Spooky Stories for Teens in Pretty Monsters

Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link

Monsters, ghosts, aliens, wizards, and magical librarians all make an appearance in Pretty Monsters, a multi-genre book of short stories by local Northampton author, Kelly Link. In her first book written specifically for a young adult audience, Link demonstrates her ability to blend elements of fantasy, magical realism, and horror together. The overarching thread of this enchanting collection is Link’s skillful voice. The author’s writing seems to be strongly influenced by fairy tales, a factor which gives her unique narratives a sense of familiarity even as they dazzle readers with imaginative twists and turns.

Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link. Published by Viking. 2003.

Even though Link uses many classic narrative elements, her stories feel completely modern and capture the teenage perspective well. The characters in this collection are varied, three-dimensional, and not always likeable. The author engages young readers through fantastic, out-of-this-world elements while tackling relatable issues such as teenage friendships, romance, peer pressure, bullying, and familial problems.

Adults will not feel out-of-the-loop reading this book, which foregoes real life pop culture references and gratuitous slang in favor of an imagined teenage culture- one that is absorbingly believable, yet unreal. 

Haunting and at times darkly funny, Pretty Monsters is the perfect teen read for October. In part because of the added elements of magic, fantasy, and fairy tales, this book is not nearly as frightening as a pure horror novel might be. With nine stories total, more squeamish or sensitive readers can easily skip any stories that are too intense.

Emily Butler
Emily has a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from Simmons College. She currently works as a Research Librarian at Deerfield Academy, an independent boarding and day school. She has a strong passion for both academic and creative writing, which she enjoys sharing with students. You can find more of her book reviews in School Library Journal.

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