31 Shots of Shock: #8 – ‘The Constable of Abal’ by Kelly Link

31 Shots of Shock *Title: The Constable of Abal by Kelly Link
Date Read: 08 October 2009
Available Online?: NO – read from Kelly Link’s published collection, Pretty Monsters (Canongate Books)
Briefly: In a professional capacity Zilla and her young daughter Ozma could come under many job titles – ghost catchers, con-merchants, thieves, blackmailers but on a fundamental level they’re deemed to be witches. Having to leave the town of Abal to escape an heinous crime, the mother and daughter are once more on the open road, heading for home, pursued by the law, and with a new ‘passenger’ on board.
Afterthoughts: Oh Kelly Link you’re killing me. Do you ever stop being so utterly creative and original? This one has everything, including devil-eating (see quote below) and murder. The most memorable thing though, and undoubtedly the cleverest, is the concept of carrying around miniature ghosts on the ends of ribbons, and feeding them with a mixture of blood and earth. An ingenious story and the best of the bunch so far (although again not that scary :()
Notable Quote: The devils were full of spiky little bones. Zilla ate two. Ozma nibbled at a haunch, wishing she had real silverware, the kind they’d left behind in Abal. All she had was a tobacco knife. Her devil’s gummy boiled eyes stared at her reproachfully. She closed her own eyes and tore off its head. But there were still the little hands, the toes. It was like trying to eat a baby.

Rating: ★★★★½

*Story read as part of my 31 Shots of Shock reading challenge.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).


  1. I like that Link has no genre boundaries. It’s refreshing to read through an anthology where you don’t know what to expect with each new story. I liked this one as well and would love to have a ghost on a ribbon! Well, except for the feeding them blood part …

  2. Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)

    You and me both with the ghost on a ribbon, especially if it were one as charming as the Constable 🙂

    And I agree totally on how refreshing it is not knowing what to expect from Link, although for what I’m reading this collection for I wish all of the stories were more creepier. My choice of stories is making me look stupid 🙂