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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Fantastic Creatures by various authors is an anthology of riveting short stories that feature a magical creature with a range of styles and settings. Lea Doue expands the world introduced in the Firethorn Chronicles with the fairy tale Snapdragon, a story that finds Ryll cursed to be hidden away with her sister, until she finds a confidant in a small dragon who has a strange request. Priscilla, the Magnificent Flying Giant Squid by L. Palmer features a squid that has big dreams of flying, while in Absolutely True Facts about the Pacific Tree Octopus, a young girl sets out to prove there's an octopus in the trees.
Lea Doue's Snapdragon is a charming and sweet story of friendship and new beginnings. It has everything that makes up a fairy tale: a wicked sister, curses, a touch of a love story, betrayal, and even a rose. Mystery of Asgina Lake and Absolutely True Facts about the Pacific Tree Octopus are grounded in reality with adventures that focus on the search for a cryptid. Both are suspenseful and modern with a strong reminiscence of real-life cryptid sightings and local legends. Seekers by Intisar Khanani has lovely writing, and a mysterious tone that never bluntly says what's happening. On the surface everything seems mundane, but there's so much to discover underneath.
The stories that surprised me most are Mothers' Night Out by D.G. Driver and Celebration by Arthur Daigle. Both are a little dark in tone, but blend in a lot of quirkiness with slight horror elements and humor. Driver twists an ordinary world into a werewolf nightmare from the unique perspective of a day care with werewolf babies. Daigle's Celebration finds a gathering of goblins stealing the body of a recently deceased king in order to celebrate his life and mourn over the loss. It's eccentric and unexpected, dark and a little twisted, but also highly enjoyable. The Mage and the Spotted Wyvern is a personal favorite with incredibly endearing and likable characters. It's easy to fall in love with Drezzyk and his pet frog that he often asks for advice.
The tone changes depending on the story, but is perfectly fitted to the style of each and the creatures featured in it. Fantastic Creatures is the perfect anthology for those that love magic, mythological creatures, knights, fairy tales, lake monsters, and talking cats. Some of the stories are funny and mysterious while some are magical and dangerous, but each is a fun adventure that will keep the pages turning. Each story is surprising and unique with unexpected results. There's something for everybody to enjoy.