Post by Mark T. Locker.
Get In Trouble by Kelly Link.
Nobody does weird and creepy quite like Kelly Link. I fell in love with her stories the first time I read “The Wrong Grave” about a self-obsessed young man whose girlfriend had died and he’d thrown a sheaf of poems into her grave, thinking it the poetically appropriate thing to do only to regret losing such amazing writing to the earth and deciding to exhume his probably terrible teenage poetry. This is one of the more likely premises of a Kelly Link story. Get In Trouble shows a bit of maturing in her writing; some of her early stories leave the reader a bit puzzled at the end, which I think was her purpose. This new collection, which was a Pulitzer finalist this year, has nine short stories covering ghost hunting reality television, fake vampire boyfriends, and superhero conventions.
Kelly Link merges the mundane and the bizarre with such casual ease that you begin to wonder what’s made up and what isn’t. The rich girl Ainslie in “The New Boyfriend” gets everything she wants, including all the boyfriends available: the Vampire Boyfriend; the Werewolf Boyfriend; and on her birthday the discontinued Ghost Boyfriend featuring Embodied and Spectral mode. He can float invisibly like a ghost. Immy is deeply jealous that Ainslie has the ghost, who she has named Mint. That’s just the first couple pages of a wonderful tale of complicated friendships and ghost boyfriends.
“The Summer People” is about a girl and her moonshiner dad who tend to vacation homes while they are abandoned. They also care for one in particular, where the Summer People live, a group of mysterious beings.
Each of her stories is dripping with atmosphere and plunges you headlong into strange and often spooky worlds. Great reading for teens and adults who like fantasy and horror but are looking for something less run of the mill.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
The Summer People by Kelly Link.
Okay, so I have a couple caveats here. First of all, this is actually just a short story in a collection, edited by Kelly Link called Steampunk!. It’s a bunch of stories by a number of well-known teen authors such as Libba Bray, Garth Nix and, of course, Ms. Link has her own story in there as well. Since I can’t find my copy of Kelly Link’s Pretty Monsters (which, by the way, I reviewed for this blog last year) which I really wanted to read I was excited to find this new story of hers in this collection of steampunk-themed tales. Hers is actually not steampunk in the slightest; there is nary a reference to gears or pistons—but hey, she’s the editor, she could publish a recipe in this book if she wanted (which would probably be totally creepy and weird and I’d totally read it)—but I’m actually quite glad. Reading through the other stories I realized that I’m just not that into the whole steampunk thing. Which isn’t to say that they aren’t good; these are some of my favorite authors. I can only take so many gears and smoke and steam.
Which brings us to “The Summer People” which is classic eerie and strange Kelly Link. I’m not going to go too in-depth because it would be hard to. Young Fran lives in some town which enjoys a number of tourists in the summer, and a relatively quiet life in the off-season. She and her father take care of the summer people, getting their houses ready for their annual visits. But there are others they also call the Summer People, who live in a strange, cluttered house in town. They are magical, mysterious, and tricksy. Fran is bound by generations of tradition to care for them, until she can find someone to replace her…