Like most young teachers, Laura Freedman wanted to make a difference. She teased her students’ creativity with assignments such as “write a one-page story in which your favorite mystical creature resolves the greatest sociopolitical problem of our time.” Alas, she had her own demons to battle, and after a dramatic breakdown is committed to a mental health facility. Winner of the John Simmons Short Fiction Award, When Mystical Creatures Attack! is a sparkling debut from Kathleen Founds. Each of the twenty-five linked mini-stories contains a magic of its own, and the sum total burns bright and true. Presented in letters, journal entries, assignments, and e-mails, the commentary may be humorous — even absurd — but the struggles are achingly real.