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 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.
Link and Grant (Steampunk!) present an engrossing, morally complex anthology of 15 stories centered on the seemingly antagonistic concepts of monsters and love. Throughout, troubled protagonists meet genuine monsters some traditional, like vampires, others much less so. Almost invariably, it's understood that other people in the protagonists' lives are far worse than the monsters. In Paolo Bacigalupi's poetic "Moriabe's Children," a teenager fleeing her abusive stepfather finds sisterhood with the kraken that haunt the nearby sea. In Holly Black's bloody but funny "Ten Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler (The Successful Kind)," a girl stows away on her uncle's spaceship, fights off pirates, and partners with a purported alien killing machine. M.T. Anderson's wistful and beautifully realized tale of WWII on the home front, "Quick Hill," concerns a young man's sacrifice for his community's safety, and Kathleen Jennings's graphic short, "A Small Wild Magic," is a delightful variation on the story of the boy who receives three magical wishes. Additional stories are written by Cassandra Clare, Patrick Ness, and others; all of the entries are strong, and many are splendid. Ages 14 up.