Guided by a poem assembled from “compliments” paid by a suitor to his girlfriend (which echo the endearments Anna Karenina’s Count Vronsky directs toward his racehorse, before she collapses under his weight and is shot), You Darling Thing investigates bridehood and the concept of the vow through the voices of a variety of brides, ex-brides, courtesans, and wives. The book is ultimately less about marriage than about potentiality and promise, an engagement with what seems possible before it stops being possible—embryos that stay unborn, youthful predictions for a life before it’s lived, and delight in the expressive possibilities afforded by language and art.

This lively, subversive book is fascinated by questions of feminism and femininity — womanhood as it is lived, and as it is socially constructed.
— The New York Times
This new collection from the award-winning Ferrell ( Beasts for the Chase) opens with “The Date,” but the young women parading through its lines are “gloved & blind-/folded.” Clearly, Ferrell’s exploration throughout of love and marriage is going to be anything but sentimental. An eponymous savage bride proclaims, “You need me like ice needs the mountain,” passion’s on-the-edge riskiness is summed by the line, “Every sixteen-year-old girl likes// A murderer for an admirer,” and “You are sexier that anyone I’ve ever met” opens the poem “Oh You Absolute Darling,” a phrase muttered by Anna Karenina’s Count Vronsky to his horse—but the horse ended up dead. “I don’t mind living alone” proclaims one speaker, but that’s hard in a dark world defined by “The inventions of lust, the pageantry of what.” Another poem prevaricates: “There is nothing beautiful here/ However I may want it.”
VERDICT Eerie, otherworldly, and enthrallingly dangerous, this smart, disquieting collection should be handed to ­sophisticated readers.
— Library Journal
In this long-anticipated follow-up to 2008’s Beasts for the Chase, Ferrell renders familiar literary tropes suddenly new, surprising, and dangerous again. Presented as an extended sequence of spare, self-contained persona pieces, this collection culls text, imagery, and inspiration from numerous works of art, situating an array of historical references within a decidedly postmodern philosophical terrain. Indeed, the heroines of these vibrant lyrics frequently court danger amidst the ornamentation that surrounds them. For example, Ferrell writes in “Glacier,” “Every sixteen-year-old girl likes/ A murderer for an admirer, his eyes on her from the hotel’s// Third-floor balcony as she lugs her skis from the slope.” Here, “astonishingly exact” rules of decorum and décor give rise to boredom and, in the end, self-destructive impulses. The poem’s neat couplets, and Ferrell’s subtle departures from this familiar form, speak to these questions of containment, especially when considering women’s voices and lived experiences. As the collection unfolds, Ferrell uses other forms derived from a predominantly male artistic tradition to convey a sense of female ennui. She elaborates, “Somewhere a mutiny is tearing loose from/ Its tree like ripe fruit;// But as for now, little boarder, orphan, we’re here in this pavilion/ Briefly.” Throughout this striking collection, Ferrell balances elegance and chaos, beauty and urgency, lyricism with a veiled threat.
— Publishers Weekly, starred review