Cover Image: The Unicorn Anthology

The Unicorn Anthology

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Book Summary:

Did you grow up on fairy tales and unicorn stories? Well, this anthology isn't a collection of those tales. This anthology will show the world the darker side of unicorns. Some would even argue that it is the more accurate portrayal of their history.

Included in this anthology, you'll find The Magical Properties of Unicorn Ivory, The Brew, Falling of the Unicorn, A Hunters Ode to Bait, Ghost Town, A Thousand Flowers, The Maltese Unicorn, Stampede of Light, The Highest Justice, The Lion and the Unicorn, Survivor, Homeward Bound, Unicorn Triangle, My Son Heydari and the Karkadarnn, The Transfigured Hart, and Unicorn Series.

My Review:

Oh. Well, this wasn't quite the anthology I was hoping for. Don't get me wrong! I wasn't expecting The Unicorn Anthology to be all bright and bubbly (though I don't mind happier unicorn tales, to be clear). I really like darker, more fae-esque takes on unicorns.

That said...I only loved a few of the shorts in here. I was initially drawn to this anthology because of a.) unicorns and b.) a few authors (Caitlin R. Kiernan, Carrie Vaughn, etc.), but that wasn't enough to keep me invested.

My biggest problem is that I didn't connect to a lot of the stories. Or I didn't enjoy the implications they made (looking at you, the story that implies lesbian sex doesn't count as losing your virginity).

Here's the good: Survivor by David Smed, The Highest Justice by Garth Nix, and The Transfigured Hart by Jane Yolen (I knew she wouldn't let me down!).

Side note: This anthology is a recent(ish) publication of a bunch of older short stories. Most of them had previously been published somewhere else, so you don't need to read this anthology to access them all. This nicely compiles a few thematically appropriate shorts into one anthology.

Anthology of Short Stories
Unicorn-centric shorts
Urban Fantasy

Trigger Warnings:

Was this review helpful?

Unfortunately, I enjoyed only a handful of the stories in this anthology. While I liked the overall topic and a lot of the ideas behind the stories, most of them were not to my taste. I did discover a few authors I liked and am going to look into their bibliographies.

Was this review helpful?

I love unicorns so obviously I had to read this anthology. As with any collection there were stories that I preferred to others and usually by the authors I was already familiar with. I do like discovering new authors through anthologies like these and I would say my two favorite stories were The Highest Justice by Garth Nix and The Maltese Unicorn by Caitlin R. Kiernan.

Was this review helpful?

** I was provided an electronic ARC by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Oh, gosh. How to even start this one? Honestly, I originally asked for this arc because of my deep love for the previous unicorn (and other!) pieces by Beagle, Nix, and Coville, These names have been hallmarks of my childhood fantasy and columns of my continued forrays into stories of fantastical beasts throughout my formative and adult years.

This collection absolutely did not disappoint (and I'm super glad to have even more authors to follow for these types of tales!). There were many of these I was almost in tears by the end of their pieces, because I felt desperately the need to know what kept happening after the next page, the last page, what would have happened if we could follow these characters into the length of novel's breadth.

Everyone with a love for these magical, mystical creatures needs this book stat! <3

Was this review helpful?

This wasn't for me just felt too fluffy which is not what I needed at the time. I think had this been done a bit differently it would have been a little easier for me

Was this review helpful?

This didn't work for wasn't what I was expecting. I can see how this would work for another kind of reader though.

Was this review helpful?

I recieved this arc from netgalley to do an honest review.

This book was a quick read for me. I thought that it was an ok book.

I would probably recommend this book to anyone.

Was this review helpful?

Unicorns have always been the mythical creature of my heart, so I jumped at the chance when this title appeared on Netgalley. As with any anthology, the contributions were hit-and-miss, but I think anyone with an appreciation for these magnificent creatures will equally appreciate these stories.

Was this review helpful?

A nice little collection of short stories starring the lovely unicorn. Some of the stories are quite fascinating. while others leave a lot to be desired. All in all, a cool compendium of short stories collected by Peter S. Beagle, author of the greatest novel ever about a unicorn, The Last Unicorn.

Was this review helpful?

I am a sucker for unicorn stories. And with Peter Beagle on the docket, you know it's going to be a good thing. Each story is unique and so full of magic and beauty, light vs darkness, gorgeous environments and interesting characters. Well worth keeping this volume on hand for rainy days.

Was this review helpful?

A fun mix of authors leave this book with something for everyone. A stand out in my opinion is Carrie Vaighn.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This book is available now.

