magic - sometimes ugly and grotesque magic and always with a cost – our characters retain their agency and fight back, even though they rarely win a happy ending. Indeed, these stories don’t center around the concept of happy endings, or endings, or happiness. When revenge is sought and even found, it does not end in total absolution and a clean-cut ending. At the beginning of “Rats,” Schanoes notes that all stories lie in order to wrap up cleanly, in order to have a beginning middle and end, and she plays with this truth as she writes. These stories are truer to life than a story fairly ending with, “the end,” and settle in a messier land of quiet, too-young deaths after final victories, the hope of resettling in a new place to start again after loss, the idea that even knowing the worse is coming, there will still be good on its way, and so there may be enough hope left to keep trying. Some of these stories will stay with me for a long time, with particular quotes still ringing in my head. Some I didn’t quite understand, or read through without particularly connecting to, but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the collection as a whole. I’ll write individually about each story (I have listened to the audiobook twice – first just to enjoy it, and then to guide my review, remember the names of the stories, and see if I understood anything differently the second time around.) My favorite story was “The Revenant.” (Trigger warning for grooming of and then sexual relationship/assault of a sixteen-year-old girl by a middle aged man) The quote, "Trauma is suffering that will not stay in its temporal position,” will stay with me, as well as the surrounding paragraphs and the rest of this reflective, painful story. The way this talks about messy trauma, and is written directly addressing abusive men, knowing they won’t listen or change. It ends without true healing or vindication, and therefore stays real and relatable, even if it is human nature to yearn for the fantasy of that one perfect act of revenge or truth or justice achieved, the book closed. This story sits with you in the midst of the pain from a place lighter than it is dark, more than it leads you through to a final promised land. My second favorite was, “Emma Goldman Takes Tea with the Baba Yaga,” which held so much, as Yolen stated in her introduction - a biography and an autobiography and a fairytale and a history and a political manifesto all wrapped into one fable. A favorite quote was, “The means do become the ends, because there is no end. There are just ongoing moments.” “Among the Thorns,” the first story, was the exact kind of Jewish fairytale I was hoping to find in another book I read recently. I would love a second collection of stories with more of this fashion: Jewish fairytale retellings set in historical times, with antisemitism as one of the evils lurking in the woods, the divine feminine as a morally gray figure bringing the morality and powerful absence of the more traditional masculine God into question. I appreciated the queer background character in this very first story, which let me know I was welcome within these pages. “Phosphorus” is a horror story where the fantastical, magical element is a small balm of relief set across the horror of the true historical context of capitalism, greed and cruelty and disregard of human life. The title story, “Burning Girls,” reminds me of Beyond the Pale by Elana Dykewomon (and like it, has a queer main character). It felt both familiar and new with the ill-met grasp at agency that the Lilith demon represents for this family. This brought a new lens to stories I’ve read about so many times before – pogroms, emigration to America, and the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Indeed, I think a quintessential experience of book-loving-Jewish-girls is reading narrative after narrative that touches on that one fateful night at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory – however tragic it was, it feels like as much a part of my childhood as the stories of Cinderella and Snow White. Speaking of Snow White, “Lily Glass” was a beautiful if tragic and toxic retelling of Snow White, where the young stepmother who has smothered her childhood of poverty and illness and changed her Jewish name to one more fitting for her tenuous new life as a Hollywood star, falls more for her troubled adult stepdaughter than her powerful co-star and new husband, unravelling the false self she has created and become. The other stories all had an interesting ambience and writing style but for one reason or another didn’t make my favorites list. “Ballroom Blitz” was interesting and well-written but didn’t speak to me as much personally. It did remind me a bit of Julie and the Phantoms and Caleb’s club, which I was not expecting to be thinking about while reading this collection. “Serpents” was so fascinating but also made almost no sense to me, which might have been the intention. Or maybe it’s about adolescence and growing into a woman, a serpent? I could not tell you. I felt like I was an inch away from fully grasping “Lost in the Supermarket” and “Swimming,” which both transform the real horror of gentrification and late capitalism into exaggerated tales of living buildings our protagonists are, or are afraid of becoming, trapped in. I didn’t realize who “Rats” was about until I read other reviews, and it makes more sense to me now (and I loved its intro about fairytales repeating themselves). I did not quite understand “How To Bring Someone Back from the Dead”, or “Alice: A Fantasia,” especially the second half of the latter. The audiobook was great. Most of the time, it felt like the exact right way to be reading the stories, and I was truly in the stories rather than noticing that someone was reading it to me. I do think this is the kind of book I’d like to have both a text and audio version of, as some stories, most especially “The Revenant,” I’d probably prefer to read as text, at least have the option to do so. I did speed up the audiobook to listen, but that is normal for me. I am more of a library user (and Kindle deals hunter) than a book purchaser in general, but I’m definitely buying a copy of this as I know I will want to reread many of these stories over and over.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Allie Marini

