Book Reviews

Pretty Monsters – Kelly Link

Kelly Link has lit up adult literary publishing—and Viking is honored to publish her first YA story collection. Through the lens of Link’s vivid imagination, nothing is what it seems, and everything deserves a second look.

Discovery: I’ve been reading lots of short story collections, and Kelly Link’s “The Faery Handbag” was intriguing enough to merit a closer look at her other books.

+     Interesting premise. Link has a knack for developing strange and bizarre plots. Readers of paranormal novels will enjoy the bite-size creeps Link hands out.

+     Use of myth. The anthology is titled Pretty Monsters, so it’s quite clear to the reader that Link intends to twist and flip and mix up our perceptions of frightening things. In this vein, she dips into Irish and European folklore, mixing and matching to pick out our deepest fears and questions.

–     Vague endings. As a reader, I don’t expect a story to immediately make sense. In fact, it becomes more intriguing the longer I think about it. However, Link has a tendency to draw a story so widely that it becomes difficult to see exactly where she was going. Some of the stories, such as “The Specialist’s Hat,” are tempting bits of creepy, but end so abruptly that the reader is left hanging. Others, like “The Wizards of Perfil,” take their sweet time, presenting the ending to you after you’ve already contemplated giving up.

–     Strange writing styles. I’m all for experimentation, but some of these stories left me wondering if I was supposed to have understood anything that was written. Sometimes it even seems like the stories had no plotlines at all.

Recommendations: “The Faery Handbag” is the strongest story in the collection, and is worth reading. Everything else is passable for most paranormal readers.

Rating: Satisfactory.

Go check out Kelly Link’s site.

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