“Before the raiding party arrived, the village packed up all of their belongings and moved into the handbag.”
Kelly Link’s Magic For Beginners was a book I found while pulling titles off the shelves. It was a book I had glanced at before but never considered seriously, and I almost put it back when I read the Time excerpt claiming that “you’re entering a hybrid world that’s part Muggle and part magic.” As I have never been a Harry Potter fan, I missed out on the gleeful sensation of stumbling on a literary reference I understood and first assumed that this was somehow a Harry Potter spin-off. I checked the book out for the heck of it as I was desperate for something to read and Barne’s Somnambulist had yet to arrive at the store.
“The Devil’s got a flashlight with two dead batteries.”
After concluding Link’s book last evening, I attempted to explain my enthusiasm to my partner and stuttered and stumbled through a barely comprehensible sentence trying to exclaim my excitement. Magic For Beginners is sensational. It is brilliantly funny and each story is has some bizarre and fantastical occurrence. The fantasy aspect of Link’s stories can be better described as distorted reality, because between the wonderful conversation-like narrative and the actual twists in the story, I found myself concurring that, “Sure, zombies could show up at an all night convenience store.”
“‘I always thought they were rabbits,’ the real estate agent said.”
Despite my enthusiasm for short story collections I had no idea Link’s Magic For Beginners were short stories. I must confess this is also my only time ever with short stories where I felt frustrated that they concluded too soon. This is not to say that Link’s stories do not work as short stories, after reading the first story “The Faery Handbag” I was so enthralled with the tale and I had been expecting it to be a novel. In retrospect though, each of the nine stories in Magic For Beginners are excellent examples of short stories and I was quite pleased at the delivery and share amount of information that Link supplied in a physically shorter period.
In case you did not read between my gushing lines, I adored Magic For Beginners and it is most definitely a collection I will be recommending to, well, to anyone who will stand still long enough at work and hear me chatter. Additionally, each story begins with a lovely illustration inspired by the following story and a quote (see some of them above) that acts as a bit of a teaser. The illustrator Shelley Jackson has done a lovely job in reproducing certain images from the text and has done so in a style that pairs well with the book.