Monstrous Affections edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J Grant is a collection of short stories written by the best authors in YA and Speculative Fiction. Each story involves encounters between humans and supernatural beasts. The anthology contains short works by writers such as Holly Black and Patrick Ness. However, today as part of A More Diverse Universe I’ll be reviewing the short stories of the two POC contributors.
Left Foot, Right by Nalo Hopkinson. Jenna buys a new pair of red pumps, but they are not for her. They are for her sister who died in a car accident which Jenna survived but left her with mind numbing guilt. Jenna hasn’t taken off the one remaining red shoe since the accident. As she heads to the river that took her sister, she has an experience that will have a lasting effect on her own life.
Left Foot, Right is a rather strange but sad story of loss and dealing with being a survivor. Jenna was close to her sister Zuleika, so close Zuleika knew her innermost secrets. Jenna has an assortment of emotions to work through before she can return to her regular life. The question is whether what happens at the river is real or part of her grief.
Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They Are Terrifying by Alice Sola Kim. A group of teenaged girls forge an unlikely friendship over the summer. The only thing they have in common is the fact that they are all Korean adoptees. When one of the girls finds a book of magic, the girls conjure up their real “Mom.” The girls enjoy having Mom in their lives until she gets a little too demanding.
Teenaged girls and magic are never a good mix as anyone who has ever seen The Craft will tell you. These girls get more than they bargained for with Mom. Mom can see and hear their thoughts. She fulfills the role of the Korean mother they all wished they had. Not only are the girls trying to navigate the difficulties of teenage life but doing so as adopted children living with a family of a different race. One girl tries too hard to please her parents, another rebels in the hopes of being seen. Despite the fact that Mom is a being beyond their control, they end up learning about themselves and their place within their homes. There are a lot of complex issues at play within this short and wry story.
Although both stories have supernatural elements, they deal with some serious, and real, issues that many teens face. Whether that’s a tragic loss or fitting in, the problems within them are relatable without the creatures.
I haven’t read too much beyond these two stories and I’m looking forward to reading the rest! The cover illustration is by Yuko Shimizu and isn’t it fantastic?