The Unicorn Anthology

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 12 Aug 2019

Member Reviews

Overall, I’m not a big fan of anthologies. I like the idea that you can read short stories by your favorite authors but I am often disappointed because if I really like the story I would like it to be longer and sometimes the story is short because it is uninteresting. This anthology has a lot of my favorite authors in it but I was surprised at how dark most of the stories were. I didn’t think that all unicorn stories would be happy but, wow, the unicorns here were either bad news or they were really treated unfairly. Not to give any spoilers but there were virginal sacrifices, children being sold, unicorns being murdered and witches sucking up children’s souls.  There was also a lot of stories that included topics about female sexuality. I’m not opposed to it but I thought it really didn’t belong in a unicorn anthology. There were one or two uplifting stories but overall,  this anthology was too dark for my tastes. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me an arc in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
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The is always a danger with multi author anthologies that the taste of the collection just wont gel with the reader, and this was certainly one of those cases for me. All of the stories appear to be reprints from past publications, and several of them were quite dated which when we're dealing with topics of female sexuality--which was the topic in MANY of these--they often FELT dated and unremarkable or frankly bleh to a modern reader.

There were a few gems in this collection such as Stampede of Light, The Highest Justice, The Maltese Unicorn, and Ghost Town, however, the misses were so off putting I can't give this better than a 2-star.

For a full fleshed out rundown of my thoughts on the highs and lows in this collection check out my review on youtube.
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A diverse and polished collection of short stories about one of the most mysterious, magical and elusive of the mythical beasts , the Unicorn. Some very highly renowned fantasy authors contribute tales to the collection which is curated by the author of one of the most famous unicorn stories of all, Peter S Beagle. 
One of the best things about the collection is the sheer variety in the stories, from zombie queens to competitive unicorn riders,  hard boiled PI type characters  to lonely young girls and boys, the only thing these sundry protagonists each encounter a unicorn in some shape or form, with no two tales  alike. 
As with any short story collection I found some more enjoyable and interesting than others. Particular favorites of mine were A Hunter's Ode to his Bait by Carrie Vaughn, The Maltese Unicorn by Caitlin R Kiernan and The Highest Justice by Garth Nix.
I read and reviewed an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, all opinions are my own.
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The Unicorn Anthology edited by Peter S. Beagle & Jacob Weisman

Future Publication Date: April 19th, 2019

Execution: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Enjoyment: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Key Descriptors: unicorns, LGBT+, friendship, sex, violence, virginity

Applicable /r/Fantasy Bingo Squares: Novel Published in 2019, Five SFF Short Stories

Review: When we think of unicorns, I think we often forget the two more “vulgar” concepts they are linked to: sex and violence. We hunt the unicorn for its horn. We kill it, imposing our mastery over the innocent. Unicorns will only accept the hand of a virgin – by opposing sex, they become a symbol of it; this is particularly true given the somewhat phallic nature of the horn. 

If you’re coming in to this anthology expecting it to be filled with glitter and happiness, I have some bad news: that’s definitely not what you’ll be getting. However, if you’re hoping instead for a much more adult look at what the unicorn has historically symbolized, you will be in for a real treat. Beagle and Weismann have put together an anthology that showcases every aspect of the unicorn, all the way from adorable friendship and coming of age right on over to joy of mastering and destroying innocence. I found it damn impressive and fascinating to read – I’ll confess, I had anticipated a bit more glitter and happiness than what I found between these pages, but I certainly wasn’t disappointed. 

I think my favorite in the collection was “A Hunter’s Ode to His Bait” by Carrie Vaughn. Vaughn’s story features not only gorgeous prose, but also a protagonist unusual by unicorn story standards: a young maiden who is an active participant in the unicorn hunt. She wants the kill just as badly as does the man using her as bait; she craves the challenge, the domination, the thrill of using her desirability to lure in the beast.

“Her feet and legs were caked with mud, the hem of her gown black with the stuff, even though she held it off the ground. She was wet as a drowned kitten, but smiling and shining, moving a slow dance like she was born to this damp world – as innocent as the rain. Rain which gave life, and which flooded and drowned. This, he thought, was why men paid more for virgins.

