At The Virgin’s Doorstep by David Farland: Just UGH

At The Virgin's Doorstep by David Farland: A Really REALLY Bad Story

Ugh. Just Ugh. At The Virgin’s Doorstep by David Farland is just really bad. It starts out as something of a coming of age story, and then, before you know it, you don’t even want to come of age in this world. Who wants to live in a world that kills unicorns? By decapitation? Including baby unicorns?

And that’s not even the worst of it. The worst is seeing the author’s name on the cover, looking forward to reading it with anticipation, and then finishing the last paragraph in stunned disbelief. Was that really David Farland? What the…?!

Yeah. Something like that.

I like David Farland. A lot. I read at least one novel from his back list each year. I eagerly read his books and newsletters on writing.  I make an effort to find him and say ‘hi’ at the cons, because he is so approachable and he’s full of great writing advice (a clue: like everyone else out there, I’d love to be writing, and publishing, awesome stories, too). I really like him, as a writer, a person, and a teacher.

But I hated this story. It was horrible. To be clearly, I’m not even a unicorn fan (I leave the love of ponies and unicorns to my daughters), but Farland’s At The Virgin’s Doorstep makes them a pest, slut-shames, and, well, is an all round downer. It’s a pretty depressing story, once you get down to it.

To be fair, Farland has added an addendum/explanation to the short story explaining that he’s not a fan of it himself and he would be worried about anyone who was. Indeed, he recognizes that there are elements of the story that are morally repugnant. I get that. But really: why even publish it? If it’s so bad, why not shelve it, write it off to experience, and just leave it as part of the past?

At least one thing is clear after reading it. Farland has come a long way. This was his first attempt at a fantasy story, and he’s become a solid legend in the genre since.  It won’t stop me from reading his other novels, and I suppose I’m even glad to have read this. After all, we all write junk at least once.

At The Virgin's Doorstep Book Cover At The Virgin's Doorstep
David Farland
David Farland
January 19, 2014

Warning! Some people consider this story to be morally repugnant.

In “At the Virgin’s Doorstep,” the first fantasy short story that New York Times Bestselling author David
Farland ever wrote—and which some people insist should be burned—a plague of unicorns threatens
the crops of a small town, and so a young man stakes out the house of a virgin, hoping that she’ll lure
the unicorns in.

It’s a wry story, about a young man growing up and facing a very small evil. Yet the reader is left to
wonder: is David Farland anti-virgin, anti-unicorn, or just some kind of a sick puppy?

About Daniel

Daniel Burton lives in Salt Lake County, Utah, where he practices law by day and everything else by night. He reads about history, politics, and current events, as well as more serious genres such as science fiction and fantasy. You can also follow him on his blog where he muses on politics, the law, books and ideas.


  1. Bloggin' 'bout Books says:

    I’ve read two books by Farland and wasn’t a fan of either. I still can’t understand why people rave so much about his writing. ‘Course, I feel somewhat the same way about Orson Scott Card …

    • You know, there’s really no accounting for taste. Farland’s first novel–On My Way to Paradise–is one of my favorite books, but I’ve also enjoyed, albeit less, his Runelords series.

  2. This was quite funny to read but I appreciate your honesty. Though you didn’t like the story, you made me curious about the author and his writing tips so now I have to google him. Thanks for that. 🙂