Strange Brew Paperback – Jul 7 2009
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“These tales will easily keep paranormal mystery fans entertained.” ―Publishers Weekly
“This uniformly excellent anthology starts off strong and proceeds to weave in plenty of action and dark magic.... There's something here for every supernatural taste.” ―Romantic Times
“Readers will pick this one up for the popular authors and be pleasantly surprised by the tyros. Highly recommended.” ―Library Journal
About the Author
P.N. Elrod is the editor of Dark and Stormy Knights, Strange Brew, My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon and My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding, which won the 2006 Pearl Award for best anthology. She is the author of many novels, including the Vampire Files Series, as well as numerous short stories. In 2010, she was nominated for a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for urban fantasy, and she is the winner of the Pioneer Achievement Award. Elrod loves meeting readers at science-fiction conventions all over the country. She has two dogs―Sasha and Megan―and an incurable addiction to chocolate. She lives somewhere on another planet, but maintains a convenient citizenship in the state of Texas for tax purposes.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
It starts off strong with a pair of stories by urban fantasy heavyweights Patricia Briggs and Jim Butcher, who typically set their stories in their popular imaginary worlds. "Seeing Eye" introduces us to embittered witch Moira Kelly, who is asked by a werewolf to help rescue his brother from the brutal pseudo-coven Samhain. Unfortunately, she has some nasty history with the evil leader Kouros, and a budding connection to her new werewolf client.
And "Last Call" has Harry Dresden discovering that a mass berserker brawl broke out at Mac's... and Mac's home-brewed beer may be at fault. The spell is a pretty intricate and delicate one, which could only be done by a major player in magic -- leading Harry and Murphy on an elaborate hunt for the person who bespelled the beer. Did someone want Mac's out of business, or is something even weirder -- and more ancient and inhuman -- going on?
Some other good stories: Rachel Caine's resurrecting witch Holly takes on a tragic personal case for the police, only to discover a horrendous scheme using zombies. Karen Chance's "war witch" trainer Lia suddenly finds herself being attacked by a sorcerous assassin with a very long-term grudge. Faith Hunter's magical mommy Molly helps out her husband with a horrendous vampire crime, and must team up with were buddy Faith Yellowrock to stop them.Read more ›
Anyway, it turns out they were in a short story by Patricia Briggs, and Harry Dresden's apprentice is safe, whew...
This collection features stories by Jim Butcher and Charlaine Harris, two of my favorites. Karen Chance, Jenna MacLaine and Rachel Caine are also worth reading IMO. I haven't tried the others yet, but the book was well worth the price already as far as I'm concerned.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This anthology contains nine paranormal short stories. The following is a brief description of each story.
1. Seeing Eye by Patricia Briggs - A blind witch decides to help a man, a werewolf, find his brother who is an undercover cop and has disappeared while on a case.
2. Last Call by Jim Butcher - Harry Dresden walks into his favorite bar for a beer and a sandwich and finds chaos instead. What is wrong with the beer being brewed by the bar owner?
3. Death Warmed Over by Rachel Caine - Holly is a resurrectionist witch. The last time she brought Andrew Toland back from the dead she fell in love with him. Now the police need his special help to solve another case but how can Holly stand the pain when Andrew has to die this time?
4. Vegas Odds by Karen Chance - Accalia (Lia) trains recruits at the War Mage Corps. Imagine her surprise when she realizes it is her own students who are trying to kill her.
5. Hecate's Golden Eye by P. N. Elrod - Chicago 1937 - Charles Escott and his undead colleague Jack Fleming are hired to help the rightful owner steal back her pendant. The history of the jewel says that any man who touches the Golden Eye dies. Luckily for Jack, he's already dead.
6. Bacon by Charlaine Harris - Dahlia Lynley-Chivers is a vampire who is now a widow because her werewolf husband was defeated in a challenge fight for pack position. She hires a witch to help her find out what was done to her husband to make him vulnerable and weak during the fight.
