Pretty Monsters

a logo in red and tan that says NEA Big ReadPretty Monsters is part of the new list of books included the Big Read program.
Listen to Kelly chat with Josephine Reed on the NEA’s Artworks podcast.

Pretty Monsters is Kelly’s first collection of stories for readers of all ages:


And: A phone booth in Las Vegas ~ Aliens ~ Unhelpful wizards ~ Possibly carnivorous sofas ~ A handbag with a village inside it ~ Tennessee Fainting Goats ~ Dueling librarians ~ A statue of George Washington ~ A boy named Onion ~ Pirates ~ An undead babysitter ~ A nationally-ranked soccer player ~ Shapeshifters ~ An unexpected campfire guest. . . .

And: drawings by SHAUN TAN.

A World Fantasy Award nominee.

Table of Contents

The Wrong Grave
The Faery Handbag (Hugo, Nebula, & Locus award winner. Download the One City One Story ebooks: English PDF · French PDF · Portuguese PDF · Spanish PDF · Russian PDF · Kindle edition · Ebook edition)
The Wizards of Perfil
The Constable of Abal
The Specialist’s Hat (World Fantasy Award winner)
The Surfer
Magic for Beginners (Nebula, BSFA, & Locus award winner)
Pretty Monsters (Locus Award winner)
The Cinderella Game (added to the paperback edition)


“Readers as yet unfamiliar with Link (Magic for Beginners) will be excited to discover her singular voice in this collection of nine short stories, her first book for young adults.”–Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Weirdly wonderful and a touch macabre, the nine short stories take readers into worlds with elements of reality but also supply a fantastic twist. The opening story, “The Wrong Grave,” plays into the current trend of books featuring the dead and the undead; in it, a boy whose girlfriend dies wants to dig her up to retrieve the poems he put in her coffin. “Magic for Beginners” centers on a boy whose closest friendships form around a TV show with a loyal following but no set broadcast time or channel. Erudite, economical word choices give readers a strong sense of setting without drowning them in adjectives. The humor is dry and the characters are easy to relate to, even in alien (literally and figuratively) settings. Fantasy readers used to long, single tomes may hesitate at the short-story format, but once they see these, they will want more.”–Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Link, who has two breathlessly received books of strange, surrealistic tales for adults under her belt, makes the leap into the YA fold with this collection of short stories (most previously published in separate anthologies) that tug at the seams of reality, sometimes gently, sometimes violently. In nearly every one of these startlingly, sometimes confoundingly original stories, Link defies expectations with such terrific turnarounds that you are left precipitously wondering not only “What’s going to happen now?” but also “Wait, what just happened?” Her conception of fantasy is so unique that when she uses words like ghost or magic, they mean something very different than they do anywhere else. Perhaps most surprisingly—and memorably— is Link’s dedicated deadpan delivery that drives home how funny she can be, no matter how dark the material gets. After gobbling up a group of campers, a monster with a self-proclaimed sense of humor bargains with the terrified lone survivor, “How about if I only eat you if you say the number that I’m thinking of? I promise I won’t cheat. I probably won’t cheat.” Shaun Tan contributes a handful of small illustrations that are, of course, just plain delightful.”–Booklist, starred review

“In her first collection of stories for young adults, Link upends traditional horror, science fiction, and fantasy motifs, creating original, quirky, and distinctly beautiful literary landscapes. Honed, brilliant language renders blood, werewolves, ghosts, magic, and monsters sublime–at times even funny. Readers will relish uncertainty in these savory, strange stories and never feel quite sure of their footing. They proceed giddily, jumping from one uncanny premise, phrase, or image to the next, eventually stumbling upon a revelation that hits them like the snap of a rubber band. Clever resolutions and tricky plots place teens on delightfully circuitous reading paths. Unexpected endings force them to double back and reconsider each story from the beginning. In this second read, young adults might notice Link’s seamless incorporation of their own experiences. Awkward adolescence, uncomfortable first love, frustrating parents, and complicated friendships surface quietly amid wonderfully knotty, twisted plots and incandescent imagery. This compilation of intricate, transfixing selections succeeds in making the weird wonderful and the grotesque absolutely gorgeous.”–School Library Journal

“Perfect bedtime stories for people who never want to have boring dreams.”


. . . a sorceress to be reckoned with.
The New York Times Book Review

. . . a flat-out genius.
—Holly Black, author of The Spiderwick Chronicles

. . . almost certainly not human. I believe she is a story-telling elemental who has unearthly powers that she uses to create wondrous and deeply fascinating tales.
—Garth Nix, author of the Abhoresen Trilogy

. . . [a worldsaver.] A new collection by Kelly Link—and once more, for a little while, the world is worth saving.
—Michael Chabon, author of The Amazing Adventure of Kavelier and Clay

. . . juicy and deliciously weird. Enjoy the ride.
—Libba Bray, author of the Gemma Doyle Trilogy

. . . the literary descendant of Jorge Luis Borges and Franz Kafka.
—Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler’s Wife

. . . intoxicating. These stories will come alive, put on zoot suits, and wrestle you to the ground. They want you and you will be theirs.
—Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones

. . . an alchemical mixture of Borges, Raymond Chandler, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
—Laura Miller, Salon

. . . in a place few writers go, a netherworld between literature and fantasy, Alice Munro and J.K. Rowling, and Link finds truths there that most authors wouldn’t dare touch.

. . . dazzling.
Entertainment Weekly


— the USA in paperback.
— the UK from Canongate as a beautiful black-edged hardcover and paperback—and with another excellent cover from Walker.
— Australia in two beautiful volumes from Text: The Wrong Grave (longlisted for the Inky Award) and Pretty Monsters.
— Brazil from Grupo Leya (as O estranho mundo de Zofia e outras histórias)
Italy from Newton & Compton (click through for a spooky trailer!)
— Japan from Hayakawa
— Spain from Seix Barrel

and was also available from Recorded Books
—Selected by Booklist as an Editors’ Choice best of the year pick
Audiofile review

Paperback Publication Blog Tour*:

Anna’s Book Blog — reading as a writer
Books By Their Cover
— short review + interview
Fantasy &  SciFi Lovin’ News & Reviews
— story idea generation
Monster Librarian
— interview
Fantasy Book Critic
— Kelly interviews N.K. Jemisin
Word for Teens
— on Diana Wynne Jones
The Compulsive Reader — go make a zine!
Book Chick City — on deciding to self publish

* some blogs have since shut down.