You never quite know what you are going to get with an anthology. Strange Brew has nine stories involving witchcraft, potions, and the like that definitely doesn't disappoint. I was excited by the fact that I had heard of 7 out of the 9 authors and have read works by 5 of them. I had high hopes that, for once, weren't dashed. I liked EVERY single story in this anthology --- high marks for all the authors involved (mostly A's and perhaps one or two B/B+'s).
Briggs gives us a story of a witch, a werewolf, and the ties that bind: family & love. It may be set in the Mercy Thompson/Alpha & Omega universe, but this is the first time we've seen these characters up close. (I hope to see more of them.)
Harris also sets her story in her well-established Universe (Southern Vampire Chronicles) but using less established characters. Her story of revenge, Bacon, is made all the more delicious and satisfying if you're already familiar with the unlikely interspecies love story, Tacky, found in My Big Supernatural Wedding that precedes this one.
As far as I know, Caine's tale of love resurrected and Chance's action-packed account of espionage among the War Mage Corps are wholly original pieces. I could, of course, be wrong. Regardless, both stories were unique and hard to put down.
The rest of the authors give us stories within there respective series:
Butcher gives us a story involving Harry Dresden, tainted beer, and the Chicago Bulls. Elrod gives us a classic tale of double cross from her Jack Fleming/Vampire Files series.
Hunter's story introduces us to her new butt-kicking, vampire-slaying, heroine - Jane Yellowrock - whose very own book Skinwalker is available this month (7/09).
Kittredge gives us a story of a "glamour-ous" power play from her Nocturne City series that delivers my favorite line in the whole anthology. (I'll let you guess what it is!) And Maclaine's story left me wanting to read more of her Cin Craven series.
Whether new and original or borrowing from established settings or series, all the stories are easy to follow --- even if you are completely unfamiliar with the authors' works. Overall, this may be the best money I ever spent on an anthology. It delivers a fine sampling for anyone who is interested in reading some anecdotes in the realm of urban fantasy. Who knows, you may find some authors from whom you'd like to read more. I know I did.