Curated by Peter S. Beagle, legendary author of The Last Unicorn, The Unicorn Anthology is a collection of mostly quite short stories by some of the biggest names in fantasy today, including Garth Nix, Patricia A. McKillip, Jane Yolen and Beagle himself. There’s a huge variety here, from a sweetly charming tale of two children stumbling on something magical in the deep woods (The Transfigured Hart) to a darkly twisted story of what, frankly, I can only call the sexual abuse of a child (The Lion and the Unicorn). That one and The Maltese Unicorn are most definitely not suitable for children, and The Lion and the Unicorn could be dangerously triggering for CSA or sexual assault survivors. A Thousand Flowers skirts around the implication of bestiality (is it bestiality if the creature is mythical?)
I wouldn’t be letting a youngster obsessed with unicorns read this collection freely. Probably a third of the stories deal with very adult themes. Those warnings aside, all of the writing is stunning, evocative prose - in the case of Nancy Springer’s contribution, poetry - which can’t fail to move you. I think my favorite was Falling Off The Unicorn, in which show unicorns must be ridden and trained by virginal women or risk goring, and two young women find themselves testing just what the unicorns consider ‘cheating’ in their newfound feelings for each other.
I’m giving the collection as a whole five stars, but with the proviso that some of the stories deal with deeply triggering themes and I think it’s suitable for aware adult readers only.
The Last Unicorn is available now.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review via NetGalley.