Laurell K. Hamilton is a full-time writer and mother. Her bestselling Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter novels include Narcissus in Chains, Obsidian Butterfly, Blue Moon, Burnt Offerings, The Killing Dance, Bloody Bones, The Lunatic Café, Circus of the Damned, The Laughing Corpse, and Guilty Pleasures. She is also the author of A Kiss of Shadows and A Caress of Twilight. She lives in a suburb of St. Louis with her family. Marjorie M. Liu is an attorney who has lived and worked throughout Asia. She hails from both coasts, but currently resides in the Midwest, where she writes full-time. When not writing, she enjoys listening to music, painting, designing websites, and returning to old movie favorites, some of which involve light sabers, various applications of the Force, and small green men with pointy ears. She is also, occasionally, commandeered by poodles. Sharon Shinn is a journalist who works for a trade magazine. Her first novel, The Shapechanger's Wife, was selected by Locus as the best first fantasy novel of 1995. She has won the William C. Crawford Award for Outstanding New Fantasy Writer, and was twice nominated for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. A graduate of Northwestern University, she has lived in the Midwest most of her life.
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133 of 135 people found the following review helpful
3.5stars- Surprisingly tame, but most of the leading ladies make their own 'happily ever afters' - no fairy godmothers requiredOct. 27 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
From my own expectations, I am guessing that Never After is not at all what most readers are expecting from an anthology headlined by Laurell K Hamilton. In fact, though the mention of a couple topics here and there keeps these from being kiddy bedtime fairy tales, the four stories are pretty much G rated - a kiss is as racy as things get.
1) "Can he Bake a Cherry Pie" -Laurell K Hamilton - Our heroine would rather die than marry her intended, so she sets off on a `suicidal mission' to rescue a legendary prince - I haven't read much by Hamilton, but I suspect fans will think she's been kidnapped by aliens. Neither of Hamilton's normal heroines (Anita or Merry) are anywhere in sight and Hamilton's offering feels like the type of a classic fairy tale that you'd read to your daughters, because `I'm gonna rescue myself' is a much better lesson than `someday my prince will come'. (3.5 stars - 36 pages)
2) "Shadow of the Mist" - Yasmine Galenorn - The selkie heroine in Galenorn's tale gets a little help from the D'Artigo sisters (and Smokey) when a horrid prince from her past threatens the happily ever after which is at long last within her grasp - Readers who follow Galenorn's Sisters of the Moon series will likely enjoy this one but I just am not a fan - though I've tried - and I lost interest about mid-way through and ended up skimming the rest (2 stars - 105 pages)
3) "Tangleroot Palace" - Marjorie M Liu - A princess seeks an alternative to marriage with a barbarian warlord by journeying to a dangerous enchanted forest and hooks up with an intriguing troupe of traveling entertainers - This one was probably my favorite of the four, I liked the down to earth princess and the 'fearsome' warlord. (4 stars - 89 pages)
4) "The Wrong Bridegroom" - Sharon Shinn- A tie in a contest for a princess' hand results in two vastly different potential bridegrooms. Both have it all strength, bravery and brains, but who is really Mr. Right and who is Mr. Wrong? - I have never read anything from Shinn before, but I ended up liking the hero and the ending of the story a great deal and this story was really long enough to develop the supporting characters and to allow the princess to grow past her shallow beginnings. (4 stars - 150 pages)
If you've always wanted to see how well your favorite authors' writing holds up when there is no steamy stuff to pump up the volume, here's your chance. For me, expectations are pretty hard to overcome, so I didn't love Never After, but it was a pleasant enough read for a change of pace.
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3 out of 4 stories make this a worthwhile purchaseNov. 10 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
The focus of the stories in these anthologies all involve girls who are being forced to wed against their will. Laurell K Hamilton headlines the book, but unfortunately her story is both the shortest as well as the least enjoyable. The first story in the book, it ends at the 11% mark on a Kindle - and that includes all of the title pages before the story. The rest of the stories are actually quiet good and make the book a worthwhile purchase.
Laurell's story is more along the lines of a fable. To prevent her father from announcing her betrothal to a lecherous old man, Elinore declares that she's going to rescue Prince True, an arrogant prince taken captive decades ago by a sorceress. Challenges must be met to proceed to the next test to get close to freeing the prince and no one who has ever returned from the attempt. Elinore goes in expecting to die, preferring death to the marriage. The story isn't long enough to feel anything for this rather stiff character, but Elinore does make some rather smart, if unexpected decisions.
Yasmine Galnorn's story focuses on a Selkie who had run from a marriage 100 years ago and is now pregnant and with a man she loves when her former, very dangerous fiancé catches up with her. The story involves the D'Artigo sisters from the Sisters of the Moon series where we had earlier met this story's heroine.
Majorie M Liu provides the story of a princess who runs away looking for answers in a magical but dangerous forest a week before meeting with her intended, a fabled Warlord. The kingdom needs this man, the son of her mother's best friend, as their ally as roving bands cause havoc and destruction. She is rescued barely in the forest by a troupe of wandering performers and gets to be just Sally, keeping her identity a secret and falling for the leader of the group. This is the most emotional story in the book.
