Here be dragons ... and selkies and griffins and maybe even a mermaid or two.
Twenty fantasy authors band together to bring you a collection of thrilling tales and magical monsters. Do you like to slay dragons? Or befriend them? Do you prefer to meet cephalopods as gigantic kraken or adorable tree octopuses?
Each story focuses around a fantastic creature from folklore or mythology, and they range from light and playful tales for the whole family to darker stories that may make you wish to leave the lights on. These stories carry the Fellowship of Fantasy seal of approval. While our monsters may be horrifying, you won't stumble into questionable content.
Perfect for the fantasy lover who can't get enough of mythical beasts.
Born in a small town in north central Oregon, H. L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and was always accompanied by a book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic.
An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times completely obsessed with various books, movies, or television series (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek all took their turns), but she has grown to be what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture.
Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple times in her adult life but believes that home is wherever her husband, two daughters, and pets are.
She is the author of a four part fantasy/romance series entitled "The Dragon and the Scholar," the Award Winning (2016 Realm Award for Young Adult Fiction) Nyssa Glass Steampunk series, and MG/Fantasy "Cora and the Nurse Dragon," among others .
I received an ARC copy of this book for honest review. I am happy to be supporting the indie Fellowship of Fantasy Authors in reviewing it.
I love creatures of myth and legends, and this series of short stories did not disappoint in the slightest. This book is suitable for nearly all age groups and gives you glimpses of fantastic, magical creatures that many do not even know about.
I enjoyed how not all of the stories told you straight out what the creature was, letting you guess what they were, such as in Seekers. I was proud to have known exactly what the creature was (I might have a small obsession with myths and legends, especially those tied with Ireland). There were only two of the short stories that I didn't really like. Many the rest left me wanting so much more. For the most part, the writing was beautiful and well done, however there were a few stories that felt somewhat clumsy, but not so much so to take me away from the tale being told.
All in all, I give this anthology 5 stars. I won't allow the few stories I didn't enjoy to drag my rating down. I'm glad I was given the opportunity to read this wonderful collection of short, indeed magical, stories.
A plethora of exciting tales about make believe beasts from kappas to flying squid!
I liked that a couple of the stories which had adult level violence in them were clearly marked, so this collection can easily be used as a family read aloud book, too. The creatures were varied, there is a flying squid tale! It is a perfect book to keep on a bedside table or loaded to an ereader for times you want to have short stories when reading time is limited. Each tale wrapped up in a satisfying way. This is also a convenient and cost effective way to get to know these authors and go on to reading their full length titles.
I'm new to the whole anthology thing. As I'm sure is the usual case with anthologies, there were stories I loved and others were I was more meh. It's hard to put a rating on a book that has so many different stories because not all are the same for me. I know that's obvious, but it was still really hard to sit down at the end and go, "so what do I say about this?"
There's 20 stories(I think) in here and I liked more than I disliked. That's a plus. Several stories, even if they weren't my particular "thing" had strong voices that were so impressive I would recommend them based just on how well they were written. It's hard to put an age on this. Some of these stories easily would entertain a younger audience, while others were more in the adult category. I actually laughed over the back cover saying something about "no sex here" and thinking hopefully a parent wouldn't hand this to a young ambitious reader and then have to explain what sex was since it says it on the back.
"Three Steaks and a Box of Chocolates" was a great example of an author grounding themselves in their character's voice and executing a story from that perspective.
"Snapdragon" was a cute story that I almost wished was longer, yet it wrapped up so well that I'm not sure there was really more to tell. As always, Lea Doue wields her skill like a ninja dicing up a cake into perfect segments.
"The Golden City Captives" started out strong and the world was interesting, but when the climax hit I was completely and utterly lost. I couldn't envision what was happening and in general it was a very confusing action scene that did not end the story in a satisfactory and fulfilling way.
"Seekers" while beautifully written with a strong voice, this wasn't my cup of tea. I blame my dislike of selkies. I think it's horrible for a mother to abandon her child and husband(who for all appearances she had a good, healthy relationship with) and come back years later and take the child.
"Skin Deep" I really enjoyed, easily one of my favorites. Strong writing and plot. I'd love to see this expanded into a full story.
"The Last Chronicle of Pete Mersill" I'm still in shock that this was a short story because it was so . . . something that I felt like I'd sat down and read a novel. Very different from every other story in the anthology. It's sorta dark, depressing, and has this sense of hopelessness, but oh so interesting and what a situation to be in as Pete. Great story.
"Priscilla the Magnificent, Flying Giant Squid" Cute story about a giant octopus who wants to fly and a woman looking to perform one last grand feat to redeem her old partner's memory.
"An Adventurer's Heart" This was a bit odd because it was about a girl who wanted revenge, but all the story covered was her getting what she needed to fulfill her mission by going on mini-quests. It was like watching Frodo pack up to go on his quest, but never actually seeing anything after he left the Shire.
"Celebration" A unique story that could be seen as kind of morbid, but I saw it as heart-warming. I think it also translates a bit to real life where someone dies and the loved ones spend time bickering over the will and the body isn't even cold yet. Here we have goblins who we'd think would be less "decent" than humans who give a deceased king a send-off that I could tell in their way was a high honor.
"Talori and the Shark" A cool twist on a combo Beauty and the Beast and East of the Sun, West of the Moon. Those are my two favorite fairytales and I may be partial at seeing them combined together.
"Reviving the Sword" I was excited to see a centaur story, but felt the lack of a strong plot sunk the story into mediocrity.
