Review – Monstrous Affections

Monstrous Affections – ed. Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant

Candlewick Press, 2014

Where do you find monsters? Out beyond the borders, whirling in the sky above a battlefield. In another dimension where the sun won’t set. Walking in the woods after dark, in deep water, in a cage. Inside a face you thought you knew. Inside your head. Sometimes they come at you with tooth and claw, and you’ll fight for your life…but sometimes, you’ll welcome them in.

This collection of short stories spans a wide spectrum, from light fantasy to horror. The type of monster varies enormously too, with vampires and harpies, shapechangers and aliens, kraken and demons. Several didn’t work for me because of the odd structure and plot direction. A few I actively disliked – horror is not my thing. Most, though, took a creative approach to the concept of ‘monster’. I particularly liked the very different takes on vampires from Cassandra Clare and Joshua Lewis, and Holly Black’s marvellous ‘Ten Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler (the Successful Kind)’. Kathleen Jennings’ ‘A Small Wild Magic’ was the only short story in graphic form, and I could easily read more about her character Marilyn. Sarah Rees Brennan’s ‘Wings of the Morning’ was every bit as adorable and incisive as I expected – though if you want to get the most out of it, you really need to read her online work The Turn of the Story, because then you’ll understand why I punched the air a couple of times out of delight. Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant have also edited another anthology called Steampunk!

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