Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Not so hot

I enjoyed the anthology On the Prowl, and I also like Kim Harrison's books, so when I saw this book on the shelves at my library, I thought I'd give it a try.

Tanya Huff's story "Music Hath Charms" opens the anthology, and I enjoyed it very much, which was not unexpected, as she's a favorite author of mine. After that, though, the stories were a fairly mixed bunch. I think that it takes a skillful writer to put together a short story in which there is a mandatory romantic element that feels believable and right, while at the same time crafting a well-written fantasy story. At least it feels that way after reading one after the other. Many of them seemed more wish-fulfillment fantasies than actual well-crafted tales.

The first three stories of the book were my favorites: Tanya Huff's, as I mentioned, along with "Minotaur in Stone" by Marjorie Liu (an interesting premise and some vivid imagery, but again, I didn't quite buy the abrupt intense love of the two main characters for each other) and "Demon Lover" by Cheyenne McCray (a slightly predicable but intriguing tale of a succubus and one of his victims).

Of the others that worked for me, I enjoyed Kim Harrison's story, although it relied a bit too much on a twist that, as I reread it, made me feel as though she'd cheated a bit to pull it off. I also enjoyed "Brother's Keeper" by Lilith Saintcrow, which sets up an intriguing murder mystery in which the victim is the main character's brother. But there's no conclusion to the story - it's as though the author submitted the opening chapter to a novel, and suddenly it all ends. We never even find out whodunnit. It was frustrating, but the character is in such an unusual predicament that I'd certainly pick up the novel to find out what happens! I scrolled through the author's books on Amazon, but I didn't see any featuring Selene, the main character in this story. I saw several series, though - are there any fans out there who'd recommend them?

All in all, I am glad I got this from the library. I'd have been disappointed had I shelled out the money to buy it.

Hotter Than Hell, edited by Kim Harrison (Harper, 2008)

Also reviewed by:
The Good, the Bad, the Unread: "While all of the stories are well-written and none are truly awful, many of the stories are forgettable or unsatisfying."
Janicu's Book Blog: "I feel somewhat disappointed in a lot of the stories in this anthology. In most of them I found too much of the sexual attraction, not enough to make me believe in the relationship."
Riley's Reviews: "I will say, this has to be one of the first anthologies in which I genuinely liked every story -- each was a winner for me in its own way."

13 comments:

  1. I also love Tanya Huff. This is a mixed bag...though I may pick it up someday. Thanks for another thoughtful and honest review

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  2. That's too bad about the wish-fulfilment stories...but it still sounds like it was worth reading for the good ones. I guess this is yet another reason why libraries are so awesome :P

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  3. I've read a few short stories by these authors but Kim Harrison is the only one whose books I've read.

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  4. Serena - I've been meaning to reread some of Tanya Huff's books - she is a wonderful author!

    Nymeth - You are right - it was worth reading. The stories I didn't care for weren't bad; they just weren't terribly memorable.

    Ladytink - I think these anthologies are a good way to discover and "try out" unfamiliar writers (or avoid ones that don't seem to be a good fit). I may try out one of the series by Saintcrow one of these days!

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  5. I have a question about the pet rat...how is more K the dog handling this new addition? K is so put upon : )

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  6. Thanks for linking me! I agree with your review. Lilith Saintcrow's Brother's Keeper continues online in her "Selene" novella @: http://www.lilithsaintcrow.com/selene/

    It's in the same world as the Dante Valentine novels, but in this case Selene is a sexwitch, so there's a lot of conflict where Selene's body betrays her. That was a bit hard to get used to..

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  7. Janicu - thanks so much for that link! I think the whole sexwitch idea was too huge to establish in a short story, but the setup was so intriguing - not to mention the unsolved murder - that I really did want more when the story ended. Have you read the Dante Valentine novels, and do you like them? Thanks!

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  8. I picked this book up at random from the library about a month ago while I was collecting books of short stories... I had almost exactly the same reactions as you did!

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  9. Fatalisfortuna - thanks for stopping by! I'm glad I'm not alone - I'm always kind of sad to give an even slightly negative review, because I do of course want to love everything I read. I just picked up a new anthology edited by Charlaine Harris, called Wolfsbane and Mistletoe - I'm hoping for the best!

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  10. Yikes, VA Gal- I totally missed your comment! The dog is seriously trying to catch the rats and has taken to staking out the cage, hoping the door might be open so she can get those squirrel-in-disguise that have so fooled us into thinking they are pets! I am trying to get the girls to be careful and keep the door to teh room closed. It's a bit worrisome!

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  11. That's a shame as I was hoping to read this next year. Oh well at least I am warned.

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  12. Me again, I just saw you asked a question about the Dante Valentine books. I've read only 1 and 2 so far. They're a bit dark and angsty, so I think that's what's making me read the series slowly - I'm more a fan of happiness than angst, but this series is good so far and I do have all the books and plan to read them all eventually.

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  13. Rhinoa - maybe going in with lower expectations will leave you pleasantly surprised rather than disappointed! Reading the Tanya Huff story inspired me to go back and reread one of her series that is a favorite of mine, and which I read so long ago it has faded in my memory, so that was a great payoff! I just finished rereading the first one and enjoyed it as much as I did the first time around.

    Janicu - thanks for the warning - it helps to be in the right mood for that sort of book. I am curious to give them a try.

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