Monday, October 24, 2011

For Review: Pretty Monsters ~ Kelly Link

"What are you reading now?" So says colleagues at work, so asks my boyfriend. It's difficult to talk about the content of Kelly Link's book these days and for people to take it credibly.

"It's about...magic. And there's werewolves and stuff. But it's not crap! And it's not stupid. It's clever, and properly written, and really good." It was important for me to get it across that Kelly Link's Pretty Monsters is a great book, despite popular misgivings of similar stories. As a reader, and a book reviewer, I can't lie; mention magic and mythic in a current novel and I wince a little - let's not pretend that the book market isn't saturated with magical crap.

But Pretty Monsters is so far removed from that. These short stories are so genuine, and each one is touching in its own way. Each of the characters in each of the stories is vivid, alive, and so real. While the stories might surround ideas aliens, monsters, and magical women, at the heart of each is a fantastic character. Reading 'Monster', I was terrified for James Lobrick - I wasn't sure what would happen to him, both in terms of the monster at camp, and at the hands of bullies. In 'The Constable of Abal', I was largely concerned about gods and ghosts, but I also needed to see how Ozma's love life turned out. My absolute favourite, though, was 'Magic for Beginners.' Jeremy is one of the most gorgeous characters I've come across in a while. He's absolutely adorable, and if I ever have a son, I want him to be like Jeremy.

Link really knows how to weave a yarn, and she tells a good story too (it's true, because I heard her read 'The Cinderella Game' at the EIBF). If you like a little bit of the foreign and unknown in your stories, then Pretty Monsters would be a good way to go about it. a charming set of short stories.