Pretty Monsters

Kelly Link

It’s almost exactly four years since I read most of Link’s Stranger Things Happen, and I experienced similar hit-and-miss responses to these stories. Sometimes the concept of the story is more entertaining than the execution, and the writing is often too simplistic and almost juvenile, though I discovered after finishing the last story that this a YA book. I guess that’s why all the stories are focused on younger people!

There’s a story centered around a mysterious TV show that airs irregularly and is set in “The Free People’s World-Tree Library,” a library that’s an entire world of its own with forests and oceans; another involving a handbag that contains an entire village or a vicious dog, depending on which way you open it; others with zombies, wizards, witches, ghosts, aliens, and definitely monsters of all kinds. Just about anything that could be put in the category of fantasy or science fiction seems to show up here at some point. Knowing it’s meant for a younger audience has actually made me like some of the stories better in retrospect. Maybe it wasn’t entirely relevant when the internet sent me towards Meghan O’Rourke’s piece about cadence in fiction earlier today, but I still think the story arcs and language get clunky even for a younger reading audience.

more from this author