Unnatural Creatures is a collection of short stories curated by Neil Gaiman about monsters and fantastic beasts of all sorts. If you’re familiar with Gaiman’s fiction, then you probably expect these stories to be new and unusual takes on those stories, and you’d be right.
In these pages you’ll read about strange spots, griffons, werewolves and sunbirds, just to name a few. You’ve never read stories that depict monsters like these until now. Many of them have surprised plot twists, and why should we expect anything else from Neil Gaiman’s chosen tales?
Like any collection of stories, you won’t love them all. But there are 16 to choose from, including a story by Gaiman himself. They’ll pique your interest even if you don’t love all of them, but I’m sure you’ll like at least a few.
Gaiman has picked stories that he’s enjoyed throughout his life, including those that he read as a kid. Each story is prefaced by a short introduction, so you can learn more about why Neil enjoys it.
Of particular note were The Cockatoucan, a story about a little girl and her nanny who get off the bus at the wrong stop and The Compleat Werewolf by Anthony Boucher, in which the reader gets acquainted with the werewolf’s side of the story. Come Lady Death was easy to visualize as well as a refreshing take on the grim reaper. Finally, The Smile on the Face is modern, perhaps urban fantasy, and empowering, especially for a woman.
A few stories weren’t wins for me: The Manticore, The Mermaid, and Me is strange to the point of confusion and. Prismatica never quite finds its stride (you spend the whole time questing without a satisfying end).
Unnatural Creatures starts strong and continues swiftly. The length of the stories does vary, but it’s a short volume overall. Even the stories you don’t love will pass quickly, and you’ll find yourself finishing the stories you do like and wanting more.
If you’re interested in buying this anthology, you might like to know the following.
Sales of Unnatural Creatures benefit 826DC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students in their creative and expository writing, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.