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Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales

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Fifteen top voices in speculative fiction explore the intersection of fear and love in a haunting, at times hilarious, darkly imaginative volume.

Predatory kraken that sing with - and for - their kin; band members and betrayed friends who happen to be demonic; harpies as likely to attract as to repel. Welcome to a world where humans live side-by-side with monsters, from vampires both nostalgic and bumbling, to an eight-legged alien who makes tea. Here you'll find mercurial forms that burrow into warm fat, spectral boy toys, a Maori force of nature, a landform that claims lives, and an architect of hell on earth. Through these, and a few monsters that defy categorization, some of today's top young-adult authors explore ambition and sacrifice, loneliness and rage, love requited and avenged, and the boundless potential for connection, even across extreme borders.

Moriabe's Children / Paolo Bacigalupi --
Old souls / Cassandra Clare --
Ten rules for being an intergalactic smuggler (the successful kind) / Holly Black --
Quick hill / M.T. Anderson --
The diabolist / Nathan Ballingrud --
This whole demoning thing / Patrick Ness --
Wings in the morning / Sarah Rees Brennan --
Left foot, right / Nalo Hopkinson --
The Mercurials / G. Carl Purcell --
Kitty Capulet and the invention of underwater photography / Dylan Horrocks --
Son of abyss / Nik Houser --
A small wild magic / Kathleen Jennings --
The new boyfriend / Kelly Link --
The woods hide in plain sight / Joshua Lewis --
Mothers, lock up your daughters because they are terrifying / Alice Sola Kim

480 pages, Hardcover

First published September 9, 2014

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About the author

Kelly Link

206 books2,076 followers
Kelly Link is an American author best known for her short stories, which span a wide variety of genres - most notably magic realism, fantasy and horror. She is a graduate of Columbia University.

Her stories have been collected in four books - Stranger Things Happen, Magic for Beginners, Pretty Monsters, and most recently, Get in Trouble.
She has won several awards for her short stories, including the World Fantasy Award in 1999 for "The Specialist's Hat", and the Nebula Award both in 2001 and 2005 for "Louise's Ghost" and "Magic for Beginners".

Link also works as an editor, and is the founder of independant publishing company, Small Beer Press, along with her husband, Gavin Grant.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 341 reviews
Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,232 reviews1,016 followers
May 6, 2015
Kelly Link is a great author - and here she proves she can pick 'em as well as write 'em. There's a YA theme here, but these all-new tales can definitely be enjoyed by all ages (and I'd argue that some aren't particularly 'youth-oriented' at all.) Definitely an above-average collection.

*****Paolo Bacigalupi—Moriabe’s Children
A dark and tragic fairytale of an evil stepfather, set on the shores and kraken-infested seas of a northern clime... This is a bit of a departure in style from Bacigalupi's previous work - but I love it just as much if not more, than anything else I've read by him. Powerful, timeless, and relevant.

*** Cassandra Clare—Old Souls
This is definitely written as an attempt to partially counterweight the influence of the 'Twilight' saga. I'm 100% in favor of the sentiment. Overall, the story does feel a little message-y and teenage-ish... but I'm quite in favor of the messages.

**** Holly Black—Ten Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler (The Successful Kind)
A young girl stows away on her uncle's spaceship. But with his latest smuggling commission, he bites off more than he can chew... Space pirates and violent aliens come together in a cute but also exciting tale that's also about growing up, learning to shake off others' preconceptions, and choosing ones own path in life.

**** M. T. Anderson—Quick Hill
In an alternate, WWII-era America full of supernatural phenomena, one village has a tradition - the men of one family are 'married to the Hill' in an earth magic ritual believed to protect the community. Don Thwaite, a teen too young to join up with the Armed Forces, is the last heir of this family. But he's reluctant to take up what many see as his duty, as he's been falling in love with a local girl...
Told in an intentionally simple style which harks back to an era we might think of a simpler time, Anderson presents some very complex issues. Think the dark side of Archie Comics meets The Wicker Man.

**** Nathan Ballingrud—The Diabolist
Excellent horror story. When a girl's father, her sole guardian, dies, she ventures down into his laboratory, where he was known to conduct experiments in demonology. There, she encounters the imp which her father trapped while attempting to resurrect his deceased wife.
The fact that the imp simply behaves according to its nature does not make the way events unfold any less terrifying.

*** Patrick Ness—This Whole Demoning Thing
In this world, everyone has a 'demonic' aspect, and people shape-shift between a 'normal' appearance and having horns, tails, claws, etc constantly. However, society seems to be just the same... the story is really a fairly typical high school drama about a girl who deals with a bit of bullying and loves being in a band with her classmates. Designed for a teen (or younger) audience.

*** Sarah Rees Brennan—Wings in the Morning
The feel and setting of this one reminded me a bit of Garth Nix's 'Abhorsen' series. A group of young people defend the Border between earth and magical lands, come to terms with their identities, and sort themselves out romantically.

*** Nalo Hopkinson—Left Foot, Right
A young woman enters a store to buy a very specific pair of cheap shoes... Clearly, something dire has occurred, but we are not yet sure what... The gradual reveal is well-done, but this would have been rated higher, except for The Caribbean setting and the elements of folklore are vivid and nicely-done.

** G. Carl Purcell—The Mercurials
Post-apocalypse meets horror in this weird tale of a bunch of mentally-handicapped people trying to survive in a wasteland infested with shapeshifting aliens.

*** Dylan Horrocks—Kitty Capulet and the Invention of Underwater Photography
A girl travels with her rock-star father to New Zealand, where a music festival is being staged in a rural location. Local Maori are protesting the environmental impact of the annual event. When the main character meets a water elemental whose home is threatened, she gets involved in the controversy. Not bad, but it verges on didactic.

*** Nik Houser—Son of Abyss
More teenagers who are demons, and their school/family/romantic dramas. Honestly, for a bit, I almost felt like the anthology should've included either this one OR Ness' 'Demoning Thing,' not both - however, this one works its way up to something much, much darker and more violent.

Kathleen Jennings—A Small Wild Magic
No rating; this graphic feature didn't translate well to the Kindle format. Hopefully it'll be remedied in the final version (this is an uncorrected ARC).

**** Kelly Link—The New Boyfriend
On the face of it, this story is a bit teenage-y - but Link's trademark weirdness suffuses it. Here we have a group of four high school friends. Ainslie's a bit more indulged by her mother than the rest of them, and has been given not just one but all THREE models of the hottest new 'toy' - realistic robot 'boyfriends.' The models are Vampire, Werewolf, and the latest, hard-to-get version, Ghost. Ainslie's best friend, Immy, is consumed with jealousy - she desperately wants a fake boyfriend of her own. Things get even more complicated when it seems that the 'ghost' boyfriend may be genuinely haunted.

**** Joshua Lewis—The Woods Hide in Plain Sight
Yes, it's a story of a teenage girl meeting a seductive vampire - but I really, really liked it. It made a done-to-death theme feel fresh. The scenario is surprisingly believable, the characters relatable (if, when you were a kid you longed to escape to something greater than the town you were stuck in), and the theme of caring and loyalty is nice (believe me, you want friends like these). On top of all that, it's got some really creepy moments, and a kick-ass ending.

