One Horn to Rule Them All

One Horn to Rule Them All: A Purple Unicorn Anthology

Unicorns, with their single ivory horn, are elusive and magical creatures of myth. Yet even more elusive are the purple unicorns. First sighted at the Superstars Writing Seminar, their legend has grown year after year until it could only be contained in this anthology. Nineteen storytellers, including Peter S. Beagle, Todd McCaffrey, and Jody Lynn Nye, as well as new and rising authors, invite us into worlds both near and far, across a desert oasis, a pet shop, a Comic-Con exhibition floor, and more, and show us the many variations of purple unicorns, from the imaginary to the actual—and one very memorable half-unicorn, half-potato. One Horn to Rule Them All is an unforgettable collection of imagination and creativity. So, saddle up, and take a ride beyond the rainbow. 

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I didn’t mean to start reading another anthology so soon on the heels of Undercurrents. But while taking care of my neighbors’ cat, I found myself having to wait for the cat to come out from behind the bookshelf. Picked up one of their books to pass the time and wanted to choose something I actually owned…because you know, it would have been too much work to walk back across the street and get my own book.

Anyway.

Purple unicorns it is!

If you follow me on social media, you know I kind of have a thing for unicorns. And kind of absolutely love that unicorns are a hot trend right now. Which makes One Horn to Rule Them All an anthology that was years ahead of its time.

Overall, I really liked this anthology and not just because of the unicorns. I thought all of the stories inside were great in their own way and there were a couple that got me interested enough to look up the authors to see what else, if anything, they had written that I could buy. There were also some very, very imaginative stories in this mix which was neat. I liked the stories in Undercurrents, but I felt like there were some genuinely wacky concepts that worked amazing well in One Horn to Rule Them All.

As another fun treat, my friend (and neighbor) has a story in this anthology that she’s been expanding on…and we got to read it in writer’s group over the summer!

Under A Glass Bell

Under A Glass Bell by Anais Nin

Under a Glass Bell was self-published by Anaïs Nin in 1944, using a manual press. This collection of thirteen short stories, beautifully crafted in a style influenced by French surrealism, but uniquely Nin’s, brought her national attention when Edmund Wilson of The New Yorker reviewed it. Considered one of Nin’s most successful works of fiction, the tales attain psychological realism through illusory symbolism.

Despite knowing her name, this was my very first Anais Nin. Coincidentally, this book was also part of her earlier works. Under A Glass Bell is a beautiful collection of short stories.

The stories in this collection, while all very beautiful, are all kind of bizarre. Everything has a element of the absurd to it. Metaphors and similes take on lives on their own in these stories, where the people go about their lives as if they, too, were metaphors and similes, extensions of the real.

My favorites in this collection were Houseboat, The Mouse, The All-Seeing, The Eye’s Journey, and Through the Streets of My Own Labyrinth.

The language of these stories is exquisite. Though I had trouble following some of the stories, they were just so gorgeous that I kind of didn’t even care.

Fragile Things

Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman

A mysterious circus terrifies an audience for one extraordinary performance before disappearing into the night . .

Two teenage boys crash a party and meet the girls of their dreams—and nightmares . . .

In a Hugo Award–winning story, a great detective must solve a most unsettling royal murder in a strangely altered Victorian England . . .

These marvelous creations and more showcase the unparalleled invention and storytelling brilliance—and the terrifyingly dark and entertaining wit—of the incomparable Neil Gaiman. By turns delightful, disturbing, and diverting, Fragile Things is a gift of literary enchantment from one of the most original writers of our time.

This is a must-read for fans of Neil Gaiman. Probably not the best introduction to him though. This collection of short stories features works that are all enormously fun, darkly twisted, humorous, and thought-provoking. My favorite part of this reading experience was actually reading the introduction. In the introduction, Gaiman discusses a little bit about the making of the story and its publication and/or awards history.

Having previously read American Gods and Anansi Boys in pretty short succession, I was a little hesitant about diving into more Gaiman. But it happened that I was in a period of my life where the only time I had to read was right before bed and I had so much to do, I didn’t want to get engrossed into a novel and waste an hour of the little sleep I could get. Enter Fragile Things.

Reader be warned, many of these stories are ghost stories, monster stories, and alien stories. I am not a scary-story reader and I was able to read these at night. Though there were a few I don’t recommend ending your night on: “Closing Time”, “Feeders and Eaters”, “The Facts in the Case”, “How to Talk to Girls at Parties”.

These stories, while enjoyable, are also pretty dark and twisted. Which is why I don’t recommend them to a Neil Gaiman newbie. Cut your teeth on one of the other books, get a taste for his style, and then check out Fragile Things. I don’t read a lot of short story collections (I usually prefer novels), so I can’t say how this stacks up against others. But Fragile Things is full of solid, award-winning stories. There are a few Hugo award-winning stories in here.

In addition to the stories, there are smatterings of poetry. Gaiman’s poetry is lyrical and accessible, not at all the incomprehensible mush that emerges from experimental poetry classes. (I should know, I like that incomprehensible mush). His poetry is more reminiscent of the oral tradition style poetry, rhythmic and easy to follow.

I should mention how much of a delight Fragile Things is for the consummate reader. Gaiman is constantly showing off his well-rounded knowledge of literary history, but not in a snobbish way. He touches everything from Sherlock Holmes to Beowulf to The Chronicles of Narniato The 1001 Nights to Aladdin to Goldilocks and the Three Bears to The Matrix, rounding it all off with an American Gods novella, set two years after the end of the events in that book.

Fragile Things is a literary feast.