VINE VOICEon November 4, 2012
The Drifter by Jane Lindskold:
Prudence Bledstoe rides into town on a big buckskin stallion. She has a rifle in her saddle boot and six-guns on her hop. Prudence is hunting a hunter. A paranormal problem. A personal problem for her to put out of its misery, before it kills all.
**** FOUR STARS! A terrific story to start this anthology off right! Set in the old west, but with a suspenseful supernatural element. ****
Our Lady of the Vampires by Nancy Holder:
Set in 1929. When the stock market crashes, many of the wealthy suddenly find themselves poor. A mother leaves her fourteen-year-old daughter at an orphanage, so she would not die from starvation. But it is not unusual for one of the girls to be found dead in the mornings. Drained of blood.
**** FOUR STARS! This one has the flavor of an old-time Gothic, but targeted for teens. The ending has an interesting twist. ****
Best Friends by Lilith Saintcrow:
Her best friend and lover, Kate, is having trouble at home. Kate's stepfather may not be human. The teen girls come up with a plan to deal with the problem.
*** THREE STARS! An okay story. Will appeal mostly to teen girls. ***
Elizabeth & Anna's Big Adventure by Jeanne C. Stein:
Elizabeth is eight years old. Her father works in the District Attorney's office. Uncle David and Aunt Anna are bounty hunters. Aunt Anna is babysitting Elizabeth while everyone else is at a party. When two people claiming to be her dad's coworkers arrive, Elizabeth lets them in. Instead, the two are thugs out for revenge on her father. But Aunt Anna is in the kitchen ... and she is something more than human.
**** FOUR STARS! Short, sweet, with lots of suspense, and fun to read. ****
Lupercalia by Anton Strout:
Leis Colchis has had a run of bad luck with guys. With a crossbow strapped across her back, Leis is going to put an end to it.
*** THREE STARS! An interesting twist on Cupid or Eros. This author has a very strange imagination and I like it! ***
Murder, She Workshopped by Kristine Kathryn Rusch:
She is spending six weeks at a writers' workshop in the Midwest. She is a wanna-be writer so the workshop could actually help her. But she is actually attending because she assassinates evil magical creatures that misuse a human form. In week three her target arrives.
*** THREE STARS! This one reads much as a modern day, urban fantasy. The lady is going through a divorce, so many can empathize with her, and is able to deal with the paranormal baddies. ***
Heart of Ash by Jim C. Hines:
Lena Greenwood is a dryad. She is whatever her lover wants her to be. Janice is her current lover. At the beginning, Janice wanted Lena to be a superhero. Able to protect the innocent from the evil paranormals. But as Janice gets older, her tastes begin to change, which means Lena begins to change. And when the werejaguars attack, Lena is not as strong as normal - not as much of a superhero as usual.
***** FIVE STARS! Terrific! In all the fantasy stories I have read and all the MMORPGs that I have played online, I have never seen a dryad like this one. *****
Jiang Shi by Elizabeth A. Vaughan:
After dealing with evil possums, ninja rats, and mysterious doctors who threw lightning, she could still deal with the small army of angry bikers filling her doorway. But Kate just does not feel like it. She is a middle-aged woman from Toledo who made the mistake of touching an ancient magical talisman and becoming the Wise One. Upon her shoulder sits Wan, an ancient Chinese mouse that guides and teaches her.
*** THREE STARS! Much of the story is filled explaining who Wan is, how she became the Wise One, and why paranormal baddies are showing up. But I still found it to be pretty entertaining. ***
No Matter Where You Go by Tanya Huff:
Vicki Nelson was a police detective until her failing eye sight forced her into quitting. She became a private investigator. After discovering that creatures out of nightmare were real and eventually being Changed into a vampire (which cured her eyesight), Vicki is quickly becoming a pro at dealing with the weirder cases in the Toronto area. Her lover, Mike Celluci, is a police detective. When Mike hears that some idiots were possibly trying to call up a demon, the vampire and detective head for the cemetery. But the group of teens are not wanting a demon. They want something else.
***** FIVE STARS! This is a short story involving Vicki and Mike, characters from the author's Blood Series. If you have not read the five-book series, then you are missing out! This story is just as fabulous as the series is. *****
Signed in Blood by P.R. Frost:
Scrap was an imp. He could transform himself into Tess Noncoiré's Celestial Blade when danger demanded it. He could slip between dimensions and times. When he suddenly drops a special pen in her lap, Tess knows something is up. Seems Scrap must go away for a short time, leaving Tess on her own without a weapon. And, of course, trouble comes knocking.
**** FOUR STARS! I may have to look up this series. If it is as good as this short story is, then it must be utterly terrific. ****
Broch De Shlang by Mickey Zucker Reichert:
Melinda Carson is a single mother raising two daughters; one of which had been born with Patau's Syndrome. Melinda finds it unusual that snakes are suddenly showing up, until she learns that her family is under a curse.
*** THREE STARS! This story is okay, but I found it to be very predictable. ***
The Wooly Mountains by Alexander B. Potter:
There has not been a zombie alert in Vermont in almost a year. Vermont's "Uncannies" get along with humans. Mostly. So what exactly is in the woods?
*** THREE STARS! To the people in this story, monsters are normal. Certain creatures in certain areas, much as wildlife. Territorial too. Good tale. ***
Invasive Species by Nina Kiriki Hoffman:
Random Delaney is a vermin hunter. But the vermin she hunts are on spaceships. This time she and her dwarf assistant, Fern, are on a luxury run ship. On this trip the client has them exterminating metal mites. But the pest on board this luxury liner is something totally different from simple metal mites.
***** FIVE STARS! I never thought that an exterminator could ever have such interesting pests to deal with. A fabulous ending for the anthology. *****
Reviewed by Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews.