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Spellbound: Fantasy Stories

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This collection of eighteen stories introduces young readers to the best in both classic and contemporary fantasy. Featuring extracts from enduring classics such as Puck of Pook's Hill by Rudyard Kipling, C. S. Lewis's The Silver Chair, and Five Children and It by E. Nesbit, this anthology provides the perfect sample of a very popular genre. Carefully selected by Diana This collection of eighteen stories introduces young readers to the best in both classic and contemporary fantasy. Featuring extracts from enduring classics such as Puck of Pook's Hill by Rudyard Kipling, C. S. Lewis's The Silver Chair, and Five Children and It by E. Nesbit, this anthology provides the perfect sample of a very popular genre. Carefully selected by Diana Wynne Jones, each story is sure to delight, enchant, and entice youngsters into the imaginative world of fantasy fiction.


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This collection of eighteen stories introduces young readers to the best in both classic and contemporary fantasy. Featuring extracts from enduring classics such as Puck of Pook's Hill by Rudyard Kipling, C. S. Lewis's The Silver Chair, and Five Children and It by E. Nesbit, this anthology provides the perfect sample of a very popular genre. Carefully selected by Diana This collection of eighteen stories introduces young readers to the best in both classic and contemporary fantasy. Featuring extracts from enduring classics such as Puck of Pook's Hill by Rudyard Kipling, C. S. Lewis's The Silver Chair, and Five Children and It by E. Nesbit, this anthology provides the perfect sample of a very popular genre. Carefully selected by Diana Wynne Jones, each story is sure to delight, enchant, and entice youngsters into the imaginative world of fantasy fiction.

30 review for Spellbound: Fantasy Stories

  1. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    I bought this because I found it at a really good price and DWJ is one of my favorite authors ever. I was quite disappointed. Not only is it an anthology with only 1 story by DWJ (not a deal breaker, story collections can be a great place to find new authors similar to old favorites), but it's not even short stories or new material, but excerpts of older novels. I am NOT a fan of most book excerpts, and an anthology full of them is NOT a winning idea in my opinion. The excerpts are never as good I bought this because I found it at a really good price and DWJ is one of my favorite authors ever. I was quite disappointed. Not only is it an anthology with only 1 story by DWJ (not a deal breaker, story collections can be a great place to find new authors similar to old favorites), but it's not even short stories or new material, but excerpts of older novels. I am NOT a fan of most book excerpts, and an anthology full of them is NOT a winning idea in my opinion. The excerpts are never as good or as interesting as they could be in context, and it's a real drag if you've already read the books, and just as bad if you haven't: if it's a good book you don't want to spoil it by reading a piece out of the middle, but if it's not you don't want a senseless chunk out of it, but of course you're never sure if the book was that bad or if it just wasn't satisfying or was particularly confusing without the beginning or the end. These books could have been valid favorites, but hacking them to bits and publishing the pieces as a book is a good way to ruin them. In general, I really think you take the magic out of fiction when you don't let it unfold as the author intended. I didn't even get all the way through it, which is unusual for me.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Very few of these selections were standalone short stories. Most were excerpts from books that DID NOT stand on their own very well. Taken out of context, only one of them made me at all interested in the longer story it belonged to. Ps I've read and loved the Silver Chair but reading "the House of Harfang" chapter would not have inspired me to read it. "What the Cat Told Me" by DWJ is one of her best but you can find it in other, better collections.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Quirkyreader

    This volume is a good introduction to fantasy stories

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jenn

    I generally enjoy anthologies because they offer entertaining, self-contained short stories. They let me meet authors I'd otherwise not know. They let me try new genres without committing. But this doesn't do that. For the most part, these are selections from existing, historic works. And while the historic works are great, that the selections are pulled from the midst of something bigger left me feeling let down. It was less "let me go get the source and read it all" and more "huh. That's I generally enjoy anthologies because they offer entertaining, self-contained short stories. They let me meet authors I'd otherwise not know. They let me try new genres without committing. But this doesn't do that. For the most part, these are selections from existing, historic works. And while the historic works are great, that the selections are pulled from the midst of something bigger left me feeling let down. It was less "let me go get the source and read it all" and more "huh. That's disappointing."

