Pretty Monsters by Kelly LinkPretty Monsters by Kelly Link

Pretty Monsters

byKelly Link

Paperback | June 10, 2010

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The crossover literary in paperback!

Through the lens of Kelly Link's vivid imagination, nothing is what it seems, and everything deserves a second look. From the multiple award- winning "The Faery Handbag," in which a teenager's grandmother carries an entire village (or is it a man-eating dog?) in her handbag, to the near-future of "The Surfer," whose narrator (a soccer-playing skeptic) waits with a planeload of refugees for the aliens to arrive, these ten stories are funny and full of unexpected insights and skewed perspectives on the world. Kelly Link's fans range from Michael Chabon to Peter Buck of R.E.M. to Holly Black of Spiderwick Chronicles fame. Now teens can have their world rocked too!
Kelly Link lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she and her husband, Gavin J. Grant, run Small Beer Press and publish the zine Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet (
Title:Pretty MonstersFormat:PaperbackDimensions:416 pages, 8.25 × 5.56 × 0.82 inPublished:June 10, 2010Publisher:Penguin Young Reader GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:014241672X

ISBN - 13:9780142416723

Appropriate for ages: 13 - 17


Rated 3 out of 5 by from interesting and unconventional Pretty Monsters is a collection of stories by Kelly Link. It caught my eye in Chapters almost a year ago, with really cool cover and a nice title. I put in a request for purchase with the library and suspended my hold until now because I had such a big TBR list but voila here it is on my desk this week. The Wrong Grave: I loved this story, but not because of the pretty monster. I actually strongly prefer the half of the story before she comes out of her grave. I think Link has a good handle on grief, and young love. I thought the way Miles had the urge to go home and tell his girlfriend all about the events of her funeral rang very true. Nothing felt complete before he shared it with her, and he forgot for a moment that her being gone was the reason for the funeral. I think the way Link describes this is beautiful. I wanted to cry (resisted because I was in the break room and weeping at work is generally frowned upon) but at the same time the narration has a light, almost silly tone that keeps it from getting too depressing. I'm not so sure about the second half of the story. I feel like more explanation is needed about why the girl is animate. The Wizards of Perfil I love the way Link describes the psychic connection between the cousins. My favourite part of the story is when she's fishing and he's on the train, because they flow between one another's worlds so fluidly. I predicted the end of this story but I still think it's a great idea. Magic For Beginners Despite the fact that the title has pretty much nothing to do with the story this one is awesome. Random as could be, but incredibly entertaining. The mysterious and random show the characters are obsessed with reminds of the video clips in Pattern Recognition by William Gibson.The story was perfect for me because * I'm a librarian * My parent's house is currently a pile of mismatched couches * I'm a geek Those things will make sense when you read it, and you should. It is very silly but I love it, it reminds me of what my dreams look like. I kinda wonder if Kelly Link just wrote down a complicated awesome dream she had and filled in the fuzzy blanks. The Faery Handbag As a frequent Scrabble player and eccentric lady, I relate to the grandmother in this story ;) The handbag reminds me a bit of that awesome bag Hermoine had in Harry Potter, that could hold anything, only in this story the girl does not have the "accio" spell to find what goes into it. I find the story of the grandfather familiar, but not sure where I've seen something similar. ---------------------------- The second half of the collection was less exciting for me than the first half but I did enjoy it. Link’s stories have a post-modern feel, and I enjoy this as an English major who likes complicated stories to dissect but I worry it would be confusing and off-putting to many teens. Several of the stories are doubly framed, in the sense that there is a story within a story, within a story. I enjoy the connections between the layers of the stories, but the way it’s put together we never get the full story of any of the characters, and I am occasionally left unsatisfied. There is also more metafiction than I think is called for in the anthology. What this means if you are unfamiliar with it, is that the narrator addresses the audience directly, points out the fact that they are reading. She words it cleverly so it is sometimes enjoyable but I find it still disconnects me from the story, and I prefer to be immersed in the action. An interesting read overall, and something that could be discussed at a book club but not for the average teen.
Date published: 2011-05-11