**** Alice Sola Kim—Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They Are Terrifying
Hmm. No, the 'daughters' aren't what's terrifying here; at least not at first. A tight-knit group of girls, all Korean-American adoptees, decide to dabble in dark magic. At first, their late-night ritual doesn't seem to have any effect - but eventually, the fallout from that one night will tear them apart, in more ways than one. A scary story that works on more than one level, with complex insights into the feelings of adopted children - and teenage girls in general. Very, very good.

Many, many thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book. As always, my opinions are unaffected by the source.
Profile Image for Milica.
108 reviews39 followers
May 10, 2023
This book was supposed to be a horror anthology (at least I think so), but I would never characterize it as such. Most stories are just plain weird and not a least bit scary. As I already mentioned, my favorite remains M.T. Anderson’s “Quick Hill”, which is terrific and I’d give it five starts, but unfortunately, it has some “lukewarm” company. There is also Holy Black’s “The Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler (the Successful Kind)”, which was very entertaining. Other stories are pretty forgettable as far as I’m concerned.
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,262 reviews222 followers
March 1, 2016
An excellent anthology with lots of interesting stories, classical, mythological and psychological monsters.

There are some obvious standouts, and as with a lot of anthologies you should pay attention to the first and last stories. The first is excellent about a girl who listens to monsters, and the last has a brilliant title and excellent follow through. There are also some excellent cores of novels here.

I included some comments on each of the stories in my progress updates, so I suggest you look there for details.

Particular favorites for me: Moriabe's Children, Ten Rules for being an Intergalactic Smuggler (the Successful Kind), The Whole Demoning Thing, Wings in the Morning and Son of Abyss. Special props for the brilliantly named Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They're Terrifying.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
707 reviews78 followers
May 10, 2015
Moriabe's Children: *screams quietly* 5/5
[but seriously release the kraken]

Old Souls: I'm always on board for a "realistic vampire" story. 4/5

Ten Rules for being an Intergalactic Smuggler: this story is my alien scifi aesthetic; I am here for this 100%. 5/5

Quick Hill: Not my cup of tea, I was outrageously bored.

The Diabolist: *screams desperately* 4/5

The Whole Demoning Thing: teen demons start a band and it is glorious. 5/5

Wings in the Morning: I want to marry this world and everyone in it. "I wish you boys would talk about something besides romance or clothes." 5/5

Left Foot, Right: Really creepy but hopeful story about grieving. Monsters don't want shoes they want the RIGHT shoe. 4/5

The Mercurials: Skimmed this one. It looked terrifying.

Kitty Capulet and the Invention of Underwater Photography: I feel like the title is misleading? But I really liked this story. New Zealand! Maori mythology! Girls who don't have time for nonsense but want friends but who are really smart and compassionate! Embarrassing dads! 5/5

Son of Abyss: Skimmed this one because it was incredibly terrifying and gory.

A Small Wild Magic: ADORABLE story about friendship and bird-girls, in graphic novel format. 5/5

The New Boyfriend: I liked the ghost story part of this, and the rest proves that the best monsters are human beings. Yikes. 3/5

The Woods Hide in Plain Sight: This was your typical vampire romance except with several twists in a row. I loved it, especially the portrayal of friendship. REAL FRIENDS BUILD FLAMETHROWERS. 5/5

Mothers, Hide Your Daughters Because They Are Terrifying: Skimmed it because it was scary. I can't really explain why some stories I this scared me more than others.
Profile Image for Anna.
1,686 reviews636 followers
July 1, 2020
I bought a copy of 'Monstrous Affections' off eBay for one story, 'Wings in the Morning', which I understood was a sequel to In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan. As that was a YA fantasy romance, I anticipated that the rest of this anthology would be similar. The blurb states, 'Fifteen top voices in fantasy fiction explore the intersection of fear and love, of monsters and men, and our fatal attraction to what hides in the shadows'. From this I subsequently inferred that there would be banging. To my surprise, there is barely a mention of sex in the whole book. I was pleasantly disconcerted to discover that many of the stories weren't romances, focusing instead on friendship and familial love. There are also a few sci-fi settings to break up the urban, supernatural, and other fantasy worlds. The stories are consistently YA, though, as without exception the protagonists are teenagers or student age.

I did not initially intend to read the entire thing in just over a day, as the plan was to use it as light relief from Little Dorrit. Then my period arrived and I needed a distraction from the pain. 'Monstrous Affections' was ideal for this, as it's very easy to read and contains a suitably interesting variety of fantastical concepts. As it turned out, 'Wings in the Morning' proved rather a let-down. It's fun and engaging in exactly the same way as In Other Lands, but only adds a different point of view on the same events of the novel (Luke's, rather than Elliot's). I had hoped to find out what happened next and did not. On the other hand, several other stories exceeded my expectations. The most moving and atmospheric was 'Left Foot, Right' by Nalo Hopkinson. A memorable portrait of grief and the clear highlight of the book. Several stories transpose demonic elements into the American suburbs, or even present Hell as a suburb in 'Son of Abyss'. As American suburbs already seem uncanny and horrifying to me without the need for demons, I found that these fell a bit flat. I preferred the convincingly intense teenage girl friendships and ghostly happenings in 'The New Boyfriend' and 'Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They Are Terrifying'. These two stories have more imaginative and unexpected details, rather than just giving high schoolers horns and tails.

Other stories had appealing world-building without making a strong impression overall, particularly 'Quick Hill' and 'Moriabe's Children'. In the latter, I liked the background kraken lore while finding the plot limited even for 24 pages. That's always a point of tension with short stories, how much plot can and should be crammed in. It seems like a very difficult art. Too little plot, and characterisation and setting will need to be exceptional to compensate. Conversely, there is always a risk of trying to cram too much into a small space, such that events appear truncated. This latter was notable in, 'Ten Rules For Being An Intergalactic Smuggler (the Successful Kind)'. Nonetheless, there were no stories in this anthology that I disliked or was bored by. They all had some intriguing element and, crucially, were distinctive. As a collection, they were well chosen and a pleasantly undemanding read when recuperating on the sofa. Nonetheless, I am a bit disappointed about 'Wings in the Morning'.
Profile Image for Jasmine.
Author 1 book132 followers
July 3, 2015
Anthology as a Whole 5/5
A fantastic anthology. Fair warning, though, it slanted a bit further into horror than I normally read. Like, quite a bit further. *shudder*

Moriabe's Children— Paolo Bacigalupi 4/5
Alanie has never seen a kraken, but her father died hunting them.

This one is a delicate, bloody tale about abuse, really. And how to be really, REALLY freaked out by the ocean.

Old Souls— Cassandra Clare

Leah has just had the worst kind of breakup, and her mum thinks that working at a retirement home will make things better. Mum probably doesn't expect the monster working there.

I was uh, mostly thrown off by the abortion? I couldn't figure out if this was a breakup story or a grief story or what. Not really my thing.

Ten Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler (the Successful Kind)— Holly Black 4/5
Stowing away on a smuggler's ship is hardly ever a good idea.

I really liked this one. SPACE. Mostly it doesn't get five stars because I wanted more from it. In terms of more words. I WANT A HOLLY BLACK SPACE TRILOGY.

Quick Hill— M. T. Anderson5/5
Thwait's parents tell him that he's betrothed to the hill out back of his house.

WELL THAT WAS JUST RUDE. It's set during this alternate ww2, and basically UGH rude. Mob mentality ruins everything. It's really good. ALSO RUDE.

