The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

What if the Wind in the Willows was less of a warm-hearted tale about forest friends and more about a sinister plot to gaslight Mr. Toad? What if the Velveteen Rabbit was a cold-blooded sociopath intent on becoming Real, no matter the cost? The reimagined fairy tales in the Merry Spinster answer these questions and ones I didn't even know I had.

— From Sarah C.


"Empowering, subversive. . . . Daniel M. Lavery twists fairy tales into elegant garrotes. . . . There's not a single weak link in the cat's-breath chain of this collection." —The New York Times Book Review

Adapted from the beloved “Children’s Stories Made Horrific” series, The Merry Spinster takes up the trademark wit that endeared Daniel M. Lavery to readers of both The Toast and the bestselling debut Texts from Jane Eyre. Sinister and inviting, familiar and alien all at the same time, The Merry Spinster twists traditional children’s stories and fairy tales with elements of psychological horror, emotional clarity, and a keen sense of feminist mischief.

Unfalteringly faithful to its beloved source material, The Merry Spinster also illuminates the unsuspected and frequently alarming emotional complexities at play in the stories we tell ourselves, and each other, as we tuck ourselves in for the night.

About the Author

Daniel M. Lavery is the author of Something That May Shock and Discredit You and the current Dear Prudence at Slate.

Praise For…

The Rumpus: “What to Read When 2018 is Right Around the Corner”
NYLON: “50 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2018”
The Huffington Post: “60 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2018”
Esquire: “27 Best Books of 2018”
Bustle: “35 Most Anticipated Books of 2018”
ELLE: "21 Best Books of 2018
AV Club: "10 Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2018"
The Millions: "Most Anticipated: The Great 2018 Book Preview"
Cosmo: "Most Anticipated Books of 2018"
BuzzFeed: "The 33 Most Exciting New Books Of 2018"
BookRiot: "101 Books Coming Out in 2018..."
Bustle: "35 Most Anticipated Books of 2018"
Ms Magazine: "6 Feminist Reads for Winter"
Pajiba: "Most Anticipated Books of 2018"
Publishers Weekly: The Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2018
Named a Publishers Lunch Buzz Book 2018
Vulture's 6 Books You Should Read This March

"Starting this." —Lorde

"A wholly satisfying blend of silliness, feminist critique, and deft prose makes this a collection of bedtime stories that will keep you up at night for all the right reasons." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Lavery's sly, scathing renditions. . . strike directly at the heart. . . . The book brings the shock of the new and the shock of recognition into play at the same time; it’s a tour de force of skill, daring, and hard-earned bravura." Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Dark and dreadful and persistently clever. Lavery bloodily turns familiar tales inside out." Rainbow Rowell, No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of Carry On

"A collection of stories delectable, formidable, and nimble. As a fantasist and short story writer, Daniel M. Lavery is without peer." —Kelly Link, author of Get in Trouble

"Dear Reader: It would, truthfully, be simplest to call the stories in The Merry Spinster ‘retellings,’ but that word does not adequately capture their dark alchemy. Daniel M. Lavery has created a Frankenstein’s monster of familiar narratives . . . [that swings] between Terry Pratchett’s satirical jocularity and Angela Carter’s sinister, shrewd storytelling, and the result is gorgeous, unsettling, splenic, cruel, and wickedly smart. I’ve never read anything quite like them, and I bet, Dear Reader, that you haven’t either." Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties: Stories

"Daniel M. Lavery has a voracious appetite for poison apples, and a genius for finding the places in fairyland where all the bodies are buried. The Merry Spinster will ruin your most-loved fables, in the best possible way." Charlie Jane Anders, author of All the Birds in the Sky

"The secret to The Merry Spinster, I think, is that she never wanted to be your wicked stepmothershe was too busy. There are uncanny slivers of delight and recognition mixed here with the wit we all love Lavery for, but here that wit is wielded with new force. If fairy tales are ways to describe the rules we don't dare put down on paper, in his hands they become ways to challenge those, or even to write new rules. I don't know if these stories are for bedtimes, but they are for us." Alexander Chee, author of Edinburgh and The Queen of the Night

"Daniel M. Lavery has the sloe gin wit of Dorothy Parker and the soul of a Classics nerd. It’s like both of them sat next to each other in The Merry Spinster and gossiped away. The result is an absolute delight." —John Scalzi, New York Times bestselling author of Lock In and Redshirts

“Daniel M. Lavery is a treasure. His writing is often surreal and twisted, as when he imagines classic plots through a modern lens. . . . The Merry Spinster takes a darker turn for the wryly funny Lavery, as he retells fairy tales and folk legends.” The AV Club

“Fairy tales get a feminist spin in this short story collection. . . . This is . . . one with psychological horror and Lavery's signature snark. . . . Can’t wait to ruin our favorite fables!” The Millions

The Merry Spinster is just the ticket for those who want bedtime reading that comes with a bite of subversive fun.” Ms Magazine

“Sinister and inviting, familiar and alien all at the same time, The Merry Spinster updates traditional children’s stories and fairy tales with elements of psychological horror, emotional clarity, and a keen sense of feminist mischief.” The Rumpus

“Lavery's uniquely hilarious voice lends itself well to the dark and twisted milieu of fairy and folk tales and his reimagining of classics is predictably perverse, but also offers wonderful insight into the reasons why humans are so drawn to these stories of horror and loss.” NYLON

“The author of Texts from Jane Eyre returns with delightfully dark stories based on fairy tales.” BookRiot

“We could not be more excited.” The Huffington Post

“His imagination is as sharp as his wit. Lavery, co-founder of the beloved website The Toast, takes his column ‘Children’s Stories Made Horrific' to new heights in this collection of twisted tales that will shock and delight you.” Esquire

“I always want to dive into the mind of Daniel M. Lavery (co-creator of The Toast). Adapted from his 'Children's Stories Made Horrific’ series, this book provides some updates to well-known children's stories that change them into something else entirely.” —Bustle

“Feminist fairy tales? Just what the doctor ordered. Texts From Jane Eyre and Dear Prudence agony uncle Daniel M. Lavery conjures up the kinds of stories that will hopefully scary the bogeymen—with the emphasis on 'men'—away.” ELLE

“Mischievous, unsettling, and often feminist, the stories in The Merry Spinster are a delightful, ingenious spin on beloved classics.” Buzzfeed

"Beautifully turned out. Lavery heads straight for the big game . . . primordial, oppressive, and funny." —Boris Kachka, New York Magazine

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9781250113429
ISBN-10: 1250113423
Publisher: Holt Paperbacks
Publication Date: March 13th, 2018
Pages: 208
Language: English