Review: Unnatural Creatures, Stories Selected by Neil Gaiman

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I bought this book because I saw Neil’s name on the cover. I didn’t bother reading the back of the book when I was at the bookstore. Imagine my surprise when I looked at it closely at home and saw that this aren’t his short stories but rather a collection of personally selected selection of short stories.

  • by Gahan Wilson

Plot: One morning, beside the eggs and toast, there’s a dark spot on the tablecloth, and where it came from, no one knows. The only certainty is that the moment one stops looking at it, it moves. And as it moves, it grows…

Thoughts: I don’t quite like this story as it was open ended. Not the best book opener for me.

The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees by E. Lily Yu

Plot: This is a story of wasps and bees.

Thoughts: Not my cup of tea either. I’m not fond of bees or wasps. Both of them scare me.

The Griffin and the Minor Canon by Frank R. Stockton

Plot: A lonely griffin visits a village and makes itself comfortable at the side of the Minor Canon assigned to keeping it from eating the townspeople. It insists that it will be hungry only at the equinox, but as the equinox approaches, the villagers become concerned and decide to take matters into their own hands…

Thoughts: This has got to be one of my most loved stories in this collection. I loved the story’s light-heartedness and the lesson it teaches. It also has a bit of humor thrown in there.

Ozioma, The Wicked by Nnedi Okorafor

Plot: Twelve years old, and able to speak with poisonous snakes, Ozioma’s the undefeated champion of her village – despite the fact that everyone in it thinks she’s a witch. One day, though, a tremendous serpent descends from the heavens and tests even Ozioma’s courage…

Thoughts: Not my favorite story in the book but I loved how the author incorporated discrimination in this story. All things have happy endings, even for those who are judged.

Sunbird by Neil Gaiman

Plot: Lightning bugs, dolphinfish, dung beetle, unicorn flank steak…the intrepid members of the Epicurean Society have eaten every kind of animal. Or have they…?

Thoughts: I have read this story in another Gaiman short story collection. I love the mystery and the subtle hints Gaiman throws his readers to understand the story. Make sure to read between the lines as you go read.

The Sage of Theare by Diana Wynne Jones

Plot: This is a story about invisible dragons, and about gods and about a wise sage and a young man who seeks him.

Thoughts: I loved this story. It serves a gentle reminder of how destiny and fate is.

Gabriel-Ernest by Saki

Plot: There is a wild beast in the woods. Or there is a boy. Or perhaps…

Thoughts: Another favorite! The mystery that filled this story is incomparable. Don’t let the kids out after dark.

The Cocktoucan; or Great-Aunt Willoughby by E. Nesbit

Plot: Primped and prodded into a too-tight dress, Matilda is sent to visit her ancient great-aunt Willoughby, but something goes wrong along the way…

Thoughts: The story is a little long and a little too boring for me. It’s not the finest one in the book.

Moveable Beast by Maria Dahvana Headley

Plot: There’s a Beast in the mini-forest, and everyone knows it, especially Angela, whose father hunts it full-time. She has no interest in anything to do with the Beast until a collector arrives in town attempting to use her as a bait…

Thoughts: An amazing read. I love how wicked and nail biting it is.

The Flight of the Horse by Larry Niven

I couldn’t finish this story. Sorry, not sorry.

Prismatica Hommage À James Thurber by Samuel R. Delany

Plot: A very thin and very gray man arrives in a tavern with a large steamer trunk, which contains his “nearest and dearest friend.” The man offers to pay for the assistance of the quick-witted Amos in procuring the cure his friend needs. Off Amos goes, questing for three shards of a magical mirror…

Thoughts: A great and interesting read. I loved how the story was exciting and quite creepy at times.

The Manticore, The Mermaid and Me by Megan Kurashige

I had no idea what I just read.

The Compleat Werewolf by Anthony Boucher

Plot: Professor Wolfe Wolf, unlucky in love, is drowning his sorrows in a bar when he meets a magician, who informs him that he’s not destined to be a professor, but a werewolf. Detectives, spies, brainy secretaries…Things, needless to say, do not go at all according to plan.

 Thoughts: “Truth is a dark and deceitful thing.” Oh, how I loved this story! It has everything I can ever ask for. A bit of action, drama and bit of romance! This has to be my favorite tale so far. Also, I think this can turn into a movie! 😛

The Smile On the Face by Nalo Hopskinson

Plot: Gilla swallowed a cherry pit, and now her mouth is full of startling words she’d never normally speak. In the old stories of the saints, trees take root through flesh, but in this one, a gift from a tree transforms into teeth.

Thoughts: Written like a teen novel, this cute little story crept into my heart.

Or All The Seas with Oysters by Avram Davidson

Thoughts: I honestly didn’t understand this story. I like this line, though…”How was it possible – he wondered then; he still did now – for people deliberately to hurt someone else who hadn’t hurt them? How was it possible?

Come Lady Death by Peter S. Beagle

Plot: For years Lady Neville has thrown the finest parties to entertain the finest people, and she’s bored with all of them. There’s one person she’s never met, though….

Thoughts: Oh, what a splendid story to close out this collection. I love this story and how death was portrayed and how she got her revenge. Be kind.

* * *

Overall, this collection didn’t impress me. There were some good pieces, but there were weird ones too. I wouldn’t recommend buying this book, instead just pick your favorites from the short stories included and find those online. You’ll save money and at the same time still enjoy!



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