Stranger Things Happen

Kelly Link  - published July 2001

9781931520003 · pb · $16 | 9781931520997 · ebook
July 2001 · 9th printing, November 2018

This first collection by award-winning author Kelly Link takes fairy tales and cautionary tales, dictators and extraterrestrials, amnesiacs and honeymooners, revenants and readers alike, on a voyage into new, strange, and wonderful territory. The girl detective must go to the underworld to solve the case of the tap-dancing bank robbers. A librarian falls in love with a girl whose father collects artificial noses. A dead man posts letters home to his estranged wife. Two women named Louise begin a series of consecutive love affairs with a string of cellists. A newly married couple become participants in an apocalyptic beauty pageant. Sexy blond aliens invade New York City. A young girl learns how to make herself disappear.

These eleven extraordinary stories are quirky, spooky, and smart. They all have happy endings. Every story contains a secret prize. Each story was written especially for you.

Stories from Stranger Things Happen have won the Nebula, Tiptree, and World Fantasy Award. Stranger Things Happen was a Salon Book of the Year, one of the Village Voice‘s 25 Favorite Books, and was a Firecracker Award finalist.

Cover painting by Shelley Jackson.


“Pity the poor librarians who have to slap a sticker on Kelly Link’s genre-bending, mind-blowing masterpiece of the imagination, Stranger Things Happen.”
—Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia, for NPR’s You Must Read This

“Kelly Link is the exact best and strangest and funniest short story writer on earth that you have never heard of at the exact moment you are reading these words and making them slightly inexact. Now pay for the book.”
—Jonathan Lethem, author of Motherless Brooklyn

“My favorite fantasy writer, Miss Kelly Link”
—Alan Cheuse, NPR, All Things Considered

More reviews . . .


Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose
Water Off a Black Dog’s Back
The Specialist’s Hat
Flying Lessons
Travels with the Snow Queen
Vanishing Act
Survivor’s Ball, or, The Donner Party
Shoe and Marriage
Most of My Friends Are Two-Thirds Water
Louise’s Ghost
The Girl Detective

Kelly Link is the author of four collections of short stories, Stranger Things Happen, Magic for Beginners, Pretty Monsters, and Get in Trouble which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Her short stories have won the Tiptree, Sturgeon, Shirley Jackson, Hugo, Nebula, Locus, World Fantasy, and Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire awards. She was born in Miami, Florida, and once won a free trip around the world by answering the question “Why do you want to go around the world?” (”Because you can’t go through it.”)

Link and her family live in Massachusetts, where she and her husband, Gavin J. Grant, run Small Beer Press, and play ping-pong. In 1996 they started the occasional zine Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. Candlewick published their YA anthologies Steampunk! and Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales.

Fifth Printing Note

We are very sorry to say some copies of the fifth printing have page 118 reprinted instead of 188. You can either download the pdf of page 188 here or you can email us. We hope the replacement page (or the book, below) will satisfy readers. However, if you’d rather, we will replace your book. Please email us if this is the case. Sorry.

Identifying the fifth printing: on the copyright page it states “First Edition 5 6 7 8 9 0”

Publication History [bibliography]

“Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose,” Fence, 1998
“Water Off a Black Dog’s Back,” Century, 1995
“The Specialist’s Hat,” Event Horizon, 1998
“Flying Lessons,” Asimov’s, 1995
“Travels with the Snow Queen,” Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, winter 1996/7
“Vanishing Act,” Realms of Fantasy, 1996
“Survivor’s Ball, or, The Donner Party,” Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, 1998
“Shoe and Marriage,” 4 Stories, 2000
“The Girl Detective,” Event Horizon, 1999
“Louise’s Ghost” and “Most of My Friends Are Two-Thirds Water” are published here for the first time.

Eleven years after first publication, Stranger Things Happen was published in a 500-copy limited hardcover edition by Subterranean Press. One of Kelly’s favorite artists, Kathleen Jennings, provided the cover illustration as well as story headers for each of the eleven stories.
This special signed limited edition of Stranger Things Happen was accompanied by a exclusive chapbook, Origin Stories, which contains two stories, “Origin Stories” and “Secret Identity.”
It is now out of print.

“This is one of the ways that publishers can distinguish the print work they do from the e-books they issue, focusing on creating an object that’s worth having. And Link’s work seems a great place to start.”
Los Angeles Times

Free Download

July 1, 2005

Kelly Link’s debut collection Stranger Things Happen is now available for as a free download in various completely open formats with no Digital Rights Management (DRM) strings attached. It is licensed under a Creative Commons (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5) license allowing readers to share the stories with friends and generally have at them in any noncommercial manner. The book is provided below in these formats: Text file, HTML, rtf, and lo-res PDF. We encourage any and all conversions into other formats. We’ll happily host, credit, and add your conversion to the file list below. Please abide by these few rules for file-conversions:

  • Send us a link to the reader for your conversion so that we can include it on the downloads page.
  • No DRM. If your format of choice has a means of restricting copying, use or playback, please do not use it.
  • If the book has been converted to your format of choice but the conversion doesn’t suit you, go ahead and reconvert it for your own use and distribution. We will host the first and only the first version as the few formats we have provided are pretty much all we know anything about. And we don’t know that much about those.
  • Enjoy!

Downloads: To get your Free Download of Stranger Things Happen go to this page of all our Creative Commons offerings.