A Fantasy Sampler

Title: The Overneath
Author: Peter S. Beagle
Genre: Fantasy short stories
Pages: 336
Rating: 4 of 5

This was my first time reading anything by Peter S. Beagle. Judging from the stories in this book, I would say he has versatile writing skills, a good sense of humor, and an obsession with unicorns (I guess when The Last Unicorn is your biggest hit, why not milk it?…not that there are any stories about milking unicorns).

Anyway, this collection offers a wide variety of fantasy stories from folktales to visiting worlds created in previous novels to steampunk(ish…he admits he doesn’t really understand the genre) to urban. No matter the sub-genre his narration has a light touch either in a “isn’t this a folksy charming tale” way, lightly mocking narration, or some combination of the two.

As with any short story collection, I found some stories to be more enjoyable than others, but the difference in enjoyment here had more to do with topic and sub-genre preference than variation in writing quality (e.g. I’m not a fan of stories that celebrate adultery/affairs and there was at least one of those, and the Schmendrick stories were only moderately interesting to me since I have never read The Last Unicorn). Overall, this is well worth reading as a fun sampler of fantasy sub-genres, and I’m glad to have found an entertaining author I hadn’t read before.