Bookshots: 'Wicked Wonders' by Ellen Klages
Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review
Who wrote it?
Ellen Klages, the award-winning author of The Green Glass Sea.
Plot in a box:
This is a short story collection, and thus it's full of different plots. But most deal with fantastic occurrences and share themes like the revelation of different and unexpected worlds, and displacement and its effects on the human psyche. They also mostly share young, smart heroines.
Invent a new title for this book:
Read this if you like(d):
Short stories that are lyrical and imaginative. The work of Lauren Beukes, Peter S. Beagle, and Ursula K. Le Guin.
Meet the book’s lead(s):
Every story here has a different lead, but they are mostly young women/girls who share a sense of wonder and are smart, brave, and inventive.
Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:
Two actresses that kept coming to mind were Dakota Fanning and Chloë Grace Moretz.
Setting: Would you want to live there?
From trips to space that take generations to complete to the back of a theatre to magic worlds accessible through a secret elevator, there are a plethora of settings in this collection, and they are all full of wonders and new experiences, so sign me up.
What was your favorite sentence?
Their days were filled with laughter and small touches, like a cat bumping against a leg to reassure itself that the world was as it should be.
Fantasy is not a big part of my regular literary diet, but I happily deviate from that when a collection like this comes along. The stories here are beautifully written, entertaining, heartfelt, and thoroughly enjoyable. Klages is a talented storyteller with a knack for creating worlds and situations that morph into new, wondrous things. In these short narratives, change and surprise are the only constants. In "Echoes of Aurora," which is the crowning jewel of the collection, poetry, language, love, and longing collide to create the kind of short story that sticks with you and demands multiple readings. Another great read is "The Education of a Witch," which kicks off the collection. In that short story, a girl who prefers Maleficent to other dolls discovers that there is a darker side to life, and that she has the tools to use that darkness. The aforementioned tales are only two of fourteen, and there are none that fail to deliver. Some are serious and some are funny, some are sad and some are witchy, some are packed full of promise and others drip melancholy. All of them are worth your time, and most of them point to Klages' sense of wonder, love for language, and great humor. This last element is also on display at the end of the book, where readers are invited to figure out which three facts are lies after reading "10 Facts About Ellen Klages." While I'm not a fan of sentences like this one, Wicked Wonders is, and I hate to say it, fantasy for those that don't like fantasy.
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