  5. 4 out of 5

    Charles

    This collection of fantasy stories, selected by the great Diana Wynne Jones herself, offers an outstanding variety of such stories for children and young adults. It is evident that every story is picked with an extraordinary amount of love and thought by Wynne Jones, as there are all spellbinding and noteworthy in their own right. 1) The Peasant and the Devil-The Brother Grimm: This is a charming story about a peasant who manages to outwit the devil. It is a great introduction to all the rest of This collection of fantasy stories, selected by the great Diana Wynne Jones herself, offers an outstanding variety of such stories for children and young adults. It is evident that every story is picked with an extraordinary amount of love and thought by Wynne Jones, as there are all spellbinding and noteworthy in their own right. 1) The Peasant and the Devil-The Brother Grimm: This is a charming story about a peasant who manages to outwit the devil. It is a great introduction to all the rest of the stories as it shows what we may expect of all the rest of the collection: that is, a collection of fantastical stories with an almost classical aura to them. -4.25/5 2) Boris Chernevsky's Hands-Jane Yolen: This is definitely one of the stranger stories in this collection, one that deals with a more 'physical' kind of magic (of the human body). I like it, but it only gets better. -3.75/5 3) The Hobgoblin's Hat-Tove Jansson: Now this is more like the Wynne Jones standard we all know and love. I will definitely read 'Finn Family Moomintroll' from which this story is taken, as this excerpt is a little confusing for those with no acquaintance with the original book. -4.25/5 4) Ully the Piper-Andre Norton: This is more like an individual fairy tale than the rest, which is obviously a singular achievement. It is interesting to note that 'Andre' Norton, the author, is actually a celebrated female American science fiction and fantasy writer, whose real name is Alice Mary Norton. -4.5/5 5) Milo Conducts the Dawn-Norton Juster: What a fantastic example of some of the best fantasy ever written from 'The Phantom Tollbooth'. 4.75/5 6) The House of Harfang-C.S. Lewis: One of the best chapters from 'The Silver Chair', one which absolutely terrified me as a kid with its cannibalistic giants. -4.75/5 7) Martha in the Witch's Power-K.M.Briggs: This is the only story which could arguably have been excluded from this collection. Without the context of the entire novel of 'Hobberdy Dick', the story is a little confusing. But I have every intention of reading Briggs' book when I have the chance, as every sentence exudes a strong sense of fantasy. -3.5/5 8) Prince Delightful and the Flameless Dragon-Isaac Asimov: Another charming, fairy tale-esque type story. One of my favourites. -4.5/5 9) The Box of Delights-John Masefield: Another extract, which taken out of context is just a charming piece of fantasy writing. -3.5/5 10) The Amazing Flight of the Gump-L. Frank Baum: Having never read 'The Wizard of Oz', I was very surprised, amazed even, by this short chapter. Now I know what I have been missing. This is one of the reasons why it is one of my favourite stories n this collection. -4.75/5 11) On the Great Wall-Rudyard Kipling: Kipling has a more classical version of fantasy in this excerpt from 'Puck of Pook's Hill', what with the poetry and Romans and all that. -4/5 12) The Waking of the Kraken-Eva Ibbotson: This is truly the hidden gem of fantasy writing. I will be sure to check out 'Which Witch?' from where this story is taken from. -4.75/5 13) The Caves in the Hills-Elizabeth Goudge: What this collection demonstrated to me more than anything else is the wide range of fantasy writing which I had no idea about. This story, from 'Henrietta's House', is wonderfully Lewis-esque. -4.5/5 14) Bigger Than the Baker's Boy-E. Nesbit: E. Nesbit, which has so influenced the writing of other beloved Fantasy authors such as Enid Blyton, has an important moral to be learned by young readers in 'Bigger Than the Baker's Boy'. -4.5/5 15) Jermain and the Sorceress-Patricia C. Wrede: Wynne Jones admits it is annoying to be given only the start of the story, in this case to a book called 'The Seven Towers'. However, it is easy to share Wynne Jones' fascination with the story's main characters. -4/5 16) Una and the Red Cross Knight-Andrew Lang: This story, from 'The Red Book Romance', has so many incidents and events happening throughout, that is seems like an entire Chivalric Romance in itself. Very entertaining. -4.25/5 17) What the Cat Told Me-Diana Wynne Jones: Wynne Jones chose the best story for last, and, not surprisingly, it was written by herself. This story does not have the narrative scope or range of some of the other stories, but it does have a unique blend of humor, charm and fantasy which makes a story a classic. This is definitely my favourite story. -5/5 (F) 'Fantasy Stories' is a superlative collection, especially for younger readers.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Wealhtheow