"Mother's Night Out" Well-written, but this would be my least favorite story in the lot. I don't really like darker stories and this was the most graphic/violent of the stories(I'd forgotten which ones had the warning on them by the time I got to them). I found the concept disturbing and gruesome. The complete lack of caring on the part of all of the characters over the events of the story, combined with the MC deciding she's all cool with the whole thing(including everyone's callous attitude) as long as she's paid well to be off-putting. I think this is probably something lovers of dark tales would enjoy. So while I figured I'd give anyone who has an over active imagination like myself and can't forget things a warning. But this could also be seen as a plus for someone who enjoys a well-written twisted tale.
"The Very Last Dragon" This one read like an old-timey tale where everyone's got the ridiculous names and absurd dialogue. Everything's dramatic and pompous with the intent at hilarity. Hopefully that was Katy's intent because if it was she did it very well. It's the kind of story that makes you smile and I think younger readers especially would get a kick out of this.
"Ishka's Garden" I think this would've been a very interesting story if put into a novel. But as a short story I felt it had a lot of background terms and events that I spent too much time trying to figure out. It was like someone dumped me into the middle of Star Wars and expected me to know what everyone meant by Jedi and the Force and who Ben was and why his death mattered. But if this was put into a full story with the background and time to add in world-building while explaining, I'd read it.
"Absolutely True Facts about the Pacific Tree Octopus" A story grounded "our world" with the idea that what if an innocent child who believes everything they hear decided to go out and prove they're right. The 8 year old voice was done very well and this is another one I think younger readers would absolutely love, especially if they're kids who like the idea of proving that there really are fantastical things in this world.
I was gifted this anthology by one of the authors.
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I hate to give this book such a low rating, but I was either apathetic towards the stories or flat out disliked most of them. In fact I only liked…six. Yeah, this anthology just wasn’t for me, so I’ll just tell you about the ones I liked!
Snapdragon by Lea Doué—This was so cute! Also such a fun take on the Frog Prince story I never would have thought of but works so well. Plus who doesn’t love tiny dragons who want to be your friend?
Seekers by Intisar Khanani—There was just something about this selkie combined with a mom and daughter story that captured me really hard. I’m more excited now to read Thorn by this author after reading this story.
Skin Deep by Morgan Smith—This started as just meh but turned out to be so much better then I thought it would be though I do wish the ending didn’t feel so…odd? Abrupt? Something was missing and I’m not really sure what, though now I’m really curious about the original Scandinavian tale.
Celebration by Arthur Daigle—This was so unexpected and hilarious! I chuckled several times over this story with its well meaning goblins giving a final farewell to a kind, human king. It’s certainly not what I was expecting in the slightest!
Talori and the Shark by Jessica L. Elliot—A sweet, unexpected love story with mermaids and a Beauty and the Beast vibe (another reviewer said it also has an East of the Sun, West of the Moon vibe too, but since I’ve never read that tale I can’t say for certain) and I really enjoyed it.
Absolutely True Facts About the Pacific Tree Octopus by H. L. Burke—So much fun and I wish I could see a Pacific Tree Octopus as I bet they’re super cute.
So…I recommend these six stories, but not the others. Sorry, but I gotta be honest and that’s how I feel. 🤷🏼♀️
‼️Content (NOTE: these are for all the stories)‼️
Language: screw up; bloody; damn; damnable; geez; oh my sweet Lord; pissed; wench; darn it; dang
Violence: a character is thrown against a wall; a tiny dragon is slapped and nearly stepped on (he’s saved); fighting with magic and weapons (not detailed); mention of a man dying in a fire; a lake monster attacks characters; a phrase of “shot brain matter”; a character assassinates a man; shooting/killing aliens and their human hosts (not detailed); dead bodies lying on the ground (not detailed); injuries and blood (not detailed); an evil spirit threatens to drown a girl; a character is tortured in a mind version of hell (semi detailed); werewolves kill one girl and bite another (not detailed)
Sexual: kissing (not detailed); a married guy notices another girl; it’s implied a guy’s wife slept around; an object looks like an unmentionable area (not shown); mild suggestive comments; a man notices a demon woman’s curves/sex appeal
Drug/Alcohol: people drink and get drunk; a character is poisoned
Other: fantasy creatures; characters’ mother was a sorceress who practiced her spells on her children; characters are cursed; magic; a character is kidnapped; adults and children are kidnapped and enslaved; children are locked in cages; mystics; alien beings that suck your life force from you; a cult; death and grief; a demon hunter; demons; werewolves; a dead body is stuffed in a closet
[Read as one of my 2023 Specific Ebooks to Read goal]
This book was received as an ARC from the publisher. I am happy to be supporting the indie Fellowship of Fantasy Authors in reviewing it.
Selkies and Dragons and Krakens, Oh My!
This is an enjoyable anthology, especially given how affordable the book is. I found the writing, as is often the case in anthologies of this sort, to be a little uneven. For every gem, like Intisar Khanani's beautifully understated and evocative selkie story, Seekers, there are some that are considerably less polished. Some of the other stories, like Snapdragon manage to twist an old theme and along the way provide some really striking character imagery. Some of the stories are humorous (tree octopi? really? yes!), which is always a pleasure to find. The editing was fairly consistent, although here and there I was jarred by misused words like born for borne, etc.
The stories are, overall, diverting and are suitable for younger teens to read (very light romance of the Beauty and the Beast variety). Currently, as of this writing, the anthology is free on a number of bookseller platforms. Worth a download!
