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Strange Brew (Jane Yellowrock) Kindle Edition
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Dahlia Lynley-Chivers looked good in black; in fact, she looked great and normally that was extremely important to her. But tonight she wasn’t thinking about herself or about the picture she made sitting alone at the elaborately laid table in the upscale restaurant. Seeleys’ tablecloths might have been designed to set her looks off; the undercloth was black like her hair, the overcloth was snowy white like her skin.
Dahlia had been dead for a very long time.
Though she was sitting motionless, her back perfectly straight, Dahlia was conscious of the passing of time. The witch was late. Under any other circumstances, she would have left Seeleys and found something more amusing to do than wait for a human: but she’d gone to considerable trouble to arrange this meeting, and she wouldn’t give up so easily.
Clifford Seeley, who’d arranged to wait tables at his dad’s restaurant this evening, put a glass of True Blood in front of Dahlia with a theatrical flourish. Something to sip on while you wait, Madam,” he said very formally. Then he whispered, I haven’t worked here since I was twenty. Am I doing okay?”
Dahlia didn’t exactly smile. She wasn’t in the mood. But her face looked a bit less stony as she looked up at the tall young werewolf, and she inclined her head an infinitesimal degree. She liked Clifford, had since the moment she’d met him at her friend Taffy’s wedding reception. Taffy, like Dahlia, had married into the Swiftfoot pack.
Taffy’s husband Don was the packleader. Dahlia’s husband was dead.
Heads up,” said Clifford suddenly, and swooped off to check his other tables. Dahlia saw the headwaiter gliding toward her, a young woman stumbling along behind him. Dahlia’s attention sharpened. Since vampire senses are at least five times more acute than humans on their dullest day, this meant Dahlia might as well have been walking right next to the newcomer. The woman was plump, tousled, and breathing heavily, and she didn’t seem to know how to walk on high heels. Dahlia, who wore stilettos on every possible occasion, let her nostrils flare in contempt, though she made sure to repress any expression well before the young woman reached her chair. That took longer than it should, since Dahlia’s guest was not Ms. Fitness.
When the newcomer was seated, considerable fuss ensued until she found a place for her purse, yanked at the shoulder of her dress, tossed her head so her long red hair would hang behind her shoulders, and asked the headwaiter for some water (he replied, I’ll send your waiter, Clifford, right over,” in a rather stiff voice).
I’m so sorry I’m late, Mrs. Swiftfoot. I caught the wrong bus, and after that, everything seemed to go wrong,” the young woman said.
Dahlia studied her silently. Making people squirm was something Dahlia did very well. You are the Circe, the witch?” Dahlia said finally, in her frostiest voice. But her tone was not as cutting as she could make it. Dahlia had gone to too much trouble setting up the meeting to go overboard with the hostility.
Yes, oh, yes, I didn’t introduce myself!” The young witch giggled, tossed her head again. I’m not the original Circe, of course. That was my well, my many-times great grandmother. But I’m the direct descendant, yes.”
And you are a trained witch?”
Oh, yes, I went to school and everything.” The Circe wore glasses, and she blinked anxiously at the tiny vampire across the table. I graduated with honors.”
I was under the impression that witches were taught by their predecessors,” Dahlia said. I understood that the knowledge was passed along by word of mouth, and in the family grimoire. There’s no -- Hogwarts -- in your past, I presume?” The reference to Harry Potter was a real effort for Dahlia, who tracked current culture with some effort. Dahlia had ventured the mild pleasantry to put the panting young woman at ease, but Dahlia was not terribly adept at mild or pleasant.
The Circe recoiled. No,” she snapped. And I’ll thank you not to refer to those books again. Everyone thinks we’re cute, now, and we’ve lost a lot of the respect we used to be accorded.”
Some would say that any publicity is good publicity,” Dahlia said, curious about this unexpected sign of temper. No one had snapped at Dahlia in, oh, five decades. She’d caught an unexpected glimpse of the darker thing that lived inside the untidy young creature sitting across the table.
