cover image Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales

Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales

Edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant. Candlewick, $22.99 (480p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6473-2

Link and Grant (Steampunk!) present an engrossing, morally complex anthology of 15 stories centered on the seemingly antagonistic concepts of monsters and love. Throughout, troubled protagonists meet genuine monsters—some traditional, like vampires, others much less so. Almost invariably, it’s understood that other people in the protagonists’ lives are far worse than the monsters. In Paolo Bacigalupi’s poetic “Moriabe’s Children,” a teenager fleeing her abusive stepfather finds sisterhood with the kraken that haunt the nearby sea. In Holly Black’s bloody but funny “Ten Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler (The Successful Kind),” a girl stows away on her uncle’s spaceship, fights off pirates, and partners with a purported alien killing machine. M.T. Anderson’s wistful and beautifully realized tale of WWII on the home front, “Quick Hill,” concerns a young man’s sacrifice for his community’s safety, and Kathleen Jennings’s graphic short, “A Small Wild Magic,” is a delightful variation on the story of the boy who receives three magical wishes. Additional stories are written by Cassandra Clare, Patrick Ness, and others; all of the entries are strong, and many are splendid. Ages 14–up. Agent: Renee Zuckerbrot, Renee Zuckerbrot Literary Agency. (Sept.)