Thoughts: The Essential Peter S. Beagle Volume 2

Source: NetGalley – so many thanks to the publisher!

Plot: Each had a solid plot, nothing felt too over the top of murky. Each was solid and contained.
Characters: Fun and unique, I can’t wait to actually return to some of these.
Setting: Varied and fun – the best by far were his stories of his childhood home town
Magic: As with the other collection of stories these ranged from slightly more concrete magic (illegal dragons) to vague magic. Either way it was consistent and handled well.


The first collection of Peter S. Beagle short stories in this two book series was one of my biggest surprises of the first quarter of 2023. I hadn’t read Mr. Beagle’s work in probably 20 years so I was not ready for how much I loved it. The second volume was very similar in tone and style, with just a few stories that I enjoyed but wasn’t completely sure about.

The strongest stories by far for me were the stories that followed his young friend squad as boys and their ‘magical’ encounters. These are fantastic, the type of ‘Magical stories about kids for adults’ that would make Stephen King and his (slightly obnoxious) child characters weep. They have an adults depth with a child’s wonder and it shines beautifully in the stories.

Besides that the only weak stories for me were those that seemed to borrow from elsewhere. Perhaps they felt dated or old fashioned, or it’s just my preference for those self insert stories, but I struggled a bit with stories such as the werewolf one. Set in Louisiana it focuses on two old werewolves of Creole descent and family as they fight a returned evil. I think I connect and see more of his love for his home town and the topics and peoples he knows in those other stories.

Regardless this collection is still fantastic. I’ve already requested copies for my birthday and I will 100% reread them. I cannot wait to return to the story about the backwoods dragon breeders – I live in moonshine country so that really amused and delighted me.

4.5 out of 5 Illegal Dragon Eggs


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