The Diabolist— Nathan Ballingrud
It's really hard to grieve properly when your late father raised demons to cope with his grief.

This one absolutely blindsided me. I thought I knew what was going on, because the characters were using words I know, like "love", and "grief". Then I got to the last page and everything went terrible. PSA: Don't trust a demon when they talk about love, no matter how sincere they sound or ARE.

This Whole Demoning Thing— Patrick Ness
Demon teens form a rock band!

Wings in the Morning— Sarah Rees Brennan 5/5

SRB I love youuuuuuuuuu. Also Elliot. Also Serene-Heart-In-The-Chaos-Of-Battle. Also Golden. Also EVERYONE IN THIS BAR. Good grief.

Left Food, Right— Nalo Hopkins

The Mercurials— G. Carl Purcell 4/5

File the reading experience of this one again under "i totally know what is going on WAIT WHAT AUGH."

Kitty Capulet and the Invention of Underwater Photography— Dylan Horrocks

Son of Abyss— Nik Houser 5/5
Love and cruelty in teenagers and families, in a world where angels are tortured for electricity.

A Small Wild Magic— Kathleen Jennings 4/5
A boy is left a bird when his aunt dies, but there's something more to the gift.

So that was adorable. Graphic novel.

The New Boyfriend— Kelly Link

The Woods Hide In Plain Sight— Joshua Lewis 5/5
Friends support you when you say you're dating a vampire. BEST friends build a flamethrower to help you take down said vampire.

I cannot fully express how much I love this story. Is it a lot? Yes it is. Also, the best argument for public libraries i've heard in a while.

Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They Are Terrifying— Alice Sola Kim
Hands down the best title I've heard for a short story in like, ever. I'm a little confused by the story itself (did they summon aliens, the dead, or demons? Or something else?) but the title still fills me with love for this story.
Profile Image for Mari.
389 reviews26 followers
March 24, 2021
(Just a heads up, I still have to read the rest of the stories, this is exclusively for Wings in the Morning for now)

Now that this is over I officially have nothing else from this universe I can read... I’m so sad! I love this world; and more importantly: these characters.

If you don’t know what this is; is a short story that Sarah Rees Brennan wrote set in the universe of In Other Lands/ The Turn Of The Story.

And if you don’t know what In Other Lands is, is simply one of my favorite fantasy and not fantasy books, I really recommend it, it’s amazing.

Now, this story tells us some events that happened In Other Lands, but from another character’s point of view, this character being Luke, one of Elliot’s (the main character) friends.

If you haven’t read In Other Lands, read it before reading this story, it does have spoilers.

Now, about the story; I LOVE IT. (I guess my fives stars spoke for me), reading the same events than In Other Lands but from Luke’s point of view was one of my favorite things in this year, maybe it’s not saying much because we’re barely in January but it’s still true.

I don’t really know what to say about this besides this because it’s a short story with less than 60 pages, so I cant say much without spoiling.

So I’m just going to add two things:
1) I wanted to read this so badly that I bought a whole book to do so (if you didn’t know; this can be find in the short story collection named Monstrous Affections), and I don’t regret it.

2) Go read In Other Lands.

Profile Image for Lauren Stotts.
61 reviews5 followers
October 17, 2014
Had to get this for "Wings in the Morning." Amazing, as the notorious SRB (Sarah Rees Brennan) tends to be. If you're interested, check out the entirely free and beautifully told prequel Turn of the Story that she has posted on her blog. It's not often that I get glued to something for an entire Saturday, but I was stuck on this like white on rice.
Profile Image for PJforaDay.
350 reviews31 followers
Want to read
April 15, 2014
For grouchy Elliot

ETA: Seriously NetGalley! I actually thought I would be approved:(
Profile Image for Kay.
366 reviews33 followers
December 25, 2014
I'm far more familiar with Kelly Link as an editor of fairytale anthologies that are gruesome and beautiful and terrifying, so the content in Monstrous Affections was exactly what I wanted, even if the profoundly embarrassing introduction gave me pause. Rather than try to rate the stories in terms of stars I simply ranked them from most loved to least.

“Quick Hill” – Timely and always relevant, M.T. Anderson's story has a strange conceit but familiar mechanics. The fundamental argument “Quick Hill” makes is about heroism – what constitutes a hero? What happens to a hero once they've made their sacrifice? “Quick Hill” examines the space between actual heroism and people who are treated as heroes. Incisive and well-written with a heavy, realistic alternate WWII-era America, this was, for me, the strongest story in the anthology.

“Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They Are Terrifying” – There's so much about this one that was amazing – the use of POV, the terror and the desperation, the wanting of the main characters. It's sometimes hard for short story protagonists to be distinct, but Alice Sola Kim manages it magnificently. A perfect final story for the anthology that is in-step with Bacigalupi's opening work.

“Old Souls” – A story fundamentally about healing, I didn't expect “Old Souls” to wind up as powerful as it did. I think it's reasonable to argue that the constant references to social media in the text might easily date it, but for this particular text I felt it served to highlight how things do change, and how ephemeral the trappings of any era actually are. I'm not always blown away by Cassandra Clare's technical skills as a writer, but she's incredibly effective at evoking raw emotion.

“Left Foot, Right” – This story made me want to run out and immediately read everything written by Nalo Hopkinson. “Left Foot, Right” takes a more conversational tone than many of the other offerings and it works. The discussion of grief and healing, the ugliness of it all, felt incredibly vivid. There were moments that were shocking and surreal and those moments complemented and complicated the gritty authenticity of the subject matter.

“Moriabe's Children” – Stunning; I loved the use of language and repetition to tell the story. Bacigalupi is such a strong writer, and he writes with such a sense of presence. Link and Grant chose well to begin with this story – it crafts the framework for both “monstrousness” and “affection.” Bacigalupi uses myth to move his world along, and I think the use of myth in the story both fleshes out the world but also illustrates how his characters (and human beings in general) understand their world.

“The Mercurials” – I loved so much of this. I keep harping on a sense of “place” in these stories because so often short fiction feels contextless, almost as if it happens in a vacuum. Purcell's world, on the other hand, is inexplicable and terrifyingly vivid. What “The Mercurials” has is realness without explanation which can be frustrating in longer fiction but is used to electrifying effect in this particular work. This work was, perhaps, the most horrifying of the stories (in a good way).

“The Diabolist” – While the POV does start out awkward and jerking, the story smooths out into something sinister and powerful. If “The Mercurials” wasn't my pick for “most horrifying” then this one would be. I think my greatest criticism is that the ending felt truncated – not necessarily incomplete, but not as expansively written as it needed to be.

“How To Be An Intergalactic Smuggler” – I liked this and I liked seeing on my favorite authors try out a genre I dont' usually see her write in. I loved the list structure of the work and I loved how Black made such a vivid world in such little space. I would've liked a better handle on the main character and I would love more in this world, but even as is “How To Be An Intergalactic Smuggler” is a solid, strong work in its own right.

“A Small Wild Magic” – I liked this comic a lot, and I think the visual storytelling was very strong. Jennings' art is charming and fluid even if the narrative itself didn't wow me.

“The New Boyfriend” – I have extremely mixed feelings on this one. Link writes exceedingly well – I've read her work before and I think that's indisputable fact. I also loved the idea of Immy as a protagonist; there are not enough female characters in the world who are just allowed to be bad. Furthermore, Immy is a hideously realistic “bad” protagonist; her feelings and thoughts and jealousies were deeply familiar to me. That said, the actual theme of the story seemed muddled – surely it can't just be that Immy is awful?

