Link, Kelly, and Gavin J. Grant, Eds.: Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales.
4Q * 3P * J * S
Link, Kelly, and Gavin J. Grant, Eds. Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales. Candlewick, 2014. 480p. $22.99. 978-0-7636-6473-2.
What do you get when you mix love and monsters? A tasty collection of macabre short stories from fifteen writers of fantasy and gothic fiction, including Paolo Bacigalupi (Ship Breaker [Little, Brown, 2010/VOYA August 2010]), Holly Black (Doll Bones [McElderry, 2013]), and M. T. Anderson (Feed [Candlewick, 2002/VOYA December 2002]). They range in length from Kathleen Jennings's thirteen-page comic strip "A Small Wild Magic" to Sarah Rees Brennan's fifty-seven-page "Wings in the Morning." Teens will bump into the familiar ghosts, vampires, and werewolves, lesser-knowns like harpies and krakens, and unfamiliar monstrosities like the Trinidadian douen (the half-faced embodiment of the soul of an unbaptized child) or the animistic Maori wairua. Varieties of love are also represented--Brennan's harpy is gay. In Alice Sola Kim's "Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They Are Terrifying," the characters are Korean adoptees who conjure a monster mother to replace those they never knew. The ambiguous ending suggests that the anonymous narrator may be romantically involved with one of her friends, who has ended what felt like an incestuous relationship with her Nordic adopted brother.
Yuko Shimizu's cover art will lure plenty of readers, who will be morbidly curious about the white-winged wolf, fangs dripping blood on the ghostly figure of a dead teen face down in a forest of blood-red thistles. Readers are immediately rewarded with a cheeky pop quiz to assess their own beliefs about monsters. Teachers looking for accomplished writing, complex points of view, ambiguous plots, and rich themes will enjoy exploring these stories--if they dare.--Donna Phillips.