7. Signatures of the Dead by Faith Hunter - Spruce Pine, North Carolina, is being targeted by a band of rogue vampires. Earth witch Molly Trueblood and her friend shapeshifter Jane Yellowrock must find the vampire lair or the killings will continue.
8. Ginger by Caitlin Kittredge - Sunny Swann and her cousin Luna grew up in Nocturne City. Sunny is a witch without much confidence in her powers totally unlike her werewolf cousin. Then why would someone want to kidnap Sunny?
9. Dark Sins by Jenna Maclaine - Venice 1818 - Cin, Michael, Devlin and Justine (The Righteous-judge, jury, and executioners in the world of vampires) are in the city for pleasure, not business. When they are all four kidnapped by a wizard and his coven Cin is forced to chose between the lives of her lover and friends or dark, evil magic.
I definitely enjoyed reading this marvelous anthology. It gave me exactly what I want from a collection of short stories such as these. There are many stories which feature characters already made well known by these authors. Particular favorites of mine are the stories by Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, Rachel Caine, P. N. Elrod and Faith Hunter. I have not read novels by many of these authors and this anthology has given me a chance to sample their works and make the decision of whether or not to go seek out and read their full length books.
*****Aug. 31, 2009***** Two of my favorite characters in this anthology are Moira (the blind witch) and Tom (the werewolf) in the Patricia Briggs story "Seeing Eye". Those two characters play a substantial role in the new Briggs book Hunting Ground (Alpha & Omega, Book 2). It was wonderful to meet up with them again.
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.
Seeing Eye by Patricia Briggs
Returning to the same world as her Mercy Thompson and Alpha & Omega series, werewolves and witches are real and dominant Tom needs a witches help to get his human brother back after he's taken by a coven. Deformed and odd white witch Moira is the only one willing and capable to help. I read this story and was so pleased to find these characters cropping back up in the newest Alpha & Omega book!
Last Call by Jim Butcher
I'm never a big reader of the Dresden files but Butchers shorts still always amuse me! Of course this one provides a good mystery when the patrons of Harry Dresden's favorite watering hole go crazy and he and love interest Murphy need to track the villain down in time. Even if Harry's tempted to take a more delightful offer...
Death Warmed Over By Rachel Caine
This was possibly the most memorable story of the book! I was bawling be for the end of it! Holly is a resurrection witch paid and bullied by the police to bring back a legendary dead man and former witch whom she's brought back previously and secretly loves. When Holly ends up in a killers twisted sight, Andrew will do anything to protect her, even die all over again for love.
Vegas Odds by Karen Chance
Diving into the worlds of her Cassie Palmer & Dorina Basarab series's we find a sleepy mage trainer under attack during a time of war and traitors. Despite injury and betrayal she'll hunt down the one responsible for her pain despite the werewolf boyfriend who loves her and just wants her to be safe. Action packed!
Hecate's Golden Eye by P.N. Elrod
I have previously not liked this authors work but this story about a gumshoe vampire in the 1930's and his private eye pal trying to get a mystical necklace back for a client was very edge of the seat stuff and visually rich.
Bacon by Charlaine Harris
Into a different area of the Southern Vampire Series world where a lady vampire is set on getting revenge for her werewolf husband who was killed by a competing pack with help from a witch known as the Circe. Kind of a modern day Grimm's fairytale, slightly disturbing but fun!
Signatures of the Dead by Faith Hunter
A creepy tale of vampires preying on the defenseless in a small town and the witch, the human, and the bounty hunter with a splash of Other who go to stop them. Don't read this one after dark! Eeeekk! Now I have to read the Jane Yellowrock series that just started, she's an intriguing character.
Ginger by Caitlin Kittredge
Enter Nocturne City, and it's own series, where police detective Luna Wilder is tying up the ends to a big case when her mild mannered cousin, Sunny Swann, saves the day and countless lives with her curiosity and witchcraft. In her world not everyone is what they seem...
Dark Sins by Jenna Maclaine
Part of the Sin Craven series, the vampire witch Sin, her friends and her lover all get nabbed by a coven of dark witches led by a vengeful man eager to force Sin to become part of his evil plotting and magic. Desperate for their freedom, Sins prayers are answered, just not in the way she expected.