This is a 'Fantastic' anthology packed with stories for all ages about mythical and fantasy beasts and their friends. Many of the creatures are the usual dragons, mermaids, and griffins. Others were not as familiar to me, the hum-fairies, werejaguars, or tree octapuses, but the stories are uniformly interesting and well-written. I especially enjoyed 'Three Steaks and a Box of Chocolates', 'The Very Last Dragon', 'An Adventurer's Heart', and 'Absolutely True Facts about the Pacific Tree Octapus', but there is something to like for everyone in this fantastical collection of stories. A few stories have some violence and are marked as such for younger readers. I received this as an ARC and choose to give an honest review.
Fantastic Creatures is an anthology of stories all featuring some (you guessed it) fantasy creature, from mermaids to werewolves to tree octopuses to hum fairies. As an anthology, it has many, many authors, but I'm putting H. L. Burke as the primary because, from what I can see, she appears to be the one who organized it, did the outreach, etc. (If someone knows differently, please let me know and I'll correct this.) I'll include the author of each individual story with my description below. Because of the nature of this book, I've done a short description or comment of each story with an individual rating for each, and the overall rating is an average of those.
But before I dive into the individual stories, a few overall comments about the book. This an anthology by indie authors, and it shows. While some stories are amazing, others need some work with plot structuring or even some light line editing. The reading level also varies; while I would say most of these stories are perfectly enjoyable for an adult audience, there were a couple that I felt were meant for eight-to-ten-year-olds instead, giving the collection an uneven feel in regards to reading level. "Three Steaks and a Box of Chocolates," "Seekers," "Skin Deep," "Priscilla the Magnificent, Flying Giant Squid," "Mother's Night Out," and "Absolutely True Facts about the Pacific Tree Octopus" were definitely the strongest stories in this volume, while "The Golden City Captives," "The Last Chronicle of Pete Mersill," and "Talori and the Shark" were probably the weakest, for various reasons. Still, with a few exceptions I really liked this overall. Now, for the individual ratings!
"Three Steaks and a Box of Chocolates" by A. R. Silverberry - A very good start to the collection featuring a Loch Ness Monster-type creature in a dying town. The writing here reminded me of What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us, a gorgeous short story collection by Lauren van den Berg that all feature subtle elements of the supernatural. This one was actually a bit short for my tastes; I would have loved to have seen this fleshed out a little bit more! 4 stars out of 5.
"Snapdragon" by Lea Doue - This was okay. It's a pretty basic Princess and the Frog story, except the frog is a miniature dragon. It had some nice fantasy elements--girls with a poison touch or thorns growing from their skins--but those felt more like changing the wallpaper on the story rather than doing anything really innovative. 3 stars.
"The Golden City Captives" by Julie C. Gilbert - Not a huge fan of this. The reading level was much lower than that of the rest of the book and the story itself seemed to be missing a lot of background logic that could have made even a lower-reading-level story feel more appropriate for this collection. 2 stars.
"Seekers" by Intisar Khanani - This was the reason I requested an ARC of this book! I love Khanani. This is a lovely short story about a little girl and her mother who play at finding things, until one day the mother finds something that takes her away. It has a beautiful sense of place and fantasy without ever explicitly saying anything, which I loved. 5 stars.
"Mystery of Asgina Lake" by Caren Rich - This was a solid story regarding plot and structure and characters but it needed some work regarding grammar, particularly comma usage. 3 stars.
"Skin Deep" by Morgan Smith - This was my favorite story in the collection. It was beautifully, classically written, and while I'm not sure of how far the adaptation strayed from the original, the source story is apparently a Scandinavian story, which I think was a great addition to the collection as a whole. 5 stars.
"The Last Chronicle of Pete Mersill" by Cave Yates - This is a semi-post-apocalyptic story which stood out for that reason. The writing style actually somewhat reminded me of that of the middle portion of Cloud Atlas, but without the confusing linguistic shift, and I was really enjoying it until the villains started monologue-ing, which dragged it down immensely for me. 3 stars.
"Priscilla the Magnificent, Flying Giant Squid" by L. Palmer - Another great story! This is the only steampunk-inspired story in the collection which made it stand out. It also has a sentient giant squid who learned Morse code from mermaids and wants to fly. Absolutely charming. 4 stars.
"An Adventurer's Heart" by Nicole Zoltack - This was another one that didn't sit right for me. I thought, at points, that this might end up being a story with a moral, like that revenge doesn't really work out and that people always have reasons for doing what they do, even if we at first can't see them. Instead it was ultimately just a story about a girl who wants revenge on a creature going around and cutting other creatures' heads off in preparation. 2 stars.
"Destiny's Flight" by Frank B. Luke - This was a pretty typical fantasy story that had a religious bend. That's not bad on its own, and I did like how it featured a more diverse cast of characters, at least culturally, but it got a bit preachy at the end. 2.5 stars.
"The Kappa" by Lelia Rose Foreman - This story was a great example of how a child can be a main character without the story actually being juvenile. The setting and feel were again unique, which I appreciated, but I was left a little confused at the end, about who/what the cat was and why he had authority. 3 stars.
"Celebration" by Arthur Daigle - A story with humorous elements in which a bunch of goblins give a king a proper send-off. At the beginning of this story, I thought it was going somewhere maybe a tad gruesome, but this was ultimately a very touching story that I enjoyed. 4 stars.
"The Nether Lands" by Cave Yates - This is Yates' second story in the collection and I think it was stronger than the first. It features a demon hunter on a mission in the Netherlands who ends up partnered with a demon, and their attempts to avoid the "nether lands" where demons can trap people. This was one of the more adult stories in the collection, with some definite violence and sexual tension going on. 4 stars.
