Sleight of Hand
by Peter S. Beagle
Available Format(s): Trade Paperback
Magic is back.
Peter S. Beagle returns with an inspired collection of new fantasy that showcases his incomparable mastery and range. In these tales—with settings as different as an impossible reconstruction of the Berlin Wall and the kitchen of Mrs. Eunice Giant (72 Fairweather Lane, East-of-the-Bean, Sussex Overhead)—warriors, monsters, and utterly ordinary people struggle with possession and forgiveness, life and love, hate and death…and the choices that come after everything else has been stripped away by Fate. Inside these pages:
—The daughter of the Shark God leaves her Pacific island home, determined to find her mysterious father and hold him accountable for the curse of her own existence.
—A dilapidated dragon, a frustrated cop, and an unapologetic author square off over a dangerously abandoned narrative.
—An enchantress-to-be sings of power, desire, and the ultimate betrayal of her heart.
—In a nothing diner, in a nowhere town, a woman lost in grief learns how to fool Death with one artful shuffle of the deck.
Featuring a brand-new Schmendrick tale set before The Last Unicorn, plus twelve other wonderful stories, Sleight of Hand is suffused with a luminous misdirection that moves the soul as much as it fools the eye. Always ready to delight his readers, Beagle proves yet again that he is a master magician.
Praise for Sleight of Hand
“Multiple Hugo and Nebula award–winning Beagle opens readers’ eyes to wonder with his latest collection of 13 short stories. Each piece bridges the rich intersection of fantasy and fairy tale, reality and possibility, exploring predestination, fate, and the power of love through characters that come to vivid, three-dimensional life within a few short pages. Beagle’s lyrical writing is set in a wide range of landscapes both familiar and fresh, with twists on Jack and the Beanstalk, monsters and dragons, a singing enchantress, ghostly photographs, and a modern werewolf tale. ‘The Bridge Partner’ is more noir than fantasy yet fits within the collection quite well, as does the deeply chilling, experimental, and dark ‘Dirae.’ ‘The Woman Who Married the Man in the Moon’ features two lost children and an encounter with an early version of Schmendrick the Magician from his classic novel, The Last Unicorn. Each story is introduced with some background about its origin.”
“Wise, warm and deep.”
—The New York Times
“This bittersweet collection of 13 recent stories pays tribute to the complicated power of family ties. ‘Sleight of Hand’ lauds the good magic of parental love, while ‘What Tune the Enchantress Plays’ shows its dark side. ‘Children of the Shark God’ addresses children’s influence on parents, and in ‘La Lune T’Attend’ a grandfather protects his descendants from the family’s longtime enemy. Slighter but still entertaining are ‘Up the Down Beanstalk,’ the nostalgia-heavy ‘The Rabbi’s Hobby’ (Brighton Beach Memoirs with magic), and ‘Oakland Dragon Blues,’ whose title character deserves better than his pat ending. The surprise hit of the collection is ‘The Bridge Partner,’ psychological horror in the best Twilight Zone tradition. Fans of The Last Unicorn will also appreciate ‘The Woman Who Married the Man in the Moon,’ a Schmendrick prequel in classic bittersweet Beagle style.”
—Washington Post Book World
“This 13-story anthology will entice even the most jaded reader to read long hours into the night…. Sleight of Hand will beguile and enchant.”
—New York Journal of Books
“Beagle still has the power to surprise…a new collection of stories by one of the all-time greats.”
“Sleight of Hand is a strong collection by an author whose skill has only improved with time…a must-have.” —Tor.com
“Few can match [Beagle] when it comes to a particular mix of the fantastic and the ordinary, with a tinge of nostalgia. As one character observes, the magic is in the telling, always.”
“After reading Sleight of Hand, I know exactly why Beagle has this mythic reputation as one of the best of the best in fantasy and science-fiction literary circles. The man is amazing. Nearly every story in this collection was like a spell.”
“Demonstrates yet again why [Beagle’s] perhaps the finest fantasy writer at short lengths working today.”
“…not only one of our greatest fantasists, but one of our greatest writers, a magic realist worthy of consideration with such writers as Marquez, Allende, and even Borges.”
—The American Culture
“Engaging and wide-ranging selection of fantasies…the perfect book”
“There’s quiet power here, and delicate craftsmanship, and most of all, a genuine emotional response that few short-story collections can generate.”
—Green Man Review
About the Author
Peter S. Beagle is the internationally-bestselling author of the fantasy classic, The Last Unicorn, which has sold over five million copies since its initial publication in 1968. His novels include A Fine & Private Place, The Innkeeper’s Song, Tamsin, and most recently, Summerlong and In Calabria. His short fiction collections include The Line Between and Sleight of Hand. Beagle is also the editor of The Secret History of Fantasy and The New Voices of Fantasy (with Jacob Weisman). His screenwriting credits include Star Trek and the animated films of The Lord of the Rings and The Last Unicorn.
Beagle has won the Hugo, Nebula, Mythopoeic, and Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire awards, as well as lifetime achievement awards from Comic-Con and the World Fantasy Convention. He lives in Richmond, California, where he is working on too many projects to begin to name.
Praise for Peter S. Beagle
“Short story and fantasy lovers will devour these tasty tidbits that whet the appetite for more.”
“[Beagle] has been compared, not unreasonably, with Lewis Carroll and J. R. R. Tolkien, but he stands squarely—and triumphantly—on his own feet.”
—The Saturday Review
“… One of my favorite writers.”
—Madeleine L’Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time and A Swiftly Tilting Planet
“Peter S. Beagle illuminates with his own particular magic such commonplace matters as ghosts, unicorns, and werewolves. For years a loving readership has consulted him as an expert on those hearts’ reasons that reason does not know.”
—Ursula K. Le Guin, author of A Wizard of Earthsea and The Left Hand of Darkness
“The only contemporary to remind one of Tolkien.”
“Peter S. Beagle is (in no particular order) a wonderful writer, a fine human being, and a bandit prince out to steal readers’ hearts.”
—Tad Williams, author of The Dragonbone Chair and The Very Best of Tad Williams
“It’s a fully rounded region, this other world of Peter Beagle’s imagination…an originality…that is wholly his own.”
“Not only does Peter Beagle make his fantasy worlds come vividly, beautifully alive; he does it for the people who enter them.”
—Poul Anderson, author of The High Crusade
“Peter S. Beagle is the magician we all apprenticed ourselves to. Before all the endless series and shared-world novels, Beagle was there to show us the amazing possibilities waiting in the worlds of fantasy, and he is still one of the masters by which the rest of the field is measured.”
—Lisa Goldstein, author of The Red Magician and The Uncertain Places
“Peter S. Beagle would be one of the century’s great writers in any arena he chose; we readers must feel blessed that Beagle picked fantasy as a homeland. Magic pumps like blood through the veins of his stories. Imparting passionately breathing, singing, laughing reality to the marvelous is his great gift to us all.”
—Edward Bryant, author of Cinnabar
Visit the Peter S. Beagle website.
The Woman Who Married the Man in the Moon (a Schmendrick story)
Sleight of Hand
The Children of the Shark God
The Best Worst Monster
What Tune the Enchantress Plays
La Lune T’Attend
Up the Down Beanstalk: A Wife Remembers
The Rock in the Park
The Rabbi’s Hobby
Oakland Dragon Blues
The Bridge Partner