Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link (YA)
Sometimes short stories don’t have proper endings, and they’re all about capturing a moment or a feeling. You finish the story and you don’t feel completely satisfied, because the story isn’t about satisfaction or catharsis and you didn’t even realize it. It’s about unnerving you and capturing a feeling that you don’t even have words for. It’s about leaving you unsure about what you thought you knew. That’s how these stories work.
The mishmash of horror and fantasy in the ten stories reminded me of Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors. The first story is about a guy who, like Dante Gabriel Rossetti, buries his poetry with his girlfriend, later regrets it and comes back to dig it back up. Unfortunately, he dug up the wrong grave and a tattooed, undead girl comes after him. Also, his poetry really wasn’t worth it. Another story is about a handbag that contains a village. Of course it’s a faery handbag, so if you go in it for a day, years will have passed by the times you leave. There are stories about wizards who never seem to do anything, about ghosts who live on blood offerings, about aliens that appeared to a surfer and about the television shows that people watch inside of fiction.
I had two favourite stories. The title one, “Pretty Monsters”, and “Magic for Beginners”. Pretty Monsters is about teen girls who are in that particular time frame when they actually are monsters. They’re needlessly cruel and willfully misunderstand things. Also, they like to read romance stories about werewolves, but unfortunately werewolves aren’t really built for love, they’re all about eating. Also, people are never really ready for werewolves in real life. Magic for Beginners is about a boy and the intense feelings, romantic and otherwise, that he has for his small group of friends. It’s also about his favourite tv show, which I have to say, I would love to watch. It’s called The Library and it’s about a crazy, magical library where there are pirates and the actors keep on switching roles and it never plays at the same time, or on the same channel. Honestly, I hope I end up working at an insane library like that. I would definitely chase down those pirate ruffians.