Pretty Monsters

Kelly Link  - published October 2008

Now available: paperback edition with additional story: “The Cinderella Game.”

Table of Contents

The Wrong Grave
The Faery Handbag
The Wizards of Perfil
The Constable of Abal
The Specialist’s Hat
The Surfer
Magic for Beginners
Pretty Monsters
The Cinderella Game (added to the paperback edition)

“Link is one of today’s most original and talented short story writers. Pretty Monsters, her first collection for young adults, combines both old and new material — all of which is magical and entrancing.”—Recommended by Rachael W., Powell’s City of Books

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.

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, Link’s stories are funny and full of unexpected insights and skewed perspectives on the world. Her fans range from Michael Chabon to Peter Buck of R.E.M. to Holly Black of The Spiderwick Chronicles fame. Now teens can have their world rocked, too!

“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. Ages 12 — up. (Oct.)” —Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) 

“This compilation of intricate, transfixing selections succeeds in making the weird wonderful and the grotesque absolutely gorgeous.” —School Library Journal

“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?“—Booklist (Starred Review)

“Weirdly wonderful and a touch macabre….The humor is dry and the characters are easy to relate to, even in alien (literally and figuratively) settings.”— Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

Kelly Link ( lives with her family in Northampton, Massachusetts. She and her husband, Gavin J. Grant, run Small Beer Press and publish the zine Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet.

Shaun Tan is the creator of the New York Times bestseller The Arrival. He lives in Australia.