The Unicorn Anthology

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 12 Aug 2019

Member Reviews

I was incredibly disappointed in this collection.  When I pick up an anthology, I do not expect to love every story.  I am picking up a mixed bag of authors to expose myself to different works and see if there might be an author I have been missing.  

Unicorns are very popular creatures right now, and I know very little of their lore or tales throughout time.  I thought this anthology would be a great way to see where the humble unicorn has been.  Plus, there are some serious powerhouse authors gathered here and it opens with such a promising introduction.  

The first story starts to give me pause into how this anthology is going to turn out.  Story two kept the down slide continuing.  I couldn't even finish reading the third story.  Story four was dark, but I finished it.  The ending sentence made me truly wonder if there was really any hope for this anthology having anything good.  

Then I read story five, Ghost Town by Jack Haldeman II from 1992.  I loved it.  It was the gem I was looking for, a new author to check out.

Story six was some kind of modern folktale that got a little confusing and I just skimmed through it.  Never made it through story seven either.  Story eight was another dark and sad version of unicorns.  

Story nine, The Highest Justice by Garth Nix, brought me in touch with a prodigious fantasy author I had been wondering about.  His writing tone was one I think I could enjoy and will be interested in trying out some of his full novels.

Story ten through twelve went back to the dark and disturbing. 

I had lost all hope of this anthology being any good.  Then I reached Unicorn Triangle by Patricia McKillip and My Son Heydari and the Karkadann by Peter S. Beagle.  The two powerhouse authors.  

Even though McKillip's writing can be haunting and sad, she always has a brilliance and poignancy.  Good is always trying to shine through the darkness.  And Beagle's eastern look at the unicorn was just amazing.  I'm so glad that I decided to push through for those two.

Then I reached another unknown-to-me author, Jane Yolen, and her tale The Transfigured Hart.  A tender coming of age story that was excellently told and beautiful for its shortness.

For creatures that are supposed to be about purity, this anthology was disturbing.  I was very disappointed to have to skip complete stories and skim through others.  Most of the stories were just down right grotesque and had atrocious language and themes.  The four stories I did enjoy, I'm still wondering if the whole was worth the sum of its parts.
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Average rating: 3.7 stars (rounded to 4)

A great variety of unicorn stories, some that could still be read to children, and some decidedly adult ones. Two of the stories have queer women as their protagonists, and one of them has a gay male side character and also mentions the severity of the AIDS crisis. I'm used to anthologies like this not really acknowledging queer people at all, so that was nice.

I expected some plotlines about virgins and unicorns, because that's a big part of unicorn stories, but some of the stories took the virginity = purity thing to uncomfortable extremes. In several of the stories, even kissing someone, or just HEARING too much about marriage can stain a virgin's "purity". I know that's the traditional unicorn story, but in a fresh new anthology that has "not just for virgins anymore" in the description, I really expected more subversion of this trope.

I much preferred stories like Ghost Town, where the purity in question is more about moral purity and pureness of the heart.

Some stories have really interesting worldbuilding: for example, in Falling off the Unicorn, only virgins can ride unicorns, so competitive riders are heavily infantilised. They have to be short, they have to be girly, even when they are teens or adults, they aren't allowed to use bad words, etc. Thankfully, this is shown to be just as toxic as it sounds.

However, at one point the same story implies that having lesbian sex doesn't count. In the end, it felt more like they were trying to say that only boys stain girls (because even kissing a boy stains you, but sex with a girl doesn't), but yeah, I'm not a fan of the implications there, and it wasn't really clear what the authors wanted with it. 

My lowest rated story in the anthology is A Hunter's Ode to His Bait, where a hunter buys a twelve-year-old girl from her mother to help him lure unicorns. They work together for years, and sure, the girl is of age when they start a relationship, but it reaaaaally felt like the guy was grooming her there.

My absolute favourite was Stampede of Light, which is about lonely children and the teachers who don't let them get lost.

