First Lines (from Michelle Zink’s story): I made my way through the crowd, trying not to be jostled by the men around me. It was always difficult to get my thick, blond hair under a hat, and I was never quite certain it would stay there. If it came loose, I would be a beacon not only for the rough men in the room, but for the demon lurking among them.
I know anthologies are not for everyone and some people, when they do pick them up, are only in it for a story or two. Trust me, I get that. I’m not usually a fan of anthologies myself, but I keep getting pulled back in because there’s always an author I love that puts a prequel or something from my favorite series in the anthology. So I’m going to do this a little differently and break it down story by story in case you’re only looking for a particular author or something. You may be surprised whose stories were good and whose I didn’t like so much. I’ll leave a rating in italics at the end of each story for comparison purposes.
The Assassin’s Apprentice by Michelle Zink – A good pick to start this anthology off. It’s the story of Rose, a girl who is hunting down the demon that killed her family. Then she meets Asher, who is also trying to kill this demon. I liked this story in that it was both an interesting paranormal story and a love story, though the love story moved a little too quickly (yes, I know this is a short story). The love was just a little corny, but the action was good and I quickly felt a connection with the characters. 4 Roses
Errant by Diana Peterfreund – If you read Diana Peterfreund’s works, you’re probably more familiar with her style than I am. Gitta is a unicorn hunter, though that doesn’t mean quite what you think it does. She is sent to meet a spoiled rich girl, Elise, who is about to be married, but tradition dictates that she kill a unicorn before her marriage. Gitta’s unicorn, in fact. I wasn’t overly crazy about this story because I’m really not into unicorns and things. I did however, like Gitta and Elise. Two strong girls to drive the story forward. Oh, and this was one of many stories where there was arguably no love story involved. 3 Roses
The Spirit Jar by Karen Mahoney – Probably one of the more unique stories in this anthology in terms of the paranormal that is used. Moth is a vampire sent on a mission by her Maker to retrieve an old Arabic book, a book that was stolen long ago. Moth hunts down the book, but runs into an unforeseen issue when she meets Adam, who happens to be holding the book. He smells human, but humans can’t teleport themselves wherever they want. What is he? Who is he? And why does he want the book? I think with this story I connected more with Adam than Moth (who is a girl, by the way), which I think hurt the story just a little. It was a pretty plot-heavy story, so it was always moving. But if I can’t relate to the main character, what’s the use? 3.5 Roses (Ok, I’m slightly cheating with that one)
Lost by Justine Musk – One of my favorites from this simply because of its subject. Sasha has always walked past the big abandoned house just out of town, but this time, she’s drawn to it. Inside, waiting for her, is a mysterious man who seems to know too much about Sasha. He encourages her to use her powers of intuition and “sight”. But who is this guy? And why does Sasha feel so safe with him? Unfortunately, I can’t even tell you why I like this story because that’s a huge spoiler! Suffice it to say that the love and mystery in this story is quite good. 4 Roses
The Spy Who Never Grew Up by Sarah Rees Brennan – Undoubtably my favorite story of this anthology, bar none. When England needs a good spy, they turn to only one boy: Peter Pan. Peter is the only person with the right abilities to pull off certain jobs. But what he asks for as payment is nearly as awful as the jobs he has to do. I loved that this story used Peter Pan, but in a more modern setting. Peter isn’t the same Peter you know anymore. He’s not grown up, but he’s not the same. And I love that there’s a bit of Wendy-ness thrown in as well. Brennan writes Peter beautifully and with so much humor. 5 Roses
Dungeons of Langeais by Becca Fitzpatrick – This is a bit of a prequel for Hush, Hush. Chauncey despises the angel that comes for him every Chesvan. Every year, Chauncey is forced to hide inside his own body while the angel possesses him and does things Chauncey would never ever do. But now Chauncey has finally gotten the break he’s been searching for: the angel has something that Chauncey can steal. Now, he’ll get his revenge. This was pretty good, even though I totally think Chauncey is nuts. You kind of get to see why he’s so crazy, though. He’s quite devious. 4 Roses