“The Woods Hide In Plain Sight” – Clever and cute, Lewis' work didn't inspire any particularly strong emotion. The writing was solid and the characters were decent but I wasn't particularly invested in the story Lewis wanted to tell.

“Wings In The Morning” – Not bad but not really good either. Filled with baffling romance and unsuccessful social commentary, reading the longer “prequel” on the author's LJ really only served to make the romance more baffling and the social commentary even more tired. I can definitely see the appeal, but seems to only tangentially relate to the rest of the anthology.

“Son of Abyss” – I'm just not a fan of the “but wait, what if demons were just like us or whatever. I think Houser used myth well in his story – the repetition of the creation myth was probably the strongest and most meaningful part of the story for me. Otherwise, though, it felt like Houser couldn't decide on who he wanted his protagonist to be: a milquetoast good guy? A spinless jerk implicit in the abuse and torture of an innocent? A monster just waiting to be unleashed? There are good ideas in here, but the overall story is pretty unsuccessful.

“Kitty Capulet and the Invention of Underwater Photography” – super white savior-y and fairly cliché beyond that. I couldn't stop unfavorably comparing it to Karen Healey's Guardian of the Dead the entire time.

“This Whole Demoning Thing” – More accessible to a general audience but tonally off from the weird beauty of the anthology itself, “This Whole Demoning Thing” was my least favorite installment. I think I may need to admit that Patrick Ness' work isn't for me; I started with A Monster Calls and I've enjoyed everything he's written sense progressively less and less.
Profile Image for Grace.
17 reviews26 followers
September 26, 2019
I was planning on writing a review for this and got halfway through, but school and life put writing this on hold. Unfortunately, I can’t remember enough to have a mini review for every story in this book, but I suppose half of a review is better than none. Sorry guys!

Let me address my first disappointment: I was hoping for more scares, more creepy and confusing atmospheres in the stories.

Since this is an anthology, I will be doing mini-reviews on my thoughts and the content of the stories:

-Moriabe's Children by Paolo Bacigalupi

Five stars!! This was chilling and I adored every sentence of it.

Content warning: There's brief mentions of the main character being sexually abused. These are brief, non-detailed, told in past tense, and often just alluded to.

-Old Souls by Cassandra Clare

Three stars. Maybe vampire stories just aren't for me but this just was kind of bland in my opinion. The ending was sweet though, I did like the character arc.

Content warning: Throughout the story it is alluding to something that happened and it turns out that something is

-Ten Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler (the Successful Kind) by Holly Black

Three stars. This story was a lot of fun, I honestly have nothing wrong with it other than I got slightly bored halfway through, it probably was just an "it's me, not you" kind of thing though.

Content warning: I honestly can't remember if there was anything, so I think that's a good thing? But I often skim over things I consider bad automatically, so if there's something, let me know.

-Quick Hill by M.T. Anderson

Two stars. This was just really weird, and not in a good way.

Content warning: A lot of swearing and inappropriate jokes

Other stories I remember enjoying in this but can't recall enough to give a review on:

-Son of the Abyss
-The Woods Hide in Plain Sight
-Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They are Terrifying

BIG content warning for Wings in the Morning I stopped reading because the first page was so terrible content-wise and I skimmed the rest and whew it's horrible.

So is this book worth the read? I'd say the only story that I found really worth spending time reading was Moriabe's Children, so make of that what you will.
Profile Image for Lisa.
400 reviews16 followers
April 23, 2021
YA short story, full of allegories and horror
Only reviewed the ones that I read.

Moriabe’s Children
A dark tale of a young girl living in a seaside village where krakens rule the sea. Her father consumed with the dream of slaying krakens and riches dies suddenly and leaving the girl and her mother in poverty. The mother remarries and the young girl and stepbrother are sexually assaulted by the step-father which the mother ignores in favor of security. It's a parable of real monsters, the kraken, or the abusers who consume a life.

Ten Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler
A young girl, stowing away in her uncle's smuggler spaceship is caught up in a pirate raid and must depend on a violent alien to save her life. I mean, it was different. I didn't really buy that a teenage girl has the wherewithal to ask to be a partner in a smuggling ring after everyone else is murdered in front of her. But this isn't my story so it is what it is.

Quick Hill
An alternate history short story of WWII where the Americans are losing and a young man has been betrothed to a literal hill to save the rest of the village. Unfortunately, the boy has fallen in love with a human girl and doesn't want to marry a mythical hill to save the villagers from the horrible ravages of war. It was unreal how his crush was the only thing that kept him from having his life, sanity, and his future taken from him. It is a story of sacrifice. But for all his heroism, no one remembered or honored him.

The Diabolist
A young girl discovers an imp in the basement of her dead father's house. She releases the imp and it decides to control human bodies to continue its work from Hell. Again, I wasn't sure what the moral of the story was, besides the varieties of love.

The Mercurials
A village of the physically disabled and elderly fights against an alien species that presents as mercury worms. I didn't quite understand what was going on.

Kitty Capulet and the invention of Underwater Photography
The daughter of a rock star gets involved in a local land preservation scheme. I honestly skimmed this one.

Son of Abyss
Grim, dark fantasy at its best or its worst. A young demon boy, loses his mother suddenly and is now in the first flush of first love for his childhood friend. Unfortunately, his childhood friend is in love with his BF. This was a hard book to read because there were angels, demons, self-mutilation, evil, and love.

A Small Wild Magic
A comic about a shape-changing bird gifted to a great nephew who grants three wishes. It was like the genie in the bottle, but the bird can grant only certain types of realistic wishes.

New Boyfriend
Four high friends are celebrating one of their birthdays and 'fake' mannequin Ghost boyfriend is one of the gifts. Immy, BF but deeply jealous of her friend's gift, secretly 'turns on' doll boyfriend, and weird stuff happens. I'm not sure what the moral of the story is or what we should have taken away from this besides supernatural doll boyfriends are not a good gift idea for teenage girls.

The Woods Hide in Plain Sight.
Who turns into a vampire because they are bored? A stupid college girl that's who. It's like reading a twisted version of Twilight without the veneer of sparkling skin, handsome and honorable families who DON'T drink blood. Emmy on college breaks goes back to her hometown and meets a strange and mysterious boy in the woods. Bored with her average life, Emmy consents to be a vampire without questioning what it might entail.

Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They Are Terrifying
This was a hard book to read if even such a simple story of teenage adopted Korean girls inviting a 'Mom' spirit into their lives. For the most part, the realization that adopted foreign-born children still long for their biological families and never feel secure in their new homes was enlightening. It was the thought of messed up family relationship that tipped it over to horror for me.
Profile Image for First Second Books.
560 reviews548 followers
December 16, 2014
Kelly Link and Gavin Grant are just awesome!

Sometimes I feel like short stories are just too short to be fulfilling, but they manage to prove me wrong every time they put together an anthology. This is the best one yet. And with a Yuko Shimizu cover and individual page number accent graphics for each story, it’s also the prettiest yet.

