I first saw Kelly Link's Pretty Monsters on Rob Around Books in one of his Daily Bookshot posts. Based solely on the cover, I jumped on Amazon and bought myself a copy. I'll admit that I was a bit disappointed when I didn't get the super awesome black-edged copy that Rob featured but I guess that was just for the U.K. edition. Then Rob started reading the stories on October 1 for his 31 Shots of Shock short story challenge. I decided to pick up my copy at the same time and read along. If you head to this search page, you can see his entries for each story and my quick comments on each one. He also has an eloquent Afterthoughts post about the entire book. (Have I plugged RobAroundBooks enough times yet?!)
Anyway, I know that a few of my readers are familiar with Kelly Link already and this is a collection of stories that have almost all been printed before. And yet I hadn't read anything by her until now so I wasn't sure what to expect. What I got was a set of imaginative stories over a wide variety of topics and genres. The Wrong Grave and Monster are based on more classic horror themes while Pretty Monsters is classic but then again not. There are a couple of stories that are a bit more fantasy. My favorites were probably Magic for Beginners about teens that follow a pirate television show about a magical library and The Constable of Abal with its "ghosts on ribbons".
My only real complaint about this collection was that the stories are written for a young adult audience and yet the first three stories all dropped the f-bomb which limits some of the younger teens from picking up this book (if their parents happen to see it first). My fake complaint is that I wanted some of the stories to be more fleshed out but I guess then they wouldn't have been short stories! Some of them almost weren't anyway at anywhere from thirty to sixty pages. This didn't matter so much though as Link has a very conversational way of writing which makes even her longest stories quick-reading.
And now for the giveaway! I'm giving one of you the chance to win my gently-read copy (it does have a remainder mark on the bottom). I'm going to make this a U.S. and Canada only giveaway since it is a 400 page hardcover. To enter, give me two pieces of information in a comment -- your email address (if you don't have it in your commenter profile) and the story, book or movie that scared you most as a child. My favorite scary movie was The Watcher in the Woods (1980) which I watched a couple of dozen times and made all of my friends watch. It was also my first introduction to Bette Davis which makes it all the more memorable. The scariest book I remember is The Dollhouse Murders (1983) by Betty Ren Wright. I couldn't stop thinking about it for weeks and had problems sleeping while I was reading it. It was re-released a year ago to torment a new generation of girls.
Please get your entries in by midnight Pacific on Saturday October 24.
Pretty monsters make for pretty spooky stories,
Support our site and buy Pretty Monsters: Stories on Amazon or find it at your local library. We bought our own copy.