When I was in second grade, my school class would go to the school library once a week. There was collection of short stories about unicorns that myself and another girl would race to check out first. If she got to it before me, I’d give her a good -natured scowl. But if someone from another class checked the collection out before either of us, we were both united in our thirst for revenge.

So, I was waxing nostalgic when I started this anthology, full of hope that it would be as enjoyable as the other one was. Sadly, it was not. It was ten types of terrible. The stories ranged from forgettable and a bit disappointing, to flat-out disturbing. There was one in particular that had an icky Stockholm Syndrome story line, which was incredibly upsetting.

I felt that these stories were all written with the intent to be edgy and dark. Gone was the sense of wonder and fun that I expect in anything involving unicorns. It was all death, doom, and destruction, with a bit of boredom thrown in for good measure.

While the mechanics of the stories were all solid, I was ultimately very disappointed by what the authors chose to write. I read this book and discussed it with Beth from Before We Go. Check her post out! And, maybe skip this book and look for something less disappointing.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to Netgalley and Tachyon Publications for the review copy in exchange for an honest review

I hate saying this, but this was a disaster of a book for me.

Peter Beagle is the master behind The Last Unicorn. It is a very evocative and beautiful story that was made into a lovely movie. This anthology of short stories is not that.

It is soooo not that.

That would be fine if it wasn't so hamfistedly trying to be edgy and not like The Last Unicorn.

Most of the stories read like:
"Look how edgy and unlike anything you have ever read about unicorns before."
"Look at how I can destroy the magic mythos around unicorns."
"Hey reader, screw your expectations."

All this would be fine if the majority of stories resonated and where good. A lot of them were not. Specifically, some were depressing. Some were god awful and some left me feeling gross inside. That is hard to do with an anthology about unicorns.

Not all the stories were bad, hence the rating of two stars instead of one. The Brew was an interesting story and the story Falling of the Unicorn I loved. The latter is about an LGTBQ+ relationship that was sweet and I enjoyed the writing quite a bit.

Hunter's Ode to Bait was awful. A hunter buys a virgin at 12-13 years old and uses her to slay unicorns for profit. In the end, the hunter falls in love with the Virgin (who is much older now thank god) and she becomes the hunter of a sort. It is all kinds of screwed up Stockholm syndrome. So much nope. The Magical Properties of Unicorn Ivory is sad and awful. The writing wasn't bad, but god what a terrible take on humans in general.

For me, this anthology was a big nope. Maybe that is because my expectations were not met, and that is on me. Jodie from Witty and Sarcastic Book Club and I did this as a buddy read and I chose this book. Maybe the next book we will have more luck in our selection.

But, wow. Seriously, wow.

Was this review helpful?

Like many, I have always loved the idea of unicorns, but this anthology made it clear to me that I have no real idea of what they are or mean. There are sixteen stories here, and each author is able to spin something completely new from the bare bones of what is commonly known of the mythical beasts; which really amounts to not much more than: horns and virgins.

This given, it should be unsurprising that there is a focus on sex and not-sex; purity and innocence, retained and lost, given, taken or held tight. these are not fairytales for children. There is darkness here: sexual assault, violence, miscarriage, blood, death.

Many of the unicorns depicted, though not all, are indeed magical. Nearly all of them are wild animals. Some are merely catalysts for human actions, or repositories for (magical or not) horns that can be taken and used by humans. Being used is a theme that recurs in the anthology.

Obviously the theme of virginity and purity comes up repeatedly, and I understand why this wouldn’t sit well with a modern reader, smacking as it does of a fixation on oppressing women through control of their sexual behaviours. However the unicorn myth is an old one, and the ‘virgin attraction’ is one of its staples, so I feel that the authors here explore the mythology fairly and present the ideas in some new and refreshing perspectives.

I read Peter S. Beagle’s foreword with a little dismay. As a fan of his writing, with The Last Unicorn on my favourite books of all time list, and In Calabria and The Overneath in prominent spots on my to-be-read shelf, I was a little saddened to see him distancing himself from the perception of him as ‘the unicorn writer’ (although I do understand his reasons). I was therefore heartily gladdened to find that this didn’t stop his story, ‘My Son Heydari and the Karkadann’, from being my favourite in this collection. Unicorn man or not, Beagle has a talent for showing us the fantastical in ways we haven’t seen or thought of before.

