The problem I have with anthologies is that the quality of the stories varies greatly, as far as I’ve read. Thus, I am not a big fan. Indeed, the authors in this collection are varied: some of them you know well from various paranormal novels, while others are dipping into the supernatural for the first time (they’re primarily mystery writers, on the cosy side, I think). Instead of judging the collection as a whole, let’s look at the stories individually:
Charlaine Harris, Dracula Night: The problem I’ve found with the Sookie Stackhouse novels is that some great ideas are buried within a fluffy package. The same goes for this story: there’s mention in the narrative of vampires immigrating to places (like the US) where they’re more welcome in society. This is interesting stuff, but the author doesn’t focus enough on it. This is a great opportunity for social commentary and writing something that will really make readers think, but alas, Ms Harris just didn’t shed enough light on it. Then there’s the quote on p4: “It was just like Anne Rice meeting Louis.” Okay, so now characters in novels are real people, and not just figments of the authors’ imaginations? Maybe that theory works for other people, but not for me. And then there was this on p18: “She had a heavy accent, I thought Russian. I was about tired of the new wave of vamps.” I’m not sure if that’s racism or bigotry, but either way I don’t like it. I’ve never really connected with Sookie Stackhouse, and her xenophobia is an example why. Put simply, the story itself isn’t bad, but I can’t stand xenophobia in characters. And Sookie’s meant to be a protag? Not in my eyes: she’s a bitch.
Christopher Golden, The Mournful Cry of Owls: So who were the vampires: the owls?
Bill Crider, I Was a Teenage Vampire: Was good until the author revealed his vampires to be vampire bats.
Kelley Armstrong, Twilight: Cassandra DuCharme isn’t emo, but she is clearly depressed. Interesting that she doesn’t recycle newspapers, but by making her annual kill renews her life for another year. Contradictory or hypocritical?
Jim Butcher, It’s My Birthday, Too: In the words of Lurr, Ruler of the Planet Omicron Persei VIII: “Okay; not great.”
P. N. Elrod, Grave-Robbed: Meh.
Rachel Caine, The First Day of the Rest of Your Life: Pretty good story. And I liked Eve. Except for her fashion and makeup. And she was vain about her boobs. Seriously, girl: get over yourself.
Jeanne C. Stein, The Witch and the Wicked: What if you could do more than just stop aging – what if you could reverse it? Witch, caterer and wannabe-cosmetologist Sophie is eighty years old, but she looks like forty…until she comes across the ashes of a vampire and gets an idea for a night cream. I’m not usually one for cosies, but I liked this one.
Tanya Huff, Blood Wrapped: I really wish Henry wasn’t so emo. Tony, you deserve better than that mopey vampire.
Carolyn Haines, The Wish: Emo.
Tate Hallaway, Fire and Ice and Linguini for Two: Finally, someone who’s less intelligent than I: Garnet. I dress appropriate for the weather – she doesn’t. It’s freaking snowing, and she doesn’t dress for warmth. I may not have ever experienced snow, but I do have basic smarts.
Elaine Viets, Vampire Hours: You can so tell she writes chick-lit for the forty-something generation.
Toni L. P. Kelner, How Stella Got Her Grave Back: Puns are lame in titles – this one no exception.
Of course everyone’s opinion varies, but I’d suggest waiting until a paperback is released before purchasing; I don’t think this is worth a hardcover price. If there was a way to purchase the stories individually, that would be brilliant: so you’d only buy what you want to read. I hope the eBook department at Penguin makes use of that idea. The best stories were written by Kelley Armstrong, Rachel Caine and Jeanne C. Stein, and I hope you can read them someday.