Perhaps best known for his classic novel “The Last Unicorn,” Peter S. Beagle explores a diverse selection of fantastical, mythological, and otherwise magical elements in this collection of short stories. Despite the magical ingredients peppered throughout, Beagle’s stories remain firmly rooted in the real world and real emotions. While many of the stories initially feel familiar in contruction to a widely-read fan of fairy tales and fantasy, they frequently take unexpected and delightful turns, ending up being about something very different than they initially seemed. The lovely fable “ The Tale of Junko and Sayuri” is a particularly effective example of this. Beagle’s characters are multilayered, rich, and eminiently believable, from the grouchy brilliance of the artist in “Uncle Chaim and Aunt Rifke and the Angel;” to the tortured naivity of the title character in “King Pelles the Sure;” to the nervous-yet-bold youth of the children in “The Stickball Witch.” Highly recommended.