The old unicorn was also aroused.

She had him then.”

I had shivers reading this. What an amazing scene – using innocence intentionally in seduction and turning the unicorn trope right on its head. 

Also worth a mention is “Falling off the Unicorn” by David D. Levine and Sara A Mueller. This was a surprisingly adorable coming of age story featuring the cutest LGBT romance you can imagine. I had such a good time reading it and rooting for our young protagonists! Many of the stories had LGBT themes, but this one, I think, did it best. That said, “The Brew” also deserves an honorable mention, if only for this quote:

“It was just so hard to put the two lives together. At the time I felt that the first life was just a lie. I felt that everyone who loved me had been lied to. But now – being gay seems to be all I am sometimes. Now sometimes I want someplace where I can get away from it. Someplace where I’m just Bobby again.”

This was such an interesting and relatable take on being part of a minority. While I personally am not, this is a sentiment I’ve absolutely heard echoed by many of my openly LGBT+ friends. In the current out and proud climate, it’s easy to lose yourself by trying to put this one small piece of you forward all the time. 

I could easily go on and on about every story in this anthology; there wasn’t a single dud amongst them, and I have great things to say about every page. Gorgeous prose for gorgeous unicorns, surprising violence and sexuality, and trope reversal abound. I strongly recommend this to anyone, and perhaps especially to those who think they’re not a fan of unicorns!

The Unicorn Anthology can be found on Amazon and Goodreads.

If you liked The Unicorn Anthology, you might also enjoy:

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
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Rating anthologies is always hard. **The Unicorn Anthology**, fittingly edited by *Peter S. Beagle* contained stories that touched me, and stories that just passed some time. Different strokes for different folks, and all that. Most stories tended to be dark and tragic, unsurprisingly enough. There are a couple of very good stories in there, so if the whole mythical realism thing interests you, check it out.
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The Unicorn Anthology is full to the brim with unicorns aplenty, following them as they gallop through a series of stories that are fresh and cutting-edge. Unicorns may seem like a played out fantasy trope, but this collection proves otherwise. Many of the stories bring unicorns into the modern world, creating a fascinating dynamic against the expected medieval setting. The collection brings unicorns firmly into the twenty-first century, and it was a delight to read. 

I was most impressed by the modernization displayed in the stories. We see unicorn riding akin to bull riding, with young girls competing against each other for fame and glory. We see poachers stalking after a lone unicorn who accidentally stepped into the world through a rip in the multidimensional fabric. I was continuously surprised by the originality and imagination on display. 

Overall, The Unicorn Anthology is a multi-layered collection that adds depth to the typical unicorn tales. It’s an excellent fantasy anthology that shows how fascinating these mythical creatures can be. 

Final review to be posted on April 29:
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I really wanted to love this anthology. I adore stories about unicorns and The Last Unicorn is one of my favourite books of all time. Maybe because of that my expectations were high. Unfortunately I didn't connect with so many of these stories. 

It didn't get off to a great start when Peter S. Beagle made it pretty clear that he resents being known as the Unicorn Guy which I think is a real shame. The second half of the book was better than the first but that wasn't enough to save it for me. 

Thank you to Tachyon Publications for giving me a free copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Growing up I loved books about mythical beasts, and unicorns were no exception. 

The stories in this book can be (loosely) divided into a few themes, based loosely around certain aspects of the myth of the unicorn. I've decided to give my comments on all of the stories (writing this on an airplane, I have time!), and have grouped them to the theme I think they fit best.

My least favorite theme, because I think that most of these were poorly written. 

The Magical Properties of Unicorn Horn by Carlos Hernandez
3/5. An interesting urban take on the unicorn myth. 

Falling off the Unicorn by David D. Levine and Sara A. Mueller
5/5. A creative interpretation of the unicorn myth, and one of the few stories where the unicorn wasn't the focus of the story. Bonus for LGBT representation.

A hunter's ode to his bait by Carrie Vaughn
0/5. Easily my least favorite story in the anthology. It grossed me out. Nothing really innovative about the story. I hated how the story was about a gross older man who buys a girl to use as bait for unicorn hunting. He then proceeds to essentially groom her and then fucks her at the end. WHAT. THE. FUCK. 