Also, monsters: pretty awesome themselves.
Profile Image for Wealhtheow.
2,431 reviews543 followers
December 24, 2015
A collection of short stories about love and monsters. In the pros column, there's a broad range of monsters and types of love--this isn't just a collection filled with the usual kinds of vampires and romantic love. In the cons column, these stories are far heavier on the horror and disturbing content than I prefer.

Paolo Bacigalupi, "Moirabe's Children." Alanie and her step-brother escape a terrifying father and flee toward kraken. I am not into stories about fathers raping children, so I hated this story for that plot element, but it's definitely written well and the ending is powerful.

Cassandra Clare, "Old Souls." I've disliked everything I've read by Clare, but I actually liked this. It's a little heavy handed, but I liked the idea of a girl with memories she wants to lose communing with a memory-vampire in a nursing home.

Holly Black, "Ten Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler (the successful kind)." Tera wants to be a smuggler like her cool uncle, not a boring homesteader, so she hides out on his space ship. Adventures ensue, and she has to figure out how to survive and thrive on her own. I particularly liked the section when she steps foot on her first space station and is both relieved and disappointed that no one tries to sell her drugs or kidnap her.

MT Anderson, "Quick Hill." Thwait is a sweet guy who's in love with a troubled girl at school, but his dying town needs him to marry the local hill to keep them all safe. The sacrifice of one man's individuality and future for an entire town is well told, but the delivery is super dark, holy shit. Anderson's Feed also messed me up, so I guess I should have expected it.

Nathan Ballingrud, "The Diabolist." The only daughter of a dead metaphysical pathologist and his greatest work commune over their shared love of him. They'll do whatever it takes to bring him back. This is a flat-out horror story.

Patrick Ness, "This Whole Demoning Thing." Like her friends and family, Angela is a demon, but just because she breathes fire and is covered in scales doesn't mean she doesn't have a kind heart. By performing in a band, she becomes free to reveal her true self. I liked this!

Sara Rees Brennan, "Wings in the Morning." I got this collection from the library for the sole purpose of reading this story. It's a companion/sequel to The Turn of the Story, in which prickly Elliot accidentally becomes bffs with warriors Serene and Luke and tries to save a fantasy kingdom. This story is told from Luke's point of view, which is not quite as fun as Elliot's. Also, I'm happy for ONE boy to be oblivious to his feelings and the feelings of others, but not both of them. So although I really enjoyed this story, it's not quite what I was hoping for.

Nalo Hopkinson, "Left Foot, Right." Jenna lost her baby and sister in a car crash, and has been haunted ever since. In trying to placate her sister's ghost by throwing shoes into a swamp, she encounters a manifestation of her miscarriage and somehow comes to terms with both losses. Frankly, I didn't get this or like it.

G Carl Purcell, "The Mercurials." Blank Itzikoff wants a mercurial of his own, so he repeatedly sneaks off into the tainted lands where they live. This is set in a confusing post-apocapytic land that gradually becomes clearer, and as it becomes clear what's happening, I got more and more horrified. Why is there nothing NICE in this collection?

Dylan Horrocks, "Kitty Capulet and the Invention of Underwater Photography." Kitty's father is a famous indie musician, and she follows him around the world as he tours. She's lonely, and then makes tentative friends with a mysterious boy who only appears near a stream. When she tells him about a proposed development that will destroy the stream, his reaction reveals that not only is he no mere boy, but that she has to convince everyone to stop the development. Fine but forgettable. The only interesting part of this story was the choice of a New Zealand myth for the monster.

Nik Houser, "Son of Abyss." This starts out with what I thought was a cute opener, "It was Mom's idea for me and Dad to build the blood altar in the garage. She said it would be a bonding experience." but then grows so dark and disturbing (mutilation! torture! animal death! incest! abuse!) that just remembering it upsets me. The world building is actually pretty cool (I especially liked Transgression Day, when everyone commits one transgression in hopes of making their souls too heavy to be taken up to heaven and turned into mindless worshippers of a goddess) but I hated this story.

K Jennings, "A Small Wild Magic." A man inherits a djinni from his great-aunt, and makes some pretty paltry and sweet wishes. Too short and lightweight for me.

Kelly Link, "The New Boyfriend." Immy isn't sure whether she loves or hates her friend Ainslie. What she is sure of is that she loves Ainslie's new robot Boyfriend. First she sabotages it, then she steals it for her own. I liked Immy struggling with friendship and what love feels like, and I liked the ghostly twist to this. But I didn't like the ending, which ends so open endedly, and like Immy never learned any lesson at all, that I was left unsure of the point of the whole thing.

Joshua Lewis, "The Woods Hide in Plain Sight." Em comes home after her first semester away at college and tries to figure out if she's changed and/or if the friends and places she's left behind have. I really liked this: Em and her friends are unique but recognizable, their friendship dynamics felt familiar and realistic, and their reactions to Ricard, a supposed vampire, in their midst, were great.

Alice Sola Kim, "Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They are Terrifying." First off, great title. Second off, great concept: a trio of Korean adoptees become friends and do a dark ritual for kicks. Surprisingly, the ritual works: they get successively possessed with something that calls itself Mom and loves, criticizes, and helps them just like they want their original moms to have done. Some are happier about this than others.
Profile Image for Holly Harker.
29 reviews15 followers
September 17, 2014
You find it on a pockmarked shelf between a jar of eyeballs and a talon-handled dagger.

‘Monstrous Affections,’ you mutter under your breath. ‘An Anthology of Beastly Tales.’

Anthology. Hmm. Short stories aren’t always your thing. But monsters definitely are. And judging by the beautiful hardback presentation of the book, you suspect it might be a companion to the excellent Steampunk! anthology edited by Kelly Link.

You check the authors at the top: yup, Kelly Link and Gavin J Grant. This looks like it might be fun.
You crack it open to the contents and pretty much drool at the list of authors: Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, P-PATRICK NESS? Well, okay, now we’re talking.

You’re a sucker for starting anthologies at the start, so you read Moriabe’s Children by Paolo Bacigalupi. You’ve always wanted to read him, and as you start to read his lyrical prose with that inner voice, you make a mental note to move his books to the top of your list.

You’re in a world of old fantasy, a world where a young girl can talk to giant sea monsters called kraken. They whisper to her when her father dies, and when her mother remarries a man who smiles at her like a hunter. You look around you at this world that lives and dies by the sea, this world of whale-hunters and oyster-sellers, and you marvel at how well the author can paint a world with words. More than anything, you’d love to spend more time in this world.

And then the story is over, and you savour the taste of salt water on your tongue and move on.
Cassandra Clare is up next, and this time you find yourself in a much newer world…well new and old. An old folk’s home where a girl is volunteering her time as punishment, and she just knows there’s something different about the other boy volunteering. For a start, he’s much, much older than he looks.

You turn page after page and then you’re in another world, this one by Holly Black. This time you’re transported all the way into the darkest regions of space, aboard the Celeris spaceship, on which a girl has stowed away. And everything is hunky dory until space pirates attack, and you’re both hiding out in the bowels of the spaceship, fearing for your lives. You make a particular note of how much you love the voice in this one – second person. Because who doesn’t love second person? And the way in which the story is framed by a set of rules. You think to yourself, is Holly Black possibly the most inventive person writing YA right now?

You take a break to shift onto a dusty old velvet chair the colour of old peas and vomit. The paper-winged bookseller curls his lip at you but says nothing.

