The Bestiary (Ann Vandermeer, ed.)

bestiaryFirst review, therefore! We kick off with an actual newish release (apparently came out last August), too… This is an anthology of 28 pieces (not always sure if “stories” is the right word) revolving around the theme of, as the title suggests, a bestiary, a collection of descriptions of fantastical animals of varying kinds… one for each letter of the alphabet plus the ampersand and an invisible letter. Most noticeable thing about the collection is that it manages to be quite cohesive (nowhere near as much of a mixed bag as these things tend to be; obviously there were some items I liked better than others but there are no particularly poor things, and on the whole it maintains a pretty fair standard) while also being remarkably diverse in the way each piece approaches its given fabulous beast, in terms of both style and tone; some go for a sort of weird horror, others for philosophical wonder, many of them for some degree of humour. This is a book with many charms and a lot of cleverness, although I did find it surprisingly hard to read except in short bursts; trying to read too many of the stories at once was oddly difficult for some reason. But a great read on the whole.

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