Magic For Unlucky Girls


Series: SFWP Literary Award Winners

Paperback: 242 pages

ISBN-13: 978-1939650665

Cover Design: Gwen Grafft, Art: Arthur Rackham, “Goblin Market”

About the Book:

The fourteen fantastical stories in Magic For Unlucky Girls take the familiar tropes of fairy tales and twist them into new and surprising shapes. These unlucky girls, struggling against a society that all too often oppresses them, are forced to navigate strange worlds as they try to survive.

From carnivorous husbands to a bath of lemons to whirling basements that drive people mad, these stories are about the demons that lurk in the corners and the women who refuse to submit to them, instead fighting back — sometimes with their wit, sometimes with their beauty, and sometimes with shotguns in the dead of night. Selected as the Grand Prize Winner for the SFWP Literary Awards Program, 2015, by Emily St. John Mandel.

About the author

A. A. Balaskovits won the Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Awards grand prize in 2015. Her work appears in Indiana Review, The Madison Review, The Southeast Review, Booth, Wigleaf and many others. She is the social media editor for Cartridge Lit.


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.”