Weekly Readings: Kelly Link

This week we will focus on The Specialist's Hat by Kelly Link. At first, I really did not think that this short story would make the Weekly Reading Series, it is a bit of a weird one, specially if you first encountered it translated as I did; and being considerably more recent than previous entries, I highly doubted that it would be readily available for free reading. Turns out I was wrong, as the author posted the story on her own website.

Kelly Link is an American Writer that runs her own publishing firm Small Beer Press alongside her husband. Most of her stories fall under what is known as Magic Realism, a combination of fantasy, science fiction, horror and realism. Kelly has been honored with an Hugo award, three Nebula awards and a World Fantasy Award for her works on fiction. She was also the recipient of the MacArthur Genius Grant in 2018.

The Specialist's hat follows the lives of 10 year old twins Claire and Samantha, whom seem to behave as pretty normal children, except for the fact that they like to play being 'Dead'. This game started shortly after their mother's dead, most likely as a way to cope withe issue. They live in a big house in the woods, in which they are free to roam, having access to the full house except for the attic. They are under the care of a servant, as their father tends to ignore them to focus on his writing, trying to uncover the history of the house and its previous owner, a somewhat famous but really bad poet that, legend says, poisoned his own wife before disappearing with his daughter. Due to this ,the house and the woods in general, are regarded as being haunted, but surely this is just the stuff of legends and nothing to worry about, right?

Kelly has an interesting way of relating the story, sometimes jumping from one topic to another completely unrelated, at times it makes you wonder if this story was part of a much bigger one that she didn't know how to finish. One thing is for certain, the ambiguous way it is told, and the manner in which Kelly plays with numbers throughout the story, have helped it establish its name in the fantasy world.

You can find the full short story here. Coil Subscribers can continue reading for some more inputs on the story. Fair warning, spoilers may follow so I recommend you read the story and give the events some thought first.

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