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Review: Hex Appeal - Anthology edited by P.N. Elrod, including stories by Ilona Andrews, Jim Butcher and more

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Hex Appeal (Phoenix Chronicles; The Shadowfae Chronicles, #4.5; Kate Daniels, #5.6; The Dresden Files, #11.9)Hex Appeal by P.N. Elrod

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a very good anthology. The stories were longer, allowing a lot more space for plot development and explaining the systems of magic in each world. I'm not generally a big short story fan, I don't usually find them to be satisfying, but these were, I actually really enjoyed all of them except for one. I generally think anthologies are just a tool for introducing authors to fans. I get them out of the library just in case there's a story from one of the series that I'm following that I don't want to miss. But this one might be worth reading even if you aren't following some of the famous series.

Ilona Andrews - Takes place in the same world as the Kate Daniel's stories, but in Philadelphia, and about Saimon's cousin Adam. It was a smart way to capitalize on the familiar world that the author's had created and the already established rules of magic and science that they've spent years writing about, but no familiarity is needed for readers unfamiliar with the stories. It's a very strong story, as all of their short stories are; along with Butcher they're among the most consistent when it comes to short stories, something that few authors can pull off.

Jim Butcher - Great, as always. The third of the Harry Dresden/Irwin/River Shoulders stories. Irwin is in college now and got himself involved with a very dangerous lady. Action, humor, romance, danger, romantic love, familial love, obsessive love, and more, all in 51 pages. The guy really does just write great short stories.

Rachel Caine - A very good story. Different characters and situations than anything I've read from her before, in fact half way though I had to check to see who the author was and was very surprised it was her, I thought maybe it was one of the romance authors I've been meaning to try or something. It was also a good enough story that I was anxious about what was going to happen and wanted to read the end to get spoilers, that's very rare from a short story. It was a very substantive story with a clear plot, a lot of emotion and strong characters.

Carole Nelson Douglas - I'm a fan of the Delilah Street series. As usual, I find the lighter tone a good break in pace in a an anthology. But it was weird that she kept claiming to despise "loathe-hate" Snow since it took place after the road trip book where they had such a push-pull relationship. It was also weird that it has a major reveal about Snow in a story that a lot of fans of the series might not read; maybe it will be repeated in the next book. I always wonder how people who aren't fans of the series will react to her stories, I figure they'll either love them or hate them. They're certainly different from anything else you'll come across.

P.N. Elrod - A very good story. I've never been that into her Vampire Files books, but I look forward to trying her new Steampunk series.

Simon R. Green - Heavy-handed, as usual with his Nightside stories. If he'd just cut out 20% of the unnecessary characters and side stories and focus on the main plot, I'd like these stories and books better. But it was ok.

Lori Handeland - This one I didn't like at all. It seemed really promising until the end gutted it and made the woman into a spineless idiot. This is the kind of romance I have no respect for, where the women rationalize excuses to be used and abused.

Erica Hayes - I wasn't a huge fan of the first Shadowfae book because it was so heavily weighted toward romance more than urban fantasy, but I did like the dark world that Hayes created. This story with the same background was a better fit for my taste.

Carrie Vaughn - A good story about Odysseus Grant, a reoccurring character in the Kitty Norville books.

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