The Essential Peter S. Beagle, Volume II – Peter S. Beagle

The Essential Peter S. Beagle, Volume II

The Essential Peter S. Beagle, Volume II


A collection of fantasy stories by Peter S. Beagle


As the pages of this site attest, I’m a latecomer to Peter S. Beagle, running across even The Last Unicorn long after most. I’ve had mixed reactions to his other work, most recently feeling quite positive about the first volume of this series, just days ago. Unfortunately, with this volume, my reactions are back to mixed.

There’s no question that Beagle is a talented writer, but in this ‘essential’ volume, talented prose is not paired with engaging stories. There are quite a few – too many – stories of his childhood friends (all intertwined with fantastic elements), and I found fairly soon that the charm had worn off. Most of these stories, childhood or not, simply run too long. The one previously unpublished story, while better than I had grown to fear (it’s the last story in the collection) is at least twice as long as it needed to be, and perhaps more.

None of these stories really stood out, to be frank. And I’m a fan of a slow-moving, contemplative story. Still, my favorites among them were:

  • The Rock in the Park” – Centaurs get off course on their regular migration, and can’t find their way out of New York.
  • The Best Worst Monster”- A monster created by a mad scientist thinks maybe there’s something beyond destruction.

I’m not expert enough in Beagle’s work to decide whether these stories are essential. Based on what I have seen, however, I’d have to lean toward ‘inessential’ and ‘they’re all well written and some of them are nice. If you’re not a Beagle aficionado, I’d stick with Volume 1.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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