Review Blog

Jun 23 2010

Pretty monsters by Kelly Link

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Canongate Books, 2010. ISBN 978-1847677846.
(Ages 13+) Recommended. Short stories. Horror/Fantasy. If you are after something unusual and thought provoking then this set of five short stories will fit the bill.
Kelly Link's stories are highly original with strange plots and surprise endings. Even when you think that you have worked out what has happened, there is an unexpected twist and all your problem solving goes awry. What really occurs in Pretty Monsters, the most memorable of the stories? I am still trying to work it out! Are there really werewolves? How could the girls be so monstrous to a classmate? Who is really recounting what happens? All these questions could lead to a great class discussion.
The Surfer is another memorable, short story with a young boy who thinks he is terrific at soccer, trapped in a refugee camp, waiting for aliens to arrive. His only refuge is reading his father's science fiction books, which are a good introduction to classic sci-fi titles for teen readers. It is more plot driven than Pretty Monsters and as such is easier to understand.
The Cinderella Game is a spooky story of a young boy who plays Cinderella with Darcy, his new stepsister. It also had an ambiguous ending that left me trying to puzzle out what was really going on.
Each story has a unique illustration by Shaun Tan that gives an introduction to what the tale could be about. It was fun looking at the drawings and making some predictions about the stories from them and the titles. I found myself going back to the illustrations and getting a whole new perspective on what the story may have been about.
Each of these stories is a challenge and one that the reader will find different and stimulating.
Pat Pledger

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