    A collection of selections from Jones's favorite fantasy stories. Nearly all of these are excerpts from much longer works, and the unfamiliarity works against their charm. The other big problem is that these are almost exclusively old stories, with all the accompanying gender essentialism and thoughtless orientalism (for example, the selection from Langley's The Land of Green Ginger features names like Sulkpot Ben Nagnag, Rubdub Ben Thud, Tintac Ping Foo, Kublai Snoo, and my personal favorite, A collection of selections from Jones's favorite fantasy stories. Nearly all of these are excerpts from much longer works, and the unfamiliarity works against their charm. The other big problem is that these are almost exclusively old stories, with all the accompanying gender essentialism and thoughtless orientalism (for example, the selection from Langley's The Land of Green Ginger features names like Sulkpot Ben Nagnag, Rubdub Ben Thud, Tintac Ping Foo, Kublai Snoo, and my personal favorite, Chu-Chin-Chow Laundry Man) and a very large helping of twee capitalization. The only story I really enjoyed was Jane Yolen's short story "Boris Chernevsky's Hands," in which a bad juggler tries to get adroit hands from Baba Yaga.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Becca

    (5/8/08) This book is like a checklist of things to read in full. (3/12/09) Great choices of stories to give an impression of classic children's fantasy.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Caroline Hodge

    This takes me back. I got this when I was probably 10 or thereabouts, and probably feeling sick, it was definitely a mum-purchase. I'd already devoured Narnia by then, and I think I had that particular Moomintroll story already, and the Box of Delights too, but this had great illustrations and while some I'd read once and didn't bother again, some I'd revisit often - I love cats and fantasy so it's probably no surprise my favourite was Diane's own final short story. To be honest none of the This takes me back. I got this when I was probably 10 or thereabouts, and probably feeling sick, it was definitely a mum-purchase. I'd already devoured Narnia by then, and I think I had that particular Moomintroll story already, and the Box of Delights too, but this had great illustrations and while some I'd read once and didn't bother again, some I'd revisit often - I love cats and fantasy so it's probably no surprise my favourite was Diane's own final short story. To be honest none of the excerpts drove me to hint down the full books, but they were enjoyable on their own.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Robert Bagnall

    Have to agree with other reviewers that the preference for novel extracts is a real below the waterline error, with Wynne Jones’ own standalone story, one of the few (only?), being by far the standout. Good to know how Game of Thrones has ripped off Kipling, though...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Travis

    Nice little sampler of fantasy stories. Good mix of familiar ones and obscure.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tortla

