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Thompson's Story Keeps It From Being a Time-Waster
on July 11, 2004
An anthology with two of my favorite authors- Maggie Shayne and Sherrilyn Kenyon! How did things go so wrong?
The anthology kicks off to a less than grand start with Amanda Ashley's Darkfest. I know not to expect much from this author, but I have to wonder why she is writing for an adult market. Her writing style and premises are so girly that it's a wonder the pages aren't written in pink ink with glitter and sugar coming out the pages. The tall dark and dangerous daddy figures who fixate on unextraordinary lolita girls because they are so pure and good quite being a romantic fantasy for me when I was 12. What's worse is that Ashley seems totally unaware of the nasty pedophile overtones that permeate 90% of her books. Darkfest just adds to that with some nasty beastiality undertones.
Okay, Darkfest is a sorcerer dude who lives up on a mountain. He can turn into a wolf. He befriends Channa-Leigh, a blind girl from the village, as a wolf. Channa Leigh is Pure, Pure, Pure. Can't remember if she's blonde. But she's gonna get married! So Darkfest makes her come live in his creepy castle because he loves her so. Channa can see when she touches his wolf form. Darkfest wants Channa to rub his tummy.
Darkfest is basically a lonely, losery geek who lives in his dad's basement and obsesses over the most popular babe in school. He was a male virigin until he lost his virginity to a female wolf. Color me grossed out. It's a shame that while Ashley's writing style continues to evolve and become smoother, her ploting and characterization is still stuck in the 3rd grade.
Next comes Sherrilyn Kenyon's first story about the Dream Hunters, a spin-off of the popular Dark Hunter series. What happened? I'll tell you what. Kenyon has created a complex mythology for the dream hunters, but she does little with it. Instead she tries to cram in all the sex she would put in a full length novel and chops out everything else out of the plot but the bare basics. Okay, so make the story an full-out sexual romp, but don't try to give Erin, the female lead, issues about how fat she is next to the hot-studdly V'aiden.
Next comes Maggie Shayne's comtemporary witch-yarn. The problem with this story is that Maggie is using it as a soap box for an axe she has to grind about the stereotyping of Wiccans. Anthology pieces tend to be too short as it is, so focus on plot and characters. Bring the heavy hitting issues up in full length novels. Anyway, the hero is producer of some cheesy TV show about magic wielding witches that will probably appear on the Sci-fi channel. The heroine is a white witch that wants the show to provide an accurate picture of Wiccans. Hero is flippant and dismissive, Heroine tries to set him straight, Hero stupidly fools around with dark powers, Hero and Heroine have sex, Heroine saves Hero from evil forces, Hero sees the true path.
Oh, Rhonda Thompson I could kiss you. I almost thought about skipping this one because Kenyon and Shayne bombed so badly. This a historical werewolf tale that is sort of like Susan Krinard's best work. It's a marvelous tale that is forcing me to keep this wreck of an anthology instead of tossing it out. It starts out a bit shakily with Elise hiddening in the circus to escape nasty relative and wandering into the bed of Sterling, the Beast Tamer. It just improves so much as it goes along. My emotions were in engaged. I understood were Sterling and Elise were coming from, and Thompson even found time to flesh out the secondary characters. It's a shame that this story didn't come by itself. Next to Thompson's story, the other three uninspired novellas look like garbage.