Memorably fantastic WICKED WONDERS showcases Ellen Klages’ unique way of storytelling
Photo: Scott R. Kline
FICTION FANTASTIC really enjoys Ellen Klages’ WICKED WONDERS.
I really, really enjoyed these stories. Most of them challenged the norm, or what is considered the norm, and I loved the fresh perspectives. The stories themselves are very subtle, in that they don’t carry you away on a torrent of things happening. Instead they let you float along calmly, allowing you to lazily reflect on the surroundings. There’s a little bit of magic in each, and most of them will remind you of a childhood tinged in the sepia tones of memory.
Although these three stories are the stand-out ones for me, all the other stories were pretty good in their own right, and I’ll probably find myself thinking about them at some point in the future. Klages has a very unique way of telling a story that sneaks up on you and burrows under the layers of your subconscious, ready to pop up when you least expect it. She’s a great writer, and I’ll definitely keep an eye out for more of her work.
NOSTALGIA READER praises the collection.
I saw this in one of io9’s upcoming release posts, and the stories that were highlighted sounded interesting enough for me to add it to my to-read list. When I saw that NetGalley had a copy, I figured I’d give it a shot, even though I’m not really much of a short story person.
I’m very glad I had the opportunity to read this, though. While there were many stories that were just “okay” or that fell flat for me, the ones that I loved, I absolutely LOVED. Klages has a way with the zeitgeist and atmosphere of the 50s and 60s; even though I did not live through those decades, I felt immediately transported back to that time period. It made me appreciate even more the social conventions that the characters in some of these stories break, and it made the magical stories even more amazing. Klages’ brief Story Notes in the back were also highly enjoyable and they gave a more down-to-earth element to the stories.
Looking over my individual story ratings, I was most drawn to the magical realism stories–most of these reminded me, whether slightly or substantially, of Cat Valente’s Fairyland series. Her style is one of my absolute favorites right now, and I loved getting that vibe from another author, who explores the more day-to-day magical realism, rather than the epic questing type.
I had never read any of Klages’ works before this, but I’m now definitely intrigued to read more of her works; the recent PASSING STRANGE is now high on my to read list.
Again, I’m very glad I read this, and will be rereading a few of my favorite stories again soon–the aesthetic is memorably fantastic.
Andrew Wheeler on THE ANTICK MUSINGS OF G.B.H. HORNSWOGGLER, GENT. spotlights the book.
This week, it’s one, which is a nice number: it gives me an excuse to make this post in the first place, lets me pretend I’m giving a spotlight to this one book on purpose, and doesn’t take too much time. If the book itself looks interesting, all the better.
WICKED WONDERS is that book, at least right now. It’s a collection of stories by Ellen Klages, with thirteen pieces of fiction and the true-life story of “The Scary Ham.” (And I am here to tell you I have already read “The Scary Ham,” as I was looking at this book and make preliminary motions at my keyboard. I will tell you no more about it, but it made me want to get into Wicked Wonders more quickly than I otherwise would have.)
It’s a trade paperback from Tachyon, with a classy cover that looks stealthily like whatever dull memoir of a horrible childhood all of those book-club women in your neighborhood are reading right now. Think of it as protective coloration. Read this in public, and everyone will think you’ve got something worthy and classy – and they will be more right than they know.
Do I need to tell you more? I don’t really know Klages – other than running into her a couple of times, back when I was in the SF world more than I am now – and don’t know her work well, either. But I’ve already read one story in this book, and I want to read more. And that’s the core function of a collection: to get you to read one story, and then another. So this book is successful, and you should try it yourself.
For more info on WICKED WONDERS, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover design by Elizabeth Story