A thousand flowers by Margo Lanagan
3/5. I liked it. However, the change in POV halfway through the story was poorly done. I was very confused. 

The Lion and the Unicorn Boy by A.C Wise
4/5. A heartbreaking story. I wish there was more! I would read a whole novel about this character. 

This section is more about being innocent and/or naive, without the sexual connotations. 

Ghost Town by Jack C. Haldeman II
3/5. I think this one was a take on the "purity" part of the unicorn myth. I enjoyed the narrative but I don't think there was enough to tell me why the main character should be considered pure. 

Stampede of Light by Marina Fitch
5/5. A lovely tale that was quite well written. I'm not so familiar with the unicorn myth that was the basis of this story but I still enjoyed it. 

The Highest Justice by Garth Nix
5/5. I enjoy most of Garth Nix's writing. 

My son Heydari and the Karkadann by Peter S. Beagle
3/5. I think the writing was heavy handed. 

The transfigured hart by Jane Yolen
3/5. A bit long. I think that the parallels between a white hart and a unicorn could be better made. It was an interesting concept and was almost there, but I wasn't fully satisfied with the story. 

Magic Horn/Transformation
I wish more authors had taken on this aspect of the unicorn myth, these were some of my favorite ones to read. 

The Brew by Karen Joy Fowler
3/5. I enjoyed it. 

The Maltese Unicorn by Caitlin R. Kiernan
5/5. One of the standouts from this collection. A gritty tale with fascinating characters. Such a great take on the myth of the unicorn horn. I'm a bit obsessed with the authors writing so now I'll have to find more stuff by her. 

Survivor by David Smeds
5/5. Another standout from this collection. I think the initial basis of the story was a bit weak, but the rest of it was really good. Would have loved to read a longer version. 

Homeward Bound by Bruce Coville
3/5. Very nice concept, but was poorly executed. More time could have been spent developing the characters, as the reveal seemed a bit.. much to me, considering how little I knew. 

Unicorn Triangle by Patricia A. McKillip
4/5. Really enjoyed it, and I wish it were longer. 


Overall I enjoyed the collection. As you can tell I liked some more than others. 

I got a copy of this from Netgalley.
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Unicorns are a mystical, magical creatures.  In this unique anthology of unicorns story, there is a different look at unicorns.  If you want original stories, read this!   They are written about lost innocence, first love but also about hunting unicorns for their horns.  One of my favorite stories is by Jane Yolen “The Transfigured Hart”  about a horse-loving girl and a bookish boy shared an obsession with a white creature in the forest.  There is an argument between them about if the white creature is a white deer or a unicorn.  Who is right?  Read this delightful story and find out!  Read thee other stories to discover unicorns that are not only special but different!  A delightful book to read!
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3/5 stars

A decent anthology filled with a mixed bag of fifteen adult unicorn short stories and a few poems. There were several stories I really liked, but only one I really loved "The Highest Justice" and one I truly hated "A Thousand Flowers". I felt that most of the stories were really about the main characters in a world where unicorns are possible. The unicorns were often side characters or casually mentioned. The adult themes vary on severity and topics from story to story. Trigger warnings are listed below at the end of the review for those that need them! My favorites out of all of them were "Stampede of Light", "The Highest Justice", "Survivor", "Homeward Bound", and "The Transfigured Heart". The rest of them you could honestly skip. 

"The Magical Properties of Unicorn Ivory" by Carlos Hernandez  - 2.5 stars
A report tags along with a park ranger only to find unicorn poachers have kidnapped a girl. This was an odd beginning and slightly morbid story, but I wasn't emotionally invested in the characters. 

"The Brew" by Karen Joy Fowler - 3 stars
A strange woman reminisces one Christmas eve about the time her and a friend discovered a man with magical unicorn brew. This story was a decent read! I really liked the backstory within this one about the mysterious neighbor and found myself wondering what would happen next. 

"Falling off the Unicorn" by David D. Levine & Sera A. Mueller - 3 stars
A F/F young romance story about a unicorn rodeo rider. This one had a strange take on unicorns. It still had the virgin element, but unicorns were magical show ponies. The characters were what made this story a better read and their developing relationship. 

