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Wicked Wonders by Ellen Klages. Book Review

June 23, 2017

Wicked wonders

Wicked Wonders is a collection of very unassuming stories. Their voice and narrative contain no embellishments, particularly because most of them are about children or told through a child’s perspective. The ploy of initially presenting the world as a normal place is all part of Ellen Klages’ technique of bleeding reality into the downright bizarre and unsettling. Because of the child’s perspective (related through a third person) and utilising them as unreliable narrators, you are left wondering how much is real and how much is not.

Although subtle and understated this collection is loaded with meaning and conceptual complexity (‘Caligo Lane’ has a mesmerizing and novel take on the use of origami). The result is something emotionally very powerful (‘Amicae Aeternum’ describes a child’s last day on earth with her friend before she leaves forever on a spaceship into the unknown). There is gentleness and compassion (In ‘Echos of Aurora’ Jo Norwood returns to her old home to find a mysterious woman there), but at other times the stories ripple with an undercurrent of tension and a devious unpleasantness (‘Singing on a Star’ sees two girls enter a mysterious world through a closet). In ‘The Education of a Witch’, a child’s perception of the world through the logic of a film she has seen takes an interesting turn and results in an unsettling outcome.

These are effectively modern fairy tales that say a great deal about who we are and makes the reader really think about the effect their actions might have on the people around them. Although primarily written for an adult audience, these stories are likely to appeal to a young adult reader looking for something with a bit depth and sophistication to get their teeth into.

Wicked Wonders was courtesy of Tachyon Publications via NetGalley.

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