Saturday, May 24, 2008
Many Bloody Returns
Many Bloody Returns. contemporary fantasy.
- ****½ "Dracula Night" by Charlaine Harris.
I'm not a fan of the Sookie Stackhouse series (see here for why), so this story was a pleasant surprise. Vampire Eric goes all out preparing a big party for Dracula's birthday, in hopes that Dracula himself will show up--think Linus and the Great Pumpkin.
It was funny, and even a little poignant, and Sookie wasn't nearly as annoying as I usually find her.
- **½ "The Mournful Cry of Owls" by Christopher Golden.
On a girl's sixteenth birthday, she becomes... whatever it is that she becomes. Vampire-ish.
Much ado about the usual teenage impatience with her mother's warnings, lots of descriptions of scenery and navel-gazing, which might have been atmospheric if the story hadn't gone on so long and if something actually happened.
- *** "I Was a Teenage Vampire" by Bill Crider.
A girl wants a real live vampire at her 18th birthday party and coerces her brother into inviting one.
There really wasn't anything special, interesting, or funny about this one. Ordinary and forgettable.
- **** "Twilight" by Kelley Armstrong.
Vampire Cassandra isn't convinced that another year of life is worth having to kill once more.
The dilemma was interesting, and Cassandra's emotions were clear, as were those of her friend who's trying to help her. But the rules are either contradictory or not that well explained, and there's a little too much back-and-forth indecision.
- ***** "It's My Birthday, Too" by Jim Butcher.
This is probably the funniest of the Dresden Files short stories, and my favorite by a slim margin (they're all worth 5 stars).
It's Thomas's birthday, and wizard Harry Dresden wants to give him a present. Harry tracks Thomas down in a mall where he's playing a LARP, and pretending to be a straight vampire (he is a straight vampire). All hell breaks loose, and there's action, and Harry being clever and inventive, and some very cool magic effects, as well as an assortment of supernatural types.
There's not a slow or boring spot in this story, and we get everything from Harry's solicitude over his apprentice to his introduction to role-playing games to his very kick-ass magical combat skills. Oh, hell. Just read the story. It's great.
- **** "Grave-Robbed" by P. N. Elrod.
Vampire P. I. Jack Fleming investigates a phony medium who's preying on a wealthy widow.
This story was entertaining, as far as it went. I enjoyed how he exposed the medium, but it was a little too simplistic and drawn-out, and there was a little too much extraneous backstory.
- ****½ "The First Day of the Rest of Your Life" by Rachel Caine.
In Morganville, your 18th birthday means you have to sign with one of the vampires in town for protection, or you're prey. It's Eve Rosser's 18th birthday, and she doesn't want to sign.
Even though I hadn't read any of Rachel Caine's Morganville Vampires series yet (I have, in the meantime--I'm really behind on reviews), I wasn't lost, and was, instead, intrigued by the town and the premise. The story was exciting, and the characters were interesting and sympathetic.
- ***½ "The Witch and the Wicked" by Jeanne C. Stein.
Witch Sophie caters a birthday party for a vampire, only to have the guest of honor immolated by his birthday cake. Then she comes up with the clever idea of using a little of his dust in a youth-preserving face cream.
This was amusing and clever, but it felt like a description of a premise--more like a prologue to the real story.
- ***** "Blood Wrapped" by Tanya Huff.
Vampire Henry and wizard Tony are on the case of a kidnapped child, and while they're at it, Henry's trying to decide what to give Vicki for her 40th birthday.
The mystery was cleverly solved in this one, through the use of actual deduction, which I appreciated. The relationship between the characters was entertaining, and the running thread of Vicki's birthday was both humorous and sentimental.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story, and it reminded me that I have a couple books from this series in my TBR pile.
- ***½ "The Wish" by Carolyn Haines.
This is a rather depressing story about a woman who's survived many things that should have killed her--including suicide attempts--but now that she is about to die, she turns to a vampire instead.
It is deeply emotional, and you can really feel for the woman, but it's just too depressing for me to really enjoy it.
- *** "Fire and Ice and Linguini for Two" by Tate Hallaway.
A vampire and a witch who's possessed by a goddess are going out for the vampire's birthday on Christmas day. Their car breaks down and they get picked up by a demon.
There's a lot of obscure mythology thrown into this story, and I suppose if you're into mythology enough to recognize all the players, you'd enjoy it. For me, though, it was just gratuitous, and felt more like reading a chapter from the middle of the 5th book in a series: too many unfamiliar and unexplained characters, and not enough happening in the story to make it interesting in spite of that.
- **** "Vampire Hours" by Elaine Viets.
A plastic surgeon's menopausal wife discovers he's cheating on her, decides to divorce him, and finds some unusual allies in vampires.
This was a fun revenge kind of story--my only problem was that I had trouble relating to Katherine's cheerful bloodthirstiness (in the violence-sense, not the drinking-blood-sense).
- ***½ "How Stella Got Her Grave Back" by Toni L. P. Kelner.
Vampire Stella visits her grave on her birthday, only to find someone else buried in it. So she and fellow vampire Mike set out to find out who the body is, and then to solve its murder.
This was a laid-back story, very heavy on the dialogue. Most of the story is Mark and Stella chatting, only occasionally about things having to do with the case. I assume if you were familiar with the characters, you might enjoy this. I wasn't, so a lot of it just felt like boring filler to me.
Categories: Books, 5stars, 4.5stars, 4stars, 3.5stars, 3stars, 2.5stars, ContemporaryFantasy