Unnatural Creatures: Stories Selected by Neil GaimanThe first time Reginald Archer saw the thing, it was, in its simplicity, absolute. It owned not the slightest complication or involvement. It lacked the tiniest, the remotest, the most insignificant trace of embellishment.

A griffin, a werewolf, a sunbird . . .These are just some of the fantastical creatures you’ll encounter within these pages. From the cockatoucan, whose laugh rearranges an entire kingdom, to the roving shapeless Beast that lurks in a forest, herein is a collection of rare and magnificent species. Each one will thrill, delight, and quite possibly unnerve you. Selected by master storyteller Neil Gaiman, the sixteen stories in this menagerie will introduce you to a host of strange, wondrous beings that have never existed anyplace but in the richness of the imagination.With stories from Neil Gaiman, Diana Wynne Jones, E. Nesbit, and many more.” I do think the way the book is described is a bit misleading. I was under the impression that the stories would be all new ones written for this collection. But the majority of them have been published before. One, “The Griffin and the Minor Canon”, I’d even read before! But the stories are still really good. I was pleasantly surprised to find a paperback edition even though the book had just come out. I think the hardcover and the paperback were released simultaneously, which is unusual. 

As with any short story collection, there are some great stories, some good ones, and some that just didn’t work for me. The first one was very fun. Its title is very difficult to say (you’ll see why if you read the book). There’s a story about bees rebelling against wasps, a girl in an African village who can talk to snakes, an epicurean society looking for new subjects and more. The one about the epicurean society, “Sunbird”, is written by Neil Gaiman. The other authors in the collection are Peter S. Beagle, Anthony Boucher, Avram Davidson, Samuel R. Delaney, Maria Headley, Nalo Hopkinson, Diana Wynne Jones, Megan Kurashige, E. Nesbit, Larry Niven, Nnedi Okorafor, Saki, Frank R. Stockton, and E. Lily Yu. Diana Wynne Jones’s story has Chrestomanci in it. He appears in many of her books. 

None of the beginning stories thrilled me, but I did really enjoy “Gabriel-Ernest” by Saki. It was an excellently chilling story.  “The Cockatoucan” was also excellent, very British and very entertaining. In the later sections of the book there were a lot of other good stories, making Unnatural Creatures very enjoyable and definitely worth reading. Other ones that I liked were “Prismata” and “Come Lady Death”.

Read Unnatural Creatures:

  • if you like Neil Gaiman or any of the other authors
  • if you like short stories
  • if you like fantasy
  • if you like stories of strange creatures 

455 pages.

Very Good! I would recommend this book!