Individual ratings:

The Magical Properties of Unicorn Ivory by Carlos Hernandez: 4.5 stars
The Brew by Karen Joy Fowler: 4.5 stars
Falling Off the Unicorn by David D. Levine and Sarah A. Mueller: 4.5 stars
A Hunter's Ode to His Bait by Carrie Vaughn: 2 stars
A Thousand Flowers by Margo Lanagan: 3 stars (rape/dubious consent)
The Maltese Unicorn by Caitlín R. Kiernan: 3 stars (rape/dubious consent)
Stampede of Light by Marina Fitch: 5 stars
Ghost Town by Jack C. Haldeman II: 5 stars
The Highest Justice by Garth Nix: 4 stars
The Lion and the Unicorn by A.C. Wise: 3 stars
Survivor by Dave Smeds: 4 stars
Homeward Bound by Bruce Coville: 3.5 stars
Unicorn Triangle by Patricia A. McKillip: 3 stars
My Son Heydari and the Karkadann by Peter S. Beagle: 3 stars
The Transfigured Hart by Jane Yolen: 3.5 stars
Unicorn Series by Nancy Springer: 4 stars
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The Unicorns Chronicles by Bruce Coville is the series that got me into reading as a kid so I knew when I saw his name I had to read this book, not to mention all of the other heavy hitters on the author list. While not all the stories were my cup of tea overall this is a great collection of stories and I would recommend to anyone interested in a bit more of a grown up take on Unicorns. I will definitely be picking up a hard cover copy to add to my collection. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Tachyon Publications for allowing me to review a copy of The Unicorn Anthology in exchange for my honest opinion.
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The Unicorn Anthology takes a gritty approach to unicorns. 

By exploring the people whose lives are touched by unicorns, the authors explore the good, the bad, and the ugly of the human condition. In a way, this anthology desecrates what readers may know and love about unicorns from their youths. In another way, it reimagines the unicorn, giving the myths new life and reminding us that not all is good and beautiful in our world.

While I appreciate the creativity of the authors in their reimagining of the unicorn, most of these stories didn't sit well with me because of the mature content. Readers who like darker, more gritty fantasy stories will enjoy this more.

Examples of what to expect: Hunters and poachers who view unicorns as a commodity or as beasts to be feared. Unicorns as show beasts who attack unpure maidens that attempt to ride them. Unicorns that one cannot see unless certain conditions are met.

Content warning: mature, sordid content.
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I don't usually read anthologies, but since it was unicorns and since it had a story by Peter S Beagle I couldn't not check it out. Overall it was a pretty good read.

Anthologies are difficult to review since some stories are better than others, but taking that into account I'll give it an overall 4 stars.
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A well chosen collection with some really terrific stories among them, something for all different tastes. Really interesting to see how consistent unicorn lore is, yet how many different interpretations there are here. In a college classroom it could be used effectively to show different treatments of the same subject, different writing styles, experiments with deconstructing literary tropes and so on.
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I guess if you were to ask people who'd be the best choice to be editor of an anthology of Unicorn related short stories, few would begrudge Peter S. Beagle that position.

Varied in tone and genre (varying sub-genres of fantasy, horror, noir, etc), like any good short story collection should be, I found this anthology very satisfying. You get all manner of stories involving unicorns, some a bit more magical than others, but all pretty interesting.

You get some big names here, both old masters of their craft and younger authors. Might be a little too much unicorn for some people, so maybe you can read it in parallel to another book in order if you're not so much into the mythic horned horses (who except young girls is?), but all in all it's a pretty good anthology.
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I really wanted to love this anthology, there were a lot of authors I really enjoy included. However, it fell short. VERY short. 
It's understandable for someone to not love every story in an anthology, they are a collection of stories aimed at variety with a common theme. I just couldn't find more than one that I really enjoyed. They were all decent, but none of them shined above the others the way one or two usually do. 
The title is a bit misleading. Unicorns are not the star of most of these stories. They are simply side characters or background noise, if I'm honest. I'm just so incredibly disappointed in the collection. It's no fault of the writing as the writing is good, but  most of these stories have been in previous anthologies, but they should have stayed there. There is not enough content to really be called "unicorn" centric. 