"Talori and the Shark" by Jessica L. Elliot - One of the weaker stories here. It's like Beauty and the Beast, but with mermaids, and it was a story in which I found internal logic really missing. That's one of my biggest pet peeves, and it drove me absolutely crazy here. Elliot tries to explain this away by saying "oh, it's magic, and magic doesn't work on logic," but it does, it just works on its own logic that the author determines, and not doing that here made this seem like a lazy story. The writing also didn't appeal to me. 1.5 stars out of 5.
"Reviving the Sword" by Kandi J. Wyatt - A centaur with a would-be-magic sword travels with an elf and a gryphon. There was some promising language here and the assortment of creatures in the band was interesting, but the story itself was overall unremarkable. 2.5 stars.
"Mother's Night Out" by D. G. Driver - Okay, this should really be "Mothers' Night Out" to be grammatically correct. Now that that's off my chest, I can say that this was a strong story! It was another of the more violent ones, and it has this sense of menace to it the whole time even though the main characters are in a nursery dealing with babies. 4 stars.
"The Mage and the Spotted Wyvern" by Craig J. Price, Jr. - A pretty typical, rather unremarkable sword-and-sorcery story about a young mage trying to learn magic. But Freckles the frog was cool. 3 stars.
"The Very Last Dragon" by Katy Huth Jones - This was another story with some humorous elements, and the language here had a very bedtime-story feel without feeling like it was for eight-year-olds to read, if that makes sense. But honestly, Golda Drake? Our hero didn't see that coming? Please. 3.5 stars.
"The Adventures of Zero: The Quest for Wormsroot" by Vincent Trigili - This is basically what "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" would be like if it was about a teenager in a fantasy setting. A boy who daydreams of adventures actually ends up going on one. It was fine. 3 stars.
"Ishka's Garden" by Bokerah Brumley - This was another story that seemed to be missing some background information. I found everything that was hinted at here so much more intriguing than the story itself. 3 stars out of 5.
"Absolutely True Facts about the Pacific Tree Octopus" by H. L. Burke - This was another story that screamed "charming" to me, and another good one about a child that isn't actually juvenile. It also had a good lesson attached and was a strong note to end the collection on. 4 stars.
So, when all of that is accounted for, it gives the collection as a whole a rating of 3.14 stars. There are definitely some very strong stories here, and I think the collection as a whole was worth it, but there were a few weak ones that really dragged the stronger ones down, which is unfortunate. Dropping the lowest-rated one here bumps the collection up to a 3.6, and I think that's more in line with the true value here.
I received a free advanced copy of this book; all opinions are my own.
Twenty amazingly creative authors all in one place!! Sign me up! "Each story focuses around a fantastic creature from folklore or mythology, and they range from light and playful tales for the whole family to darker stories that may make you wish to leave the lights on." Sometimes you want to read mythology/fantasy stories without a lot of swearing and graphic sex and this fits the bill perfectly. The stories were great, short and very clean. They capture your imagination so well that when you turn the page to find that it's ended you want more, like a whole novel!
Another day, another anthology and another good one. These are all tales of magic and creatures and there’s a good selection to cover all the bases here. There is a huge diversity in age appropriateness as well, with many being suitable for the young adult market but a few being very gruesome indeed. As with all anthologies, there were some tales I enjoyed more than others, but very few real flops.
Three Steaks and a Box of Chocolates by A. R. Silverberry; 4/5 stars. A unique tale to start this anthology and I really liked the voices and the characters here. There were some unexpected twists and turns and it's a tale of friendship, of trust and of strange magical creatures. Snapdragon by Lea Doue; 3.5/5 stars. Another tale with a strong narrative voice and I really enjoyed the fantastical elements described here; a girl with a skin of thorns, her sister with a touch that can kill. It was a little more simplistic and I saw the ending coming a mile off, but I enjoyed it nontheless. The Golden City Captives by Julie C. Gilbert; 2.5/5 stars. To my mind one of the weaker of the tales, and I suspect that it was written as a taster of a main universe rather than as a short story in and of it's own right. A lot depended on the action scenes and a prophecy that doesn't get a mention until it's thrown in to save the day. High fantasy often doesn't work well in shorts, and that's certainly what I found here. Seekers by Intisar Khanani; 4/5 stars. One of the shorter stories in the collection, but also one of the most powerful. This is beautifully written and the author really captures the voice of a small girl, seeking with her mother until finally her mother finds something that causes her to leave. I'd have loved a little more detail here as it is one of the shortest stories, but what you get is beautiful and haunting. Mystery of Asgina Lake by Caren Rich; 3/5 stars. An interesting tale which has a strong narrative behind it, but it didn't quite catch me in the way some of the other tales did. Skin Deep by Morgan Smith; 4/5 stars. A strong adaptation of a Scandinavian folk tale here and the author captures all the magic and wonder of the fantastical, but also the fear and the uncertainty. I enjoyed this one a lot, it didn't go quite where I had anticipated. The Last Chronicle of Pete Mersill by David Millican; 4/5 stars. An unusual writing style and one that really caught my attention. I liked how the entire narrative was played out through journal entries and how well this post-apocalyptic world was built in so few words. Priscilla, The Magnificent, Flying Giant Squid by L. Palmer; 3.5 stars. Great fun, but probably one that needed to be fleshed out a little bit more. There are some great scenes here though and the author has a fantastic imagination. An Adventurer's Heart by Nicole Zoltack; 2.5/5 stars. Whilst well written, there was no real strong narrative to pull this tale together and so it ends up feeling disjointed and out of place. I could see it being a chapter in the wider scope of an epic fantasy tale of revenge, but it didn't quite work for me as a standalone short. Destiny's Flight by