This is a collection of beast and monster stories retold mainly for teenagers by top-notch writer Anthony Horowitz (Midsomer Murder
, Foyle's War
, Alex Rider
novels). The catch is, he wrote them in his mid twenties long before he was a top-notch writer, and it rather shows. The slightly uneven treatment is clear in the tale of Perseus, which needlessly complicates a story which Nathanael Hawthorne
and Roger Lancelyn Green
managed to distill with far fewer characters with unpronounceable names.
Anthony Horowitz wrote out this off-hand collection of retold myths and legends when he was 25. This puts the date of writing at about 1980, just when Richard Adams published The Iron Wolf and Other Stories
, also a collection of retold myths and legends in a variety of styles. Did Horowitz read Adams? Impossible to know. But what is clear is that he did not manage to capture the absolute magic in the way that Adams did. The other thing is that the 1980s retelling is very much of its time. The style and idiom may well have been great for the teenagers of the day -- I was a teenager at the time, and it all seems rather familiar -- but not for today.
I was disappointed by this book. I suspect I would rather have enjoyed it when he wrote it, but times have moved on.