Sharon Shinn's story takes roughly 40% of the book. It involves a princess who refuses her father's demands to marry a neighbor who she's known all of her life but finds boring. So to find a suitor and marry her off, he holds a series of challenges involving fighting ability, courage and wisdom; the winner gets to marry the princess. Princess Olivia grows quite a bit in this story as she finds things aren't always as they appear.
27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Great bookNov. 13 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
Other reviewers have done a great job with recapping the stories so I'm just sharing my opinion about the book.
I enjoyed Hamilton's story a lot. It was short but it was a great story with a great theme. I do enjoy Hamilton's books and no, it doesn't fit in with her Anita Blake or Merry Gentry stories. This one is more along the line of Nightseer and the stories in Strange Candy. I hope she continues to come out with more of this flavor.
I really didn't care for Galenorn's story. I found it and its heroine tedious and the plot contrived and only finished because it wasn't long enough that I felt like I would waste too much of my time to see how it ended. It's my first story by her and I don't anticipate reading another.
I enjoyed Liu's story. She's a great writer. I've read several of her books and although I chose to stop reading them due to disliking her typical story arch, I quite enjoyed this one and the (slightly foreseeable) twist at the end.
Sharon Shinn's was probably my favorite story because of the character development of the heroine and how each of the other supporting characters and their stories are revealed with perfect timing to keep the story moving forward.
So definitely worth the price of the book and I'm sure I'll be reading it again.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
A refreshing change of pace!Nov. 23 2009
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I picked up this book with some trepidation; one, I don't care for most anthologies, and two, I was leery of more pornographic prose from Laurell K. Hamilton. I loved her debut novel, Nightseer, and can hardly believe that the Anita Blake and Merry Gentry series are from the same author. Well, Ms. Hamilton has done another radical departure with her short story, "Can He Bake a Cherry Pie". The story is a charming and winsome twist on a traditional fairy tale. Best of all, it features an admirable heroine with nary a sex scene in sight. I would not hesitate to read this story to my two young daughters.
I thought Yasmine Galenorn's story, "Shadow of the Mist" was the weakest, and it was also the "sexiest" story in that it mentions lovers and, there is a brief rape scene which is handled in a very circumspect manner. Like another reviewer, I lost interest in story fairly quickly; however, I think my interest would have been piqued if Ms. Galenorn had developed a more active role in the story for the heroine's love interest. By making the D'Artigo sisters (from her Sisters of the Moon series) such an integral part of this story, I felt like she was falling back on the series, rather than giving this short story its due.
Marjorie M. Liu's "Tangleroot Palace" was another story that I enjoyed. I have liked some of Ms. Liu's books, especially her early works, but she has lapsed into predictability of late. "Tangleroot Palace" reminds me that she can craft excellent characters and prose.
It took me a little while to warm up to Sharon Shinn's "The Wrong Bridegroom", mostly because my initial impression was that heroine was incredibly spoiled and, generally, unlikeable. However, as the story unfolded, there were depths revealed with the heroine and her hero, that made the journey worthwhile and satisfying.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Fairy Tales, not UF, by UF authors...Jan. 8 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
So I like fairy tales. A Lot. If I didn't, I wouldn't be as excited about "Never After" as I am. I thought this was an interesting, fun anthology. Some common themes appear to run throughout. The stories feature princesses who are running away from marriages to men they didn't pick. In most of the stories, their father, the King is a jerk. In most of the stories, the princesses run away. Yet all the tales are unique and engaging. The book was a fairly quick read and I am glad to have bought it.
"Can He Bake A Cherry Pie" by Laurell K Hamilton headlines the book, but her story is disappointingly short. The good news is that the story comes without the vaguest hint of sex. It also reminded me that Hamilton is an excellent writer. Unfortunately the story is so short, the reader is left wanting more. As it stands I don't believe its a story I will long remember. 3 stars.
"The Shadow of Mist" by Yasmin Galenorn was very good. The story takes place in her Sisters of the Moon series, which I really enjoy. Instead of being narrated by one of the three sisters its narrated by their Selkie friend Siobhan. This story was also on the short side, but it was fully developed and I didn't feel cheated. 4 stars.
"The Tangleroot Palace" by Marjorie M Liu was a wonderful story and probably my second favorite of the bunch. It was about a princess who didn't want to marry a wicked WarLord so she runs away to find her future in the Tangleroot forest. Her adventures during her journey and the madcap group of characters she met up with are the strongest charms of this story and her 'prince' ended up being my favorite of all the men we met in this anthology. The one thing that kept this story from being five star is that I didn't care for the big magical finale in the forest. I thought it wasn't well explained and it sort of didn't make sense. Its a credit to her characters and the story Liu drew that this didnt' bother me much more. 4 star.
"The Wrong Bridegroom" by Sharon Shinn Was the story I least looked forward to. The funny thing, as things often end up, this was my absolute favorite of the foursome. This was also the only story by an author that I had never read previously. (I've never read a novel by Liu, but I have read several short stories). This story was the meatiest of the group and was roughly 150 pages. This was truly a fully fleshed out story with characters that developed and grew along the way. It also had the best finale of the four stories and I was engaged and charmed by the tale. I find myself wanting to read more of these characters. 5 Star
This was a clean, delightful collection of tales and its a shame that the leasst magical one of the bunch was the headliner. I hope everyone who bought the book for Hamilton or Galenorn actually read to the end for the other two gems.