This anthology earned a 3/5 star rating for me. 
***This eGalley was provided via NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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I absolutely loved this story anthology. I'm not big on short stories or stories by several authors but this one just blew me away!
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2,25* mildly pleased stars

Obviously, with a collection of short stories - may they have a common topic - it is always hard to know what to expect.  Unicorns, even though one of the most famous myths around - they have been mentioned by the men who wrote the bible and before that -, but are still suspiciously rare in the literary world. Compared to elves, magicians, warlocks, demons and even angels, at least I myself have not encountered them very often. Exactly this is also the reason that I only have a loose concept of unicorns in general - the virgin part being the most prominent.

Sadly, this book didn't manage to grip me as I hoped it would. There were definitely some good stories in there. The better ones managed to give a clear image of what a unicorn's magic is capable of and how that magic can change the people it comes in contact with. Other stories, however, were totally confusing and downright disturbing. I also found myself skipping maybe two or three of them because they didn't spark any interest at all. In my opinion, this is the challenge many short stories do not overcome. Their shortness requires them to be gripping from the beginning, even in their own way. I missed precisely this in a lot of the short stories.

Writing Quality + ease of reading = 2*

pace = 2* 

plot development = 2*

characters = 2*

enjoyability = 2,5*

insightfulness = 3* (I did learn a lot about the unicorn myth)
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This was not the sweet, wholesome anthology of unicorn tales that I expected. Some/most of these tales are quite twisted, so readers beware. I still very much enjoyed the shock factor of the content.
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Being an anthology of short stories based around unicorns, it could have been a bit hit and miss but I mean, what did i have to lose?

So there were a few that I did a little eyeroll and others that I was so massively disappointed there was no more, that I simply sat and stared at my e-reader for a while. I broke it up between a few sessions in between other reads so as I could fully appreciate the majesty of the tales that took my breath away. Yes, some were a little on the nose while others were amazing, but overall it was a fairly enjoyable experience. My favourites would probably have to be Nix, Yolen and Springer's contributions
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2.5 stars

brief summary
A collection of new and previously-published short stories on the subject of unicorns, curated by Peter S. Beagle.

full review
As with any anthology, The Unicorn Anthology had its strengths and weaknesses. That said, there is absolutely something for everyone in this anthology (except perhaps fans of futuristic settings and technology, there was really not much of that, but if you're looking for unicorns in space there's always Anne McCaffrey's Acorna books), which makes it a well-curated anthology, in my opinion. There wasn't any one story in here which made me want to own a copy of the book, but it was worth a read, and more enjoyable than other anthologies I have read on the same topic.

Somewhat surprisingly, the weak points, in my opinion, were those offerings supplied by Jane Yolen, Caitlin R. Kiernan, and Beagle himself. The Yolen piece I know I've read elsewhere, and the Kiernan piece was simply too scattered for my tastes. Beagle's fictional contribution was a fairly mediocre piece, but I found his introduction actually off-putting, since a decent portion of it was devoted to his protestations that he was more than just the Unicorn Guy, and then his eventual resignation to the role. Of course it is probably frustrating to become a household name to readers of fantasy for a trifle you wrote early in your career and don't think all that highly of, but as Beagle points out (citing a quotation of Christopher Lee's), without The Last Unicorn, who knows what would have become of him. So it comes across as more than a little disingenuous for him to complain on one hand about being known solely as the author of The Last Unicorn while continuing to profit off of his reputation as its author and knowingly take part in the curation and editing of unicorn-related works.

I much preferred the pieces by Carlos Hernandez, Carrie Vaughn, David D. Levine and Sarah A. Mueller's, and Garth Nix. I recognize that these pieces cast unicorns in a more traditional light than some of the pieces I found unremarkable or unappealing, and while I appreciate the creativity and imagination that came from stepping outside the box with interpretations of unicorns that these in-between authors I really am more interested in unicorns than in human struggles tangentially related to unicorn-like things.

rating scale
1 star - I was barely able to finish it. I didn't like it.
2 stars - It was okay. I didn't dislike it.
3 stars - I liked it. It was interesting.
4 stars - It was excellent. I really liked it.
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I've been on a run with anthologies lately, which is great because I usually LOVE anthologies. When the opportunity arose to review The Unicorn Anthology, I was excited!  I guess I expected you know, shiny, white, magical, unicorns. Instead, this was quite the dark anthology with rape, suicide, and death. A lot of death. Which is typically fine when I'm expecting a lot of death like a horror anthology, but this just smacked me upside the head. 

