I picked up this anthology of short stories for some “lighter” reading after having concentrated on a number of 500 page plus novels recently. I appreciate the theme the collection contained; i.e. supernatural “monsters” that are not evil, or necessarily seeking to do bad things, but only trying to live their lives.
While the anthology had an impressive list of contributing authors that have won awards and sold numerous books, the stories themselves felt like a mixed bag to me. Some I really liked and enjoyed; others not so much.
While all the stories were very well written, some appealed to me more than others. As a writer myself, I understand the challenge in developing characters into living, breathing entities for a reader’s imagination in only a limited number of pages, as well as creating an entire plot from introduction to climax.
One of the better stories in my opinion is by one of the editors, Jim Butcher, called “Cold Case,” and is a story from late in the Dresden Files series featuring a pair of the minor characters, Molly and Warden Ramirez, who rarely get much individual attention on the page. Unfortunately, I had already read this particular short story in a different collection of Butcher’s, but it is a very good one and I didn’t mind reading it again.
Among the remaining stories are several that are humorous, including one by Seanan McGuire called “Sleepover” that includes a very different viewpoint of a succubus trying to live an ordinary life, which is interrupted by a group of human nerds who kidnap her in an attempt to force her to help rescue one’s kid sister from a bogeyman.
One of my other favorites from the anthology is Kevin J. Anderson’s “Eye of Newt” which features one of his series regulars, named Dan Shamble, who is a zombie and a private investigator. Dan has to help his client, a talking newt, recover a stolen eye from an improbable group of suspects.
The remainder of the stories included contained a number of unlikely heros/monsters ranging from a woman who carries the soul of her dead twin sister to a huntress who has been raised from the dead to lead another member of her organization out of literal hell.
For readers who enjoy a plethora of paranormal characters, or who are looking to sample fare from their old or new favorite author, this collection offers a number of possibilities in a book that can be read one short story at a time, or collectively in a few short hours. I give it three stars, and recommend it to any fan of the paranormal genre-romance, detective or urban fantasy.