    * I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review * This collection of short stories hit all the right notes for me. It was an interesting mix of writing style and thematic elements; I was able to see threads of Aimee Bender, Neil Gaiman, Jane Yolen, Shirley Jackson, Elizabeth Hand. There's also more than a dash of Carmen Maria Machado, and some of the stories felt a lot like Daisy Johnson's collection Fen, It's a weird, wonderful collection of queer, Jewish feminist speculative fi * I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review * This collection of short stories hit all the right notes for me. It was an interesting mix of writing style and thematic elements; I was able to see threads of Aimee Bender, Neil Gaiman, Jane Yolen, Shirley Jackson, Elizabeth Hand. There's also more than a dash of Carmen Maria Machado, and some of the stories felt a lot like Daisy Johnson's collection Fen, It's a weird, wonderful collection of queer, Jewish feminist speculative fiction short stories, many of which have elements of fairy tale in them, as well as Jewish folklore. It's all interwoven into stories that are confounding, beautiful, luxuriously layered, and I like that all the female protagonists have a sharp edge to them. If you read nothing else in this collection, do NOT skip over "Among the Thorns", which is the flip side of the Grimm's Fairy Tale "The Jew Among the Thorns", and it is exactly the counterbalance that the folk tale requires for the modern world. Trust me, if you read nothing else from this collection, read Among the Thorns. I am a fan of short stories that make you work for meaning, and that make you come out of your safety zone as a reader to assign your own meaning to the work -- kind of like if David Lynch were writing a book -- and this collection delivers on that promise. Some of the stories make you knock on the door three times before they grant you entry, and when you finally come to your own truth in the story, you've earned it. I loved every story in this collection a lot, but my favorite was probably Phosphorus, because as a kid I was haunted by the story of The Little Match Girl, and this story really zeroed in on the real story, which is living in a capitalist's world where we allow children to starve, freeze, and be poisoned by unsafe labor in pursuit of the almighty dollar. Overall, this will be a collection I will recommend and send to friends and teachers who I think would love these stories. Can't wait to see what this author does next.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Charlott

    „Truth can be told in any number of ways. It’s all a matter of emphasis. Of voice. I have not lied about anything yet.” In her speculative short stories, Veronica Schanoes touches upon truth and lies and everything in between. She deftly shows the power of giving historical events or other societal observations a magical twist or callbacks to fairytales and so honing in on an emotional truth. In “Among the Thorns”, Schanoes takes one of the incredible antisemitic fairytales of the Brothers Grimm „Truth can be told in any number of ways. It’s all a matter of emphasis. Of voice. I have not lied about anything yet.” In her speculative short stories, Veronica Schanoes touches upon truth and lies and everything in between. She deftly shows the power of giving historical events or other societal observations a magical twist or callbacks to fairytales and so honing in on an emotional truth. In “Among the Thorns”, Schanoes takes one of the incredible antisemitic fairytales of the Brothers Grimm (one of those you don’t find in the collection for children) and tells it from the perspective of the family of the Jewish man who is killed in the original. It’s an incredible counternarrative and a story which asks how revenge could look like. In “Emma Goldman Takes Tea with the Baba Yaga”, the narrator recounts Emma Goldman’s life mostly based on historical facts – interrogating the ways in which narration works – and then Goldman meets the Baba Yaga and questions arise on how to keep on fighting for a more just society. Just a few weeks ago I had read more about the Matchgirls’ strike in 1888 – a strike which is of utter importance to understand the history of labour right fights and unions in England. In “Phosporus” Schanoes looks at this strike and puts its in the limelight with an unforgettable, magical, and sad story. The collection unites these more historically bent stories with those with a more timeless or “modern” setting. But no matter their setting or what of story is alluded to, these stories speak to our current times and while utterly entertaining also offer a lot of food for thought. I didn’t love all stories equally but there are also some stories I would like to reread as they are so layered.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey

    Are you a feminist? Are your a queer feminist? Are you a queer Jewish feminist? If you answered yes to any of those, then this book is for you! While not every short story in this collection was a 5 star read for me, there were several that were, and they were done incredibly well. Immigrant narratives, feminist and labor rights, Judaism, magic, queerness, folklore... all of these things are in this book, and they are incredible. My favorite stories were "Among the Thorns," "Phosphorus [very simi Are you a feminist? Are your a queer feminist? Are you a queer Jewish feminist? If you answered yes to any of those, then this book is for you! While not every short story in this collection was a 5 star read for me, there were several that were, and they were done incredibly well. Immigrant narratives, feminist and labor rights, Judaism, magic, queerness, folklore... all of these things are in this book, and they are incredible. My favorite stories were "Among the Thorns," "Phosphorus [very similar to Radium Girls if you've seen that movie or read that book, but more feminist and more sad]," "Emma Goldman Takes Tea with the Baba Yaga," "The Revenant," and "Burning Girls." There is sadness and loss and trauma in these stories, but there is humanity and hope in a way that I always hope to find in my historical Jewish narratives. Things somehow still seem hopeful despite the pain, and there is optimism and a chance at redemption. The women here are angry and powerful and confused and human. They are my kind of literary characters. Two quotes that made me stop in my tracks: "This is the nature of time- it dilates during suffering and also during joy, rushes through our fingers into the sea when we seek to hold it tight; when we are depressed, the hours open up indefinitely as we are condemned to endure yet another day of consciousness, and then, and then, we look up and realize that we have lost weeks, months, even years to the sticky-fingered destroyer of joy, never to be regained." "Where do those who walk away from Omelas go? There's nowhere to go, nowhere moral, nowhere safe, nowhere that does not depend on the suffering of some child. That means you have to stay and fight, and make the revolution as kind as possible."

  25. 5 out of 5

    René

    Giving this 3 stars though quite a few of the stories in this collection deserve 5. My favorites are "Emma Goldman Takes Tea with the Baba Yaga," "Phosphorus," and "The Revenant." The title story is also very good, as are "Ballroom Blitz," "Among the Thorns," and "Rats." (Regarding "Rats," it is nice to see someone stick up for Nancy Spungen, the Jewish American girlfriend of Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols, who has been demonized much like Courtney Love, Yoko Ono, and so many other rock star wiv Giving this 3 stars though quite a few of the stories in this collection deserve 5. My favorites are "Emma Goldman Takes Tea with the Baba Yaga," "Phosphorus," and "The Revenant." The title story is also very good, as are "Ballroom Blitz," "Among the Thorns," and "Rats." (Regarding "Rats," it is nice to see someone stick up for Nancy Spungen, the Jewish American girlfriend of Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols, who has been demonized much like Courtney Love, Yoko Ono, and so many other rock star wives and girlfriends. One difference with Spungen though is that she's not alive to defend herself and didn't even survive the boyfriend and culture her demonizers think they're defending.) The rest of the stories didn't engage me as much or didn't seem fully baked. One even seemed to be derivative of a much better one ("Lost in the Supermarket," which was a much less bloody and compelling version of "Ballroom Blitz"). I read these out of order, starting with the Emma Goldman one, the title story, and "Among the Thorns" and "Phosphorus." Those all involved historical characters and events, so I was surprised how many of the others reflected not only a modern setting but a punk aesthetic. Overall the collection is an interesting mix of punk rock culture, Jewish radicalism, and working-class girl rebellions with fairy tale and speculative fiction elements. A couple Irish girls and guys get thrown into the mix. Schanoes is certainly a talented writer and I will definitely look out for her future work.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jes

    It's rare to find a writer who can transmute history and myth into entirely new creations, but Schanoes has a gift for alchemy. The bones of many stories collected in Burning Girls are pulled from fables and tales that many readers will find familiar, yet Schanoes constructs from them fantastic visions that will burn themselves into your memory. These are not pretty stories. These are not easy stories. But they are often important stories. Two of these tales in particular are incandescently good. It's rare to find a writer who can transmute history and myth into entirely new creations, but Schanoes has a gift for alchemy. The bones of many stories collected in Burning Girls are pulled from fables and tales that many readers will find familiar, yet Schanoes constructs from them fantastic visions that will burn themselves into your memory. These are not pretty stories. These are not easy stories. But they are often important stories. Two of these tales in particular are incandescently good. The opening Among the Thorns and the titular Burning Girls demand to be remembered and dwelled upon. While the remainder of the collection is uneven, every story contains at it's heart an interesting spark. Often drawing on real women or historical events, over the course of the collection Schanoes spans centuries of time to visit phantasmagoric visions upon us. From Emma Goldman sitting down to tea with Baba Yaga to a woman calling up a revenant for revenge in a gentrified SoHo, every story is surprising. It's rare that women get to bare their anger, their passions, their divine and ugly facets in the way the characters in these pages do. This collection is worth a read through. And personally, I can't wait to see what Schanoes writes next. A digital copy of this book was provided by Tor.com for review