Frank B. Lake; 2/5 stars. An interesting enough narrative, but the more preachy tone of the religious aspects irritated me more than they interested me. I'd be fascinated to see various religions woven into a full fantasy novel, but this relied on the power of God almost as an insta-magic which turned me off immensely. The Kappa by Leila Rose Foreman; 2/5 stars. Another really short little tale which doesn't really explain what power the little kitten has and what relation it has to the Kappa. Cute enough and I found the child's voice engaging, but there just wasn't enough depth here to draw me in. Celebration by Arthur Daigle; 4.5/5 stars. Hah! I actually really, really enjoyed this one, which was a relief after three that didn't click with me a row. I loved how the entire tale was from the perspective of the goblins and the clever way their personalities were brought to life. Funny, yet also strangely moving and that's an immediate win in my book. The Nether Lands by David Millican; 4/5 stars. Another fascinating tale and one that didn't seem like it should have been a small part of a larger whole. I loved the world building here Talori and the Shark by Jessica L. Elliott; 3/5 stars. I enjoyed this but it seemed strangely lacking, as though there was much more background that I should have known and didn't. The magic was used as a 'it fixes things because it's magic', rather than having any particularly logic or reason behind it as well. It was sweet and I liked the mermaids, but it felt a little thin. Reviving the Sword by Kandi J. Wyatt; 2/5 stars. Beautiful writing but minimal actual narrative and that's a huge negative for me, particularly with shorts where I need them to stand on their own two feet. I'd be interested in reading some of the authors longer works, but this felt more like an opening chapter to a novel than a stand alone short story. Mothers' Night Out by D. G. Driver; 4.5/5 stars. Far more gory than the preceding tales, this had me hooked from beginning to end but was possibly out of place in this collection. I probably shouldn't have rated it so highly in that case, but in honesty this is too brilliant not to rate highly. Definitely adult and fairly gruesome content though. There is a real sense of tension and of menace here... despite the entire thing being set in a nursery. The Mage and the Spotted Wyvern by Craig J. Prince, Jr; 3.5/5 stars. A fairly basic sword and sorcery style short that’s well written but didn’t quite grab me. The Very Last Dragon by Katy Hath Jones; 3.5/5 stars. A fun little tale that reminded me of the quaint old Arthurian tales. I could imagine this being a bedtime story for young children. The Adventures of Zero: The Quest for Wormsroot by Vincent Trigili; 4/5 stars. Another fun tale that I really enjoyed. I found the world building excellent and fell in love with the characters. I felt there was some missing elements towards the end though and there were questions left unresolved. But were cats!! Ishka's Garden by Bokerah Brumley; 2.5/5 stars. This had some wonderful writing but felt unfinished, as though it were a chapter in an existing longer tale rather than a lone standing short. I found it more frustrating than enjoyable as it didn’t explain any of the world building. Absolutely True Facts about the Pacific Tree Octopus by H.L. Burke; 4/5 stars. A cute little tale full of whimsy and innocent. I finished the collection on a smile.
I'm one of the authors, so not really unbiased. I do think there is a good mix here with something for everything from humorous tales to folk tales to urban fantasy to epics to fairy tales. Skip around, find some new authors, and enjoy.
Fantastic Creatures is another great anthology . I've almost read this whole series of anthologies and I have enjoyed every single one . As with all anthologies there will be some stories you like more than others , but as a whole this book is as it's name implies fantastic . Almost every story in here would be go read along material with your kids , that being said adults will enjoy this book also . It's a pretty quick read so go ahead and sit down and enjoy Fantastic Creatures you won't be sorry you did .
This is a good book to read before bed. I enjoy short stories and stories about different things. This book is a recollection from different authors and I recommend it. Good job to all the writers. Kudos and thanks for sharing you imagination with me.
What a great collection of short stories featuring fantasy creatures! It has everything from the weird to the delightful. Dragons, sea monsters, griffins and more! I left reviews for some of my favorites on their GoodReads pages.
List of Books in the Anthology with my Ratings and Some Small Notes:
"Three Steaks and a Box of Chocolates"
Written By: A. R. Silverberry
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
Notes: Kind of like a Western. Because they called the creature a cat in the beginning, I really wanted it to look more like a cat. I was really disappointed when it wasn't anything like a cat. The plot wasn't my favorite either, mainly about taking care of the "cat's" teeth.
Written By: Lea Doué
My Rating: 5 Stars
Notes: I really enjoyed this one. It was very original and fun. Seem to have a "Princess and the Frog" retelling.
"The Golden City Captives"
Written By: Julie C. Gilbert
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
Notes: I love the take of shapeshifting that this book brings.
Written By: Intisar Khanani
My Rating: 4 Stars
Notes: This story is pretty good. It kinda reminded me of this tale called "The Legend of Kópakonan" that is a famous selkie story from the Faroe Islands. This short story "Seekers" is a little different from the Faroe Island legend, but there seemed to be similarities.
"Mystery of Asgina Lake"
Written By: Caren Rich
My Rating: 3 Stars
Notes: The story is very much like "Nancy Drew". However, there is too much telling, some head hopping, and I just didn't like the writing style.
Written By: Morgan Smith
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
Notes: The story is based off on a Scandinavian folktale. It wasn't my favorite; it seemed to get a little sexual with them gambling their clothes and skin, though nothing really happened.
"The Last Chronicle of Pete Mersill"
Written By: Cave Yates
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
Notes: The story had a really good start with its wit and humor, but fell flat with the whole plot line of the Fetches.
"Priscilla, The Magnificent, Flying Squid"
Written By: L. Palmer
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
Notes: It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. But a giant flying squid? Really?
