Completely Unexpected Tales

By Roald Dahl

Rating: 5 stars

This volume collects two books of Dahl’s short stories for adults, and they are pretty much all corkers. I wasn’t hugely familiar with his writing for adults, so came into this quite fresh, and I really enjoyed it. Each story is really well crafted and almost all of them have a really neat (often rather nasty) twist that turns the knife in a really pleasurable way for the reader (if often not for the protagonist).

I would say that the first book, Tales of the Unexpected is somewhat better than the second (More Tales of the Unexpected), with more stories and more interesting twists but there are very few misses throughout this whole collection.

It’s difficult to pick out highlights in the collection, but the first and last stories stand out for me. Taste is about an overconfident father who’s willing to bet his daughter’s hand in marriage over something he shouldn’t. The Butler brings us very neatly back to a similar theme regarding palate. Other highlights include William and Mary, which is one of the very few stories in the collection that contains a fantastic element; the incredibly creepy Royal Jelly about a man trying to do the best for his newborn child; and The Landlady, whose titular lady is just too good to be true.

A marvellous collection, if you only know Dahl from his (also marvellous) children’s fiction, these stories will make you look at him in a whole new light.

Book details

Publisher: Penguin Books
Year of publication: 1979

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