Jim Butcher's story continues his popular Dresden Files Series. In Last Call, which occurs chronologically between Small Favor, book 10 and Turn Coat, book 11, wizard Harry Dresden is on the hunt for the mastermind behind some bewitched beer. I've only read the first book in Butcher's Dresden Files, and despite the gap in my Harry knowledge, this was an easy story to slip into and I never felt disoriented like I had missed a lot in the interim. Harry and Murphy play off each other in just the way I remembered. Harry was, if anything, more enjoyable for me. He is a perfect anti-hero with his sarcasm and humorous non-alpha acts of self-preservation. I'm seriously going to have to pick up Full Moon after thoroughly enjoying this funny paranormal romp. Sexual Content: None
I've read several books in Rachel Caine's Weather Warden series (I'm looking forward to starting her Morganville Vampire series soon too), so I expected something good from this talented writer and that's exactly what I got with Death Warmed Over. Witch Holly Caldwell is not that dissimilar to early Anita Blake: both occasionally work with the police to raise the dead. This time, the case intimately affects Holly in more ways than one because the dead man they want her to raise has been raised before, and when Holly lost Andrew last time, she lost her heart as well. My only disappointment with Death Warmed Over is that it appears to be the only Holly and Andrew story that Rachel has written (please let me know if I'm wrong). I thought for sure reading it that it was the second story featuring these characters. I hope Rachel does write more about Holly because she does have that early Anita vibe that I love so much. There is more of a romantic focus in this story but it doesn't overshadow the paranormal elements. Death is easily one of the best in this anthology. Sexual Content: None
The longest story in Strange Brew is Karen Chance's Vegas Odds coming in at 56 pages. The tale opens with a scene straight out of Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Half-Were Lia and her boyfriend Were Cyrus destroy her house while under attack from a group of War Mages. From there, author Karen Chance does a wonderful job of creating a world full of magic and a strong instantly likeable heroine while never letting up on the non-stop action. This is probably my favorite story that Ms. Chance has written and I would love to spend more time in this world. Sexual Content: A woman performs oral sex on a man in a brief scene that in not overly graphic.
P. N. Elrod is a new author for me. This story continues her Vampire Files series with vampire P.I. Jack Fleming and his partner Escott in 1930's Chicago. I would categorize this story as a noir mystery that just happens to have an undead lead. Not a lot of paranormal. Jack is described as a vampire much in the same way another character is described as being tall. Not a bad story, just not what I look for in urban fantasy. But if you like Raymond Charles with a dash of Tanya Huff...Sexual Content: None
Bacon takes place in the same Sookie Stackhouse world from the Southern Vampire series but minus Sookie. If you read Harris' story Tacky in the anthology My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding then these characters will already be familiar to you. If your planning on reading both, start with Tacky and STOP READING THIS REVIEW because it will spoil aspects of that story. In Bacon, newly widowed vampire Dahlia seeks out the aid of a witch descendent of Circe to get revenge on the werewolf pack that killed her were husband. So far, this is my least favorite story in this anthology: It's predictable, feels small because it fails to take advantage of the Sookieverse, and lacks even one likable character. At only 32 pages, it went on way too long. Sexual Content: None
Faith Hunter kicked off her Jane Yellowrock series in July `09 with Skinwalker (book two, Blood Cross is due out in Jan `10) , but we get an earlier peak at this shapeshifting vampire hunter in Signature of the Dead. Earth witch Molly is the main character who Jane helps track down a feral pack of new vampires. I didn't even realize that Jane was the main character in Skinwalker (which I'm now adding to the top of my wishlist), but I'm thrilled we'll get to read more about her. She reminded me of a cross between Mercy Thompson and Kate Daniels which means I may have just found a favorite new series. Sexual Content: The rape of a woman and her two little girls is referenced but not described.
