Beyond the Pale

September 1, 2014 Fantasy, Fiction, Gothic, Magical Realism, Urban Fantasy 4 ★★★★

Beyond the PaleTitle: Beyond the Pale: A Fantasy Anthology
Author: Gillian Philip, Heather Brewer, Jane Yolen, Jim Butcher, Kami Garcia, Nancy Holder, Peter Beagle, Saladin Ahmed
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads

Summary: I liked almost all of the stories included in the collection and loved the diversity of the mythologies on which the stories were based.

This collection of short stories includes those I would categorize as paranormal, urban fantasy, magical realism, and a few bordering on horror. All stick relatively close to reality but step “beyond the pale”, including some mythical element. Several previously published authors contribute short stories related to their published series, but all of the stories can easily be read on their own.

Like every anthology I’ve read, this collection included some stories I liked much more than others. However, in this particular collection there were no stories I disliked and I thought the majority of them were truly enjoyable. The first few stories read like fables and I didn’t find them well developed or emotionally engaging. The third story was bland, poorly developed, and predictable. The last story was a funny retelling of Dracula but I didn’t feel like the author brought much to it. I think those were the only stories I wasn’t too impressed by. Two other stories were a bit scary and one actually made me jump when interrupted while reading. The one by Jane Yolen wasn’t scary but it was enjoyably atmospheric.

My favorite stories from the collection were the two by James Butcher and Kami Garcia. I suspect the fact that their stories related to fully developed worlds they’ve written about previously helped both of them to write successful short stories. Both of their stories focused on emotionally engaging, self-contained incidents which felt resolved but also hinted at the larger story to come. The collection as a whole was well organized, with neighboring stories often having something in common. I also appreciated the diversity of the collection which included stories drawing on many different mythologies and set all over the world. Overall, a very enjoyable, well curated collection of stories with some true standouts and very few duds. I’d recommend it to fans of the paranormal or magical realism.

4 Responses to “Beyond the Pale”

  1. Jancee

    Not a huge fan of short stories, but every so often, a collection will catch my eye. This could be one of them – I might have to give it a try. It’s easier to read an anthology when some of your favorite authors have written for it. It almost makes me trust it more, if that makes sense.

    • DoingDewey

      That’s part of why I picked it up too! The one by Jim Butcher was one of my favorites and having read his books, that didn’t surprise me at all. I don’t do short stories much either, but I’d recommend this collection 🙂

  2. Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy

    This sounds like an interesting anthology – this sounds like a library read for me, since I don’t usually love short story collections, for the reason you mentioned that they can be a bit hit or miss. But some of these stories sound so fun! Great review!

    • DoingDewey

      I think that’s part of why I don’t pick them up more often. You’re almost never going to love all of the stories! I do think this is worth a read, but the library sounds like a good idea to me 🙂

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