In this special edition, fictive author Millard Nullings selects 10 tales from the many that have passed down through generations to instruct and inform those of the “peculiar persuasion.”
A prefatory warning that the contents are “strange, depressing, and altogether not to your liking,” not to mention “none of your business,” will surely cause wiser “normals” to steer clear. Those impetuous enough to join peculiar readers in proceeding, however, will find a number of affecting adventures. These lead off with a cautionary episode in which villagers who can regenerate body parts grow rich by selling limbs to cannibals but ultimately let greed overwhelm their better judgement. Later offerings include the origin of the first shape-changing Ymbryne, the story of an unloved lad who becomes a giant locust, and a tale of the long war between Londoners and pigeons over air rights. Clever tweaks (“we have a modest proposal for you,” says a cannibal in the opener) abound, and endings are mostly happy. The tales all feature full-page illustrations that look like finely worked wood engravings and offer glimpses of realistically depicted figures, major incidents, and eerie details. Specific descriptions of characters seldom enter in, aside from one dark-skinned seer of ghosts and a scaled princess, but names that range from Fergus and João to Héctor and Zheng hint at some diversity in the cast.
A properly peculiar collection from Riggs. (Short stories. 11-15)