The wrong grave by Kelly Link
Text Publishing, 2009. ISBN 9781921520730.
(Age 14+) Recommended for those who like their stories strange and scary, author Kelly Link has written a unique collection of horror/fantasy stories to keep the reader awake at night. Reminiscent of Neil Gaiman's work, these short stories are compelling and unusual reading. In The Wrong Grave, Miles decides that he wants to retrieve the poems that he put in his girlfriend's coffin, but has an unpleasant surprise when he opens the grave and digs up what seems to be the wrong girl. The wizards of Perfil live in high towers in a marsh, but the reader isn't sure if they exist or what they can do. Magic for Beginners is a strange tale of Jeremy whose friendships revolve around watching a weird TV show that doesn't appear regularly. In The Faery Handbag, a grandmother carries around a handbag, which may have a man-eating dog in it, or is it a whole village? The Specialist's Hat is the most frightening of all the stories, with twin girls encountering a scary babysitter who joins them in a game to show what it is like to be dead.
Link's stories are unpredictable and creative, leaving the reader gasping at the sheer strangeness of her imagination and the deviousness of her plots. I won't easily forget the dead girl whose hair writhed like snakes or the character Fox in the TV show The Library.
Making the stories even more appealing to teenagers are the insightful comments about girlfriends, kissing, parents and friendship that quietly appear in each story. Subtle humour is threaded throughout the tales and takes the edge off the horror. Shaun Tan's sketches at the beginning of each story are also a delight.
This is certainly a collection that I found so original that I will be seeking out Link's other works.