"An Adventurer's Heart"
Written By: Nicole Zoltack
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
Notes: A fun adventure story. I Really recommend it. I kinda wish the story continued further. It kinda left on a cliffhanger.
Written By: Frank B. Luke
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
Notes: This book had some Christian elements that were interesting. I just had a hard time getting invested into the plot.
Written By: Lelia Rose Foreman
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
Notes: Meh, it was okay.
Written By: Arthur Daigle
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
Notes: I love this story! A super cute, fun story of how goblins want to show their respect to the dead king. I really enjoyed this one.
"The Nether Lands"
Written By: Cave Yate
My Rating: DNF
Notes: This book had this guy who was a demon slayer. I'm just not a fan. I immediately put down the book after he creates a spell inside of a church.
"Talori and the Shark"
Written By: Jessica L. Elliott
My Rating: 5 Stars
Notes: A really great mermaid story! AHHH!!! Go Read This One! It kinda reminds me of a "Beauty and the Beast" fairytale retelling, but with mermaids and underwater. So Good!
"Reviving the Sword"
Written By: Kandi J. Wyatt
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
Notes: Meh, it was okay.
"Mother's Night Out"
Written By: D. G. Driver
My Rating: 2.75 Stars
Notes: It had a really good premise; I only dropped the rating so low because of how violent and bloody it was. It has werewolves eating people or tearing people apart.
"The Mage and the Spotted Wyvern"
Written By: Craig J. Price, Jr.
My Rating: 3.75 Stars
Notes: This is actually a pretty fun story. Really like the idea of the young mage having a frog as a pet. The Wyvern was pretty cool as well. There were just some things that I felt could have been explained better.
"The Very Last Dragon"
Written By: Katy Huth Jones
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
Notes: It wasn't all bad, but I didn't like the knight. I didn't like the fact that his horse had a cooler name than he had. I didn't like how he goes about his quest being too big and mighty about himself. I liked the ending though, Sir Manly had what was coming to him.
"The Adventures of Zero: The Quest for Wormsroot"
Written By: Vincent Trigili
My Rating: 5 Stars
Notes: YESSSSS!!! For some reason people write about werewolves more than werecats. Anyway, this book had a great writing style, description, and characters. Really love what the author did in a short amount of time.
Written By: Bokerah Brumley
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
Notes: A cute little story about the fairies. Really enjoyable.
"Absolutely True Facts about the Pacific Tree Octopus"
Written By: H. L. Burke
My Rating: 4 Stars
Notes: I had no expectations for this one, though it turned out better than I thought it would. I'm going to go hunting for my own Pacific Tree Octopus now. ;)
Overall Rating Of This Collection: 4 Stars
Notes: I'm not going to put in a content part in this review. Mainly because some of the shorts are very mild and nonviolent, while others are a little more on the violent side or have some suggested scenes. In my notes, I do discuss a few of the content stuff that bothered me; I just don't feel like doing the work of checking all the books for their content. I have a habit of not writing notes while I'm reading and have to either remember everything or reread parts... So, yeah.
Who I Would Recommend This Book Too:
Those who want to try new authors (most of these are new to me authors and I might even go see what else they have written. This is a great way to try them out). Those who like mythical creatures (because who doesn't?). Those who are okay with short stories (some shorts are good, however the problem with some of them is that they don't get as detailed as they should and end up falling a little flat). Try them out, some of them are really good! =D
Will I Read More Collections?
There is a group of people who put out these collections and I have several more waiting for me on my Kindle. So I'll probably try more in the near future.
This is an enjoyable collection of stories about various fantastical creatures ranging from centaurs to the rare Pacific tree-dwelling octopus.
My favorites include Three Steaks and a Box of Chocolate, Snapdragon, Seekers, and Absolutely True Facts about the Pacific Tree Octopus--and these are just a few of the treasures waiting inside this pages.
The age range for the stories does vary quite a bit, so if you are looking for an anthology to share with your kids, please be mindful of that. Some stories are suitable for younger children and some are not.
I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for the next anthology from the Fellowship of Fantasy!