Most of the stories fell under three major themes: the way outdated and overdone, "unicorns only like virgins", a transformation of some sort, and innocence or righteousness. I tended to like the last category, feel meh about the middle, and LOATHE the first. The stories also vary in how the unicorn is interpreted and how in the forefront it is, which means just barely in some of these interpretations. 

There are spoilers involved so read on at your own peril. 

The Magical Properties of Unicorn Ivory - 3 🐾
A Large Hadron Collider created dimensional portals and unicorns slipped through. I liked the set up of this story and the fact that there were forest rangers dealing with the unicorn poachers. Dislikes: Poachers. Dead Unicorn. 

The Brew - 2 🐾
Kids believe a magical whiskey with a unicorn on the label has healing properties, but it is in super grumpy neighbors basement. This one was a really weird read and hard to understand. Dislikes: Where's the unicorn? 

Falling of the Unicorn - 2.5 🐾
Equestrian Unicorns the size of ponies. Sweet f/f romance. Actual magic, finally! MC stands up to harridan mother which made me really happy. Dislikes: Unicorns can only be ridden by virgins and will violently attack anyone who is not. So lesbian sex doesn't count? Liked the story but subtracted points for the implications. 

A Hunters Ode to Bait - 1 🐾
Hunter buys a virgin to hunt and kill unicorns over many, many years. Dislikes: Dead unicorns!!! A gross relationship ending that's almost Stockholm syndrome. 

Ghost Town - 3 🐾
Con man finds himself in a little magical town and has a brief encounter with a unicorn. He learns to be a better man. Dislikes: Was just okay. At least no one killed the unicorn. 

A Thousand Flowers - 1 🐾
I got so lost on this one. The POV changed multiple times. There was a baby with green genitalia that may or may not have been a unicorn. I don't know? Weird. 

The Maltese Unicorn - 1 🐾
Lots of drugs and I don't just mean the characters in the story. A dildo made out of a unicorn horn. I think they stuck all the really weird ones in the middle to suck you in and make you keep reading. I mean, seriously. What. The. What. Dislikes: Rape. Weirdness and not in a good way.  

Stampede of Light - 4.5 🐾
A weird lady that no one, except a teacher, can see is kidnapping kids (that no one else remembers existing) on the playground at school and is embroidering them as unicorns on her skirts. I actually liked this one a lot though. Kinda creepy.

The Highest Justice - 5 🐾 
Unicorn helps the princess to dispense justice when the Queen is poisoned. This one was fun. I loved that the unicorn was actually up front and center in this one and had a hand (or horn) in bringing about justice. Extra points for zombie queen. 

The Lion and the Unicorn - 3.5 🐾
This one was super short and really dark, but I liked it. In this one, the unicorn is actually a boy. Dislikes: Why is there so much rape in this anthology?? In this story, it's only implied, but still. Dang.

Survivor - 4 🐾
I liked this one. Vietnam soldier gets a tattoo of unicorn after insulting tattoo artist. Believes he's cursed. Others think it's his good luck charm. Unicorn tattoo is actually absorbing those that died around him and he sets out to finish what they couldn't. The ending. Woah. 

Homeward Bound - 2 🐾
After his father dies, a boy is sent to live with his uncle. His uncle has a unicorn horn but tells him it's a narwhal horn, and the boy becomes obsessed with it. It shows him the truth about himself. The idea was interesting but the follow through didn't do it for me. 

Unicorn Triangle - 3 🐾 
Unicorn is cursed by a sorcerer, sent into the future, and changed into a human. Now working as a maid in a beach hotel, she meets the princess that she was supposed to. This one was super short. It had potential but I think it needed to be longer. 

My Son Heydari and the Karkadarnn - 2 🐾
Peter Beagle wrote this one. You know, the guy who wrote The Last Unicorn? Apparently, unicorns aren't really his thing. Who knew? In this one, unicorns are called karkadanns and they are massive, brutal beasts, the size of Greek bulls, with a horn six feet long and curving fangs. Heydari treats one after it's injured.  Dislikes: Dead karkadann. 

