Blimey, That was Unexpected!
A silly little review of Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected
I grew up on Roald Dahl. With food, drink and oxygen I also had a brief flirtation, but the stories of Roald Dahl were my true love. I marvelled at the fantastic effects of George's marvellous medicine, cheered for the fantastic Mr. Fox, and got a bit unnerved by The Witches (although this was owing more to the protagonist's creepy grandmother than the villains of the story).
Imagine my delight, then, upon receiving Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected as a birthday present. A two-hundred and eighty-ish page collection of charming short fiction from one of my favourite writers of all time! I assumed.
And I assumed correctly. The fiction is both short and charming (and, by some immense stroke of luck, it seemed, I had even guessed the number of pages correctly). While the witches and chocolate factories are non-existent, the masterful prose and unique, interesting characters are in abundance. Highlights include Taste, if only because it gives a - dare I say it - first taste of what's to follow, Lamb To The Slaughter, which includes the curiously homicidal Mary Maloney, Galloping Foxley, for the masterful use of a somewhat minimalistic plot to create such an intriguing story, Parson's Pleasure, for an ending left in so many ways to the reader's imagination and Royal Jelly, for being everything one can hope for in a Dahl story.
The flaws are few and far between. Some of the endings hover slightly too far on the ambiguous side, while some are perhaps made too obvious (such as Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel's Coat). Others perhaps feel a little anti-climactic (Edward the Conqueror, or maybe I'm missing something with that one).
This book is a very fine collection of short stories. Each story is a little gem, each one the product of an ingenious imagination.