Overall Rating of the Anthology: 4 Stars
This anthology is all about creatures. The stories were all chosen by Neil Gaiman and we get stories from a variety of different authors from different times. The stories range from creepy to funny to thoughtful.
1. Chapter 1 – Gahan Wilson
Archer is a man who does not appreciate extraordinary things. He like his life and house ordered and impeccable. But one day, he finds a strange spot on the breakfast table. A spot that disappears if he takes his eyes off of it. It reappers somewhere else and each time, it grows…
Such a fun creepy read. The writing is so good and it’s easy to get immersed in the story. The characters came alive with a few short sentences and you could really picture them. A very good short story.
2. The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees – E. Lily Yu
In Yiwei, the wasps make beautifully detailed maps. But one day, a boy throws down one nest and after he is stung, the villagers take revenge on the wasps. A single nest survives and evacuates to a different part of the country, where they encounter bees, who they see as their servants.
A beautiful, imaginative story that makes me want to read more by the author.
3. The Griffin and the Minor Canon – Frank R. Stockton
One day, a griffin appears in a small town to see the stone image of himself over the church. Terrified, the townspeople send out the minor canon, a kind man used by all, to meet him.
Cute story, but it felt like being ticked with a moral cudgel throughout.
4. Ozioma the Wicked – Nnedi Okorafor
Ozioma can talk to snakes. This ability makes her an outcast among the villagers. But one day, a vicious snake descends from the town tree and claims it for its own. Now Ozioma is the only one who can help the village.
I loved the setting and the atmosphere but the resolution fell a bit flat.
5. Sunbird – Neil Gaiman
The Epicurean society is bored. They have eaten everything. Or so they think until one of its members, Zebediah T. Crawcrustle tells them of the legendary sunbird of Suntown.
Lovely characters, it just didn’t pull me in enough.
6. The Sage of Theare – Diana Wynne Jones
Theare is a very ordered world with very ordered deities. But when a prophecy comes true and the Sage of Dissolution is born, the Sun-God Imperion sets out to find him and stop him before he can bring on their downfall.
The story left me a bit confused. Parallel worlds and ripple effects will do that. I also felt I had to have known Chrestomanci beforehand to fully understand the story.
7. Gabriel-Ernest – Saki
There is a beast in the woods close to where Van Cheele lives. One day, he finds a naked boy there. A strange naked boy.
So the mystery of the beast wasn’t really a mystery. Well-written and enjoyable but there’s no twist to it.
8. The Cockatoucan; or, Great-Aunt Willoughby – E. Nesbit
Matilda is unhappy. She has to go visit her great-aunt, stuffed in a uncomfortable dressed and with nothing to look forward to. But then she and her nanny Pridmore get on the wrong bus and land in the wonderful green country. A country in which everything is jumbled and confused for there is a Cockatoucan living there and everytime he laughs, things change.
A sweet story and fun to read.
9. Moveable Beast – Maria Dahvana Headley
Bastardtown encloses a mini-forest in which there lives a beast. One day, a collector arrives to catch the beast and Angela, whose father lives full-time in the forest, is thrown in the middle of it.
It was a bit confusing at times, especially in the beginning when it was hard to pin down the time the story was set in. I liked the imagination. There wasn’t really a surprise in the end though.
10. The Flight of the Horse – Larry Niven
Svetz is sent back in time to get a horse, an extinct species in his own time. What he encounters is beautiful and slightly different than the picture of the horse in the picture-book. But he is determined to get it.
Fun little read.
11. Prismatica – Samuel R. Delaney
When a grey man appears in a tavern with a mysterious trunk that makes creepy noises and offers a reward to anyone willing to go on a quest with him, Amos accepts.
This story read like a fairy tale. It was nicely written but, like in a fairy tale, the characters remain too one-dimensional.
12. The Manticore, the Mermaid and Me – Megan Kurashige
Strange stuffed creatures appear in the museum, made to look like monsters of legend. Our protagonist doesn’t believe in monsters. But then things happen…
Too confuddled for my taste. I would have liked more depth, everything just sort of happened and then it stopped.
13. The Compleat Werewolf – Anthony Boucher
Professor Wolf Wolfe is told by an eccentric magician that he’s a werewolf. With one word he changes into wolfform and with the other back. He decides to use his condition to win the heart of the woman who spurned him. Then he gets entangled with a dark cult.
Meh. Way too long and not half as funny as it thinks it is. It dragged terribly and the characters just weren’t interesting enough to pull me into the story.
14. The Smile on the Face – Nalo Hopkinson
Gilla is a teenage girl unhappy with herself. One day, she accidentally swallows a cherry pit and starts hearing strange thoughts.
What a beautiful story. The plot was fairy-tale-like, the writing was modern, the characters utterly likeable.
15. Or All the Seas with Oysters – Avram Davidson
Ferd and Oscar run a bike shop together. One day, Ferd starts to be convinced that the French racer he works on is not quite what it seems.
An okay story. Slightly creepy. Very superficial though.
16. Come Lady Death – Peter S. Beagle
Lady Neville hosts the grandest parties in London. But she is getting old and tired and bored. So one day, she decides to invite the one guest noone could be bored with: Death.
I loved this story. It was beautiful and sad.
A beautiful anthology with a perfect mixture of stories.