The Transfigured Hart - 3 🐾
Two children form a friendship while searching for a unicorn that may just be a white stag. Dislikes: It. was. so. long. Descriptive scene of the deer goring a dog. 

Unicorn Series - 1 🐾 there's poetry. No, just No.

The average of all of the above?? 2.5/5
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As this is an anthology, I tried to write a short review for all of the 16 short stories. Also, these stories was not specifically written for this anthology but seems to be coming from different years and previously been published/seen in other works. 

The Magical Properties of Unicorn Ivory by Carlos Hernandez
Having read one book previously by him that centered around parallel worlds and had a main character named Gabi I found this quite funny! Lol! Either way, since this is more scientific than magical this really has the “what if” vibe about it. That what if unicorns came into this world as in the story, would it be like this? Yes. I believe there is a lot of truth in this one. I like the science parts of it, but the plot with the girl could have had more of an exploration to it. The end did not give the emotional punch it wanted. 3/5 stars. 

The Brew by Karen Joy Fowler
This one was soooo weird. We start a story, and within that story we get a flashback/another story, and in that story we go into another story? My head was spinning. If it had been executed in a good way, this could’ve worked! But it was just weird and confusing. I liked the idea of the whiskey and the background for it. Some sentences were just really weird and vague, and I found myself rereading them trying to understand what they really meant. Not really for me. 1.5/5 stars. 

Falling Off the Unicorn by David D. Levine & Sara A. Mueller
This one had a f/f romance in it! And they were really cute together! It also had magic yay! And the unicorns were basically ponies, because if you were too tall you couldn’t ride them lol. BUT apparently they only let themselves be ridden by virgins… and here it seemed like either lesbian sex didn’t count or they unicorns actually didn’t care about virgins after all? I don’t like the whole definitions of what “losing your virginity” entails. And here the story feeds into that and it rubbed me the wrong way. Even Misty and Caroline thought that they were not virgins anymore, so why did Misty insist that she could still ride the unicorn? Was it because it didn’t “count” or because the unicorn just liked her/them? Either way, I liked how Misty stood up for herself in the end! 2.5/5 stars (loses appeal because of the what counts when having sex and losing your virginity? -.-). 

A Hunter’s Ode to His Bait by Carrie Vaughn 
Why are all these unicorn stories so sad?! Like I just want a fluffy fairytale with magic and unicorns. Is this too much to ask?! But no I get another story where unicorns are getting killed and they love virgins. So this little girl is bait…and likes it? BUT: I sorta liked this one xD It was dark and ominous, but how old was that dude compared to the girl LOL?! 3/5 stars. 

Ghost Town by Jack C. Haldeman II 
This story was more focused on a con man going on a spiritual journey to find the right way for his life than it was about unicorns. But at the same time, doesn’t unicorns represent the pure and magical in the world? So that a man could find the better part of himself through magic (and a brief meeting with a unicorn) isn’t that … off? I still wasn’t that interested in the story, I just didn’t really care for the main character wops. 2.5/5 stars. 

A Thousand Flowers by Margo Lanagan (trigger warnings: stillborn/baby death, suicide) 
And I thought the other stories in this anthology was weird… This wanted to be weird, and it knows it’s weird. So it works? Maybe. I have no idea. This one was also really dark and had some earing themes in it. The writing however was not something for me, and I lost the meaning in all the long sentences. It also changed POV’s two times, and the first time it was so sudden I had no idea it even happened. So yeah, that was off for me. The story itself has interesting parts, but overall a bit too weird and confusing for me.  HOW DID THE UNICORN AND THE PRINCESS DO IT? TELL ME.  2.5/5 stars. 

