Kelly Link (illustrated by Shaun Tan)
ISBN: 978 1 921656 36 1
Text Publishing (2008)
What a fabulous collection! There are so few single-author collections, particularly for younger readers, and it’s even rarer to find one of such quality. Kelly Link is a fantastic author and Pretty Monsters showcases her short stories to great effect. Not always for the faint-hearted, Link explores some of the darker side of speculative fiction, but in an engaging way that examines some interesting themes.
There are just five stories in this collection, and they are diverse in nature, but all equally compelling. The first is “Monster”, which starts out as a deceptively simple story about bullying at summer camp, and turns into something far more sinister. Next is “The Surfer”, which is a long piece examining a not-so-distant or unbelievable future when the flu is starting to hit humanity hard, but intertwined with a story of alien visitation – an interesting combination! This is followed by a true dark fantasy, “The Constable of Abal”, which sees a young girl, thrust into very strange circumstances, trying to find her way in life. The title story “Pretty Monsters” is another long one, but well worth it. Shying around elements of horror and paranormal fantasy, this is a very clever story that follows a group of girls on a rite of passage who get a whole lot more than they bargained for. The final story of the collection, “The Cinderella Game”, is one I read in the excellent Ellen Datlow/Terri Windling anthology Troll’s Eye View last year – it’s subtle creepiness is better suited to this book, for my mind, but the quality of story is undeniable, following a night with a stepbrother and stepsister who take play acting a little too far.
Recommend giving to those who are over Twilight, and want to get into something a bit more meaty, but without the commitment of big fat fantasy or horror novels!
A Newsflesh collection
Rise is billed as a collection of short fiction, one that brings together every Newsflesh story published so far, along with two brand new, never-before-seen novellas in the world. To me, if seems like more than a collection; the pieces are so deeply connected, enmeshed in the broader universe that Grant (aka Seanan McGuire) has created, with characters crossing from piece to piece, their backstories ever expanding, that it really deserves the moniker of mosaic fiction. Every piece is a building block in the greater whole, and the length of the stories also helps it feel more like a long-form work; the reader is immersed from beginning to end.
I am a massive fan of the Newsflesh world. I had, I believed, hunted down and devoured every related work already, so I was delighted (if somewhat chagrinned) to realise that two of the previously published stories were also new to me, so I got FOUR new Newsflesh pieces, which was very exciting. Each story has a short introduction by the author, offering a little back story to the circumstances surrounding its birth. While these tidbits are little pearls for the rabid fan, and sometimes offer acknowledgement to supporters of the author through the writing process, there were a couple that were a bit spoilery. They perhaps would have worked better as postscripts rather than intros, and it might be worth a new reader skipping them on the first time around. But the stories…oh, the stories…
If you have not read Feed, Deadline and Blackout, you cannot, MUST NOT, read this book. Go away and read the Newsflesh trilogy. All of it. Go on, I’ll wait. You won’t regret it. Okay, you’re back? You didn’t stop at the end of Feed, did you? You read ALL of them? Right, good. Now we can continue.
SPOILERS FOR THE NEWSFLESH TRILOGY (but hopefully not the Rise stories) UNDER THE CUT…
Robin Hobb and Megan Lindholm
The Inheritance is a collection of short stories by alter egos Robin Hobb and Megan Lindholm. Containing both original to the collection and reprint stories, The Inheritance is an almost soul baring group of stories, particularly those written under the Lindholm name, which stem from reflections of the author’s own life. Containing two stories set in Hobb’s Elderlings world, this book is a showcase of quality writing and thoughtful plots.
The first seven stories are nominally by Megan Lindholm. In her introduction, the author states that Lindholm’s stories are more concise than Hobb’s, while “Robin still tends to sprawl in her storytelling, so while she takes up as many pages, there are fewer stories by her in these pages.” (p. ix). So it is that the first half of the book are shorter pieces, tending to examine smaller pieces of life, but in a depth and beauty that’s hard to find in short stories today. Some stories are so slightly left of centre that they are almost mainstream, but only almost. The touch of speculation is always there, however covertly. Continue reading
Amazon Digital Services (2012)
What an astonishing collection. If you have ever read Robin McKinley’s fairy tale retellings, or any of the Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow anthologies which reboot traditional stories, you might have some idea of what Shattered does to tales you think you know. In three short pieces, Gale truly breaks the established conventions of well-known stories and turns you upside down in your understanding of how these should work, with excellent results. Continue reading
posted her teeny houses…
Most of the pewter collection – prefer Royal Selangor for style, but there is occasionally respectable stuff in other brands.
Closeup on the middle bit – wooden display cases really aren’t much use.
Some of the crystal. I have non-Swarovski stuff, but very little – nothing but Swarovski here I think.
The only annual editions I have – the mystical creatures series.
A while back I posted about Foot artworks. I have few pieces but this is my favourite. Her name is Hana Lei.
Mostly kids things they’ve been given – just a few cute pieces 🙂
And just some fun in photoshop with these – they are casts hand decorated with rice paper I believe.