"A Hunter's Ode to His Bait" by Carrie Vaughn - 2 stars
A unicorn hunter buys a virgin and travels from kingdom to kingdom using her as bait for years. One day he discovers the oldest unicorn and decides to hunt one last time. This short story was not that great and had several sexual scenes within it. I didn't particularly care about the characters one way or the other. 

"Ghost Town" by Jack C. Haldeman II - 3 stars
A con man breaks down in a mysterious town in the middle of nowhere between New Mexico and Arizona. This was a decent different kind of unicorn story. It was an adult tale, but definitely less sexual than all of the others within this anthology. I liked the mythology behind the mysterious town and how the story played out. 

"A Thousand Flowers" by Margo Lanagan - 1 star
A man comes across a unicorn in the woods that leads him to a girl that appears to have been raped. The man is captured by guards and presumed to have attacked the girl who turns out to be a princess. This was honestly the worst story in the anthology. Rape or bestiality played a big part in this weird story. It just left me with a bad feeling and I would recommend skipping it!

"The Maltese Unicorn" by Caitlin R. Kiernenm - 2 stars
A f/f twisted attraction story  about a bookseller that gets caught up in acquiring an object for a mysterious lady working for her demon boss. This story felt like an old black and white detective movie in parts with it's 1930's New York setting. I honestly didn't care for any of the characters. The female/female attraction came out of nowhere and there was a demonic rape scene that was twisted. The best part of this story was the setting with it's feel of an alternate 1930's universe with demons and magic. It had promise, but it just took a strange a direction.

"Stampede of Light" by Marina Fitch - 3.5 stars
A child goes missing on a playground and the only witness was a teacher who saw a brief glimpse of her with a strange, beautiful woman. No one at the school remembers the child after and the teacher is worried the woman will be back. This finally felt like a story where I truly cared about the characters. The relationship between the teacher and a shy student was sweet and well written. I found myself wondering how it was going to end!

"The Highest Justice" by Garth Nix  - 4 stars
My favorite story out of the anthology! A long time ago, a magical unicorn granted a queen a favor. Centuries later, a princess calls upon that same unicorn to help her dispense justice for the current queen who was murdered. I loved the mixed elements of fantasy, magic and horror in this story. The undead queen meets beautiful unicorn was such an interesting contrast. I would have loved to read even more of this story!

"The Lion and the Unicorn" by A. C. Wise - 2.5 stars
A story of an enslaved boy unicorn and the time he met an old woman while sick. An okay story, but once again I didn't feel much for the characters. It was short and slightly interesting though!

"Survivor" by Dave Smeds - 3.5 stars
A soldier on temporary leave in the middle of the Vietnam war gets a unicorn tattoo. When he returns to war, his unit tells him it's his lucky charm. He doesn't believe at first, but after surviving several attacks, he begins to wonder. This soldier story was so good and had definite supernatural elements along with the magical unicorn tattoo. This is another story I could have read more from!

"Homeward Bound" by Bruce Coville - 3 stars
After losing his father, Jamie goes to live with his uncle who owns a unicorn horn that Jamie remembers seeing as a child. This story took twists I didn't see coming! I enjoyed this one that was way more than it seemed.

"Unicorn Triangle" by Patricia A. McKillip - 3 stars
A hotel maid has flashbacks to when a sorcerer transformed her from a unicorn to a girl with his dying spell. This one was interesting with the maid reminiscing and telling you her story and how she came to be in the this world. It did have an odd ending that could have been much better, but it was an okay story overall. 

"My Son Heydari and the Karkadann" by Peter S. Beagle - 2.5 stars
In Persia, karkadanns are types of wild unicorns. This story was all about an elephant herder telling about the time his son Heydari saved a karkadann. It was an okay story. Unicorns are wild, violent  and apparently hate elephants in this take on a different kind of unicorn story. I didn't feel any attachment to the characters once again so for me it was just an okay story.

"The Transfigured Heart" by Jane Yolen - 3.5 stars
A boy and a girl discover they both glimpsed what might have been unicorn in the woods and plan to wait for it to appear beside a natural pool. I really liked this story. It was told from multiple POV including the girl, boy and the unicorn.  It was a simple story, but it made you care about the characters and what would happen when they found the unicorn. 

