Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales

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Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales

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.

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Bizarre, tragic, and Lovecraftian fantasy stories.
(Updated: September 17, 2014)
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What if the monsters weren't the bad guys? If they were just regular, everyday people who went to school and fell in love and got in fights - the stories would be boring, right? No way. The stories would be bizarre, they would make you uncomfortable and keep you up at night. And if the monsters were your best friend, or maybe your boyfriend? If they took away the love of your life and turned him into a monster, too? Then the stories would be heart-breaking and soul-searching. They would be like these stories.

"Monsters aren't supposed to be able to make tea. If monsters can make tea, then nothing's safe." - Holly Black.

In MONSTROUS AFFECTIONS, nothing is safe.

MORIABE'S CHILDREN by Paolo Bacigalupi: Imagine if you heard your father's dying screams, felt the waves crush his bones against the side of a sinking ship, and tasted his coppery blood on your tongue as he drowned. Alanie had never seen a kraken, but she was nevertheless deeply connected to them. We are drawn into Alanie's dark world, made ever darker by her fading connection to the kraken. This story is simply haunting, and you'll never guess what happens to Alanie in the end.

TEN RULES FOR BEING AN INTERGALACTIC SMUGGLER by Holly Black: When you stow away aboard your uncle's space ship, you better have a plan for worst case scenarios. You better be able to make hard, fast decisions under pressure. Like when space pirates attack your uncle's ship after the very illegal cargo hidden in the secret compartment under the hold. Like when you decide to hide there and then open the secret, illegal cargo that may or may not contain alien corpses. Like when you discover the alien isn't actually a corpse after all. With my second favorite story in the anthology, Holly Black really blows it out of the sky with her fascinating take on alien-human relationships.

WINGS IN THE MORNING by Sarah Rees Brennan: My favorite story in the collection, this fantasy short alone is enough reason to pick up this anthology and hold it close to your heart. It is the story of Luke, Elliot, and Serene, 3 very different best friends who are all trainees at the Border Camp - a military academy in a fantastical land with dangerous warrior elves, vicious harpies, and bizarre ideas about fashion. It's a confusing place, but it's home to Luke and Serene, and it has become Elliot's home after he left our world to study there when he was 13. WINGS IN THE MORNING is the final installment in Brennan's "The Turn of the Story" - an epic of a story spanning several real-world years, many free-to-read-on-her-website-installments, and a twisty, endearing, hilarious web of LGBT teen drama. Fans of TTotS will swoon over the final part, which is written from Luke's point of view, and should definitely check out the rest of the anthology, too!

SON OF ABYSS by Nik Houser and THIS WHOLE DEMONING THING by Patrick Ness: Both of these stories are about strange young people growing up in a world where being monsters is perfectly normal. Having to deal with demon aspects, trimming your claws and the appearance of your horns as they come in - all perfectly normal things for those growing up in these kinds of worlds. It's just another day for demon-teens when your fire-breath gets out of control or your best friend dabbles in some seriously dark and murderous magic. Both stories are really fascinating and will leave you feelings slightly uncomfortable about your own normal life.

While not all of the stories are as great as the ones I've mentioned, they are all extremely creepy and incredibly strange. I frequently had to put the book down and come back to it later, so I could try to recover from all of the really uncomfortable things I'd been reading about. If you're a fan of dark fantasy, horror, or just really, really weird stories, then this anthology is a must-read!
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