Behind The Red Door by Caitlin Kittredge – One of surprisingly few ghost stories in this anthology. Everyone knows that Ashe House is haunted. Jo especially knows this, since she was dared to go inside and leave a mark on an upstairs window. Instead, she saw the ghost of a young man. While he terrifies Jo, she’s also drawn to him, the lonely man who killed himself after his fiancee drowned. But is there more to Nicholas than meets the eye? Also, surprisingly, this was one of the darker stories. You’d think there’d be a lot of those, but there wasn’t. I had a hard time relating to Jo, which in a story this short, hurts it. 4 Roses
Hare Moon by Carrie Ryan – I haven’t read any of her books, but it’s very obvious this has something to do with the Forest of Hands and Teeth, since it was mentioned by name in it. Tabitha is a dreamer, which is dangerous in her village. Dreamers bring trouble. But Tabitha knows there must be more to the world than surrounds her. Wandering around the fence one day, she meets Patrick, a boy from another village. Tabitha and Patrick strike up a quick friendship…and maybe something more. But dreams will only bring Tabitha and her village trouble. Very interesting and dark. It definitely sparks interest in reading the other stories to see if Tabitha is a character we’ll see more of. 4.5 Roses
Familiar by Michelle Rowen – One of the cuter stories, more about love than paranormal. Brenda is a reluctant witch. She wants nothing more than to just be a normal teenager. Unfortunately, having a mother who is one of the most impressive witches of her age, Brenda doesn’t really have a choice. Brenda is given the task of finding a familiar so she can practice her magic more. She picks a runt, who may be more than he seems. It was a cute story. Like I said, love was more important to the story than the paranormal. It was kind of a much needed break after reading all these dark paranormal stories. 3.5 Roses
Fearless by Rachel Vincent – Yay, another prequel to the Soul Screamers series! I scramble to read every one of these like a kid scrambles to collect all the candy fallen out of a pinata. Sabine is not stranger to trouble. Kicked from foster home to foster home, it was only a matter of time before she pushed someone too far. After breaking curfew and being caught drunk while on probation, Sabine lands in a home for girls on the brink of going to jail if they don’t get their act cleaned up. Already, she misses her boyfriend Nash. As a mara, Sabine feeds on fears. In a place like this, there should be plenty of them. But there’s not. What’s going on? While I haven’t actually been a Sabine fan for most of the books, I think this is great for getting to see more inside her head and her past. 4 Roses
Vermillion by Daniel Marks – Somehow, this fits in with his upcoming book Velveteen. However, I can’t tell if it’s a prequel or a 1.5 novella. I’m leaning toward the latter, though. Velvet is the best body thief in all of Purgatory. Her boyfriend Nick is the best undertaker. Together, their formidable team makes for the most sought-after team to get rid of haunts and ghosts that terrorize the world of the living. Velvet and Nick are sent to Vermillion to find a spirit that is causing massive quakes in Vermillion and harming the living. But what if there’s more to the story than is being let on? The story is actually much better than I make it sound. And pretty long. 4.5 Roses
The Hounds of Ulster by Maggie Stiefvater – The oddest story of the bunch, which is saying something. Bryant (a girl, which I couldn’t figure out until the end) and Sullivan have been best friends forever. They are the best Irish punk duo in all of the D.C. area. It’s just the way Bryant likes it, up until Sullivan meets a gorgeous girl in a bar. Bryant instantly doesn’t trust this girl, even before Sullivan shows interest in her. Who is this girl? Can Bryant and Sullivan patch the wedge the girl is driving between them? Seriously, it was one of the oddest told stories. I suffered from gender confusion for Bryant (no pronouns are ever used in regard to her because she’s telling the story) and from confusion in general. Like, “What’s the plot of this story?” There was arguably very little paranormal and no love in this story. Why was this even in this anthology? 2.5 Roses
Many Happy Returns by Daniel Waters – A Generation Dead story. The last time Cal saw his teenage daughter alive was when she was getting into the van with her boyfriend to go to a party. He received the call about a fatal car crash a few hours later, only to find out it was the van his daughter had been in. Five teenagers were in the van on their way back from a party. Only one survived. Now it’s a waiting game for Cal and the other parents to see which of their kids will rise from the dead. I’ve read about 2 Generation Dead stories, I think, and they’re pretty good. But it’s been an incredibly long time ago, so I don’t remember if these characters play any part in the story. Still, it’s a great addition to the series. Pretty heartbreaking. 3.5 Roses