I read this when I was staying with my aunt in a very small town in Alabama (Anniston). She was recovering from a serious illness, and needed some helI read this when I was staying with my aunt in a very small town in Alabama (Anniston). She was recovering from a serious illness, and needed some help. It is a book that I had very little trouble reading from cover to cover. All the stories were well-written and helped to while away the time in a very small town. I have to say that I found most of them on the depressing side (hence the four and 1/2 instead of five stars). I would like to see more books about the African American experience that are on the positive end. Yes, history has not been kind to us overall, but fiction should be about celebration, as well as mourning and reflecting on the trials of life.
I really enjoyed this anthology, although it took me a while to read through. I can honestly say that every story was unique. There was a slight leanI really enjoyed this anthology, although it took me a while to read through. I can honestly say that every story was unique. There was a slight lean towards higher fantasy and/or historical fantasy that was interesting, as I was expecting a modern occult detective slant. But that is just my presupposition of this volume.
My favorite story in this collection, hands down, was 'Dopplegangsters' by Laura Resnick. I thought it was very clever. Made men aka mafiosos are being preyed upon by a supernatural presence that is pretending to be each one of them, right at the moment of their death while they are physically elsewhere, in other words a dopplegangster. I have never felt sorry for mafia types, but I almost did in this story. Apparently Ms. Resnick is releasing a novel-length version of this story soon. Sign me up.
I was a little disappointed in one story which had a decided judgmental cast about a famous murder case about ten or more years ago. I know it's fiction and an author is free to follow her creative urges, but in this country people are innocent until proven guilty (although it doesn't seem like it sometimes), even if you don't like the verdict. One of my big pet peeves is being preached to or heavy-handedly being morally led by a story, and that tale definitely was guilty of this. Too bad. I enjoyed it very much until I realized what case the author was writing about. Not impressed at all with that.
Otherwise I loved the stories in this collection. There's a little bit of everything. In fact, I think the authors were impressive in their creativity and their storytelling. It's more along the lines of paranormal mystery, so don't look for too many mythical beasties in this one. The good news is I made some notes on authors I want to read such as the prolific Mercedes Lackey, who I had not read up until this point.
If you like fantasy involving magic mixed with crime-solving and murder mysteries, you should read this one. Also it has a fantastic little afterward discussing the evolution of occult detective novels. I furiously wrote down every book and story discussed to add to my to read list....more
I finished this book in about 24 hours. It is a collection of stories about faeries, and not in the cute, innocent sense. These faeries may be warriorI finished this book in about 24 hours. It is a collection of stories about faeries, and not in the cute, innocent sense. These faeries may be warriors, murderous, punk rock, Old West gunslingers, Noir detectives, bikers, you name it.
Some of the stories send a shiver down your spine, like Sally Smiles and some make you laugh so hard you can't breathe.
My favorites are the noir detective stories because I love detective stories with a twist. That's why occult and supernatural detective stories always catch my interest. As most noir stories are told first person, it is quite interesting to see the world from the viewpoint of an 8 inch faery.
The story with the faery gunslinger was probably the most unusual. He carried a seven shooter wand, and rode a cardinal. How cool is that?
Probably the weirdest story was Sally Smiles, in which the faeries were the residual energies of a demon killed and hacked into bits on the land where the heroine grew up. The faeries took on the likeness of Sally Smiles, a Barbiesque doll that the heroine collected as a child. They viewed the heroine as a diety and were violently jealous of her. Of course, this created problems when she brought home her new beau. I won't even tell you about the story of a half-ogre/half-faery who is on the hunt for a woman who has a carnivorous rear end. You have to read that for yourself!
There is even a story about a Native American kind of faery that goes on the rampage when some kids accidently steal a treasured relic belonging to them.
Some of the stories left behind a tinge of melancholy, such as Elaine Corvidae's offering about Pook. He is half-Fae and not very happy about it. As I adore tortured heroes, I definitely had to find his stories to read.
I have been sucked into Faerylore anew as a grown up, and this book only made it worse. In fact, I had to go to Amazon.com and try to find books by some of the authors.
