I was incredibly disappointed in this collection. When I pick up an anthology, I do not expect to love every story. I am picking up a mixed bag of authors to expose myself to different works and see if there might be an author I have been missing.
Unicorns are very popular creatures right now, and I know very little of their lore or tales throughout time. I thought this anthology would be a great way to see where the humble unicorn has been. Plus, there are some serious powerhouse authors gathered here and it opens with such a promising introduction.
The first story starts to give me pause into how this anthology is going to turn out. Story two kept the down slide continuing. I couldn't even finish reading the third story. Story four was dark, but I finished it. The ending sentence made me truly wonder if there was really any hope for this anthology having anything good.
Then I read story five, Ghost Town by Jack Haldeman II from 1992. I loved it. It was the gem I was looking for, a new author to check out.
Story six was some kind of modern folktale that got a little confusing and I just skimmed through it. Never made it through story seven either. Story eight was another dark and sad version of unicorns.
Story nine, The Highest Justice by Garth Nix, brought me in touch with a prodigious fantasy author I had been wondering about. His writing tone was one I think I could enjoy and will be interested in trying out some of his full novels.
Story ten through twelve went back to the dark and disturbing.
I had lost all hope of this anthology being any good. Then I reached Unicorn Triangle by Patricia McKillip and My Son Heydari and the Karkadann by Peter S. Beagle. The two powerhouse authors.
Even though McKillip's writing can be haunting and sad, she always has a brilliance and poignancy. Good is always trying to shine through the darkness. And Beagle's eastern look at the unicorn was just amazing. I'm so glad that I decided to push through for those two.
Then I reached another unknown-to-me author, Jane Yolen, and her tale The Transfigured Hart. A tender coming of age story that was excellently told and beautiful for its shortness.
For creatures that are supposed to be about purity, this anthology was disturbing. I was very disappointed to have to skip complete stories and skim through others. Most of the stories were just down right grotesque and had atrocious language and themes. The four stories I did enjoy, I'm still wondering if the whole was worth the sum of its parts.