Series: No - Anthology
UK Publisher: Piatkus
UK Release date: September 2011
Genre: Anthology (fantasy, urban fantasy)
Have you ever wondered what the monster in any story thought? Whether he was really evil or whether situation and prejudice made him that way? Well here is your chance to find out, because Monster’s Corner finally gives us their side of their story.
Each of the 19 short stories is written from the monster’s perspective, making them the hero of their own story. From sirens and witches, to rakshasi and succubus, you may just start to understand them and maybe even feel sorry for them. Monster’s Corner brings these demons and devils out of the darkness and sheds light on what the monsters are really like.
Monster’s Corner features contributions from such authors as David Liss, Kevin J. Anderson, Lauren Groff, Chelsea Cain, Kelley Armstrong, Jonathan Maberry, and many others. Here follows mini reviews of just a few of the short stories, to give a snapshot of what the anthology contains.
The Awkward Age by David Liss
When Pete’s awkward and withdrawn son finally makes a friend, Pete and his wife think their problems are over. Except Mason is different. Despite being only fourteen she looks and acts far beyond her age, manipulating and using Pete with masterful skill, pushing him ever closer towards the murky realms of paedophilia.
At first I thought the story was about Pete and how he was falling for Mason’s blatant flirtations. I was certain he would be so tempted by her charms that he would forget both morals and monogamy. So much so that I didn’t see where the story was going. With a great twist ending, this is a thought-provoking story that will make you wonder where boundaries lie.
Torn Stitches, Shattered Glass by Kevin J. Anderson
Frankenstein’s monster, Franck, has struggled for years to find somewhere to settle, always feeling like he doesn’t fit in or belong. This time he has settled in Ingolstadt, Germany at the start of the Nazi reign, watching as his neighbours’ shops are vandalized and good honest people are beaten at the hands of prejudice and hatred.
For a monster that killed his creator, I liked Franck. He kept to himself, worked hard and tried to fit into the small Jewish community. But no matter what he did, he still looked different with his scars and misshapen body. Throughout the story there was a undercurrent of tension, intensifying when the Nazi Germans attacked the village. For such a simple story the analogy of Franck’s treatment at the hands of prejudice was reflected perfectly in the Nazi’s persecution of the Jewish people. It seems we humans are far from perfect; human nature instinctively leads us to fear and persecute anyone different from us.
Rakshasi by Kelley Armstrong
Although Amrita is a demon warrior she lives with an isha family as a servant to her master. She must do his bidding to make up for her own past wrong doings and repay her debt to earn her freedom. But when her master denies her that freedom, Amrita takes matters into her own hands.
Despite being a cold, unemotional and ruthless character I couldn’t help but warm to Amrita and feel for her life of servitude. She was written as a very mysterious but strong willed character and I really wanted to know more about her history and past. The rakshasi characteristics such as superhuman strength and speed and eternal life also made me think Amrita might be a vampire at first. I didn’t realise that rakshasi are different creatures from vampires within mythology and folklore, and I liked the twist of servitude and working to earn freedom that made the story different from traditional vampire stories.
Although anthologies aren’t the first thing I would browse for in the bookstore, I remember why I like them as soon as I start reading them. Monster’s Corner has given me an opportunity to read authors that wouldn’t normally cross my radar and get a snippet of their writing style and sense of humour, and could be the start of a brand new author-reader relationship.
What I really enjoyed was that each of the short stories in Monster’s Corner is so different, focusing on a different kind of monster – some blurring the line between good and bad and making you think twice about who the monster is. Does the monster even know he is a monster? If that’s their own nature can one blame them for being who they are? And what makes someone a monster anyway? Is it someone who doesn’t conform to our societal views of what is moral; someone who uses, manipulates and inflicts pain on others; or just someone who is different from us? Perhaps the monster isn’t always the monster – perhaps it is us who makes the monster who he is. We will never know unless we hear his story.