You flip to Patrick Ness. THE Patrick Ness who wrote those books that made you feel so many feels. You take a second to glare at them up on the shelf and mutter the name ‘Manchee’. The bookseller shushes you. Okay, PNess, you think to yourself. You gonna make me cry this time?

Nope. No Noise-blaring otherworlds here. Well, sort of. It’s high school, but when you arrive you find you’re a demon who can slip in and out of Aspect. Except appearing as a normal human out of Aspect is so not cool. You hang out with a girl in a band who can breathe fire but kind of doesn’t want to. She just wants to play music. You don’t cry this time. You laugh because PNess manages to meld being a badass demon with teenage angst so well.

You read through the rest of these worlds, dipping in and out. You visit all of them, and every time the only complaint you have is that you want to spend more time there. You visit shoe stores and Korean witches and everything in between.

Eventually the scowling bookseller appears at your elbow. ‘You gonna buy it or what?’

You nod and reach into your pockets for the money. ‘How much?’

‘It’s a pay as you feel system,’ he says. ‘One golden star if you didn’t like it, five if you wanna marry it and have its children some day.’

You try not to picture what a half-human, half-book child would look like. ‘Okay. I liked some stories a lot more than others. Most were very original, great characters, great world-building. I thought some could have stretched themselves a little further, but on the whole a great collection. Four stars.’

You plonk the golden coins with the stars engraved on their faces in the bookseller’s outstretched claw.

‘Nice doing business with you,’ he says. ‘I’m sure I’ll see you again soon.’

The bell tinkles behind you as you leave with Monstrous Affections tucked under your arm.
Profile Image for Malcolm.
255 reviews40 followers
November 22, 2016
It’s clear from the introduction that this anthology is directed at tween and teenage female readers, but I wanted to sample writing from a variety of popular fantasy authors, and this fit the bill. Here’s a one-sentence summary of each story, along with my likes and dislikes about each:

“Moriabe’s Children” by Paolo Bacigalupi: 5/5
A girl with an abusive step-father discovers she has a special connection with the kraken. Easily the best story in this collection. Bacigalupi’s prose is atmospheric and magical. I look forward to reading one of his novels soon.

“Old Souls” by Cassandra Clare: 4/5
While volunteering at a nursing home, a girl discovers a secret about one of her co-workers that provides insight into her own struggles. I enjoyed Clare’s wry tone and how the main character had a secret of her own, but the overall message feels like an afterschool special.

“Ten Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler (the Successful Kind)” by Holly Black: 3/5
You (presumably a girl) try to stay hidden from smugglers who are looking for your illegal cargo—a spider-like alien. The second-person perspective worked for me, although I’m not sure how much of a narrative purpose it served. Nice world-building with a somewhat predictable plot.

“Quick Hill” by M.T. Anderson: 3/5
A boy is expected to marry a hill in order to stop a war, but his heart belongs to a local girl. The superstitions of the town really fascinated me, but the terse writing style was beyond annoying. Combined, they do create a true sense of “otherness” that makes this world different from our own.

“The Diabolist” by Nathan Ballingrud: 1/5
A daughter talks to the demon that her father summoned before his death. The collective tense felt like an unsuccessful attempt at mimicking “A Rose for Emily.” Since I felt no connection to the story or characters, the plot came across as boring rather than creepy.

“This Whole Demoning Thing” by Patrick Ness: 1/5
A group of demons prepare for their live band performance. The concept of human versus demon “aspects” was cool, but the story seemed…shallow? Ness’s novella A Monster Calls was excellent, so perhaps I was just expecting something more serious and thought-provoking.

“Wings in the Morning” by Sarah Rees Brennan: 4/5
A boy discovers he’s part harpy—creatures known for being violent—and he becomes instrumental in developing a treaty to defend the border between the human and magical world. This story is begging to be a novel; it has all the necessary plot points and character arcs, but the pacing feels rushed. The romance was sweet and the gender-bending elements made for some fun dialogue.

“Left Foot, Right” by Nalo Hopkinson: 2/5
A girl who recently lost her sister becomes obsessed with buying the same shoes over and over. This one featured an interesting creature from Trinidad and Tobago folklore, but left something to be desired in the delivery of the story.

“The Mercurials” by G. Carl Purcell: N/A
A town tries to keep the “mercurials” away with loud noises and music. Six pages in, I decided I couldn’t finish this one. I felt too dropped into the world and there were no strong characters to latch onto.

“Kitty Capulet and the Invention of Underwater Photography” by Dylan Horrocks: 2/5
An avid photographer travels to a folk music festival in New Zealand with her musician father, where protestors are rebelling against construction on the river that will disrupt a water spirit. Very interesting setting, but like many short stories in this collection, the pacing feels off. The main character changes within a heartbeat and the message ignores the complexities of the issue.

“Son of Abyss” by Nik Houser: 5/5
A young demon deals with his mother’s death, an unrequited crush, and his best friend’s descent into violent madness. The world-building is very creative, and one scene had me staring at the page in shock. The reveal at the end was a bit confusing, but I can forgive that.

“A Small Wild Magic” (comic) by Kahtleen Jennings : 2/5
A boy inherits a caged bird that turns out to be a girl who can grant wishes. I liked the concept and artwork, but I don’t think it works in a short narrative form. Things happen without any real emotion or build up.

“The New Boyfriend” by Kelly Link: 4/5
Immy has always wanted a Boyfriend—one of the doting, android-like dolls that are all the rage—but her best friend is the one who always gets what she wants. Great concept played to creepy heights. I could actually envision someone doing what Immy does, although I thought there would be more meaning behind the hair she chose.

“The Woods Hide in Plain Sight” by Joshua Lewis: 1/5
While visiting her hometown, a college girl meets an old-fashioned stranger who may or may not be a vampire. Ughh. I feel like this story was trying to subvert clichés, but it ended up heavily playing into the standard vampire tropes instead. The characters’ reactions didn’t make much sense.

“Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They Are Terrifying” by Alice Sola Kim: 3/5
Three adopted Korean daughters summon a mother figure into their lives. Like “The Diabolist,” this story attempts the collective tense with mixed results. However, the different backstories made the characters dynamic.

The Bottom Line: A solid collection of short stories, although if I had to read it all over again, I would only read my top five: “Moriabe’s Children,” “Son of Abyss,” “The New Boyfriend,” “Wings in the Morning,” and “Old Souls.”
Profile Image for Melki.
5,789 reviews2,339 followers
October 30, 2021
This was a fine collection of creepy tales geared toward young adults. The stories feature teenage protagonists, many of whom have to deal with monsters; others are monsters themselves. I honestly enjoyed them all, and I've made a list of authors whose work I'm going to search out.
Profile Image for CJ.
1,032 reviews20 followers
July 31, 2020
Second read:
This time around I'd rate "Old Souls" 4/5, "Left Foot, Right Foot" 5/5, and "The Woods Hide in Plain Sight" 4/5.

All but 2 stories are pretty strong, so this is a good anthology.

First read:
Overall: 3.83, rounded up to 4. (Yes, I literally added my individual ratings and then divided by 15.)

Moriabe's Children by Paolo Bacigalupi: 5/5. Excellent world building. Excellent characterization. All over just wonderful.

Old Souls by Cassandra Clare: 3/5. Maybe I'm just done with vampires as hot young guys.

Ten Rules... by Holly Black: 5/5. Perfect. Intense. And strangely moving.

