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Neil Gaiman can do no wrong in my opinion, and this anthology of beastly stories chosen by him is a real treat. The theme is encounters with creatures beyond reality, and is a varied mix of the humorous, the scary and the literary. It introduces us to manticores, cockatoucans, griffins and mermaids galore, in a rich tapestry of imagination from the finest short story writers.  It includes favourites such as Diana Wynne Jones and E. Nesbit alongside those who will be new to many readers, including Gahan Wilson and Nnedi Okorafor, who I’m definitely going to look out for. My favourite stories in this collection was the (unnamed) story by Wilson, in which a black blob moves around a stately home, gaining in size and menace; Sunbird by Neil himself, in which a group of gastronomic adventurers bite off more than they can chew; The Compleat Werewolf by Anthony Boucher, originally published in 1942 and still a powerful exploration of lycanthropy; and Come Lady Death by Peter S. Beagle, in which vain Lady Neville rashly invites Death to one of her society balls. It’s a strong collection of tales which will reward the reader who returns time and time again to dip into the magical world of these miraculous beasts, and is definitely a keeper on my bookshelves! Rating: ****

Bloomsbury, 2014, ISBN 9781408845462 (out in paperback on February 13th)

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review

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