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Tales of the Unexpected

(Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected #1)

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  9,964 ratings  ·  544 reviews
A wine connoisseur with an infallible palate and a sinister taste in wagers. A decrepit old man with a masterpiece tattooed on his back. A voracious adventuress, a gentle cuckold, and a garden sculpture that becomes an instrument of sadistic vengeance. Social climbers who climb a bit too quickly. Philanderers whose deceptions are a trifle too ornate. Impeccable servants wh ...more
Paperback, 471 pages
Published July 14th 1990 by Random House Vintage Books (first published 1979)
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Lotte Van Der Paelt I, too, loved 'Lamb to the Slaughter" very very much.…moreI, too, loved 'Lamb to the Slaughter" very very much.(less)

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K. Axel
Jun 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!
I must admit that when I first purchased this book, I really thought it was a book for children. Why did I think this? Well, mostly because I've only read childrens' books by Roald Dahl. This is not a book for children!

This is another review-in-progress, starting with the very first story.

Taste is the story of two men, Mike Schoefield and Richard Pratt. They have this curious tradition that Mike finds a wine, a really good wine, and then Richard has to guess what it is. However, at this part
Sep 13, 2016 marked it as to-be-considered

Goofing around with Google Translate on Roald Dahl's 100th birthday ... and the result was quite – well – unexpected

Natalie M
Mar 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-stories
Perfect for all those in-between times when you need an excellent quick read! Rials Dahl is a master storyteller and these short quick reads are varied, and there’s sure to be one for all readers in this collection.
Apr 28, 2009 rated it it was ok
The problem with this book is that all of the endings were expected! This would be a great book to use as a model for lessons in irony with a creative writing class, because that is the purpose of every story--to provide an ironic ending to an otherwise relatively mundane story. I like irony as much as anyone else, but none of the endings were surprising. It's hard to stay engaged in a suspenseful short story when you can predict the ending from page two. Luckily, I like to see execution, so I d ...more
David Sarkies
Mar 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
An unexpected Dahl
9 March 2019

Well, it seems that Roald Dahl wrote a lot more than simply stories about chocolate factories, eccentric millionaires, BFG’s (what ever those letters mean – I have some ideas, but won’t repeat them in this family space, not that it’s stopped anybody else), and giant peaches. The thing is that a part of me was expecting this to simply be a collection of short children’s stories. Actually, not a part of me, all of me, so you can imagine my surprise when, as I was rea
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Ok so we all know that I don't like short stories so why am I reading this book??

Well, I WANT to like them and I thought if anyone can write short stories I'll like surely it would be Roald Dahl?!?!?! I just loved Tales of the Unexpected TV series (admittedly that was many years ago!).

Unfortunately, it didn't work - there are a couple of good ones but mainly I remain baffled.
The stories are too abstract and random for my taste.
Mar 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I decided to forgo reading the 900 page volume of all of Roald Dahl's short stories and purchase a smaller collection to make sure I actually liked them first. And I did. Tales of the Unexpected is full of just that - tales with so many unexpected events. This is Roald Dahl at his morbid best. His children's books may be morbid, but they're nothing in comparison to his adult short stories. I particularly liked "Lamb to the Slaughter"; it was funny in a bleak sort of way. "Man From the South" is ...more
Nov 01, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Unfortunately i only got to page 119 when i had to return it to the library, so i'll continue the rest of the book at a later time.

Still, those stories I read, I really liked. Very dahl-esque, quirky stories that read very fast (so don't ask why i didn't manage to finish it in the normal library-loan-time). All kind of weird events, such as chopped fingers and even people who literally sell their skin, but they're all embedded in a very normal world.

And even though none of these stories really
Tamar...light at the end of the tunnel?
I listened to a selection of eight stories from this book, available from internet archive at

Some of the stories were better than others...the readers are excellent (in particular, Geoffrey Palmer).

The thing is that although I love Dahl's witty and twisted humor, many of the endings are predictable. Some of the stories are so famous that even I had read them before. In Lamb to the Slaughter, a wife feeds murder weapon to police colleagues of her husband
★ Jess
I wish I could give this a 3.5
Roald Dahl is one of my favorite authors, and I love all his children's books. However, I was not sure what to expect from this collection of short stories aimed at older readers.
I think the main problem, was the first few stories were EXCELLENT, and set the bar way too high for the remaining tales. That is not to say they were bad. Every story was good and enjoyable, its just the first few were truly marvelous.

By far my favorite of the stories was: "Lamb to the
Dec 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars
An entertaining book, some stories were very predictable but others were great.
My personal favorites are The Landlady, Nunc Dimittis, and Skin. And the best one: The way up to Heaven.

I didn't like the fact that the author portraited every women in the book in such a grotesque way but most of the characters were very interesting, the stories were original and the imagination of the author is noticeable.

I want to keep on reading his work.
Aug 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
This collection of short stories showcases a much darker and more sinister side of Roald Dahl than his previous works of children’s fiction. In sixteen short stories the reader is both enthralled and appalled at the depths to which some of the characters sink to when placed in various predicaments. Who could forget the chilling tale of the landlady who taxidermies her guests, or the housewife who kills her husband with a leg of lamb and then serves the lamb to the investigating police officers.

