Pretty Monsters

A unique brew of pirates and wizards, undead babysitters and duelling librarians, Kelly Link's new short-story collection is dark, sexy and hilarious.

In the award-winning "The Faery Handbag", Genevieve, a frantic teen, inherits, then misplaces, an enchanted dog-skin purse in which an entire city resides, while in "The Wrong Grave" Miles, a high school student, disinters and resurrects his dead girlfriend.

“Magic for Beginners" is about a television show in which a group of friends find themselves experiencing events that are parallel to the episodes, in a David Lynch-like twist that blurs the lines between reality and fantasy.

Link's trademark is a digressive blend of horror and humour. Her characterisation is acute, too, lucidly depicting teenage lives. These are tales that play with expectations, subverting what we think we know in order to reveal something sinister or sublime.

Pretty Monsters

Kelly Link

Canongate, 400pp, £12.99

This article first appeared in the 28 September 2009 issue of the New Statesman, The 50 people who matter