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Customer reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
Unnatural Creatures
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:£8.24+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on 25 May 2014
Compiled by fantasy-scribe extraordinaire, Neil Gaiman, this exceptionally enjoyable anthology of short stories that make up this volume is bound by the subject of fantastical creatures - the ones "that only exist in our minds". The writing is eclectic; there's the noirish "The Compleat Werewolf" by Anthony Boucher, which boasts Nazi spies, a femme-fatale Hollywood starlet, a magician, and of course a werewolf; the 19th-century tale of "The Griffin and the Minor Canon" by Frank R. Stockton, where the titular Griffin learns of his carven image on the church grounds of a small village and comes to see his likeness, throwing the lives of the parishioners and a young canon into disarray; and the contemporary YA story by Caribbean writer Nalo Hopkinson that interweaves the perils of teenage parties with an age-old myth in "The Smile on the Face".

Gaiman too, contributes his own piece "Sunbird" (found also in his earlier collection "Fragile Things"), about a group of epicureans who have exhausted their quest for every known kind of animal, and still seeks for more. Gaiman credits children's author E. Nesbit for introducing this creature to him, and I was pleasantly surprised to read her story, "The Cockatoucan; or Great-Aunt Willoughby", in this collection. I have never associated her with fantasy writing, being more familiar with her children's classics like "The Railway Children", though I had read her trilogy about five children and the mythical "psammead" as a child. Elsewhere in the collection are also tasty nuggets by familiar names like sci-fi writer Samuel R. Delany, Diana Wynne Jones, and even Saki, whose "Gabriel-Ernest" make up the other werewolf story in this collection.

In a collection about fantastical creatures, it seems fitting that the last story "Come Lady Death" by Peter S. Beagle is about death, which Gaiman acknowledges as "the most natural of all unnatural creatures". A bored and aging socialite Lady Neville has grown tired of her own parties, fine as they are, and she decides to invite Death to up the ante, so to speak. The result is a truly engaging tale with a chillingly unexpected conclusion.

Highly recommended by anyone who has even a vague interest in imaginative fiction.
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on 11 April 2015
Bloomsbury and editor Neil Gaiman have a novel strategy for marketing an anthology: omitting the authors' names from the table of contents.

For those who don't find listing the titles AND authors in the table of contents to be too louche, here's the information the editor and publisher have declined to include. (The original publication dates are a bonus I decided to throw in.)

"Inksplot" by Gahan Wilson (1972)
"The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees" by E. Lily Yu (2011)
"The Griffin and the Minor Canon" by Frank R. Stockton (1885)
"Ozioma the Wicked" by Nnedi Okorafor (original to this anthology, 2013)
"Sunbird" by Neil Gaiman (2006)
"The Sage of Theare" by Diana Wynne Jones (1982)
"Gabriel-Ernest" by Saki (1909)
"The Cockatoucan; or, Great-Aunt Willoughby" by E. Nesbit (1900)
"Moveable Beast" by Maria Dhavana Headley (original to this anthology)
"The Flight of the Horse" by Larry Niven (1969)
"Prismatica" by Samuel R. Delany (1977)
"The Manticore, the Mermaid, and Me" by Megan Kurashige (original to this anthology)
"The Compleat Werewolf" by Anthony Boucher (1942)
"The Smile on the Face" by Nalo Hopkinson (2004)
"Or All the Seas with Oysters" by Avram Davidson (1958)
"Come Lady Death" by Peter S. Beagle (1963)
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on 22 November 2013
I think that on his best form Gaiman is one of the most talented and creative (although erratic) writers of his generation.

Sadly, this book is not written by Gaiman. It is a collection of mixed quality short stories loosely held together by lame introductions from NG. The stories are mostly young teens level.

If you read the small print on the cover you can see the Gaiman is not the author. Not so easy if you are buying on a kindle.
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on 28 December 2013
I just love Neil Gaiman. I love the stories he writes, and I also love the stories he likes reading that are from other authors. This book is no exception - it's packed full of wonderful short stories about creatures that exist in other worlds (at least I hope some of them do) and the authors transport you to great places full of adventures.

A perfect way to get to know new authors, read good stories and understand a little of what Neil Gaiman finds inspiring. So what's not to like?
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on 23 November 2013
I don't usually read fantasy fiction, I just bought this as Kindle deal. It is a collection of 16 stories by different authors about fantastical creatures.

Initial impressions were not great, the first story was not a bad idea, but really needed an edit, there seemed to be some random text and it fluffed the ending by being a bit garbled. Subsequent stories seemed to struggle on, each with an underwhelming resolution. By the half way point the standout story was by Saki, and surely anyone who enjoys reading has read all the Saki stories already. But from the midway point the quality of the stories seemed to be on a constant upward trajectory, with quite a few that would warrant the purchase price on their own.

If you are less inclined to persevere with dull stories, then probably best to just read a few pages per story to decide whether you want to stick with it.
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on 9 February 2014
I'm a big fan of Neil Gaiman and was interested to read the authors that influenced him. It was particularly gratifying to find that he and I share a love for the same authors, like Peter S Beagle.

The book itself is attractively presented and arrived well packaged and on time.

But while packaging past stories by other authors and putting a very popular name on the front may help the readership find new writers they haven't considered before, it's still, to my mind, lazy publishing. The publishing world needs to find and promote new names - we can't and shouldn't go on living in the past!
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on 13 November 2013
i'm rubbish at reviews, but loved this book of short stories. It introduced me to many different authors, some that I have avoided, plus others that I have enjoyed in the past. The stories are pretty off the wall, all featuring some kind of animal or hinting at one. As I bought this for a Kindle, I cannot 'dip in' and give you a list of the authors, it takes far too long to navigate around :-( .
Read all the positive reviews, then just go and buy this book.
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on 29 June 2014
Such a great read, My favourite short story? Well I loved the ink blob (first story) The Cartographer wasps and the anarchist bees was astonishingly good. Ozioma the wicked was wicked! Sunbird was delicious, made me hungry and lick my lips. Come lady death was divine...A real box of chocolates book, so many favourites I devoured them all.
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on 5 January 2015
Liked some of the stories, a lot of them were a bit too creepy for me but I am overly sensitive! Overall a good enough collection for people who like this kind of fiction, but don't do what I did and think 'if Neil Gaiman loves these stories, so will I!' - that mentality didn't work for me :)
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on 6 August 2013
Some good stories. Some had me gripped from the first sentence. Lots of old stories that were amazingly good. As with every compilation, there were some stories I skipped almost immediately. Overall, a good book though.
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