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Editorial Reviews

"Funny, scary, surprising, and powerfully moving within the span of a single story or even a single sentence." (Karen Russell, The Miami Herald)

Publisher's Summary

Perfect for fans of George Saunders, Karen Russell, Neil Gaiman, and Aimee Bender, Magic for Beginners is an exquisite, dreamlike dispatch from a virtuoso storyteller who can do seemingly anything. Kelly Link reconstructs modern life through an intoxicating prism, conjuring up unforgettable worlds with humor and humanity. These stories are at once ingenious and deeply moving. They leave the listener astonished and exhilarated.

Includes an exclusive conversation between Kelly Link and Joe Hill

Read by Mark Bramhall, Cassandra Campbell, Danny Campbell, Robbie Daymond, Kirby Heyborne, Rebecca Lowman, Arthur Morey, Lorna Raver, and Meera Simhan

©2005 Kelly Link (P)2014 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"A sorceress to be reckoned with." ( The New York Times Book Review)
"She is unique and should be declared a national treasure." (Neil Gaiman)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Haunting and Original

Loved these quirky, original short stories. They have a creepy undercurrent and a touch of magical realism. If you like writers like Neil Gaiman and Angela Slatter, you'll probably like Kelly Link.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Where's the magic?

What would have made Magic for Beginners better?

The title suggests that the stories are packed with magical realism but many are ordinary people doing very ordinary things, really kind of dull.

What could Kelly Link have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

There needs to be few more plot twists. I get this is a style, very New Yorker, but I was misled by the title thinking this was something else.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

A couple of average stories. The rest are bad.

Let me start off the with good parts. A couple of the stories in "Magic for Beginners" have lots of potential. "The Hortlack" was pretty good, having an eerie atmosphere, humor and intriguing characters. "Stone Animals" start off with a strong spooky premise, but falls apart at the end.

Now for the bad parts. To get to the stories mentioned above, I had to get through the bad ones that had little or no redeeming qualities. I realize that many of these stories can be read a metaphor for deeper issues. However, the metaphors are so awkwardly implemented and the story/characters are so uninteresting that by the end, I don't care what the underlying message is, or even if one exists at all.

Some of the stories are what I would consider to be absurdest. Stories such as "The Cannon", "Catskin", and "The Great Divorce" fall into this category. These stories are so poorly done, its almost like the author was using absurdity as a substitute for good writing.

Almost none of the stories have a satisfying end, which isn't the worst thing in the world. But when the majority of the stories in a collection don't have a definite ending, its almost like the author just stopped writing when she got bored. The worst offender of these non-endings is "Some Zombie Contingency Plan". The tale was mildly interesting, but the author pulls an abrupt ending so far out from left field, I felt cheated as a reader.

2 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

awesome

Kelly Link never fails to wow me. I'm always loving and learning from her work.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Not really for me

There's no doubt that Kelly Link is a talented writer and surrealist. These stories are engaging, well-written, full of interesting characters, and interesting takes on literary structure, but most of them just didn't work for me. I really prefer more grounded fantasy. I also felt no emotional engagement with these works, other than a great deal of impatience.

1 of 4 people found this review helpful