On the Horizon – the unicorn anthology (Peter S. Beagle (Editor), Jacob Weisman (Editor), Marina Fitch, Dave Smeds, Nancy Springer, Carlos Hernandez , Karen Joy Fowler, Sara A. Mueller, David D. Levine, Carrie Vaughn, Jack C. Haldeman II, Margo Lanagan, Caitlín R. Kiernan, A.C. Wise)

Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this short story collection eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

the unicorn anthology (Various)

Title: the unicorn anthology

Authors: Peter S. Beagle (Editor), Jacob Weisman (Editor), Marina Fitch, Dave Smeds, Nancy Springer, Carlos Hernandez , Karen Joy Fowler, Sara A. Mueller, David D. Levine, Carrie Vaughn, Jack C. Haldeman II, Margo Lanagan, Caitlín R. Kiernan, A.C. Wise

Publisher: Tachyon Publications

Publication Date: TODAY!! (e-book) and April 19, 2019 (paperback)

ISBN: 978-1616963156

Source: NetGalley

So ye scalawags, many of ye likely know about me first love, horses, before the sea stole me heart.  So of course I was also obsessed with unicorns, too.  Peter S. Beagle’s, the last unicorn is one of me favourite books along with the joyful animated movie of the same name.  So when I saw that there be a new unicorn anthology out, I knew I had to read it.  Many of these stories have appeared in other places and were not new to me.  For me this anthology was uneven.  But I do have several from this collection that are now new favourites:

“The Magical Properties of Unicorn Ivory” (Carlos Hernandez) – I absolutely loved this reporter’s article of the first time she gets to see a unicorn in the wild.  The ending was unexpected and poignant.  Beautiful.

“The Brew” (Karen Joy Fowler) – This is about what happens when ye brew something using unicorn horn and how the mixture changes the life of two young teens.  The use of memory in this story was lovely.  Apparently this story was in immortal unicorn volume 2 but I don’t remember reading it back then.  Glad to be reintroduced.

“Falling Off the Unicorn” (David D. Levine and Sara A. Mueller) – This story is about an older teen riding the unicorn show circuit at the top level.  It explores the main character, Missy’s, conflicting relationship with the sport.  Plus there is a lovely romance.

“A Hunter’s Ode to His Bait” (Carrie Vaughn) – I love other works by this author but this story just gave me the creeps and I did not like it.  It is a sensual look at the use of a young virgin as bait, hunting unicorns, and the changing relationship between the hunter and his bait.  Ugh.

“Ghost Town” (Jack C. Haldeman II) – This was so good.  It is about a guy who ends up in the middle of nowhere and what he discovers about himself in this ghost town.  Basically a lovely story about turning points and life-defining choices.

“A Thousand Flowers” (Margo Lanagan) – I previously read this story in zombies vs. unicorns.  This was still a miss for me.  I actually enjoyed the writing style immensely and was drawn into the mystery.  But the plot faltered, narrators changed, and the bestiality in this was not to me taste.

“The Maltese Unicorn” (Caitlín R. Kiernan) – This is set in New York City in May of 1935.  The main character works for a mob boss who happens to be a demon.  The unicorn in this is a dildo of power.  I could have done without the sex scene but I did like the worldbuilding.  Just weird.

“Stampede of Light” (Marina Fitch) – I loved this story!  This is the tale of what happens to lost children and the teachers who make a difference.  I thought the unicorns in this were awesome.  This may have been me favourite of the collection.

“The Highest Justice” (Garth Nix) – This was another story from zombies vs. unicorns.  I loved rereading it.

“The Lion and the Unicorn” (A. C. Wise) – This was an odd story that I didn’t like.  The unicorn and lion are trapped as slaves.  The lion is trying to escape. The unicorn is basically used for sex via rape.  It was an uncomfortable story.

“Survivor” (Dave Smeds) – I read this story in immortal unicorn volume 2.  The unicorn is a tattoo with unexpected consequences.  I enjoyed rereading this one.

“Homeward Bound” (Bruce Coville) – This was another miss for me.  I usually like Coville’s writing but I didn’t connect with this story at all.

“Unicorn Triangle” (Patricia A. McKillip) – I am not a McKillip fan so this one was bound to not be for me.  But I found that I did love the beginning up to the half-way point before it bombed.  I consider that a win.

“My Son Heydari and the Karkadann” (Peter S. Beagle) – I enjoyed this story about unicorns in Persia.  The unicorns hate elephants.  Humans hate the unicorns.  This be the story of what happens when a young boy tries to help one of the beasts.

“The Transfigured Hart” (Jane Yolen) – Tachyon Publications previously released this story as a novella which I adored.  See that review here!

“Unicorn Series” (Nancy Springer) – This is a poem in eight parts.  I don’t really get poetry but thought this was pleasant enough.

Out of the 16 stories I liked 6 of the new ones and still loved 3 of the tales known previously.  I didn’t like 6 of the new ones and 1 previously read before.  So about half of this collection floated me boat.  In addition to the stories, there is also a lovely introduction by Peter S. Beagle on what it be like to be known as the “unicorn guy”.  If ye haven’t read any of these stories previously then I do think this could be a good place to start.  Arrrr!

So lastly . . .

Thank you Tachyon Publications!

Goodreads’ website has this to say about the book:

Unicorns: Not just for virgins anymore. Here are sixteen lovely, powerful, intricate, and unexpected unicorn tales from fantasy icons including Garth Nix, Peter S. Beagle, Patricia A. McKillip, Bruce Coville, Carrie Vaughn, and more. In this volume you will find two would-be hunters who enlist an innkeeper to find a priest hiding the secret of the last unicorn. A time traveler tries to corral an unruly mythological beast that might never have existed at all. The lover and ex-boyfriend of a dying woman join forces to find a miraculous remedy in New York City. And a small-town writer of historical romances discovers a sliver of a mysterious horn in a slice of apple pie.

