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Peter S. Beagle is one of the great writers, and this collection of seven stories and four fables includes some great writing. I am very glad to have finally read it - it has been on my shelves waiting for me for many years. Even when I took it down it took me a while to read: it was my bedside book from June to the end of August, and I only read the final story last week after we returned from holiday.

I have just leafed through to remember the stories again, and indeed, many of them will be memorable, particularly Salt Wine which I think is an excellent story in all ways and the highlight of the collection. In other cases I fear however that excellent writing is put to less than excellent ends. Don't get me wrong: I immersed myself fully in the stories as I read them, and wept or grinned or triumphed for the characters as led by the story. It is only with hindsight and in memory that I find the tragedies and high emotions rendered somwhat bathetic or mildly absurd.

Perhaps I am no longer the right reader for these kinds of tales. I hope that those who are find and enjoy them while they still can.

Edit: Includes Two Hearts, the sequel story to The Last Unicorn.

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Caroline M

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