"Unicorn Series" by Nancy Springer - 2 stars
A few unicorn related poems, but they didn't interest me as much as the stories. 

TRIGGERS: Rape and bestiality. No scenes of the actual act, but did pertain scenes describing the aftermath and state of the characters.

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Tachyon Publications and the authors for the chance to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I am DNF’ing this one at about 40%. I NEVER DNF a book, but this one is just not for me; it’s not at all what I was expecting. Having this on my back burner has become more of a stress/obligation at this point, so I need to just move on from it for now. I may come back to it eventually, and if I do I’ll update my reviews.

As a lover of unicorns, I personally found the stories in this anthology disturbing. Among the stories I did get through, there was one with a girl having a sexual relationship with a unicorn, and one with a couple hunting and killing unicorns and then having sex against the carcass of the killed animal (a giant innocent animal killed only for sport, not for any noble reason).

II just can’t justify continuing to read a book that is not at all enjoyable to me and is actually upsetting to me. Maybe these types of stories are for some people, but not me.
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3.5 stars

All of my thoughts about each individual story can be read in my updates.

This was a fun collection for those who enjoy tales about this mythical creature. The stories all revolve around the different perspectives unicorns have taken up in history, fantasy, or folklore, and how in turn people will react or be affected by this. For such a wondrous creature not all of the stories are bright and sparkling, some of them are dark and grim. I like the created worlds that were made and how it worked around some more pervading myths about them.

The second half of this anthology is better than the first, as the strength of the stories are a lot more cohesive and developed. I thought this would have been a lot better if some of the stories weren't reused ones which could be read from other popular anthologies. I wish we could have little bits about the authors who wrote these stories but alas.

Some treasures of stories in here. A nice anthology with a very cohesive adherence to the theme.
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2,5 stars 

TW: Rape / Drugging / Suicide  

When I started this anthology I guess I had different expectations. I thought this anthology was going to focus more on unicorns. However a lot of these stories just use unicorns in the background. That could have been really interesting if the plots hadn’t overall been so filled with virgins and the same old unappealing ideas. Some of the writing also wasn’t stellar.  

The foreword by Peter Beagle mentions that some of these stories were older (think eighties) and that a lot of them were already used in other anthologies. There is little new to be found here. While I think some older stories certainly can be very current in today’s society, in some ways a bunch of these really don’t fit. 
I would also like to add that Peter Beagle clearly doesn’t want to be known as the unicorn guy from his foreword and that really didn’t make it that appealing to start this book.  

If you do plan on picking up this book I think there are about three stories that make it worth your while out of sixteen. That is Stampede of Light by Marina Fitch, The Highest Justice by Garth Nix and The Transfigured Hart by Jane Yolen. 

>> Separate Stories 
The Magical Properties of Unicorn Ivory / 2 stars  
Bad writing. Bland. Lying about death to a child is never a good idea. 

The Brew / 2 stars 
The story was unappealing. There was no actual unicorn in it. Just a nudge to it. The mc is also in the Netherlands as she tells the story and makes a weird reference to black pete we have and ties it to Christmas. No we don’t have black elfs as the author called it. We have black pete, a racist figure tied to Sinterklaas that is a children’s holiday at the start of December.  Don’t refer to something you don’t know anything about. 

Falling of the Unicorn / 3 stars
Decent story. LGBTQ+, Lesbian relationship. 

A Hunters Ode to Bait / 2 stars 
Disgusting relationship at the end where the hunter who BOUGHT his virgin bait at the age of 12-13 ends up with her. Initial idea I liked (though the whole bait has to be virgin makes me roll my eyes). 

Ghost Town /3  Stars 
This was decent story. Nothing outstanding. 
A Thousand Flowers / 2 stars 
TW: Suicide 
A confusing story that has the point of view changed 3 times in first person point of view without much of a hint towards it going to change. 

The Maltese Unicorn / 3,5 stars
TW: Rape / Drugging 
Compelling story of an mc that works in a book store and does odd jobs for a supernatural person in the city. 