If one more person asks me where my owl is, or how to get to Gringotts, I’ll turn them into a . . .”
Pig?” Dahlia suggested.
The Circe glared at her. That was my ancestor’s thing, not mine,” she said.
- ASIN : B002LA0AAW
- Publisher : St. Martin's Griffin; Original edition (July 7, 2009)
- Publication date : July 7, 2009
- Language : English
- File size : 491 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 386 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
Best Sellers Rank:
#87,608 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- #215 in Fantasy Anthologies
- #220 in Fantasy Anthologies & Short Stories (Kindle Store)
- #1,055 in Short Stories Anthologies
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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“Last Call” by Jim Butcher—Whenever this author runs out of inspiration he throws in a beautiful villainess with a large bosom. However, it was fun to pay a return trip to McAnnally’s Pub, even though it was temporarily a crime scene.
“Death Warmed Over” by Rachel Caine—An apt title, but I am so NOT into necromantic fantasies, especially when the heroine falls in love with a reanimated corpse. The police seem dumber than usual in this short story.
“Vegas Odds” by Karen Chance—There’s never a dull moment when a witch and her werewolf boyfriend are attacked by the witch’s own apprentices. An incredible number of corpses litter the pages of “Vegas Odds” along with some fairly explicit sex. “I finished him off by hand” took on a whole new meaning for me.
“Hecate’s Golden Eye” by P.N. Elrod—Believe me, I needed a break from the violent “Vegas Odds” and this short story was much slower-paced with nice little touches of humor. In 1930s gangster-ruled Chicago, a private eye and his vampire buddy tangle with jewel thieves and a cursed diamond.
“Bacon” by Charlaine Harris—My favorite story: a battle of wits (and magic) between a vampire and a witch descended from Circe. I’m heading for the library tomorrow to find more stories by this author. Her characters (especially the vampire) live and breathe.
“Signatures of the Dead” by Faith Hunter—Shapechanger Jane Yellowrock plays a major role in the hunt for rogue vampires. Lots of chills, but nonessential details like the sisters’ herb store could have been edited out.
“Ginger: a Nocturne City Story” by Caitlin Kittredge—Two sisters, a sappy witch and a feisty werewolf go up against an evil witch who plots to rule their city. Some interesting concepts but very loosely plotted. Sappy witch is totally under the control of the evil witch and her minions when (a miracle occurs) and she escapes via a freight elevator. Huh?
“Dark Sins” by Jenna Mclaine—A band of noble vampires versus an evil sorcerer. This is the first story I’ve read in a long time with such an obvious ‘deus ex machina.’ If you ask me, the vampires are too noble to be believable.
There are several stories in here by authors I really like. The Charlaine Harris has a twist ending that was unfortunately telegraphed. The Faith Hunter tale, the introduction to Jane Yellowrock, was good, but I read it not long ago in a single author anthology of hers. And the Jim Butcher story was only so-so.
As far as the other stories went, they mostly held my interest, but none stands out as above the rest.
If you like urban fantasy, this might be enjoyable, but I would counsel against it for anyone coming new to the category.
I love fantasy - and most of the authors included in this anthology are ones that I quite enjoy reading. However, I could not get through the stories in the audio because the reading was so distractingly horrible. When I'm driving in my car talking to myself about the voices rather than listening to the story itself, then there is a problem. I made it through the first two stories (by Patricia Briggs and Jim Butcher) before yielding in defeat.
