Reading Level: Adult
Size: 480 pages
Release Date: April 23, 2013
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Borrowed from Library
Rating: 4/5 stars
I was excited to read a collection of stories picked by Neil Gaiman as some of his favorites. As with all anthologies this is a mixed bag; but in general it was a better mix than most anthologies I have read.
This collection consists of 16 stories. Many of these stories feature things or creatures that end up being something different from what they originally seem to be. The stories span a variety of settings but in general are fairy-tale like in feel and have a large dose of irony to them.
The ones I enjoyed the most were Gahan Wilson’s story (about a weird spot that grows into something dangerous), Ozioma the Wicked (about a girl who can talk to snakes), Sunbird (about a group of people who have eaten everything living), The Cockatoucan (a fabulous fairy tale about a sneezing bird who changes the world), Pristmatica (a story where a young man goes questing for three mirror pieces), and Come Lady Death (a story about a pretentious noblewoman who invites Death to her ball).
Each story is prefaced with a short commentary from Neil on why he chose this story and what it is about. This was interesting and added something extra special to this book. You can read below for short descriptions/reviews of each story.
Overall this was a solid collection of fantasy/fairy tale like stories. If you enjoy fantasy short stories go ahead and give this collection a read through, some of them are very good.
– (picture of weird line), by Gahan Wilson (5/5)
Loved this story. It’s about a dark spot on a tablecloth that isn’t really a dark spot at all but something much more sinister. I loved the writing style, found this easy and fun to read and enjoyed the inclusion of art to tell the story
– The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees, by E. Lily Yu (3/5)
This was an okay story. It’s about a bunch of rather odd wasps who invade the home of some bees. They form a treaty, but there is a rebellion in their midst. It’s an odd little story that was a bit confusing. It’s an interesting idea but not all that well executed.
– The Griffin and the Minor Canon, by Frank R. Stockton (4/5)
Very well written story about a Griffin who goes to a town to see pictures of his likeness and befriends a Minister there. This was a well-written and enjoyable read.
– Ozioma the Wicked, by Nnedi Okorofor (5/5)
About a girl who is ostracized by her village because of her ability to talk to snakes. Her fortunes change however when the village needs her to take care of a gigantic cobra. This story had absolutely wonderful imagery and was incredibly engaging. I really loved it.
– Sunbird, by Neil Gaiman (5/5)
I’ve read this story before and really enjoyed it then too. It is an ironic and humorous story about a group of people whose goal it is to eat everything. They are bored with the fact that they have eaten everything when one of their members invites them to Egypt to try eating Sunbird.
– The Song of Theare, by Diana Wynne Jones (3/5)
This story was long and boring. It’s about some Gods who are concerned about a prophecy that will bring about their dissolution. When one of the gods finds out its his offspring Thisper that is supposed to bring it about he tries to divert things, to no avail. It is somewhat ironic, but a bit long and wordy.
– Gabriel-Ernest, by Saki (4/5)
Well done and ironic story about a man who discovers a strangely beastial boy is living in his woods. I enjoyed the irony and found the story entertaining.
– The Cockatoucan; or, Great-Aunt Willoughby (5/5)
Magical story about a young girl who ends up in a different kingdom on her way to visit her Aunt. There she must discover how to make the bird stop laughing if she is to stop the craziness that plagues the kingdom. Wonderful description, fairy tale like, and very magical.
– Moveable Beast, by Maria Dahvana Headley (4/5)
Well done and creative story about a girl who gets involved with a Beast Hunter who is trying to hunt the beast that lives in her forest. Of course, the Beast is not exactly what you think it is going to be. It is well written and well done.
– The Flight of the Horse, by Larry Niven (4/5)
A man goes back in time to collect a horse, but is a bit puzzled by the fact that the horse is not exactly as pictured in his histories. A wonderful blend of sci-fi and fantasy. This story is also very humorous, I enjoyed it.
– Prismatica, by Samuel Delany (5/5)
A wonderful story about a poor man who is hired by a grey man to help him collect three magic mirror pieces. The grey man has a creature of a trunk that is very mysterious. This has very much of a questing feel to it, is full of twists and turns and is very fairytale-like. I enjoyed it a lot.
– The Manticore, the Mermaid, and Me, by Megan Kurashige (4/5)
A well done story about creatures in the Natural History Museum that aren’t exactly what they appear to be. This was well written and entertaining.
– The Compleat Werewolf, by Anthony Boucher (4/5)
The lengthiest story of the bunch. A decently done story about a man who finds out he’s a werewolf and tries to use this to catch the lady of his dreams. Along the way he ends up embroiled in a dastardly plot. This was a fun story that was a bit silly as well.
– The Smile on the Face, by Nalo Hopkinson (3/5)
A story about an insecure teenage girl who turns into something unusual when she is threatened with sexual assault. This is done in a modern setting and it is kind of interesting what happens when the girl swallows a cherry pit and ends up channeling something a bit beastial. It was an okay read, but I didn’t enjoy the writing style as much as some of the other stories and didn’t enjoy how long the story took to set up.
– Or All the Seas with Oysters, by Avram Davidson (4/5)
This was a strange and funny little story about a bike shop that isn’t exactly what it seems to be. The ending surprised me and was ironic and unexpected. Overall an entertaining read.
– Come Lady Death, by Peter S. Beagle (5/5)
A pretentious noblewoman who is bored with life decides to invite Death to her ball. When Death arrives the nobles get what they deserve, especially the noblewoman who invited Death. This was well written and I love the irony in it.