A friend has been trying to get me to read Kelly Link‘s story collection, Pretty Monsters for, what?, a couple of years now. I’m generally not into short stories, but I’m glad I finally picked up this set. I really enjoyed it.
I think my favorite story is “The Wizards of Perfil,” about a kid who gets sold into a wizard’s service – and her cousin. And wizards, and things. The plots of some of these stories are hard to explain. There’s also “The Faery Handbag,” about a mysterious handbag that one can jump into and come out of many years later. Oh! And “Magic for Beginners,” which involves a TV show called The Library that sounds fascinating – and a phone booth and things. (Kelly Link really seems to like libraries. They appear in lots of her stories.) “The Constable of Abal,” too, where a woman and her daughter carry small ghosts around, tethered with ribbons.
These stories are so good. It’s really hard to choose a favorite. An Amazon reviewer put my major criticism (and the reason I gave Pretty Monsters four stars on Goodreads) well: "Most of the stories were written well and for most part, I enjoyed them. Then they would abruptly end and I would be thinking… what the heck? With most of the short stories she spent a long time describing to us what was going on, getting to know the characters, etc and then it would just end."
(My first instinct was to end this post there, but I can’t help but note that I was intentionally ending it that way… Frustrating.)
So since I so unsuccessfully tried to end this post like Kelly Link seems to like to end her stories, I’ll add this: Pretty Monsters is a great short story collection, and I think the endings just might be part and parcel of short-story writing, or else they’d all turn into novels. Which might be why I tend to read novels instead of stories and plan to continue doing so. That said, Kelly Link is definitely worth a read.