I read this book in an effort to learn of some more good indie authors. There are several authors featured which I'll have to learn more about, but overall I was unimpressed with this collection. Here are some notes on each story:
(1) Three Steaks and a Box of Chocolates by A. R. Silverberry 3 out of 5 stars Set in the Old West, this is an amusing tall tale. (2) Snapdragon by Lea Doue 3.5 : 5 I enjoyed this retelling of the Frog Prince. The prince is not a prince, and he's in the shape if an adorable dragon rather than a frog. I wasn't a huge fan of the magic elements, though. (3) The Golden City Captives by Julie C. Gilbert DNF (1:5) This incudes way too much magic, and the storyline didn't interest me. (4) Seekers by Intisar Khanani 2:5 I didn't understand this story. It's rather dark, and a little eerie. . . . Unfortunately, it's not even my kind of eerie. And what exactly is the mythical creature in this one? Is it a selkie? I guess I need to read up on mythical creatures. (5) Mystery of Asgina Lake by Caren Rich 3:5 I'm finally realizing that weirdness is a main plot device of every one of the stories in this collection. It is, after all, a collection of FANTASTIC creature stories. Anyway, Asgina Lake is certifiably creepy. The writing is terrific. I'll have to check out more of Caren Rich's work. (6) Skin Deep by Morgan Smith 4:5 Lovely, just lovely! I'm a sucker for fairytale retellings, even when I'm not familiar with the originals. This story takes only ten minutes of your time, but the author used that time well to develop her characters. Katya is the best kind of heroine for a fairytale romance: level-headed, inconspicuous, and possessing a kind of common sense unknown to the general population. Another author to look into. (7) The Last Chronicles of Pete Mersill by David Millican DNF I stopped due to content, including creepy demonic elements. It's a shame, because the writing is great. It perfectly captures the personality of the narrator. And it's hilarious: Mark Twain level hilarious. (8) Priscilla, the Magnificent, Flying Squid by L. Palmer 2:5 This looks like the title of a Roald Dahl book. Unfortunately, the style is not at all Dahl-ish. The story is technically fine, I'm just not a fan of the writing style. (9) An Adventurer's Heart by Nicole Zoltack 2:5 This story has . . . um . . . no point. And it includes lots of magic. (10) Destiny's Flight by Frank B. Luke 3:5 Here we have something a bit different, Christian allegory. Sorry for being picky, but I don't like this writing style. The story is interesting, but I had a hard time involving myself in it. (11) The Kappa by Lelia Rose Foreman 3:5 A little Chinese girl learns the importance of the words "no" and "don't." Cute story. (12) Celebration by Arthur Daigle 3:5 This story Is So Funny. I don't love the writing style though. (13) The Nether Lands by David Millican DNF Content, again: demons; also a hot demon. Ugh. (14) Talori and the Shark by Jessica L. Elliot 4:5 This is an underseas version of Cupid and Psyche, wherein Psyche is a mermaid and Cupid is a . . . well, what is he? The romance is cute, but the writing style is low-key awkward. (15) Reviving the Sword by Kandi J. Wyatt 2:5 Here is the story of a bitter centaur, a punning gryphon, and a magical elf. It didn't intrigue me, and --- you guessed it --- too much magic. (16) Mothers' Night Out by D. G. Driver 2:5 Do you like your werewolves mashed with contemporary fiction? You'll love this story. (17) The Mage and the Spotted Wyvern by Craig J. Price, Jr. DNF Three pages in and it was already all powerful magic and spells. (18) The Very Last Dragon by Katy Huth Jones 3:5 Sir Manly Stringarn and his faithful steed are off to rid the world of its last dragon! Here's a truly hilarious dragon tale, similar to Don Quixote. (19) The Adventures of Zero: The Quest for Wormsroot by Vincent Trigili 3:5 Wormsroot, werejaguars, and a potential appreticeship: That is an interesting concept, but I don't like the writing style. (20) Ishka's Garden by Bokorah Brumley 3:5 This story has a unique flavor, and it's full of fae's (21) Absolutely True Facts About the Pacific Tree Octopus 3:5 A little girl sets out to prove the existence of the pacific tree octopus. Cute and funny. :)
Average rating: 2.7 rounded up to 3 I plan to read more Fellowship of Fantasy Anthologies!
Here be dragons...and so much more! Out of 21 stories, there are bound to be some that a reader likes more than others, and that was the case for me.
1. Three Steaks and a Box of Chocolates – A. R. Silverberry ***** What starts out seeming like a scene from the wild west turns into a tale of friendship with a legendary creature. 2. Snapdragon – Lea Doué ***** A charming retell of the Frog Prince, but with a dragon! 3. The Golden City Captives – Julie C. Gilbert ***** A wonderfully written shifter story with great characters…I want more of this one. 4. Seekers – Intisar Khanani *** Searching for something she doesn’t even know exists, Maggie changes her life when she finds it. 5. Mystery of Asgina Lake – Caren Rich *** Lena and Ella are determined to find what’s been killing people who venture onto Asgina Lake…when they do, it’s almost unbelievable. 6. Skin Deep – Morgan Smith ***** An engaging and somewhat terrifying rework of beauty and the beast…only the beauty isn’t one and the beast is…well…different. 7. The Last Chronicle of Pete Mersill – David Millican **** This is how the world ends…and Pete Mersill is the one who did it…with a blotched assassination attempt. 8. Priscilla, The Magnificent, Flying Giant Squid – L. Palmer Can **** Sort of a steampunk story of a sentient kraken and the woman who will help her fly. 9. An Adventurer’s Heart – Nicole Zoltack *** Another dragon story, with a twist. The dragon is only one step in Melinda’s quest to avenge her parents. An interesting story! 10. Destiny’s Flight – Frank B. Luke *** A story of a message that needs delivering and the quest to accomplish it…with some distractions along the way. 11. The Kappa – Lelia Rose Foreman **** Hanako doesn’t listen to her mother when she says ‘no’ or ‘don’t’. This gets her into big troublel 12. Celebration – Arthur Daigle ***** After a good king dies, the fight for his throne begins, and his closest relatives don’t celebrate his life. That’s been left to a highly unlikely bunch! 13. The Nether Lands – David Millican **** This story is about a demon hunter who teams up with a half-demon. It’s quite good and should be a longer book. 14. Talori – and the Shark Jessica L. Elliott ***** After Talori’s father loses everything to a con artist, she becomes a slave to that same merman. He feels she is useless…but it turns out that she isn’t. Another take on Beauty and the Beast! 15. Reviving the Sword – Kandi J. Wyatt A centaur tries to revitalize her father’s sword after his untimely death. *** 16. Mothers’ Night Out – D. G. Driver Definitely not my usual genre…but I really did enjoy this one. I had it figured out early on. *** 17. The Mage and the Spotted Wyvern – Craig J. Price, Jr. This is the first story I’ve read about a sentient and intelligent wyvern. When he befriends a mage-in-training, Kelvermore, the wyvern, is quite friendly and likeable…this story should be made into a longer novel. ***** 18. The Very Last Dragon – Katy Huth Jones **** Sir Manly decides he needs an adventure and goes on a hunt for the last dragon. What he finds surprises him and changes his mind about dragon slaying! 19. The Adventures of Zero: The Quest for Wormsroot – Vincent Trigili ***** Zero is a runt…the smallest and last in a family of blacksmiths. He will do anything to improve his lot in life, including finding wormsroot to pay for an apprenticeship with the village’s healer. Unfortunately, it only grows in a valley where werejaguars live. 20. Ishka’s Garden – Bokerah Brumley ***** Another charming story, if only for the Hum-Fairies. Ishka is a princess who is marked by the plague she managed to survive. This story is about how she finally throws off her self-pity and takes action to help others. 21. Absolutely True Facts about the Pacific Tree Octopus – H. L. Burke ***** Liesel is only eight years old but is looking forward to spending her family vacation in a cabin in the woods. She’s prepared herself by studying all the wildlife she’s likely to see, including the Pacific Tree Octopus. Her adventure is exciting, in spite of her brother Henry’s ridicule!
