Short stories with otherworldly creatures may be a dime a dozen, but rarely do they offer such nuanced scope.
Link and Grant, who edited the fantasy half of The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror anthology until its demise in 2009, know their way around excellent short fiction, and their editorial skills are on display here. From the light(ish) and delightful to the subversively unromantic, from humor to horror, each entry both tells a good story and says something about monstrousness. “This Whole Demoning Thing” posits a world of demons but demonstrates that sometimes the greatest power is just being yourself; “Wings in the Morning” and “A Small Wild Magic” are laced with romance regardless of species, while “The Woods Hide in Plain Sight” takes the “girl meets vampire, finds eternal love” trope and turns it inside out. On the other end of the spectrum, “Son of Abyss” and “Mothers Lock Up Your Daughters Because They Are Terrifying” guarantee cold shivers and probably nightmares, one through gore and the other through psychology. Standouts include Paolo Bacigalupi’s “Moriabe’s Children” and Holly Black’s “Ten Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler (The Successful Kind),” both of which clearly prove that monstrous behavior is usually human in form.
An anthology of riches, even if they aren’t always fair of form. (introduction) (Anthology/horror/fantasy. 13 & up)