Strange Folk You’ll Never Meet (Paperback)

Strange Folk You’ll Never Meet By A.A. Balaskovits Cover Image
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From A.A. Balaskovits, author of Magic for Unlucky Girls, this new collection of unusual, fabulist fiction leads you down strange paths for dark encounters with familiar fairy tales, odd people from history, and weirdos who may be living right next door. Among the characters in these bizarre stories, a starving beauty finds a beast who can save her village, a man eats everything in sight but is never full, a woman gives birth to bloody animal parts, and a daughter is forced to dance every night to the reenactment of her father's murder. These tales invite you to spend time with people who, in the maddest of circumstances, chew their way forward. With elements of psychological horror, sly humor, and the fantastic, these stories will burrow under your skin, haunt your dreams, and make you wonder what worlds lie just beyond that tiny hole in the wall.

About the Author

A.A. Balaskovits is the author of Magic for Unlucky Girls and Strange Folk You’ll Never Meet (SFWP). Her work has been published in Best Small Fictions, Indiana Review, The Missouri Review, Story and many others. Find her on Twitter @aabalaskovits and at

Praise For…

Praise for the author's last book, Magic for Unlucky Girls: "Magic for Unlucky Girls is that rarest of things: a book that doesn’t remind me of anything else I’ve read … A wonderful, truly original work." —Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven

“A new bride is faced with her husband’s mysterious locked door. Twin infants finally wake their mother from a century of sleep. One woman finds that her prince adores her perfect hair, but abhors any other flaws. These 14 stories spins new twists on familiar fairy-tale tropes with heroines who take control of their situations. The darkness that could destroy them is vanquished through brains, beauty, and the light of their own souls. VERDICT Winner of the 2015 Santa Fe Literary Awards Program, Balaskovits’s anthology breathes fresh life into classic fairy tales. Readers who enjoy short fiction with a fantastical bent should pick up this award-winning book.” —Library Journal


"The mundane and bizarre walk hand in hand—or sometimes run around, setting fire to everything in their path—in Balaskovits’s stories about girls and women thrust into strange circumstances. A mysterious unspeaking man with apparent superpowers becomes the hope of a city wracked by earthquakes in 'Put Back Together Again.' The alchemist of 'Suburban Alchemy' learns that being a master of the changeable art doesn’t mean he can cope with the changes in his tween daughter. A woman takes her ailing grandfather to Israel in search of an old family story that may be about her in 'The Ibex Girl of Qumran.' The evils of strict religion and abuse lead a group of desperate girls to try to escape through a sacrifice in 'Bloody Mary.' There isn’t a single tired trope here—in fact, there are few familiar elements at all—so readers looking for something askew from any fantasy they’ve read before will want to get to know the unlucky but determined girls of Balaskovits’s stories." —Publishers Weekly


“To say that the stories in Magic For Unlucky Girls are unsettling is an understatement. In these tales, A. A. Balaskovits has created characters and worlds we think we know, and then destroys our expectations-unflinchingly, with no gory or sordid detail spared, and often with alarming violence. Yet, despite kicking us out of our collective comfort zone, these stories go down like pleasant poison, with language that moves seamlessly between brutal starkness and hypnotic lyricism. Balaskovits takes the stories that form the core of us from childhood and reshapes them into something dark and unfamiliar. Magic For Unlucky Girls is a bold debut from a bold author, and make no mistake—these are stories that matter, and that will stick with you long after you’ve read them.” —William Jablonsky, author of The Indestructible Man: Stories and The Clockwork Man

“In this reimagining and reinventing of traditional, patriarchal fairy tales, Balaskovits creates a safe—and often startling—space for girls and women in her book of short stories. Each story varies in length, but a high level of intensity and emotional depth is maintained throughout. Some of the stories will sound familiar to most, borrowing and twisting the tragic fables we already know so well, but many turn the Brothers Grimm formula on its head by conceiving of a fantasy world where women and girls fill the key roles. Although theme, location, and time change from story to story, the book overall makes an intentional point to represent a diverse array of women and girls in assorted stages of life. Readers’ connections to Balaskovits’ characters will range anywhere from empathy to agony to loathing, but they will be able to relate to at least one story. This book is for every young girl and adult woman who have ever been told a story that intentionally left them out.” —Booklist

"Exquisite...This accomplished collection interlocks the horrific and the wondrous through deliciously dry humor, resulting in a unique must-read for fans of Angela Carter, Maria Dahvana Headley, and A.S. Byatt." —Publishers Weekly 

"In this weirdly wonderful collection, Balaskovits takes old, familiar archetypes and turns them on their heads, giving an extra spin for good measure. Not your great-grandmother’s fireside tales, these stories are slyly comedic one moment, viscerally horrifying the next, and evermore gorgeously eerie." —Lenore Hart, series editor, The Night Bazaar and The Night Bazaar Venice 

“…addictive…You might run into the kinds of things you’d have thought were consigned to the darkness of your unremembered dreams. If you’re like me, you’ll be wowing quietly after the reading is done. Read this, people! Read!” —Scott Garson, author of Is That You, John Wayne?

"Written with a darkly sparkling lyricism, Balaskovits’ collection is gory, gorgeous, and like nothing else you’ll read." —Wendy J. Fox, Buzzfeed
Product Details
ISBN: 9781951631130
ISBN-10: 1951631137
Publisher: Santa Fe Writer's Project
Publication Date: October 1st, 2021
Pages: 154
Language: English