In short, if you love Faeries, you have to check out this volume. It is well worth any money or time spent on it. ...more
This was a good book of ghost stories. As the blurb on the back says, no two are alike. They take the reader in different directions. I like this anthThis was a good book of ghost stories. As the blurb on the back says, no two are alike. They take the reader in different directions. I like this anthology because it shows how versatile the the ghost story is. And what defines a ghost is in the eye of the beholder, and the storyteller. None of these stories would keep me up at night, but there is a lingering unease as I remember reading some of them. Various settings are used, and the imagination of the writers seems limitless to me. Read these stories if you want a fresh, different look at ghosts. I definitely think this volume has ghost stories for the millenium. Probably the most unique and arresting stories is by Lucius Shepherd. I cannot even begin to describe his story. It was like Bangsian (fantasy taking place after death) meets The Usual Suspects meets The Last Seduction. I will definitely try to read more by this author....more
I found this volume to be very good reading. Pretty much all of these stories were thrilling, and some were extremely scary, necessitating a brief breI found this volume to be very good reading. Pretty much all of these stories were thrilling, and some were extremely scary, necessitating a brief break before I could continue reading. Some were more sad than anything, with spirits who had no where left to go, so they lingered on the earthly plane in a limbo. It took several months to finish reading this book, but this is the kind of book you read in sessions anyway. Definitely makes me glad that I live in a brand new house. One of my favorites was "The Whistling Room" by William Hope Hodgson. Highly recommended, although I strongly object to Stephen King's story "The Boogeyman" being considered as a haunting short story. That was a straight up monster. That story disturbed rather than scared me. The Gaston Leroux story "Letters of Fire" was very creepy, indeed. ...more
It was interesting how diverse this particular genre could be, and all in one book. There were stories that were sad, funny, literary, and downright It was interesting how diverse this particular genre could be, and all in one book. There were stories that were sad, funny, literary, and downright chilling. Probably the most terrifying story was “The Judge House” written by Bram Stoker, best known for the story Dracula, which spawned a whole genre by itself. There were actually moments in the same story where I laughed almost in the same breath as shuddering from the chill running down my spine. This is likely due to my joy at being scared by a good story. It is a sort of masochistic impulse, that desire to see how badly a story can scare me. I like stories that genuinely inspire fear in me. But it is equally entertaining to take the journey with the writer and to see exactly how they plot and plan their frights. Like “The Judge House”, Jerome K. Jerome definitely achieved that purpose with “A Ghost Story”. “Dickon The Devil” by the writer of the seminal tale “Camilla”, Sheridan LeFanu, inspires a chill touched by a sense of the strange and arcane. Along with the protagonist, we exit the tale feeling a sense of relief that we barely missed being a victim of the evil, ghostly presence haunting that small English village. “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs is more than just a ghost story. It is a tale of horror where the reader is spared full knowledge of that fearful yet unknown threat. And perhaps the “what ifs” are even more terrifying. I found “The Moonlit Road” by Ambrose Bierce, a literary offering that is sad as opposed to frightening. Although it is a ghost story, it is first and foremost in my opinion a story about regret and loneliness. It is about the limitless repercussions of a thoughtless act of violence and it is particularly effective at showing the soul-deep despair that the survivors of that act feel. The ghostly victim is no less spared this desolation. The last story, “The Confession of Charles Linkworth” was both vividly disarming and poignant. This story deals with a lost soul who missed out on an opportunity in life to confess and find absolution before he is executed for murder. He is bound to this earthly realm until he is able to do so. Driven to complete this act, he reaches out to a doctor who volunteers in the prison and who is ‘sensitive’ to paranormal phenomena. This story illustrates the ability of a genre story to drive home the universal emotional core of humanity and the needs inherent as a human being. Charles Dickens’ “To Be Taken with a Grain of Salt” also touches on an intrinsic human need, justice. In this case, the ghost is the one in search of justice. And this ghost, the murder victim, is committed to haunting the jury foreman, the prosecutor, the judge, and various people in the courtroom until he achieves his goal. This work was interesting and subtle, but the end message struck me deeply. As far as humor, probably E.G. Swain’s “Bone to His Bone” tickled me the most, proving that even the heavy subject of a haunting can cause the reader to laugh. Perhaps it was the perplexity of the protagonist in dealing with this spectral presence who shares his house and love of books that provided the most comic relief. Yet along with that laugh came the unsettling knowledge that a force beyond the grave was at work. While rather short, this collection of ghost stories definitely encompassed a variety of unique approaches to the delicate art of the scare. And they left me with a chill, a smile, and some thoughts to ponder. ...more
This was a great anthology. I enjoyed each story, and I breezed right through it.
My thoughts of each story:
Spellbound by LA Banks. This was a fun stoThis was a great anthology. I enjoyed each story, and I breezed right through it.
My thoughts of each story:
Spellbound by LA Banks. This was a fun story about two star-crossed lovers who happen to be part of voodoo/root-practitioner families who hate each other. The Hatfields versus the McCoys, except they are Black. I laughed a lot, and some of the characters reminded me of some family members on both sides (minus the voodoo-practicing part). Both the hero and the heroine were virgins. This is probably my favorite story by Banks now, although I do love her other short stories that I've read. Five stars.
Something Borrowed by Jim Butcher. I just love Harry Dresden. In this story, he is helping his friend Billy the Werewolf get married. Too bad a miffed faerie stole his bride and decided to take her place. But Harry is on the case, with a little help from Detective Murphy. Five stars.
