on September 24, 2010
After just suffering through the collection "Nocturnal" which went from bad to terrible I starting questioning what makes a good short story. The minimum has to be plot, characters and good writing. But that can be more of a challenge in a shorter piece when the author doesn't have a lot of space to develop either character or plot. In this collection the writers demonstrate how it can and should be done. In each of these novellas the writer's skill is obvious. All four of the stories in this collection include an original plot, believable characters, under the control of a skilled writer.
What none of them have is a cliched, hackneyed storyline in which supernatural hunky lover meets plucky female, immediately takes her to bed for "amazing" sex, then together they defeat the bad evil thing and vow instant and eternal love. The End!
Instead each story is different and everyone of them is a treat. My personal favourite is "Magic Mourns" by Ilona Andrews whom I enjoy in everything she writes.
I was less impressed with "Angel's Judgement" by Nalini Singh, although she is also a great favourite of mine. Anyone who has read "Angel's Blood" will find this story worth reading because it gives the back story about two of the characters in that excellent book, Sara and Deacon. If you haven't read "Angel's Blood" or "Angel's Consort" don't let this piece put you off. Both novels are terrific. And the novella is okay, just not as good as the novels.
Charlaine Harris is on an interesting tangent with "The Britlingens Go to Hell." It can be a pleasure to see a well known writer going in a different direction and this piece stands up very well. I did not know Meljean Brook but I really liked "Blind Spot" and will be looking for more of her work.
No two stories in this book are alike and they are all imaginative and fun to read. And somehow they each managed to get at least one Hellhound into each story quite comfortably.
The Britlingens Go to Hell by Charlaine Harris
Batanya and Clovache are bodyguards in the service of the Britlingen Collective. The ladies have only recently completed their last assignment, yet are called in for a new mission. The pair's new client is named Crick. No matter how innocent the man pretends to be, Batanya and Clovache can tell he is hiding information. It is not until the contract is signed that the bodyguards learn where they are going. Crick is heading to Hell so he can steal Lucifer's conjuring ball. It is the only destination in which no one has ever returned from.
***** FIVE STARS! Exciting and intriguing. The Collective is worth having its very own series! *****
Angels' Judgment by Nalini Singh
The Cadre of Ten are the archangels who rule the world in all ways that matter. They meet when Simon, the human Guild Director of the American Chapter, decides he will retire within the next year. Simon informs them that he chooses Sara Haziz to be his successor. Once done, Simon calls in Deacon to be Sara's bodyguard without her knowledge. Why? Certain archangels may feel the urge to "test" her. Though the Guild hunts and retrieves Made vampires who break their Contracts, the hunters do their best not to kill them. However, very rarely, a hunter cracks and seems to go insane. Should that happen the one called "Slayer" hunts down the hunter and terminates him.
Sara knows almost instantly that Deacon is a babysitter, but is shocked to learn he is also "Slayer". The two are out to find a vampire serial killer. The evidence points to the killer being a hunter from the Guild. At the same time, Sara must keep her eyes out for a possible life-threatening test or two.
***** FIVE STARS! Even though I have not read any title in the "Guild Hunter" series, I was enthralled throughout this entire story. Outstanding! *****
Magic Mourns by Ilona Andrews
When someone has a magic problem in which the police could not handle, the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid get a call. Kate Daniels, of the Atlanta chapter, is on medical leave. Andrea Nash is filling in for her. When Andrea gets a call of a shapeshifter in distress, of course she responds. Andrea never expected to find Cerberus chasing Raphael. Raphael Medrano is a werehyena who pants after Andrea. (She has been avoiding him lately.) Raphael is searching for the one who stole the body of his mother's human mate, Alex Doulous. Turns out Cerberus is circling, sniffing around, a house filled with at least one vampire. And vampires are often controlled by a navigator, such as a necromancer. Andrea and Raphael have no idea how many vampires are in the house, but one thing is for sure; Doulous is inside.
**** FOUR STARS! This is one of the most unique stories I have read involving shapeshifters and vampires. Though I have never read a full-length novel by this husband and wife writing team, you can bet I soon will. ****
Blind Spot by Meljean Brook
Maggie Wren is a former CIA operative. Her previous employer had been a congressman. Maggie's last mission had been to assassinate her fellow operative, Trevor James. Learning that the congressman was a demon, literally, she quit. That was three years ago. Now Maggie's employer is a vampire. (Again, literally.) She is over the household management and personal security (a.k.a. the butler with a gun) for Colin Ames-Beaumont, billionaire owner of Ramsdell Pharmaceuticals.
Geoffrey Blake is the nephew of Maggie's boss. All who meet him believe he is blind. However, even though Geoff cannot see out of his own eyes, he can see out of the eyes of anyone near him. And no matter how far away his sister, Katherine, is Geoff can through her eyes. So when Katherine is kidnapped, Maggie and Geoff go hunting for her. Accompanying them is Sir Pup, a hellhound.
**** FOUR STARS! I have one glaring problem with this story. When Katherine is imprisoned in an RV, she tries to help Geoff know where she is by viewing car plates. Katherine notices the license plate on the car traveling BEHIND the RV has South Carolina plates. Problem is that South Carolina does NOT have front license plates, only rear. Otherwise, this story is great. It blends romance, mystery, and a bit of paranormal with a twist. ****
Reviewed by Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews.