Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pretty Monsters, Kelly Link

From The Wrong Grave: All of this happened because a boy I once knew named Miles Sperry decided to go into the resurrectionist business and dig up the grave of his girlfriend, Bethany Baldwin, who had been dead for not quite a year. Miles planned to do this in order to recover the sheaf of poems he had, in what he'd felt was a beautiful and romantic gesture, put into her casket. Or possibly it had just been a really dumb thing to do. He hadn't made copies. Miles had always been impulsive. I think you should know that right up front.

Pretty Monsters is a book of short stories by Kelly Link. Some of them are very grim, and others darkly humorous. The first one, for example. It's about grave-digging, but actually it is funny in a grim sort of way (at least, I thought the ending was.) The second story, The Wizards of Perfil was one I quite enjoyed, about a boy named Onion and distinctly unhelpful wizards. Really, all of the stories have a humorous side to them, but definitely not light humor. Magic for Beginners tells of this group of teenagers who are obsessed with a certain TV show, The Library. The Faery Handbag is about a girl whose grandmother has a handbag in which a whole village of people live. The Specialist's Hat is about a mysterious house called Eight Chimneys, once inhabited by a strange poet (but now by a pair of twins and their father) and an undead babysitter. Monster tells of a camp in North Carolina...and a monster. There are three other stories, including the title story, Pretty Monsters, but I won't go into their plots. You want to be surprised a little, right? I think my favorite story was The Faery Handbag; it was really beautiful in a way. My least favorite story was The Surfer, a story about aliens and the flu. It wasn't funny at all, and very, very grim and scary. Too scary. But that's just me. The Surfer is probably the most chilling of them.

I really loved Pretty Monsters. All of the stories were entertaining. I had never read anything of Kelly Link's before, except one short story in her anthology Steampunk. Apparently, she has two other short story collections, which I would love to read. I feel like I'm not doing justice to the mood and quality of her short stories. Whether they're set in the real world, or an imaginary world, there's always something fantastical and also off-kilter about them. That's why I liked them. They also all end without a real-wrap or conclusion, which can be annoying at times, but it was effective, and I think Link succeeded very well in the feeling she was attempting to create. The title pretty much sums it up. Um, hello, they're monsters (or something else equally strange)?! But they're also pretty...somehow. Pretty Monsters is also, of course, one of the short stories, but I think it was the best one to choose for a title.

Read Pretty Monsters:
  • if you like short stories
  • if you liked Steampunk
  • if you like dark but funny stories
389 pages.
Outstanding Book That Will Stay On My Bookshelf For Rereading (jf I own it)!

On an unrelated note, sorry for the posts that may or may not have appeared on your dashboard that don't actually exist. That was just me, accidentally publishing reviews (Control P) as I was writing them. Rest assured, the full reviews of those books will be posted all in good time. 

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