The Maltese Unicorn by Caitlín R. Kiernan (trigger warnings: rape) 
SERIOUSLY. ALL THESE. ARE. SO. WEIRD. In this one there is magic, there are demons who can use them and possibly humans I’m not sure? There wasn’t enough details about it and I wanted more! The main character was interested in girls, so yay for that, but other than that I everything was soooo weird. I liked how the story was written though, with the beginning and going back to explain why it they had ended up like that. But the events were so weird?  LIKE they literally had a unicorn-horn-dildo and when they had an orgasm with it they felt pure for a moment and would crave that feeling for the rest of their lives?! I was like: WHAT WHAT WHAT. This is the kind of story I could imagine could’ve worked if it was longer and had more time to be fleshed out, also: WHY THE RAPE?! SO UNNECESSARY. 2.5/5 stars. 

Stampede of Light by Marina Fitch 
In this one children are being kidnapped by a weird lady in a schoolyard lol. I’m not kidding WHY ARE THESE SO WEIRD. The story touched about the themes of loneliness that children often feel when they are being neglected/have no friends etc. That is a really real problem we have in the world. But the whole unicorn part was … weird. I have seriously lost count how many times I have written weird in this review. But yeah, nothing really special here in this one… 2/5 stars. 

The Highest Justice by Garth Nix
Wooo Garth Nix’s story! At the time of typing I have never actually read anything by him, so this will be my first Garth Nix experience! Finally a story with a princess and a unicorn like I had expected was in this anthology lol! I mean there was one other with a princess but that one was… odd. So this one we have a princess walking with the queen who was poisoned and they are going to… I guess you have to read it yourself to know? I liked this one because it wasn’t weird af and the princess and the unicorn was sweet! I actually could’ve had more in this story/world, but it was also sorta typical but that was fine at this point lol xD 3/5 stars! 

The Lion and the Unicorn by A.C. Wise trigger warnings: rape 
Another weird one, but I liked it?! It was intriguing and really dark. Here a unicorn-boy has been enslaved and since he is so beautiful people cannot control themselves around him. He is chained to a bed and is being raped so NOT NICE. But the story isn’t supposed to be nice either? I liked the background we got from him, and it was really really dark. I seriously wanted more from this story, IT WAS SO SHORT. The shortest one yet. The writing was also something I really liked so I’m just sad it wasn’t longer and a full length novel? Obviously it had horrible circumstances, but it was a good story! 4/5 stars. 

Survivor by Dave Smeds 
Omg xD In this one the MC gets a unicorn tattoo and goes to war, and the people who die around him lives in his tattoo?! It also had some length to it, but I was actually really curious to see where the story would go. You also ask yourself the question: is people actually living inside of him or is he imagining it? I thought the ending was a bit too open, but overall this wasn’t so bad! 3/5 stars. 

Homeward Bound by Bruce Coville 
Here the MC’s father died and he has to live with his uncle, who has a unicorn horn on his wall. And the MC has been obsessed with it for years and he WANTS TO REACH IT AND TOUCH IT.  and then he is actually a unicorn himself LOL. He had always been a unicorn? THAT WAS HIS TRUE FORM.  I was waiting for this kind of story in the anthology, it was totally fine! I was intrigued to know what would happen when he finally reached the horn. 2.5/5 stars. 

Unicorn Triangle by Patricia A. McKillip 
Here a unicorn has been cursed by a sorcerer and changed into a human. I liked the idea for the story, and the background. But it went past too quickly to care much for it, I wish it had been longer and that we could have explored more comparing her unicorn life and her human life. Because that it was ultimately is interesting with the story. Also find out if she managed to turn back or not, because the story just ends when it was getting good! 2/5 stars. 

My Son Heydari and the Karkadann by Peter S. Beagle
Finally the story from the unicorn master himself?! Here Beagle takes a really interesting take on unicorns, and calls them karkadanns. I liked that they had a weird name. in this unicorns are made into savage beasts, and a father is telling the story of his son saving one. I overall liked this one, and was intrigued the whole way! 3/5 stars. 

The Transfigured Heart by Jane Yolen 
This one was quite cute! It follows two kids who become friends while spotting what they believe is a unicorn in the forest. I liked how it was written and enjoyed the two leads. I think it could have been even more magical, but that is just me who longs for magic in this world…. 3/5 stars. 

Unicorn Series by Nancy Springer 
I can admit that this one did not really stuck with me. It is a long verse/poem thing, and was not really my thing. I thought some parts were nice, but I honestly can’t remember much.. wops. 2/5 stars. 