In the first story, by Patricia Briggs, Tom (a werewolf) sounds like he's constantly in pain. And in the Jim Butcher story, centered around Harry Dresden, Detective Murphy sounds like a bad imitation of RuPaul. Now I have listened to audio books in the past and enjoyed them - but then again, those books were not fantasy. Maybe it's something about the genre that doesn't lend itself to audio (with fantasy, much more tends to be left to a reader's imagination than general fiction), or maybe it just happens to be these particular readers. I genuinely don't know. What I do know is this - the audio version could go by "Bad Brew" rather than the original title. I deducted
Concerning the content itself, I quite enjoyed the stories (I downloaded the book to my Kindle so that I wouldn't have to torment myself anymore.). "Bacon" by Charlaine Harris was enjoyable (though a little forced at times), and I quite liked "Death Warmed Over". Honestly, I enjoyed all the stories, though I can't say that they were particularly Earth-shaking. There were a few authors here that I had never experienced, so I don't know if these short stories lived up to their novels, which seems to be a bit of a complaint with some. As a first time experience, I liked them enough to look up the authors and investigate their novels more.
So, to recap - AVOID the audio version of this and go straight to the book. It's a worthwhile way to spend some time, and could be an excellent way to explore new authors.
Top reviews from other countries
My reason for picking up this book is that I'm a big fan of the author Jim Butcher, especially of his Dresden Files series (the books & the short-lived TV series). Strange Brew contains one of his short stories, "Last Call", featuring Chicago's first (and only) Wizard P.I. Harry Dresden. I thought that buying this book would not only enable me to read this short story, but also discover authors whose stories I'd never read before.
There are 9 stories in this book and these are:
"Seeing Eye" by Patricia Briggs is about a witch called Moira who is visited by a werewolf called Tom who needs her help finding his brother who he believes has been kidnapped. With Moira being a witch and blind, it's not going to be your average investigation!
"Last Call" by Jim Butcher finds investigating wizard Harry Dresden walking into his favourite bar in Chicago only to find Chaos... He only wanted a beer but ends up with a lot more than that!
"Death Warmed Over" by Rachel Caine is about a resurrectionist called Holly who is asked to take on a case that will stretch her to her limits and one she'd rather not take, but when she finds out who she has to resurrect, she has no choice but to take it... She fell in love with him the last time, can she take it this time?
"Vegas Odds" by Karen Chance finds Lia opening the door to a delivery guy, only to find he's actually an assassin and not the only one trying to kill her! All hell breaks loose in her home and Lia has to use her skills to keep herself alive.
"Hegate's Golden Eye" by P.N. Elrod is about Charles Escott and his undead associate Jack Fleming. They are asked to help Mabel get back a pendant that rightfully belonged to her - not just any pendant but one that's been in the family for generations and it is cursed... any man who touches the Eye dies!
"Bacon" by Charlaine Harris finds vampire Dahlia Lynley-Chivers hiring a witch to seek revenge for the death of her werewolf husband.
"Signatures of the Dead" by Faith Hunter sees Molly (an Earth witch) and her shapeshifter friend help a detective track down the vampires who have killed a whole family.
"Ginger" by Caitlin Kitterridge - Luna is confident & brave but her cousin Sunny (a witch) is quite the opposite, however Sunny is drawn into an investigation that isn't all as it seems.
"Dark Sins" by Jenna Maclaine - Cin Craven, her partner Michael and their friends find themselves ambushed and kidnapped. Can Cin save them without succumbing to evil dark magic?
Having only previously read work by Jim Butcher, I immediately flicked through to "Last Call" and read that first. It was typical `Dresden" and I loved it - You always get a bit of humour with the Dresden Files stories, whether they're long or short.
I then went back to the beginning of the book, reading each story in turn. Having never read stories by the other authors before, I found the stories refreshing and interesting. Some would be all action while others reelled you in. With most of the stories I found myself thinking that I should look up the author's books as I would enjoy them too. I've definitely found some new authors to follow!
My favourites of the stories (apart from the obvious "Last Call") are probably "Seeing Eye", "Death Warmed Over" and "Hegate's Golden Eye", but they're all good.
Some of the authors are more famous than the others... I'm sure most readers will have heard of the HBO series "True Blood", you have Charlaine Harris to thank for that!
I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and it was nice to be able to pick it up and delve into one short story at a time.
If you're a fan of any of the authors mentioned or simply like books about witches, wizards, werewolves and the like, then I would highly recommend this book to you.