Stampede of Light / 4 stars
Compelling story about being seen 

The Highest Justice / 4 stars 
A story where the unicorn is more in the foreground has to be applauded in this anthology. 

The Lion and the Unicorn / 3 stars 
Just a decent story 

Survivor / 2 stars 
All I can say is meh here. 

Homeward Bound / 2,5 stars
While the idea was interesting the writing was bland and boring. 

Unicorn Triangle / 3 stars 
I liked the idea but the story was cut off way too early to really draw you in. 

My Son Heydari and the Karkadarnn / 3 stars  
A Peter Beagle short story which was decently written. I got the impression it was set in Africa though and I don’t think he should have nessecarily gone there. 

The Transfigured Hart / 4 stars 
A beautiful story about two children finding friendship amidst finding the beauty of a unicorn. 

Unicorn Series / 1 star 
Nope, all the nope.
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I don't normally read short stories because I love the long game. However, these are some compelling and excellently written short stories. Some were disturbing, some were suspenseful, and some were lovely. I was impressed with the work of each author and I'll be looking at other books written by them for my to-read list. Although they're all about unicorns, don't think that makes them similar in any way. The creativity with the subject is astounding. Prepare to be amazed.
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First I want to start by saying thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for approving me for this galley. 

I really wanted to enjoy these stories. The Unicorn Anthology is out of my realm of usual reads, because I don't read many short stories (I'm greedy what can I say). After enjoying the anthologies, A Thousand Beginnings and Endings and The Language of Thorns I wanted to give more anthologies a shot. 

Unfortunately, it was a very slow moving experience for me personally.  I was starting to force myself to read each story and eventually got to the interesting little bit that A Thousand Flowers. The bestiality and the results of it had me seriously side eyeing my kindle. I needed a cleanse. At that point was far too much for me took keep trying with the next story. I kept flipping back to the last one to make sure I read it right and wasn't hallucinating. I tried but I had to officially call it quits on making it through this anthology. 

It seems like there are a lot of people that this worked for, but sadly I was not one of them. I'm sure there will be others that enjoy this read.
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Peter S. Beagle has written a lot of books within the fantasy genre, but remains best known for his novel "The Last Unicorn." As a result, he was a natural choice to curate this collection. There are a number of renowned authors of fantasy included in this collection, so it's a great opportunity to see unicorn themed work from them.

Some of the stories have a decidedly adult bent to them, as one takes place in a bordello featuring fantastic creatures of all kinds, and in another, the unicorn's horn that was cut off centuries ago was crafted into a phallus that two warring madams both want. ("The Maltese Unicorn" by Caitlín R. Kiernan, which tells you right there it's a noirish story that is meant to unsettle.) There are also stories where unicorns were always real and in the world, only hidden from common sight by the way they're able to move and protect themselves. We also have some poetry featuring unicorns in this collection.

One story that really sticks out in my mind is "The Magical Properties of Unicorn Ivory." It's the opening story, whete unicorns crossed over into our universe through microscopic holes punched by particle accelerator experiments. They now exist in our world, and are majestic and magical creatures; this makes them a commodity for poachers willing to abduct children or harm adults trying to save them. Like with poachers of other protected animals, they don't care who they hurt, including the animals they're hunting, and the end of this story still haunts me.

Another beautiful one in this collection is "The Highest Justice" by Garth Nix, where the magic of the Unicorn allows a princess to keep her mother's dead body animated enough to get revenge on the king and his mistress, who had poisoned her. "The Transfigured Hart" by Jane Yolen brings her deft magical realism to a story of two children and an albino deer.

This is a wonderful collection to read, and one I am very grateful to have read.
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I love unicorns so The Unicorn Anthology was a must read for me. Some stories I really liked some not se much but that’s what happens when I read anthologies. What we get is a really wide range of stories some written in the present some in the past. 