Dead Man's Chest by Rachel Caine. What a pleasant surprise. A bride gets talked into getting married on a pirate ship by her fiance. It turns out the pirates are all dead and under a curse. And her fiance had some nefarious motives. But, true love conquers all. Between the erstwhile bride and the pirate captain. Great fun. It helped that Captain Lockhart reminded me of an Anne Stuart hero. I'm so easy that way. Five stars.
All Shook Up by PN Elrod. This was an interesting story. I think Elvis fans would really love it. There is a wedding singer who has an uncannily perfect imitation of Elvis going on, and an ability to help the wedding couple along their course of true love. An ability shared by the caterer, who is the main protagonist. I'm not a big Elvis fan (although I like a lot of his songs), so it was weird how the hero was sort of possessed by the spirit of Elvis, but I still enjoyed it. Four Stars.
The Wedding of Wylda Serene by Esther M. Friesner. This story made me laugh. I enjoyed the whimsical feel, and the slyly ironic narration. A bastion of upper class entitlement is plagued by mythical creatures, in time to 'spoil' a sweet, young debutante's wedding. This is a must-read for Greek mythology enthusiasts. Four and 1/2 stars.
Charmed by the Moon by Lori Handeland. I haven't read any of the books in her Nightcreature series, and this is a follow-up story about Jessie and Will from Blue Moon. They are getting married, but Jessie is having cold feet, not sure if their feelings are true for each other. They go on a spirit journey to find that out when they find a love charm in Will's ceremonial wedding gear. I really liked this story. The magic and the mysticism hit the right note with me. It has a bittersweet feel as their HEA is not my ideal, but I can understand the choice they made for the dangerous world they live in. Four and 1/2 stars.
Tacky by Charlaine Harris. When I read Ms. Harris' stories, I usually teeter on the edge of sincere admiration for her imagination, amusement, and a bit of cheesy overload, all at the same time. I sort of like the goofy approach she has to the paranormal world, but sometimes it feels too goofy. I like the way she pokes fun at Southerners in a goodnatured way. I must say this was an unusual wedding, with the bride being a vampire, and the groom being a werewolf, and human fundamentalist assassins attacking the wedding party. For some reason, the main protagonist, Dahlia, kept making me think of Pam from the TrueBlood show, although she's hetero. Four stars.
A Hard Day's Night-Searcher by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Yay. A Black Dark-Hunter paired with a Black female Squire. Thank you, Ms. Kenyon. This is about Rafael Santiago, who was a pirate in his mortal life, and OCD Squire Celena, who's afraid to lose yet another Dark-Hunter to the ongoing battle with the Daimons. They end up crashing an Apollite wedding teeming with Daimons. This was a really good story, but it felt way too short to me. Sort of an abbreviated version of a full-length Dark-Hunter novel. Everything was resolved, but I felt like I wanted more. Four stars.
"...Or Forever Hold Your Peace" by Susan Krinard. I liked the Victorian paranormal feel of this story. This is a paranormal mystery in which Olivia and Kit, a crime-solving duo, work to find a bride who was kidnapped from her wedding, using their Talents. This is an alternate England called Albion, where most people have some sort of magical Talent. Olivia can see inside a person's body to see their anatomy, and Kit can change into a large Black Dog. It was fun and had the pulp fiction, neo-Victorian vibe I love. I felt the tone could have been a little more vibrant for maximum enjoyment, but I'd love to read more of Kit and Olivia's adventures. Four stars.
I really want to give this collection five stars, mainly based on the first three stories and the overall appealing vibe it holds, despite the preponderance of stories not reaching five stars. So I will. Recommended to fans of humorous paranormal/supernatural fiction, be it urban fantasy or paranormal, with a little gaslit Victorian mystery thrown in....more
I love reading anthologies, so I never really got why a lot of romance readers don't care much for anthologies. Well, I tend to read fantasy and horroI love reading anthologies, so I never really got why a lot of romance readers don't care much for anthologies. Well, I tend to read fantasy and horror anthologies for the most part. This is probably one of the first bigger romance ones I've read. I get it now! It gets pretty dull to read sex scene after sex scene. The only thing that broke the monotony were the paranormal elements, and seeing how each author created a story out of that starting point. Some authors did a better job than others of engaging me. Overall, I would say I'm leaning towards being mildly disappointed with this anthology, but it's really for the reasons of what appeals to me. I love romance. I love the tension and the emotion of seeing a couple meet, fall in love, and decide they want to spend their lives together. It's kind of hard to do that in a very short story, especially the ones that are supposed to be very steamy. I either ended up feeling like the couples had some hot chemistry, but not really buying the true love, or wanting more because things ended too quickly. In general, the stories that leaned towards urban fantasy made more of an impression on me, because the focus was on the plot and the worldbuilding.
I'll give a basic recap of my feelings on the stories.