Quick Hill by MT Anderson: 5/5. Great world, great mythology, great WWII A/U. Very creeped out in a good way.

The Diabolist by Nathan Ballingrud: 2/5. Just not my thing.

This Whole Demoning Thing by Patrick Ness: 3.5/5. It was cute, and I think it would make a good TV show.

Wings in the Morning by Sarah Rees Brennan: 5/5, of course. Her patented brand of snappy dialogue and silliness and romance, condensed into an utterly satisfying short story.

Left Foot, Right Foot by Nalo Hopkinson: 4.5/5. Unique voice and fascinating look at how people cope with tragedy.

The Mercurials by Carl Purcell: 3/5. Almost too creepy for me. And I wanted to know more about the Mercurials. I was kind of dissatisfied at the ending, having never learned about the Mercurials' true nature.

Kitty Capulet and the Invention of Underwater Photography by Dylan Horrocks: 1/5.
The narrator annoyed me on this one. Not my thing. Also, the whole "white savior" bit was uncomfortable.

Son of Abyss by Nik Houser: 3.5/5. A very intricately created world, but utterly horrifying. I almost couldn't take it. He's turning it into a novel, but that might just be a little too scary for me. Very well done, though.

A Small Wild Magic by Kathleen Jennings: 5/5. A quite nice little graphic story about wishes and selfishness.

The New Boyfriend by Kelly Link: 4/5. Creepy. The fact that it ended where it did almost makes the impending consequences scarier. You just KNOW Immy's going to be destructive.

The Woods Hide in Plain Sight by Joshua Lewis: 3.5/5. I liked this take on a familiar myth, and I liked the focus on friendship, despite lives changing.

Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They Are Terrifying by Alice Sola Kim: 5/5. DAMN. I'd read a novel of this. The chaotic plural second-person voice gave it a disorienting atmosphere in an already dark and twisted tale. This was not afraid to delve into the truly horrifying, though it did so without all the bloodshed of "Son of Abyss." Spine-chilling.
Profile Image for All Things Urban Fantasy.
1,921 reviews613 followers
September 22, 2014
Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy

MONSTROUS AFFECTIONS: AN ANTHOLOGY OF BEASTLY TALES was a mixed bag for me with some stories being pretty entertaining and spooky while others fell flat or just outright confused me. Each story involved a twist on a classic monster or monsters who inhabit the world living alongside humans. My favorite was “Wings in the Morning” by Sarah Rees Brennan which was a story about harpies and fairies. I really enjoyed the world building and the humor involved in learning about being a harpy. Holly Black’s “Ten Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler” was cute and I liked how the story was told with each ‘chapter’ being one of the ten rules for being an intergalactic smuggler. It was definitely sci-fi and was a story about growing up and forging your own path in life.

Some of the other stories were too bizarre, preachy, or confusing. There were a lot of messages pushed like abortion and suicide that after reading one story about a heavy topic in an anthology I get hit with yet another heavy one right away. Luckily there were enough light stories that didn’t make me want to go watch ‘My Little Ponies: Friendship is Magic’ to feel happiness again.

MONSTROUS AFFECTIONS is an interesting compilation of fairy tales with unique takes on classic monsters and tales. While some of them I couldn’t get into due to their topics or morbidity there were some that were entertaining and very creatively written stories.
Profile Image for Stephen Newell.
130 reviews1 follower
July 7, 2020
Full Disclosure: I'm not usually a monster-horror reader, so take that into account or my review.

As with most short story anthologies, you have some good, you have some bad. Or in this case, you have some absolutely stellar, and absolute...well, you get it. Concerning the former, you'll find fantastically well-thought out stories such as "Quick Hill" by M.T. Anderson and 'The Mercurials" by G. Carl Purcell, which manage to do some intriguing world-building while not neglecting the characterization and plot, a difficult task to accomplish in the short story format. There really is something for everyone, from Nalo Hopkinson's "Left Foot, Right", which may be one of the most unique takes on a monster story I have ever read, to Dylan Horrocks' take on the classic monster-mystery. You'll even find a short comic with "A Small Wild Magic" by K. Jennings.

Why then is it 3 stars? Because there are some truly annoying and poorly written stories mixed in. For starters, there are a couple short stories that stand out because they are waaay longer than the others. Which would be fine, if they were as good as the shorter ones, but they tend to not be. As for the poorly written ones, the usual culprit of my eye-rolling involved the characters relationships. Take "The Woods Hide in Plain Sight", for instance, where the main character meets and falls in love with a vampire and decides to become one herself to be with him...all in the space of a couple weeks...with no other compelling reason to do so. Or "Wings in the Morning," where the main character has to deal with a stunning discovery about himself, which his entire school finds out about...except his two best friends in the school, who for no obvious reason once again, are blissfully unaware. Am I asking too much? Maybe.

TL:DR: If you like monsters and/or weird stuff, read it for yourself. But at 480 pages, I highly encourage skipping the stories that aren't grabbing your interest.
Profile Image for emily.
41 reviews13 followers
February 19, 2018
average rating 3.3/5 stars, rounded up out of eternal gratitude for wings in the morning tbh

favorites: ten rules for being an intergalactic smuggler (holly black), wings in the morning (sarah rees brennan), and son of abyss (nik houser), though honestly many of these were very refreshing and interesting

1. "Moriabe's Children" by Paolo Bacigalupi -- 4/5
2. "Old Souls" by Cassandra Clare -- 2/5
3. "Ten Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler (the Successful Kind)" by Holly Black -- 5/5
4. "Quick Hill" by M.T. Anderson -- 4/5
5. "The Diabolist" by Nathan Ballingrud -- 1/5
6. "This Whole Demoning Thing" by Patrick Ness -- 3/5
7. "Wings in the Morning" by Sarah Rees Brennan -- 5/5 (my skin is clear and my crops are thriving)
8. "Left Foot, Right" by Nalo Hopkinson -- 2/5
9. "The Mercurials" by G. Carl Purcell -- 1/5
10. "Kitty Capulet and the Invention of Underwater Photography" by Dylan Horrocks -- 4/5
11. "Son of Abyss" by Nik Houser -- 5/5 (HOLY. SHIT. this was excellent)
12. "A Small Wild Magic" by Kathleen Jennings -- 3/5
13. "The New Boyfriend" by Kelly Link -- 4/5
14. "The Woods Hide in Plain Sight" by Joshua Lewis -- 3/5
15. "Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They Are Terrifying" by Alice Sola Kim -- 4/5
Profile Image for Jersy.
756 reviews61 followers
January 6, 2020
This was more YA than I thought, by which I mean a lot of stories are about what it means to be a teenager with the twist of the protagonists being or interacting with monsters, and that's just not really my thing. Some stories were more for all ages and thus appealed to me much more, but though there were stories I liked, there weren't any new favourites and some stories I didn't even finish.
The way the theme of monsters was implemented in the stories was fun, often creative and done in various different ways, so that wasn't a disappointment at all, but I still wasn't the right audience for this.
Profile Image for Mender.
1,349 reviews10 followers
February 6, 2015
Usually in anthologies I find one story I like and a lot of meh. This one tipped the scales towards good more often than not and I was genuinely surprised.

I liked Paolo Bacigalupi, Cassandra Clare, M. T. Anderson - this one is sticking with me, Nalo Hopkinson was interesting, and Nik Houser managed to creep me out big time.