I received a digital copy of this book from Tachyon Publications through NetGalley. Thank you.
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Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this short story collection eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

the unicorn anthology (Various)Title: the unicorn anthologyAuthors: Peter S. Beagle (Editor), Jacob Weisman (Editor), Marina Fitch, Dave Smeds, Nancy Springer, Carlos Hernandez , Karen Joy Fowler, Sara A. Mueller, David D. Levine, Carrie Vaughn, Jack C. Haldeman II, Margo Lanagan, Caitlín R. Kiernan, A.C. Wise

Publisher: Tachyon Publications
Publication Date: TODAY!! (e-book) and April 19, 2019 (paperback)
ISBN: 978-1616963156
Source: NetGalley

So ye scalawags, many of ye likely know about me first love, horses, before the sea stole me heart.  So of course I was also obsessed with unicorns, too.  Peter S. Beagle's, the last unicorn is one of me favourite books along with the joyful animated movie of the same name.  So when I saw that there be a new unicorn anthology out, I knew I had to read it.  Many of these stories have appeared in other places and were not new to me.  For me this anthology was uneven.  But I do have several from this collection that are now new favourites:

“The Magical Properties of Unicorn Ivory” (Carlos Hernandez) - I absolutely loved this reporter's article of the first time she gets to see a unicorn in the wild.  The ending was unexpected and poignant.  Beautiful

.“The Brew” (Karen Joy Fowler) - This is about what happens when ye brew something using unicorn horn and how the mixture changes the life of two young teens.  The use of memory in this story was lovely.  Apparently this story was in immortal unicorn volume 2 but I don't remember reading it back then.  Glad to be reintroduced.“

Falling Off the Unicorn” (David D. Levine and Sara A. Mueller) - This story is about an older teen riding the unicorn show circuit at the top level.  It explores the main character, Missy's, conflicting relationship with the sport.  Plus there is a lovely romance.

“A Hunter’s Ode to His Bait” (Carrie Vaughn) - I love other works by this author but this story just gave me the creeps and I did not like it.  It is a sensual look at the use of a young virgin as bait, hunting unicorns, and the changing relationship between the hunter and his bait.  Ugh.

“Ghost Town” (Jack C. Haldeman II) - This was so good.  It is about a guy who ends up in the middle of nowhere and what he discovers about himself in this ghost town.  Bascially a lovely story about turning points and life-defining choices.

“A Thousand Flowers” (Margo Lanagan) - I previously read this story in zombies vs. unicorns.  This was still a miss for me.  I actually enjoyed the writing style immensely and was drawn into the mystery.  But the plot faltered, narrators changed, and the beastiality in this was not to me taste.

“The Maltese Unicorn” (Caitlín R. Kiernan) - This is set in New York City in May of 1935.  The main character works for a mob boss who happens to be a demon.  The unicorn in this is a dildo of power.  I could have done without the sex scene but I did like the worldbuilding.  Just weird.

“Stampede of Light” (Marina Fitch) - I loved this story!  This is the tale of what happens to lost children and the teachers who make a difference.  I thought the unicorns in this were awesome.  This may have been me favourite of the collection.

“The Highest Justice” (Garth Nix) - This was another story from zombies vs. unicorns.  I loved rereading it.“The Lion and the Unicorn” (A. C. Wise) - This was an odd story that I didn't like.  The unicorn and lion are trapped as slaves.  The lion is trying to escape. The unicorn is basically used for sex via rape.  It was an uncomfortable story.

“Survivor” (Dave Smeds) - I read this story in immortal unicorn volume 2.  The unicorn is a tattoo with unexpected consequences.  I enjoyed rereading this one.

"Homeward Bound" (Bruce Coville) - This was another miss for me.  I usually like Coville's writing but I didn't connect with this story at all.

“Unicorn Triangle” (Patricia A. McKillip) - I am not a McKillip fan so this one was bound to not be for me.  But I found that I did love the beginning up to the half-way point before it bombed.  I consider that a win.

“My Son Heydari and the Karkadann” (Peter S. Beagle) - I enjoyed this story about unicorns in Persia.  The unicorns hate elephants.  Humans hate the unicorns.  This be the story of what happens when a young boy tries to help one of the beasts.

"The Transfigured Hart" (Jane Yolen) - Tachyon Publications previously released this story as a novella which I adored.  See that review here!

“Unicorn Series” (Nancy Springer) - This is a poem in eight parts.  I don't really get poetry but thought this was pleasant enough.