    Because I'm annoying: The Peasant and the Devil Good ol' brothers Grimm...they never get old. Boris Chernevsky's Hands Jane Yolen is cool. Baba Yaga is cool. The story was decent. The Hobgoblin's Hat This was adorable. I liked the translator's notes and the fact that there was a top hat. Ully the Piper I quite liked this story, which for some strange reason reminded me of Shannon Hale's Princess Academy and also of some of the books by Elizabeth Marie Pope. Milo Conducts the Dawn The Phantom Tollbooth Because I'm annoying: The Peasant and the Devil Good ol' brothers Grimm...they never get old. Boris Chernevsky's Hands Jane Yolen is cool. Baba Yaga is cool. The story was decent. The Hobgoblin's Hat This was adorable. I liked the translator's notes and the fact that there was a top hat. Ully the Piper I quite liked this story, which for some strange reason reminded me of Shannon Hale's Princess Academy and also of some of the books by Elizabeth Marie Pope. Milo Conducts the Dawn The Phantom Tollbooth rocks. (Even if this particular part scares me a little, what with its...speed...*shudder*) Who Goes Down this Dark Road? Is Joan Aiken secretly J.D. Salinger? Because she tells a pretty Salinger-y story. It was good. Surprising. Fancy. The House of Harfang C.S. Lewis kind of gets my goat for writing like an old-fashioned poobean. I'm pretty glad I didn't ever finish The Chronicles of Narnia, especially since apparently one of the characters doesn't get to go on to heaven because she acts like too much of a grownup and C.S. Lewis is a sexistly agist little poobean. This story was okay, though, in a cute old-fashioned way. I rather enjoyed the fact that the characters decide to "be gay" and that C.S. Lewis probably had no idea at the time that he was going to get giggled at for accidentally referencing homosexuality (the old fart). Martha in the Witch's Power This story is boring, so I'm going to have to reread it. It's from Hobberdy Dick. So I really must reread it. Prince Delightful and the Flameless Dragon I was kind of reminded of A Fate Worse than Dragons in the style of this story, which was off-putting. But it was still decent, if a little insulting. The Box of Delights I like Herne quite a bit from what I've read of him in Dogsbody and Firebringer, so it was cool to read about him from the perspective of this book. The Amazing flight of the Gump The Land of Oz rocks. On the Great Wall This story bored me, as well. Silly Rudyard Kipling. The Waking of the Kraken Eva Ibbotson is sillybeans. The story was pretty cute, at least as far as this extract was concerned. She can get a bit preachy, though (*cough* C.S. Lewis *cough*) The Caves in the Hills Need to read this one, too. Bigger than the Baker's Boy I've totally read Five Children and It. I think... E. Nesbit Jermain and the Sorceress Note to self: READ THE SEVEN TOWERS. Patricia C. Wrede is awesome. Una and the Red Cross Knight I need to read this 'un, too. What the Cat Told Me Oh, Diana Wynne Jones, you never cease to write in that all-exposition-and-then-sudden-revalations-that-make-me-want-to-reread-the-story way. This story was very cute. Congratulations on not including real-worldy stuff in here too much.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sella Malin

    I bought this at a cute little independent bookstore in Rockport (a coastal city in MA) with Ilana and Acacia. It's kind of a souvenir of my trip to MA. It's a collection of a bunch of fantasy short stories. I can't really judge this book as a whole, since every short story was written by a different author. I think I liked it overall, but at the same time I didn't really. Some of the stories were interesting and exciting and awesome, but a lot of the stories were really, really boring and long I bought this at a cute little independent bookstore in Rockport (a coastal city in MA) with Ilana and Acacia. It's kind of a souvenir of my trip to MA. It's a collection of a bunch of fantasy short stories. I can't really judge this book as a whole, since every short story was written by a different author. I think I liked it overall, but at the same time I didn't really. Some of the stories were interesting and exciting and awesome, but a lot of the stories were really, really boring and long and stupid and uninteresting. It took me forever to get through this book because I couldn't really get into it; so much of it was boring, and most of the time I was just reading it to get to the end, to finish it. And when I finally finished it I felt a wave of relief. There were only a few exceptions to this; most of the stories were boring, and not written well at all. I wish Diana Wynne Jones had chosen better stories. I loved the story that she wrote herself at the very end; that one captivated me and was very interesting and awesome. She's a good writer. I wish she'd written the whole book. :P Actually, that short story she wrote would've been a good whole book. I loved seeing her opinion of the viewpoint from a cat, it was awesome and realistic. There were a few other stories that I really liked; other than that, the stories were boring and painfully difficult to get through. All in all, this book had the potential to be great all the way through, but there were too many excruciatingly boring stories, and not enough of the thrilling, awesome stories. You should only read it if you have ample amounts of patience, which I lack. :)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    I'm not rating this one very high, I know... It was a bear to get through despite the fact that the stories were shortish. I just didn't enjoy most of it. I'll talk about the ones I actually liked rather than bore you with the ones that didn't hold my interest. BorisChernevsky's Hands by Jane Yolen was awsome. It was the kind of thing that I would want to write if I were writing fantasy right now (I'm not really writing atm, and I suppose that's my own fault though I want to blame someone else). I'm not rating this one very high, I know... It was a bear to get through despite the fact that the stories were shortish. I just didn't enjoy most of it. I'll talk about the ones I actually liked rather than bore you with the ones that didn't hold my interest. BorisChernevsky's Hands by Jane Yolen was awsome. It was the kind of thing that I would want to write if I were writing fantasy right now (I'm not really writing atm, and I suppose that's my own fault though I want to blame someone else). There were turns of phrase in this that just tickled me in all the right places. Ully The Piper by Andre Norton was cute and fun and just the kind of thing that underdogs like to read. :) The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis surprised me. I actually enjoyed it. I always thought that I hated Lewis... maybe I was wrong. Maybe I should read tat bloody wardroby book again after all... The Land of Green Ginger by Noel Langley was a really fun read. I'm thinking I may get the book at some point to read the entire thing. The Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum kinda caught me by surprise, as I only thought there was one story of Oz for what ever reason. Since there are more adventures maybe I'll get some of this as well. Which Witch? by Eva Ibbotson was a really fun read! I had heard of this book but for whatever reason it hadn't crossed my path yet. Love it. Five Children and It by E. Nesbit was alright. What the Cat Told Me by Diana herself, was the best thing in the book probably. LOVED it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kate K. F.