You won’t just find fantasy in this anthology. There is sci-fi, detective noir, some horror elements, coming of age tales, allegories and even a poem. Therefore it does, for me, what every good anthology should: it provides something for everyone. Not every story may be to your personal taste, but they are all well-written and imagined, and so something should. There will always be those that merely see a grey mare, but if you’re lucky you may find your very own unicorn (story).

The moment they see the unicorn boy – the shine of his skin, the pearlescent spiral of his horn, his silken hair pale as moonlight – they want him. It’s no wonder he prefers virgins. Their uncertainty makes their plucking hands almost gentle. Some of them are even sweet. Afraid.

– A. C. Wise, ‘The Lion and the Unicorn’ in The Unicorn Anthology, ed. Peter S. Beagle & Jacob Weisman

Review by Steph Warren of Bookshine and Readbows blog

Was this review helpful?

As a lifetime fan of Peter Beagle, I jumped at the chance to read this (even though only one of the stories was his, and I had read it before). It turned out that I had actually read the last few - My Son Heydari and the Unicorn, The Unicorn Triangle, and The Transfigured Hart. Admittedly I'm not much of a fan of these three, they were good when I first read them but I don't love them as much as some of the other unicorn stories and books I've read.

But there were a few gems in here. I liked Ghost Town, The Highest Justice, and A Thousand Flowers. The rest were kind of meh. I especially disliked the one about the unicorn horn dildo (gross - that one was up there for me with the story in another collection about a woman who sculpts dicks and has sex with the devil), and the one where the guy who buys his bait as a child then ends up with her, "taking her" against the side of a dead and bleeding unicorn (also gross). And I agree with most other reviewers who say that the stories all adhere to the tropes (virgins, etc.), nothing new is done here, and most of them barely feature unicorns at all.

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this collection. Overall it's a meh dud for me. I'd much rather read actual books about unicorns, or at least something new and interesting done with the idea of unicorns.

Was this review helpful?

Not all of these tales were my cup of tea, or should I say not my cup of Unicorn Brew...But it was still an enjoyable collection from new and old/known authors. There were a few stories I would have enjoyed more reading material for.

This collection has something for everyone: good unicorns, villainous unicorns, giant unicorns, sex, hunting, death, blood, fantasy, and other non children appropriate topics. Yes, you read that correct. This is not a collection for children who have read all the unicorn books in the kids department.

And even though the book has already been published: thanks NetGalley and Publisher for giving me an advanced read of this book...even if I did slack on reading it pre-pub!

Was this review helpful?

Even if you don't read any of the short stories, Beagle's introductory essay is just lovely on its own. The collection of stories has a lot to offer from some rock star authors and will not disappoint fantasy readers.

Was this review helpful?

I really enjoyed this one. I would like to use some of the stories in the classroom, should I be approved for doing so by my district (they have to negotiate copyright and all that, you know).

The stories were all wildly different, which I appreciated, but it also meant that I was left with a few favorites and a few stinkers. That's the price of diversity, though, and besides, if I wanted to read the same type of unicorn story over and over again...I guess I would.

I should mention that I am no huge fan of unicorns, either. However, that didn't keep me from enjoying the stories in this anthology. I primarily picked it up to read stories by Coville and Yolen, two childhood favorites, but found plenty of other stories to love. I'll be looking up some of these other authors!

I'd also like to mention that the editing was pretty sound. This book wasn't riddled with errors or typos like so many others on Kindle lately.

Was this review helpful?

I love anthologies that include authors I have not read before. Short stories limit the span of time authors have to catch and hold the reader's attention. Each author must give us the condensed version and make it good or we skip to the next one. I did not skip any pages in this book even though there were many authors I had not read before. The unifying theme was unicorns, so each writer had to suspend belief while still developing a story line that we would find interesting and entertaining. The results were fantastic! It would be very hard to pick a favorite as I found them all great reads.

Was this review helpful?

I've always liked unicorns, and in spite of all the fantasy I read I feel like I don't get to see unicorns much. This was a decent collection - some of the stories I really liked and would rate 4 or 5 stars. Several I didn't care for, and would rate 2 or 3 stars. But that is pretty much what I expect from most anthologies.

Some of the highlights for me were :
"Stampede of Light" (Marina Fitch), which has the theme of children lost in the school system and teachers who go the extra mile to help.

"The Transfigured Hart" (Jane Yolen) about two children who find and desire to tame a unicorn.

"Homeward Bound" by Bruce Coville and "A Hunter's Ode to His Bait" by Carrie Vaughn also stood out to me.

Thanks to netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

Was this review helpful?