Category: Short Stories
Synopsis: Roald Dahl is most famous for his children’s books, including Matilda and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. However, Skin and Other Stories is a lesser-known short story collection aimed at an older audience. Managing to be both unsettling and entertaining at the same time, this diverse collection will transport readers to strange new places with each tale…
Roald Dahl’s children’s books were such a source of joy to me when I was a little girl. I loved disappearing into the crazy, colourful imaginative worlds.
However, I had absolutely no idea that he had written for older readers too, until Skin and Other Stories was chosen as a book club recommendation. I had also wanted to try a short story collection for a long time, so it seemed ‘meant to be’. I was so excited to start reading!
Given my initial enthusiasm, it may seem surprising that I have only given this book 3 stars. Personally, I found many of the stories a little too “weird”, which is most likely due to how my tastes have changed as I have got older. Sad but true – I think I have lost some of that childhood ability to cast aside realism and fully immerse myself in an imaginative world.
Nevertheless, it is impossible to deny Roald Dahl’s skill as a writer! Every story is smart and suspenseful. Even if part of me was ambiguous about the content of the stories, another part would be itching to find out more. The endings are deliciously satisfying as well: sometimes disturbing, but always memorable.
My favourite story in the collection was Beware of the Dog. Overall, the tone of the collection is much darker than Dahl’s children’s books and I particularly loved the eerie, Agatha-Christie-esque atmosphere created in this tale.
For me, the characters of this collection were the highlight. Having a whole cast of characters to create with each new story gives full reign to Dahl’s inventiveness. Realism is not the aim; instead, they are often exaggerated and eccentric. This makes it seem almost as if the characters have a willful life of their own.
The sheer variety of characters that Dahl gets under the skin of is impressive too, from impassioned lovers to staid solicitors. It feels as if the author had such fun writing them! This quality of sheer pleasure in its creation runs throughout the entire collection.
Personally, I mistrust all handsome men. The superficial pleasures of this life come too easily to them, and they seem to walk the world as though they themselves were personally responsible for their own good looks.
Read if: you fancy trying a dark, quirky and joyfully-written short story collection.
Cover image courtesy of Goodreads.
Have you read Skin and Other Stories? Which story was your favourite?
If not, do you have any other recommendations for short story collections I could try?
Please do let me know in the comments – I would love to hear from you!