"Music Hath Charms" by Tanya Huff. Quite interesting. Not a romance. More of a sexy urban fantasy story. I wanted a different ending than the one I got, but I'd give it four stars because she used the Greek sirens myth to such good effect.
"Minotaur in Stone" by Marjorie Liu. I absolutely loved this story. It shows the potential of a well-done paranormal romantic short story. All the mythic aspects, the longing, the feeling of a couple falling for each other and striving for their happy ending. It was unique and really took a different spin on the Greek minotaur myth. What a joy to read. Five stars.
"Demon Lover" by Cheyenne McCray. I have mixed feelings about this story. I thought the use of incubus lore was well done. The language was too raunchy for me and it was too focused on the sex acts. However, I have to admit this was a romantic story at its heart. The theme of self-sacrifice moved me. More than anything, I don't go for this kind of steam level, I think. Readers who like more erotic fare would enjoy this one more than I did. 4 stars.
"Equinox" by LA Banks. I've found I tend to enjoy LA Banks' short stories very much. But, I think this is my least favorite. It didn't quite come together very well. I couldn't tell if she was going for a humorous tone or not. I liked the concept, Artemis coming to the modern world with her nymphs to punish those who destroyed the environment. She drew in the story of Artemis and Acteon, the human she changed into a stag for watching her bathe naked, and shot full of arrows as punishment. In this case, she changed executives of companies that were raping the environment into stags. It was a very good idea. I liked the hero, who was a special forces guy. It was great seeing black characters in this setting. Who said Artemis couldn't be Black? Kudos for that. This story had a lot going for it, but it just felt a little unpolished and hurried in the execution. All and all, I'd say this was a four star story.
"Ride a Dark Horse" by Susan Krinard. Being horse-mad, I did appreciate that aspect of this story. However, it felt kind of ho-hum, like a hundred other paranormal romances. The ending was a bit rushed as well. Three stars.
"To Die For" by Keri Arthur. I could see readers loving this story. I liked the horrific/dark fantasy elements. I didn't think it was romantic. It was more of a "we're hot for each other and have been for a while, so let's see where this is going" kind of execution. I don't like the whole HFN thing, so that left me cold. Plus the love scenes seemed disruptive in the sense that they were in the middle of finding their boss's missing nephew and hunting a very scary, evil killer. The sex interludes seemed unwise and disruptive. Ms. Arthur is a good writer, and it was a pretty scary story, so I'd give it a four stars on those terms, even though it failed as a romance for me.
"Curse of the Dragon's Tears" by Heidi Betts really left me with a blah feeling. I think her writing doesn't work for me. It was very standard paranormal romance story with cursed hero and heroine determined to save him with her love/lust. Let's have lots of hot sex and maybe we can figure out how to reverse the curse. It didn't do much for me. 3 stars.
"Brother's Keeper" by Lilith Saintcrow. This is my first story by this author, and I like her imagination. This story had very hot chemistry, and it was dark and kind of disturbing. The only thing that made the execution flawed was the internal monologue of the heroine. Selene would talk to herself in her head, and because it was 3rd person, it just seemed intrusive. I really think this should have been a 1st person story. I loved Nikolai. He was yummy! I'd like to read more of these characters. 4 stars.
"(Like a) Virgin of the Spring" by Susan Sizemore and Denise Little. Great premise muddied down by too much sex. Pretty cool how they worked time travelers into the King Arthur lore. I think if there was less sex and more story, this would have been close to five stars. As it was, more of a 3.5 star story.
"Life is the Teacher" by Carrie Vaughn. This woman can write. She took the paranormal premise and created a literary feel to this story that sucked me in. Emma's a fledgling vampire who is going on her first hunt. You feel all her sadness, the impasse she faces as she confronts her old life, where she doesn't belong anymore, and embarking on a new life as a creature of the night. It was poignant and also evocative. The sensuality was well-incorporated and fit the mood of this story about Emma's awakening to her life as a vampire. 4.5 stars.
"Moonlight Becomes You" by Linda Winstead Jones. This story had a humorous element, as a young woman investigates her neighbor, who she believes to be a vampire. It helps that he's sexy, and seems interested in her. I liked the twist in this story. 4 stars.
"Dirty Magic" by Kim Harrison was a beautiful, yet disturbing story. Mia the Banshee deals with her forbidden love for a young musician. His love is an irresistible lure to a creature who is drawn to and who feeds off the emotions of humans. I didn't really like the way this ended, but it was superbly-written. 4 stars.
I was tired after finishing this volume. I definitely needed a break from the paranormal sex motif. As I do with most anthologies, this would have worked better if I read it on and off. But, reading the stories back to back made some of the lesser-involving ones a chore to read.
Overall rating: 4 stars. Nothing truly bad, just some that didn't work for me. Marjorie Liu's story definitely was the shining star in this collection.