Like Faith Hunter's story, Caitlin Kittredge's Ginger (41 pages) takes the main character from her Nocturne City series, werewolf detective Luna Wilder, and relegates her to the sidelines. Instead, Ginger focuses on Luna's self-proclaimed wus witch cousin Sunny who agrees to go undercover investigating a blood magic coven. The world building was good here, but Sunny was a bit too prone to crying for my taste. The `villain' in the story is pretty comic book evil too which added a level of corniness that I hope doesn't extend to the whole Nocturne City series because for the world building alone I plan on picking up Night Life to see what Luna does in her own story. Sexual Content: None
Dark Sins picks up after Wages of Sins but before Grave Sins in Jenna Maclaine's Cin Craven series. In 1818 Italy, witch turned vampire Cin and her lover Michael along with another vamp couple travel throughout Europe doling out justice on the criminal vampire population. When the four are abducted by an evil wizard and his followers in an attempt to add Cin to his coven, she must finally learn to use her magic before her friends are killed. If you are a fan of Colleen Gleason's Gardella Vampire Chronicles, you'll probably love this. Me not so much. There are no major faults in these 33 pages, but I like my fantasy urban, without gowns and carriages etc. The idea of a vampire who uniquely retained her human magical abilities make for an interesting character in Cin, and if she survives into the 21st century I'll be sure to look her up. Sexual Content: sex scene
My least favorites were Elrod's story (not surprising because I have read a couple of the books with Jack and don't enjoy her writing style all that much) and Harris's "Bacon". See a summary of each below. I liked the book in general and really liked that is gave me a look at some of the new authors and characters coming out in series.
- Seeing Eye by Patricia Briggs
A witch named Moira and a werewolf named Tom go to save Tom's brother from an evil coven. Pretty good, I enjoyed it. 4/5
- Last Call by Jim Butcher
Entertaining story about Murphy and Harry tracking down the source of some tainted beer that Mac accidentally served in his bar. Tons of action, very entertaining! 4/5
- Death Warmed Over by Rachel Caine
About witch named Holly who resurrects an old witch, Andy, to help the police find a witch killer. Unfortunately Holly and the resurrected witch have a history. Fast-paced and engaging story although I didn't like the main character all that much. 4/5
- Vegas Odds by Karen Chance
Lia is a War Mage stuck in the middle of a war between good and evil. When her house comes under attack she is left to figure out who the attackers are and hunt down their master. I really liked this story; it was packed with action and set in an interesting world that I want to learn more about. 5/5
- Hecate's Golden Eye by P. N. Elrod
Jack and Charles are hired to recover a stolen piece of jewelry. The crime turns out to be more than it first seems. This was a fast paced story featuring Elrod's well known Jack Flemming. Overall a decent story. 3/5
- Bacon by Charlaine Harris
This story is about a vampire, Dahlia, who hires a witch to help avenge her werewolf husband that has been murdered. Overall I thought this story was boring and the plot a bit hard to folllow at points. I didn't really like any of the characters much either. 2/5
- Signatures of the Dead by Faith Hunter
About a witch named Molly who works with a Skinwalker named Jane Yellowrock to bring down some rogue vampires. I really didn't find Molly to be all that fascinating of a character. I did really like Jane Yellowrock though. The story moved quickly, was very engaging, and had lots of good action scenes. I am eager to read more stories involving Jane Yellowrock. I know that Hunter's book "Skinwalker" featuring Jane came out earlier this summer and this short story really makes me want to check it out. 4/5
- Ginger: A Nocturne City Story by Caitlin Kittredge
A witch named "Sunny" gets kidnapped as part of a larger plot onvolving a witch coven. This was an okay story, although I didn't think it was great and didn't like any of the characters much. 3/5
- Dark Sins by Jenna Maclaine
I really liked this story. Cin Craven is a vampire who attained her witch powers. Her and her S.O. Michael are attacked and captured; and need to escape to save their lives and the lives of their friends. This story was set in the Victorian era. I really liked both Cin and Michael as characters. Just the glimpse this story give hints at a very interesting and intricate world with a lush history. Lots of action and a tad of romance. The entrance of the goddess Morrgan made things very interesting. One of my favorite stories of the bunch. 5/5