Out of the 16 stories I liked 6 of the new ones and still loved 3 of the tales known previously.  I didn't like 6 of the new ones and 1 previously read before.  So about half of this collection floated me boat.  In addition to the stories, there is also a lovely introduction by Peter S. Beagle on what it be like to be known as the "unicorn guy".  If ye haven't read any of these stories previously then I do think this could be a good place to start.  Arrrr!

So lastly . . .Thank you Tachyon Publications!

Goodreads' website has this to say about the book:Unicorns: Not just for virgins anymore. Here are sixteen lovely, powerful, intricate, and unexpected unicorn tales from fantasy icons including Garth Nix, Peter S. Beagle, Patricia A. McKillip, Bruce Coville, Carrie Vaughn, and more. In this volume you will find two would-be hunters who enlist an innkeeper to find a priest hiding the secret of the last unicorn. A time traveler tries to corral an unruly mythological beast that might never have existed at all. The lover and ex-boyfriend of a dying woman join forces to find a miraculous remedy in New York City. And a small-town writer of historical romances discovers a sliver of a mysterious horn in a slice of apple pie.

To visit the authors' websites go to:Peter S. Beagle (Editor), Jacob Weisman (Editor), Marina Fitch, Dave Smeds, Nancy Springer, Carlos Hernandez , Karen Joy Fowler, Sara A. Mueller, David D. Levine, Carrie Vaughn, Jack C. Haldeman II, Margo Lanagan, Caitlín R. Kiernan, A.C. Wise

To buy the collection go to:the unicorn anthology - Book

To add to Goodreads go to:Yer Ports for Plunder List
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How could I resist a collection of stories about unicorns, especially when I've actually heard of some of the authors!

A couple of stories were written in present tense but the one by Carlos Hernandez had a very interesting premise; unicorn poaching for their horns! Imagine, Americans not realising we've still got unicorns in England. *shakes head*

As you would expect with a themed anthology, there was a variety of takes on the subject. We had a unicorn rodeo and of course you have to be a virgin to handle one of the creatures! Unicorn hunters of various kinds, unicorns mating with human women and the subsequent offspring, unicorn magic and mythology that may or may not come from actual legends.

The stand out stories for me were Falling Off the Unicorn by David D. Levine and Sara A. Mueller, A Hunter's Ode to His Bait by Carrie Vaughn, A Thousand Flowers by Margo Lanagan and My Son Heydari and the Karkadann by Peter S. Beagle, which had some excellent stoytelling.

I liked some of the others fairly well and only found myself skimming a couple of them. The compilation wraps up with some poetry, which feels natural for this particular theme. Not a bad collection as anthologies go.
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I love unicorns. The mythology surrounding unicorns is so intriguing to me, especially when the traditional concepts of unicorns are broken down, dismantled, and challenged, and the idea of innocence and purity is explored in so many of the stories in this volume. What does it mean, ultimately, to be innocent and pure? How can one take the familiar myths of unicorns and subvert them?

This is not an anthology for younger readers, as there are references to bestiality (didn't finish this story), references to sexual acts, and references to heavy-handed violence to people of all ages. This is a collection of stories that will make you reconsider the unicorn trope, and the collection includes a wide variety of stories to appeal  Overall, it's a solid collection of stories, and I found myself wishing for a few more at the end.

My favorites were "The Maltese Unicorn" by Caitlín R. Kiernan (the lesbian unicorn noir you didn't know you needed to read until now), "Ghost Town" by Jack C. Haldeman II (brother of Joe Haldeman!, and I also love western-esque stories about rogues being changed by chance encounters in nearly-abandoned towns), "The Highest Justice" by Garth Nix (I love anything Nix writes), "Survivor" by Dave Smeds (a Vietnam soldier gets a unicorn tattooed on his chest and therefore cannot die), "Homeward Bound" by Bruce Coville (he wrote a series of unicorn books for middle grade readers that I thoroughly enjoyed and was happy to see another unicorn story by him!), and "The Transfigured Hart" by Jane Yolen (anything she writes is pure magic and pure joy).

This collection comes with a recommendation from me, especially with the introduction by Peter S. Beagle himself.
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