LIBRARY JOURNAL praises the collection.
Klages’s fans won’t be disappointed by these poignant and relatable tales that push the -barriers of the fantastical realism and beyond
Tadiana Jones at FANTASY LITERATURE enjoys the book.
In WICKED WONDERS (2017), Ellen Klages has assembled an impressive collection of her short stories. Although almost all of these stories have been previously published (the sole exception is “Woodsmoke”), most of them appeared in anthologies and are unlikely to be familiar to most readers. These fourteen stories run the gamut from non-fiction (“The Scary Ham”) to straight fiction (“Hey, Presto,” “Household Management” and “Woodsmoke”) to science fiction and fantasy. They’re often bittersweet or wistful and frequently surreal; tales of ordinary lives in which the fantastical or unexpected element sneaks up and taps you on the shoulder, and when you turn around the world has shifted.
Several tales in WICKED WONDERS are reminiscent of certain of Ray Bradbury’s short stories, in which conventional American suburban life takes a sharp turn toward the fanciful. Even the non-speculative stories have a chimerical feel to them. Many of the stories look at the world through the eyes of a child or teenage girl, in a sympathetic but clear-eyed manner. Klages’ young characters are girls trying to find their place in life, often misfits, and bravely dealing with burdens that life has passed out to them.
In “The Education of a Witch” (4 stars), we experience life from the point of view of Lizzy, a preschool-aged, intelligent girl with a spark of mischief. Lizzy lives in the suburbs, an only child who lives a relatively ordinary life, until two things happen: She sees the Disney movie SLEEPING BEAUTY, and the character who captures her interest and loyalty is the evil witch Maleficent. And a new baby joins Lizzy’s family, an interloper who steals the time and attention of her parents. It’s a story that can be interpreted in different ways; Lizzy is both sympathetic and alarming, and certain things may be just her imagination … but perhaps not. In her story notes at the end, Klages comments that this story is almost entirely autobiographical.
There are also several pages of story notes, in which she explains some of the inspirations and ideas behind each of the stories in this collection. The insights here are fascinating and illuminating, as are Klages’ tales themselves. They’re well worth reading.
Photo: Scott R. Kline
For READERS LANE, Stephanie Perry recommended the volume for Mother’s Day.
This witty and subversive book of short stories by award-winning author Ellen Klages tends toward the speculative and fantastical. Whether it’s two best friends sharing one last morning on earth, a woman who inherits a haunted penny arcade, or a student who challenges a faerie to a game of dice, Klages spans the universe in search of thought-provoking adventures. And the bite-size stories are perfectly portioned for moms who never get a break.
Silvia Kay reviews WICKED WONDERS.
For more info on WICKED WONDERS, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover design by Elizabeth Story