Editorial Reviews

"Readers as yet unfamiliar with Link ("Magic for Beginners") will be excited to discover her singular voice in this collection of nine short stories, her first book for young adults. The first entry, “The Wrong Grave,” immediately demonstrates her rare talents: a deadpan narration that conceals the author's metafictional sleight-of-hand ("Miles had always been impulsive. I think you should know that right up front"); subjects that range from absurd to mundane, all observed with equidistant irony. Miles, hoping to recover the poems he's buried with his dead girlfriend, digs up what appears to be the wrong corpse ("It's a mistake anyone could make," interjects the narrator), who regains life and visits her mother, a lapsed Buddhist ("Mrs. Baldwin had taken her Buddhism very seriously, once, before substitute teaching had knocked it out of her"). Other stories have more overtly magical or intertextual themes; in each, Link's peppering of her prose with random associations dislocates readers from the ordinary. With a quirky, fairytale style evocative of Neil Gaiman, the author mingles the grotesque and the ethereal to make magic on the page."–Publishers Weekly, starred review"Although some of Link’s work appears in other YA and adult short-story anthologies, this is her first collection wholly aimed at a young-adult audience. Weirdly wonderful and a touch macabre, the nine short stories take readers into worlds with elements of reality but also supply a fantastic twist. The opening story, “The Wrong Grave,” plays into the current trend of books featuring the dead and the undead; in it, a boy whose girlfriend dies wants to dig her up to retrieve the poems he put in her coffin. “Magic for Beginners” centers on a boy whose closest friendships form around a TV show with a loyal following but no set broadcast time or channel. Erudite, economical word choices give readers a strong sense of setting without drowning them in adjectives. The humor is dry and the characters are easy to relate to, even in alien (literally and figuratively) settings. Fantasy readers used to long, single tomes may hesitate at the short-story format, but once they see these, they will want more."–Kirkus Reviews, starred review"Link, who has two breathlessly received books of strange, surrealistic tales for adults under her belt, makes the leap into the YA fold with this collection of short stories (most previously published in separate anthologies) that tug at the seams of reality, sometimes gently, sometimes violently. In nearly every one of these startlingly, sometimes confoundingly original stories, Link defies expectations with such terrific turnarounds that you are left precipitously wondering not only “What’s going to happen now?” but also “Wait, what just happened?” Her conception of fantasy is so unique that when she uses words like ghost or magic, they mean something very different than they do anywhere else. Perhaps most surprisingly—and memorably— is Link’s dedicated deadpan delivery that drives home how funny she can be, no matter how dark the material gets. After gobbling up a group of campers, a monster with a self-proclaimed sense of humor bargains with the terrified lone survivor, “How about if I only eat you if you say the number that I’m thinking of? I promise I won’t cheat. I probably won’t cheat.” Shaun Tan contributes a handful of small illustrations that are, of course, just plain delightful."–Booklist, starred review"In her first collection of stories for young adults, Link upends traditional horror, science fiction, and fantasy motifs, creating original, quirky, and distinctly beautiful literary landscapes. Honed, brilliant language renders blood, werewolves, ghosts, magic, and monsters sublime–at times even funny. Readers will relish uncertainty in these savory, strange stories and never feel quite sure of their footing. They proceed giddily, jumping from one uncanny premise, phrase, or image to the next, eventually stumbling upon a revelation that hits them like the snap of a rubber band. Clever resolutions and tricky plots place teens on delightfully circuitous reading paths. Unexpected endings force them to double back and reconsider each story from the beginning. In this second read, young adults might notice Link’s seamless incorporation of their own experiences. Awkward adolescence, uncomfortable first love, frustrating parents, and complicated friendships surface quietly amid wonderfully knotty, twisted plots and incandescent imagery. This compilation of intricate, transfixing selections succeeds in making the weird wonderful and the grotesque absolutely gorgeous."–School Library Journal