There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby: Scary Fairy Tales
By Ludmilla Petrushevskaya
Penguin Books, 2009. 206 pages. Fiction
This volume of otherworldly tales by an award-winning Russian author blends fantastical and macabre themes in a treasury that incorporates supernatural and darkly whimsical storylines.
I had high hopes for this short story collection. For one, I couldn’t resist its title. I also have an affinity for Eastern European literature. Sadly, the first few stories left me disappointed. Although the author is Russian and the stories take place in Russia, I felt like I'd heard many of them before. In fact, some read like a rehash of scary stories I heard at sleepovers as a child. I also felt no spark in the writing—which might have been a problem with the translation. The more I read, though, the more interesting the narratives became. I got into Petrushevskaya's rhythm and found the stories fascinating although traditional. I wouldn’t describe the book as scary, but it definitely leans towards the morbid.