To visit the authors’ websites go to:

Peter S. Beagle (Editor), Jacob Weisman (Editor), Marina Fitch, Dave Smeds, Nancy Springer, Carlos Hernandez , Karen Joy Fowler, Sara A. Mueller, David D. Levine, Carrie Vaughn, Jack C. Haldeman II, Margo Lanagan, Caitlín R. Kiernan, A.C. Wise

To buy the collection go to:

the unicorn anthology – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

24 thoughts on “On the Horizon – the unicorn anthology (Peter S. Beagle (Editor), Jacob Weisman (Editor), Marina Fitch, Dave Smeds, Nancy Springer, Carlos Hernandez , Karen Joy Fowler, Sara A. Mueller, David D. Levine, Carrie Vaughn, Jack C. Haldeman II, Margo Lanagan, Caitlín R. Kiernan, A.C. Wise)

  1. This sounds like a fascinating anthology, Cap. I do read them, though I generally don’t review them – hats off to you for doing so. Some really good names in that particular anthology! Thank you for your excellent, thorough rundown of all the stories…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is very well done. And even some of the ones I didn’t like were excellent in their execution. I have to be choosy about anthologies because it is hard for them to catch me attention. Also if ye haven’t checked out how long ’til black future month (N.K. Jeminsin) then ye should. I seriously appreciated every story and that never happens. Thank ye for the lovely comment.
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

  2. While uneven, I do have to admit that there are some authors in this one that has caught my attention. Their mere presence makes me want to give these stories a shot. After all, I don’t think I’ve read a single story with unicorns in them too. 😮 Great review, Captain!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. With anthologies, there usually is a great sense of unevenness due to reader taste and preference. And with this one, I still have been thinking about some of the stories I didn’t love. I think that at least they made an impression and made me think. So I would recommend this as a good starting place for unicorn stories as there is variety. Thanks for the comment.
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I did look at this but collections just don’t work for me usually so I decided not to. I guess you never like all the stories in an anthology – or at least I imagine it’s quite rare – but if you like around half I guess that’s a good percentage?
    Lynn 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think liking half is about right for most anthologies. I have read several recently where I have liked substantially more than that and so I keep requesting them. I am a bit obsessed with Jane Yolen’s but I love her style. I have to be picky about anthologies because it is easy for me to become distracted and not finish them. Thanks for the comment!
      x The Captain


  4. I’m….puzzled as to why there is so much sex and sexual assault in the summaries you provided. I wonder why every author felt like he/she had to include a real unicorn in the story. Why not unicorns as symbolism, or a passion, or a fad, or in dreams. There are all sorts of ways to discuss the creatures that would be inventive!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To be fair, there were many inventive ways the unicorns were used symbolically. And those were the stories I loved best. Many of the stories were much older and that might have played a factor in the sexual tones even if I didn’t really look at year written when writing the review. (brb have to check). Of the stories that I didn’t like at all, the years were 2003, 2010, 2011, 2015, 1988, and 2017. The1988 didn’t have sex. And the oldest in the collection was from 1975 and fabulous. But the others were written fairly late in comparison. The “Hunter’s Ode” one literally ended with the hunter and the bait having sex on a dead unicorn carcass. I should do more research and see what gives. (brb). Okay so I found an interesting article on why she wrote that. Doesn’t mean I like it any better. Ugh. Link below. I may have to see if there is more commentary on the other stories that irked me. Going down the rabbit hole. Ye got me curious. Excellent comment.
      x The Captain



      1. Ye tend to send me down rabbit holes with yer thought-provoking comments so that I find meself overly curious and have to look things up. Which I love. Part of me log is to help me noggin get more in depth with me reading. I read so much that me thoughts about things fade into light memories of like and dislike. I wanted to be able to go back and revisit me thoughts. The bonus of it all is that I have awesome commenters, like yerself, who help enrich me understanding, ask questions, and offer different points of view. Makes me happy. So glad to have made ye laugh.
        x The Captain
        PS reading the article about sex on a carcass actually made me appeciate the story more and while I don’t like it (ugh) I am not sad to have read it.


      2. Hey, those are lovely compliments! Thank you! I find that the best way to interact with other bloggers is often to pose a question to get them involved in a conversation about their book. Loads of people write “great review,” but I’m often left feeling cold by that.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I don’t care if I just get great review. That be fine. I don’t like when I ask another blogger a question and get no response. I mean now that they HAVE to. But it irks me. I try to reply with a like or reply to all crew that comment. Though I only comment on other blogs if I have a question or something to say. Otherwise I “just” like it.
        x The Captain


    1. Ye should certainly read the last unicorn book. It is lovely. I am overdue for a reread and rewatch actually. But the stack of library books and a few eArcs are getting me focus at the moment! Thanks for visiting.
      x The Captain


      1. I have a lot of time on me hands right now and it still is not enough! I wish reading what I want could be me job. I wish I could win the lottery. But then again I would have to play it to win it 🙂
        x The Captain


      2. I agree with you on most of those points! It would be so lovely if I didn’t have to do anything but read all day. Though I do suspect I’d need human interaction eventually.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I didn’t dislike every story that had sex in it or even non-consensual sex because I did expect some when dealing with unicorns. I just didn’t expect some of those stories to be so visceral in dislike. And aye, the dildo was an odd use of unicorn horn but given how people use ivory and other animal parts, I shouldn’t have been surprised. It sadly makes sense when given more thought!
      x The Captain


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