Fifty Beasts to Break Your Heart: And Other Stories (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

I will likely be recommending all of Nethercott’s books; her blend of folklore, fantasy, and real life makes you question whether the monsters in these pages may exist in your own life. Her magical collection of short stories kept me curious (in the way one might be curious what that shadow is lurking on the other side of a foggy bog). Each monster is inspired by past lovers and partners, some more devious than others…but all with the capacity to eat break your heart.

— From Bailey


A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK • From the author of the breakout novel Thistlefoot: a collection of dark fairytales and fractured folklore exploring how our passions can save us—or go monstrously wrong.

“Real magic, real delight, doled out generously in the shape of wistful, ferocious, this-world-but-better stories.”—Kelly Link, author of White Cat, Black Dog

The stories in Fifty Beasts to Break Your Heart are about the abomination that resides within us all. That churning, clawing, ravenous yearning: the hunger to be held, and seen, and known. And the terror, 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 recognized as the monstrous thing you are.

Two teenage girls working at a sinister roadside attraction called the Eternal Staircase explore its secrets—and their own doomed summer love. A zombie rooster plays detective in a missing persons case. 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. A pack of middle schoolers turn to the occult to rid themselves of a hated new classmate. And a pair of 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, strange, beautifully written stories, GennaRose Nethercott explores human longing 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.

About the Author

GENNAROSE NETHERCOTT is the author of a novel, Thistlefoot, and a book-length poem, The Lumberjack’s Dove, which was selected by Louise Glück as a winner of the National Poetry Series. She tours nationally and internationally performing strange tales (sometimes with puppets in tow) and helps create the podcast Lore. She lives in the woodlands of Vermont, beside an old cemetery.

Praise For…


“Real magic, real delight, doled out generously in the shape of wistful, ferocious, this-world-but-better stories.”
—Kelly Link, author of White Cat, Black Dog

“Nethercott is writing with old world style, but creating her own new world order. . . . If you love the richly magical work of Kelly Link, the uncategorizable tales of Helen Oyeyemi, stories by Aimee Bender, Neil Gaiman, Karen Russell—you will likely find much to enjoy here. . . . Nethercott writes briskly but vividly, lingering over her creations but sometimes slipping by the horrors so quickly that they take a moment to register. (They always do catch up.) . . . There’s a playfulness to Nethercott’s style, and especially in her wide use of forms: a venomous letter, a slippery transcribed memoir, a transformative bestiary, a calendar, a dictionary. . . . [These] tales . . . are restless, playful, wise, heartbroken and rich.”
Molly Templeton, Reactor

“[Nethercott is] a multifaceted master storyteller.”
Elisa Shoenberger, Chicago Review of Books

“Fans of Karen Russell will love these bizarre, absurdist stories that feel like twisted versions of the fairytales that dance around the edges of nightmares, and might just worm their way into yours.”
Lizz Schumer, Good Housekeeping, “12 Most-Anticipated Books Coming Out in 2024”

“All of you who love that strain of witty, wistful, enigmatic stories that runs from Kafka to Kelly Link: come read this book. GennaRose Nethercott draws from a magic well, bringing us tales that feel as old as time yet marvelously new.”
—Sofia Samatar, author of Tender and Monster Portraits

"By blending humor, horror, and the fantastical with history and the here and now, GennaRose Nethercott’s Fifty Beasts to Break Your Heart induces feelings of love, loneliness, wonderment, fury, and fear. Pure fuel for the imagination, the magic on these pages offers comfort from stories that aren’t always comfortable but which are full of truths and so much beauty."
—Nick Medina, author of Sisters of the Lost Nation

"GennaRose Nethercott's imagination is boundless, her writing emerging from a rich personal folklore of which Fifty Beasts to Break Your Heart suggests only the edge. Everything in this book is alive and ready to love you or to wound you."
—Kevin Brockmeier, author of The Ghost Variations

“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. . . . [These themes] are all explored here with great sensitivity and almost always a surprising twist. . . . [Nethercott] has a great talent for taking personal pains and making them universal. A memorable story collection that makes the supernatural personal.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Nethercott’s . . . prose is transfixing and poetic. . . . Recommend this to readers who enjoy cerebral and unsettling fairy tales.”
—Biz Hyzy, Booklist

“Nethercott continues to build on the successes of her magical debut Thistlefoot with a collection of strange and fantastical tales that bring to mind Neil Gaiman and Kelly Link. Filled with folklore, Americana, and an infectious imagination, every single story is a knockout—but the gorgeously illustrated titular bestiary is a highlight.”
—Literary Hub, “Lit Hub’s Most Anticipated Books of 2024”

“Beautiful folkloric short stories. . . . The best part is that these mystical characters are a reflection of us—there’s a monstrous, ravenous spirit within us all.”
—Christian Burno, WBUR, “7 Highly Anticipated Books to Read This Winter”

“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. . . . Nethercott’s supremely confident prose assists—and indeed demands—the suspension of disbelief. . . . Fantastic.”
Publishers Weekly

Product Details
ISBN: 9780593314180
ISBN-10: 0593314182
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: February 6th, 2024
Pages: 272
Language: English