Since I marvelled the Magic Creatures Anthology as much as I did, I simply need to start this rewiev with a rant about the "place" of Fantasy genre in literature.
Generally speaking, the Fantasy genre has been unfairly and UNFAIRILY considered as trash literature in some societies, Croatia definitely being one of them. One cannot find even the mighty classics of the genre like Terry Pratchett's novels in Croatian language in our book stores (I have been specifically looking for "MORT" as a gift to a friend who is illiterate in foreign languages), while the translated editions in libraries are literally falling apart from their age and use, being de-shelved too, most dating back to the previous century. It is on the example of this particular genre that the readres' community in my country questions the local publishers' taste, vision and sanity.
Bear in mind that there's definitely some local demand for the genre: there are several grown-up fantasy fairs and events in the county, the cinemas are crowded upon each issue in the genre and the fantasy roleplay society is alive and ticking within a quite widespread community of us appreciative to the genre. Yet no literary genre is as scarce in the country as fantasy. We do have all of the bestsellers translated (the Harry Potters, some Tolkiens and the whole Twilight set of Myers which, I am sorry, represents a Muggle-type of fantasy), and the kids do read Jules Verne, Antoine de Saint Exupery and The Chronicles of Narnia as obligatory in Croatian in school, but all that goes in favour of the economical reasons for those issues translated to the local language. Oh, and by the way, someone proclaimed all of the aforementioned except the Twilight as the "classics" of the genre.
Another fellow-bookworm commented the other day rather spitefully that it is almost as if our local "literature authorities" refuse the idea that the contemporary local reader would understand, learn and otherwise gain "something useful" from fantasy genre as much as he (apparently) would from the others, which is why the genre is as scarce in Croatian language. Good point. We have been living in a liberal democracy for over three decades already, so there is no political restriction over any genre. For the sake of my fellow citizens, I share the frustration. Even more so since Croatian language is far richer than English, thus offering a significant level of additional magic to any fantasy genre translator.
Should the people truly be taken as some daft, brainless believers of whatever they read? So personification, prosopopoeia and anthropomorphization are therefore reserved for some ancient Greek poets and philosophers, and for the kids? Isn't that kraken equal to the fatal illness of your beloved one, and that magic superpower one uses to fight the kraken - the combination of remedies, therapies and the magical mental support used in the said struggle in "real life" ? Have I missed the point or the whole non-biographical and nonhistorical literary segment commonly relies on nonexistent persons, creatures, venues and tools as well, driving the characters through some unexpected paths? So should the game be over once you grow up or we are still allowed to play with the thoughts about magic after we get our wrinkles and beards? Finally, who decides which books are the "classics"?
The fantasy-ignorant "literary authorities" just contribute to a phenomenon by which any fantasy-loving society applies some magic in order to dwell, spread and evolve, in some underground resource-exchange of the English-super-fluent individuals. Pure magic, I'm telling you.
The Fellowship of Fantasy Anthology's common short-story form enables the reader to nibble on rather splendid fantasy tales in short, yet magnificent breakouts. Although each of the tales could easily be seen re-written as a longer book, I enjoyed my "tale-per-day" approach and found myself so stunned and happy after each of my daily reads, being it about a shapeshifter Griffon-boy who saves his family and kingdom or a child finding out both her mother and her are mermaids. The variety of authors contributed to the additional dynamic of the collection, so while the genre remains the same - you cannot anticipate what awaits you in the next tale in terms of the style, the plot or the author's approach to it. For me, the culmination of the unexpected is reached in the story of the "The Last Chronicle of Pete Mersill". But The Nether Lands demon-fighting action-story is my favorite.
I love the genre and adore the short form. What a splendid read! ********* A P. S. for the Muggles in a quote of L. Palmer: "“We’ve long built the impossible with machines. Why can’t nature have her own surprises?”"
I love collections like this. It gives me the chance to read several different authors at once so I am always adding authors to my reading list. Granted my reading list keeps growing but I don't seem to mind at all. All of the stories in this collection are great and are so well written. Kudos to all of the authors.
These stories are all clean fantasy.... From light and playful to a bit darker, they are all well written and entertaining. So many creatures, from dragons, mermaids, kraken, gryphons, too many to name. Adventures and magic with a diverse cast of characters. A little something for everyone. I enjoyed this very much.
There is a creature for everyone in this story. From a gold finding dinosaur with a tooth ache to a tree living octopi, the range is large. Each story has its own flavor: A western, fantasy, demon hunting, a Christian theme, and even a scary werewolf story. I even found some new authors to explore.