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dan Trefethen

    An incisive and intelligent introduction by Jane Yolen is your clue that this collection of stories will be powerfully layered with modern themes applied through the frame of classic fairy tales. Schanoes is a scholar of those old tales, and her absorbing writing style brings out the poignancy of those narratives. Many of the stories involve Jewish characters and themes (as does Yolen's), and she reworks old, discarded tales such as the Grimms' “The Jew Among the Thorns” to devastating effect. In An incisive and intelligent introduction by Jane Yolen is your clue that this collection of stories will be powerfully layered with modern themes applied through the frame of classic fairy tales. Schanoes is a scholar of those old tales, and her absorbing writing style brings out the poignancy of those narratives. Many of the stories involve Jewish characters and themes (as does Yolen's), and she reworks old, discarded tales such as the Grimms' “The Jew Among the Thorns” to devastating effect. In other tales, a turn of phrase will alert the attentive reader to a reference that illuminates the story. Schanoes has a large inventory to work from, and she chooses carefully when and where to reveal her influences. She draws on Russian and Eastern European history and myth to examine the disillusionment with Soviet communism in “Emma Goldman Takes Tea with the Baba Yaga”. The title novella, 'Burning Girls', won the Shirley Jackson award and brilliantly conflates a well known fairy tale (I won't reveal which one) with the harsh life of young Jewish women, both in the old country and in New York City. There are many people reworking old myths and fairy tales today, but Schanoes' deep knowledge of them and her confident writing style make her stand out. Highly recommended.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jael

    A collection of stories heavy with Jewish folklore, feminism, and anti-capitalism. I have been looking forward to reading this since it was first announced, and it was even better than I could have hoped. Some of the stars for me: "Among the Thorns", a Jewish girl seeks revenge for the heartless killing of her father; "Phosphorus", a haunting tale involving the London matchgirls' strike of 1888; "Emma Goldman Takes Tea with the Baba Yaga", exactly what the title infers; and the pièce de résistanc A collection of stories heavy with Jewish folklore, feminism, and anti-capitalism. I have been looking forward to reading this since it was first announced, and it was even better than I could have hoped. Some of the stars for me: "Among the Thorns", a Jewish girl seeks revenge for the heartless killing of her father; "Phosphorus", a haunting tale involving the London matchgirls' strike of 1888; "Emma Goldman Takes Tea with the Baba Yaga", exactly what the title infers; and the pièce de résistance "Burning Girls", a Jewish girl tries to protect her family from both human and supernatural evil. A few of the stories were a bit too abstract and/or overly whimsical for my taste ("Alice: A Fantasia", "Lost in the Supermarket", "Swimming"), but these were few and far between. They weren't necessarily bad, just not something I enjoy. Maybe I just didn't "get" them. If you find yourself in the same boat, I encourage you not to put the book down; just skip to the next story. This is bound to be one of the best short story collections of 2021, and I highly recommend it. I look forward to reading more of Schanoes in the future.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Levyn

    I received an eARC from the publisher, via Netgalley. Rated 4/5. What an absolute delight this was to read. Emotionally difficult at times, which is why I had to take breaks between the stories, but wonderful nonetheless. I am a queer woman, and a feminist, and this obviously makes me biased when going into this collection of reimagined fairy tales, retellings of horrible real life events with a sprinkle of dark magical realism, stories of vengeance and justice for the women who have been wronged. I received an eARC from the publisher, via Netgalley. Rated 4/5. What an absolute delight this was to read. Emotionally difficult at times, which is why I had to take breaks between the stories, but wonderful nonetheless. I am a queer woman, and a feminist, and this obviously makes me biased when going into this collection of reimagined fairy tales, retellings of horrible real life events with a sprinkle of dark magical realism, stories of vengeance and justice for the women who have been wronged. The writing is both lyrical and uncomfortably graphic, in a way that is compelling; something I have seen other writers try to pull off with varying success. In a few of the stories, it got a bit overbearing, but on the whole it definitely gave another layer of just rage and hopelessness getting turned into hope, and back again. Yet I finish this collection with a feeling of resignation, something resting in the pit of my stomach, quietly resonating with the plights of the women portrayed in these stories. Definitely a read I would recommend you to pick up!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Emma Cathryne

    Burning Girls and Other Stories is like a silk-lined dagger, packed with stories as strange and captivating as they are brutal. It twists together familiar fairy tales with jewish folklore, feminism, and tales of belabored women both past and present. I struggled with rating this one, because while I thoroughly enjoyed the first and last stories ( Among the Thorns and Burning Girls I wasn't really captivated by the stories in between (excepting the darkly profound Phosphorous). Especially t Burning Girls and Other Stories is like a silk-lined dagger, packed with stories as strange and captivating as they are brutal. It twists together familiar fairy tales with jewish folklore, feminism, and tales of belabored women both past and present. I struggled with rating this one, because while I thoroughly enjoyed the first and last stories ( Among the Thorns and Burning Girls I wasn't really captivated by the stories in between (excepting the darkly profound Phosphorous). Especially the shorter stories felt confusing and often lacked direction, thought I have to admit that it might have been a result of the author embarking on some more experimental writings styles that strained the boundaries of my focus. This collection will appeal to lovers of dark fanstay and meaningful themes, but it was a bit too heavy and disorienting for my personal tastes.

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