It was fascinating to see all these very different stories having one thing in common. That really shows how “one idea” can spring so many different outcomes, and I love that about storytelling in general. But overall most of these stories were so weird and not enjoyable at all, so I did not like this anthology as much as I thought I would. Some were interesting and had appeal, but it is not enough to carry the whole book. The ones I did have an okay time with were totally average, except The Lion and the Unicorn by A.C. Wise, which was my favorite and is a story I think I will go back to reread. Not really a book I would recommend unless you are peculiar interested, just know that it gets really weird! Overall star rating: 2/5 stars.
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My Review:  As with many other girls, I was completely obsessed with unicorns when I was younger, and I would be lying if I said I ever outgrew that love. So when I saw this book available, I jumped at the opportunity to read a bunch of unicorn stories by different authors. As with any anthology collections, some stories I really enjoyed, others were not my favorites. I usually enjoy the more sword and sorcery fantasy stories with a historical type setting, but was very surprised to find that a lot of the stories in this book that are set in modern times ended up being my favorites. Maybe it was my wish that unicorns do exist in our current world, hidden away only to be spotted on occasion. All in all I really enjoyed this eclectic collection of unicorn stories, it was fun to wrap up each day with these magical creatures, whether they were beautiful and enlightening or slightly frightening.

My Rating: I enjoyed reading short stories from some of my favorite fantasy authors, as well as discovering some new ones. It was entertaining to read the different visions of unicorns authors can create.  I give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.
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I wasn't sure what to expect, but I enjoyed reading this. An interesting story with fun characters. Well written.
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No soft, cuddly unicorns here!

Maybe my expectations were too high. Or maybe some of the writers ideas about unicorns and mine didn't mesh. Although I didn't expect to read about my granddaughters' favorite pillow representations of soft cuddly unicorns that are straight out of Disney, I was unprepared for many of the raw facets presented. 
Unfortunately quite a few of these tales just didn't excite me. I knew this collection was going to be unconventional but it seems I over anticipated my enjoyment. At moments I felt I'd wandered onto some sort of darkly modern gothic TV set.
I was taken but not captured by the twist in Carrie Vaughn's “A Hunter’s Ode to His Bait.”
I would say my favorite was “The Highest Justice” by Gate Nix but then I've always enjoyed his writings.

A Tachyon ARC via NetGalley
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As always with anthologies, there's a likelihood that you won't enjoy every story in the selection - but although that is true here, I found myself enjoying a much higher percentage than usual! There's not one story here that I actively disliked, and for the most part, these are very intelligent, fun, and interesting takes on unicorns. 

I had read Jane Yolen's The Transfigured Hart before, and I was pleased to find it included here - it's a gorgeous tale that reads like a fable and a modern middle grade all at the same time. I really loved the stories by Garth Nix, Patricia A McKillip, and Caitlin R Kiernan, in particular. 

Don't be put off by the cultural image of unicorns as sparkly twee magic horses - these unicorns are fascinating, smart, wild creatures, and each story has a different take on the legends. It's a great selection of stories.
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As pretty much every other person ever who reviews anthologies has said, giving one review for a whole anthology is difficult. Between the different stories, the themes are different, the tones are different, the writing styles are different, so it's hard to have one rating that applies to all of the stories. That being said, I try to rate books based on what they were trying to be/do, and I think this anthology did a great job of being an anthology of unicorn stories.

As I said, in terms of writing, these stories are all very different, which means that there will inevitably be at least one that won't click with you (for me it was "The Maltese Unicorn"). And in terms of plot and how/how much unicorns are involved, the stories vary as well--in some they're a huge part, in some they're relatively marginal. But honestly, I loved that. Having stories about unicorn hunters and virginal unicorn riders mixed in with stories about unicorn horn whiskey and a unicorn tattoo gives the anthology some variety.

While the stories almost exclusively focus on the Western, Medieval unicorn (with the exception of Beagle's story about the Persian karkadann) and the related ideas of virginity/purity, innocence, immortality, etc., the way these themes are addressed are different enough to make the stories each unique and interesting.
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