    This was a reread for me as I first read this book a number of years ago. Its a collection of fantasy stories that Diana Wynne Jones chose and what I find interesting about it is how many of them are clearly stories of her childhood. Some of the stories in here, I had vaguely heard of but not read such as Puck of Pook's Hill while others are old favorites such as the Flight of the Gump from Ozma of Oz and the excerpt from The Silver Chair. I recommend this collection for someone who wishes to This was a reread for me as I first read this book a number of years ago. Its a collection of fantasy stories that Diana Wynne Jones chose and what I find interesting about it is how many of them are clearly stories of her childhood. Some of the stories in here, I had vaguely heard of but not read such as Puck of Pook's Hill while others are old favorites such as the Flight of the Gump from Ozma of Oz and the excerpt from The Silver Chair. I recommend this collection for someone who wishes to learn how fantasy has shifted over the decades, because it has in it tales that feel dated while others don't. I would be cautious about giving this book to a young reader as what makes some of the stories dated is the classist and racist views some of the characters take. There's nothing awful but at points some of them are present.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    I was very excited to find a book by Jones that I'd not read - and then disappointed to discover it was really a collection of stories (or chapters from stories) that she had selected. I enjoyed rediscovering "Who goes down this dark road?" (Aiken), and was glad I'd never found the Lang fairy tale. Mostly, I liked the stories and not the chapters.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Beth E

    This is a collection of short stories by different authors. Most of the selections are chapter excerpts from other books. I didn't really care for this. One chapter would be Narnia and Marshwigggles, the next Oz and Jack Pumpkinhead. I did not like being dragged through fairyland willy-nilly. I'd rather read their respective books when the mood hits me.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Twyla

    thus far, I am not liking this one too much. Finally done, the only redeem able bit about it was the last story, because it felt like a true story rather than an except. It remind me of those sample music cassettes from the 80a where no matter what you feel ripped off by only hearing a couple lines of song. Poor show.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ellie

    A lovely collection. I did prefer the short stories because the excerpts sometimes seemed too out of context (and because I'd already read quite a few of them), but overall they were all great choices! My favourites were What the Cat Told Me and Who Goes Down This Dark Road?

  19. 5 out of 5

    Fangirl Frappe

    Some of the stories were enjoyable while others were too long or uninteresting.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mali

    A great (and pretty cheap) collection of fantasy stories. I recommend it for every fantasy fan out there.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Burridge

    Excellent.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Olivia

    This book was neat! I liked that it had a lot of interesting little stories from different books and it helped me to find some neat books that I might not have known about without its guidance!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Terri

    I prefer original stories rather than lots of excerpts from Classic books I have already read

  24. 4 out of 5

    Angela Tuson

    Darling Diana can sure choose great stories!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Djuna Sorais Harrigan

  26. 5 out of 5

    Isadora

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nic

  28. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Blake

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lynnea

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