Oliver Clarke
Jan 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Dahl is an absolute master of brevity, drawing the reader in and painting vivid character studies with just a few words. The stories in this collection have a fairly common structure (something unusual or macabre happens to some ordinary-ish characters), but he manages to get something different out of each tale. They're all gripping and whilst Dahl doesn't always hit a satisfying high note at the end, when he does it's a joyous thing. Favourites for me in this collection were 'Man from the Sout ...more
Aasem Bakhshi
May 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Each story would leave you with a big smile with a strong urge that the person sitting next to you would read it too. Pleasure and nostalgia all the way.
My favourites were:
Galloping Foxley, Lamb To The Slaughter and The Way Up To Heaven, the others were super MEH!
Apr 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Ummm this is like someone took a bunch of Mr. Dahl's stories, put them into bottles of various sizes and shapes, then topped each off with a little poison. Yep, an entire bag of poison-in-a-bottle, but just to make things interesting, a few contain perfume, not poison.

Which means some I liked, some I didn't. Some I couldn't read,the poison was too - lethal. Like one about a woman who keeps her husband's brain alive. Gory ain't the word for that one. The best, though, and IMO were:

'Taste.' A man
Sep 17, 2017 rated it liked it
It does feels rather sinful to award Roald Dahl three stars, three days after his Birthday, but I must say that Tales of the Unexpected was a bit of a slog. I had high hopes for this collection of short stories because I adored Dahl as a child and I imagined that Tales of the Unexpected would be a welcomed step up in style and themes, like taking the stabilisers off a beloved bicycle. What upset me most about this, is that Dahl's titles are normally absolutely on the button perfect, but I would ...more
Elisha Condie
Aug 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Ooooh, this was a good one. Like a whole bunch of Twilight Zone episodes to read. In fact, one of these short stories IS a very memorable Twilight Zone episode (remember the one with the gambler who bets the guy a Cadillac that his lighter won't light 10 times in a row? eeeek!). Almost without exception these were great. Sometimes satisfying, sometimes wonderfully creepy, sometimes unsettling. I did take a little break at one point - I admit I didn't want to read all of them in one go. Still, i ...more

I needed something short, easy and entertaining for a trip full of business interruptions.
Well ???
Short stories, of course.
Easy and entertaining ??...Roald Dahl....? !!! Humorous too !!!...YES.
I'd read them years ago and they would still have their novelty.
Interruptions would be few because there were 16 stories and most could be devoured in a sitting.

So it ALL went Perfectly except for the Fact, an obvious one, that I was much older and more experienced.

I began with the two final sto
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-read
Such deliciously twisted stories, and such fine writing. Dahl’s physical descriptions and acute observation of body language and gesture are just brilliant.
Rohit Remesh
Oct 07, 2017 rated it liked it
A collection of wacky stories from the master storyteller himself
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is perfection! My favourites are: "Lamb to the slaughter", "Man from the south", "The Landlady", "The way up to heaven", "Parson's pleasure" and "Royal jelly". Can't wait to read the rest of his work. ...more
Jan 19, 2016 rated it it was ok
I read this for one of my book clubs and I admit I went into it with preconceived notions. I immediately thought I wouldn't like it because other than the two Charlie books, which I greatly enjoyed, I don't like to read Dahl. His stuff is often just too unnecessarily mean spirited without the moral ambiguity to make all characters somewhat interesting.

But I started to read TotU and thought "wow, interesting!" when I read the first story, Taste. The tension was built nicely, and it was great. It
Nov 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars.

In summary:Fairly good ideas but lackluster in execution.

My thoughts:
I can't believe I took such a long time to finish a 280 paged book! It truly was dreadful and tiring to read, and I hope I do not have to read any more Roald Dahl for the rest of my life (life is too short for all art). And I think "fables gone wrong" is a more befitting title for the series.

Sadly the majority of the book was easily forgettable; probably only 2 stories stuck with me, "taste" and "the way up to hea
Veronica Perdomo
Jul 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of suspense, short stories, and Roald Dahl
Recommended to Veronica by: Colmenares
Shelves: dark-humor
Hands down one of THE most delightful books I've read in a while. It's not often I find myself itching to flip forward in the book because I simply can't take the suspense; with this collection of short stories, I was doing that every time I picked it up! You know there's a twist coming, you think you've predicted what it'll be, but you're surprised every time. Roald Dahl managed to keep my level of anticipation and suspense at a nearly fevered pitch throughout the entire work, and there were ma ...more
Dec 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
I read many of Roald Dahl's short stories for adults when I was 11 and didn't get most of the dark humour the same way I got today. Dahl has a gift for placing his completely ordinary characters in extraordinary situations, and writes a fascinating tale all the way to the end, where he masterfully concludes the story with a twist. He hits the right spot in ending each story, leaving me in marvel, disappointed that the story has ended but excited for the next. ...more
Sasha Bell
Feb 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: scared-me, faves
This book is amazing, and has all of my favourite short stories. They're clever, and interesting, and they make you feel slightly uneasy. In these stories surfaces the seamier underside of human nature. (The exception is The Boy Who Talked with Animals, which was intended for a younger audience). I especially recommend Taste and Lamb to the Slaughter. ...more
Feb 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
These were some fun stories. Some I liked better than others, some I already knew already though I didn't remember that they were Dahl, and some reminded me a bit of O. Henry. I wasn't exactly blown away, but I did have fun reading. ...more
I read and reread the shit out of this book in junior high and high school. Pretty sure I wrote some shitty short story that was essentially a retelling of "Lamb to the Slaughter," too. I think I even let my English teacher read it. ...more
Nov 04, 2015 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

I read a lot of Dahl's books in my childhood, but this was the first one aimed at adults. Also my first book of short stories. I really liked the writing style. The stories themselves varied though, and I didn't get all of the endings.
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Roald Dahl was a British novelist, short story writer and screenwriter of Norwegian descent, who rose to prominence in the 1940's with works for both children and adults, and became one of the world's bestselling authors.

Dahl's first published work, inspired by a meeting with C. S. Forester, was Shot Down Over Libya. Today the story is published as A Piece of Cake. The story, about his wartime adv

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