EDIT: Ok, it's a couple days later and one thing has annoyed me enough to want to write about it. When I was looking through other people's reviews to find out which authors went with which stories because I'd already returned the book, the review that comes up on top says: "Nik Houser—Son of Abyss
More teenagers who are demons, and their school/family/romantic dramas. Honestly, for a bit, I almost felt like the anthology should've included either this one OR Ness' 'Demoning Thing,' not both."

And I just stared at that thinking how completely they missed the point, then moved on.

But apparently I have a bee in my bonnet today because it's been under my skin enough for me to come back and write about it.

Ness's story is about teenage demons in a band. The moral of his story is that being talented and popular can be just as good as being beautiful. It is as empty as it sounds.

Houser's story questions the central tenet of Christianity. Spoilers here not for the story but for the philosophy of the story. Presumably after Revelations occurred, the demons have conquered the earth. And they have built a civilization which is very similar to the one human's have built. Kids get educated, adults go off to work. They are demonic, but not chaotic. They impose order on the world. And once a year they have Transgression Day where they deliberately commit a sin in the hopes of tying their souls to the Earth more firmly so when they die they have one more black mark against them so they won't be taken up to Heaven.

Cute, but there's a depth to it. The reason they don't want to go to heaven is because of what you have to do to get in. Christianity says if you believe in the Christ, when Judgement comes God will look at your face and not see you, but instead see the face of Christ. And thus you will pass into heaven. This story takes issue with that.

These demons believe not that the afterlife of heaven is bad, but that after all of your sufferings and attempts at sacrifice and nobility - after all the life that makes you you, at the end it deserves to be you that is seen. Not some other face. It negates everything you were and makes a mockery of your life, your choices.

It's a thought provoking piece, and very gruesome also. It deals with issues of bullying, and family, and loss.

It is in short quite an extraordinary piece of short fiction.

And lumping it in with another story just because they both happen to feature teenage demons shits me.
Profile Image for Elle.
415 reviews106 followers
May 11, 2015
Like most anthologies, Monstrous Affections is a mixed bag of the good, the bad, and the ‘meh’. I’ve been disappointed by enough anthologies now that I’m usually wary of being sucked in by a gorgeous cover and an impressive line-up of YA authors, but when I saw Monstrous Affections on display at my local library, I couldn’t resist snatching up a copy. Unfortunately, while a few stories were definitely worth reading, I wasn’t particularly impressed by the majority.

Moriabe’s Children by Paolo Bacigalupi was easily the best story of the entire anthology. A young girl, Alanie, feels strangely drawn to the kraken who live in the depths of the ocean just beyond her village, and she uses her mysterious connection to these bloodthirsty creatures to escape from her violent, abusive step-father’s home. Gorgeously written and atmospheric, I was completely blown away by Moriabe’s Children. I also loved Bacigalupi’s contribution to Buckell & Monti’s Diverse Energies short story collection, and I’m looking forward to reading this author’s full-length novels.

I also enjoyed Ten Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler (the Successful Kind) by Holly Black and Wings in the Morning by Sarah Rees Brennan. Ten Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler was a fast-paced and surprisingly thoughtful sci-fi adventure which explores how nature, nurture and social prejudice combine to make a creature ‘monstrous’. Wings in the Morning also touched upon how the term ‘monster’ is often racialized, and how damaging negative stereotypes can be.

The one other contribution I enjoyed was A Small Wild Magic by K. Jennings. Written in graphic novel format, A Small Wild Magic tells the story of a boy and his grandmother who inherit a wish-granting bird-girl-creature. I wasn’t expecting to read a graphic novel contribution, and A Small Wild Magic felt like a breath of fresh air after reading several same-ish short stories.

As much as I liked Bacigalupi, Black, Brennan and Jennings’ stories, I found many of the other contributions forgettable and unoriginal and I honestly can’t recommend this collection as a whole. It is worth borrowing though - I do highly recommend reading these four contributions if you do come across a copy in your local library!

Publisher: Candlewick Press
Overall rating: 2.5 stars | ★★★✰✰
Review cross-posted to Paperback'd
Profile Image for Cassandra.
753 reviews51 followers
October 7, 2019
First reading
Very very good. Absolute favourites:
1.Wings in the Morning ~ Sarah Rees Brennan
2.This Whole Demoning Thing ~ Patrick Ness
3.Ten Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler (the Successful Kind) ~ Holly Black

and I am still not sure whether I am
a) entirely creeped out by,
b) really love, or
c) just utterly confused by
Moriabe's Children by Paolo Bacigalupi,
Son of Abyss by Nik Houser and
Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They Are Terrifying by Alice Sola Kim.

Second time:
Wings in the Morning is still really sweet and gay. This Whole Demoning Thing is fun, but not as good as I found it last time?

Third reading!

Um. I now put Holly Black's one (10 Rules for being an intergalactic smuggler) 2nd, but overall this is still a great anthology.
Kitty Capulet... by Dylan Horrocks has been bumped to my top few, because it is contemporary, set in NEW ZEALAND AND HAS MĀORI FOLKLORE IN IT whose absence in the books I read is the main thing I'm currently angry about.
Profile Image for Fantasy Literature.
3,226 reviews161 followers
December 29, 2014
Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales, a new anthology by Kelly Link and Gavin Grant, was an interesting and surprising read. Interesting because, duh, anything the duo behind Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet puts together has to be great. And surprising because nothing on the cover prepared me for its YA-focus.

And let’s talk about the cover for a second, because it is incredible. Red thistles explode out of line-drawn stems. Blood drips from the maw of a fully-colored toothy black beast as it crouches over a prone, line-drawn man... his prey, we assume. Out of the beast’s back arise feathered wings, again line-drawn. I love the contrast... Read More: http://www.fantasyliterature.com/revi...
Profile Image for Paula Soper.
820 reviews
December 31, 2014
ick ick ick ick

Why did I finish this book? Because it's short stories, which give me the feeling of getting more done.

Actually, the stories weren't all bad. I actually liked Holly Black's story, and Patrick Ness' was cool. Okay, so was Sarah Rees Brennan's. AND Nalo Hopkinson's and Dylan Horrocks.

HOWEVER, "Son of Abyss" (great title) by Nik Houser was probably the ickiest story I've EVER read. From there to the end, (5 stories), I HATED the book.

So, maybe I need to give the book more than one star. Just be warned, the last five are beyond icky.
Profile Image for Wendi Lee.
Author 1 book468 followers
December 3, 2017
I was very excited to read this collection of fantasy short stories, because I’m a huge fan of editor Kelly Link. If you haven’t already, I strongly recommend reading her own short story collections. They are wild, fantastic journeys.

I was a bit disappointed that Link’s story was one I’ve already read. But the disappointment didn’t last very long, because most of the collected stories are spectacular!

My favorites are the “monstrous” tales written by:

Patrick Ness
Sarah Rees Brennan
Nalo Hopkinson
Alice Sola Kim
Profile Image for Emily.
253 reviews31 followers
May 21, 2015
I'm not a huge consumer of YA literature, but I have enjoyed Kelly Link's work before so I snatched this up for some light reading. I would say maybe half the stories are worth reading, and of those, maybe 2 or 3 of them are impressively good. The one that I found most compelling was written by an author I'd never read before (Sara Rees Brennan), so I'll consider the book a success.
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