Top positive review
Warning: LONG review ahead!
Reviewed in the United States on June 3, 2020
I looked at this book because even though I’ve been struggling with my interest in Anita Blake, I’m trying to get back into her now that I feel the series is starting to move more plot back in, and this has a new Anita story in it. Then I saw there was a new Patricia Briggs story in it, and I snatched it up fast! I can maybe resist one, but not both of them.
When I read the foreword from Laurel K. Hamilton, I was really glad I snatched it up. She writes about how hard it is to get a start in the writing business these days and how she’s hoping this book will become a series that can showcase a mixture of new and old writers and I LOVE that idea. It used to be there were a bunch of sci-fi and fantasy magazines that could help authors get their start but sadly, that’s no longer true.
Anyway once I got it and flipped through the contents I saw a few other authors I recognized, but a lot I didn’t so I really had no expectations about the book except that there were enough reliable authors that I knew I would enjoy a good part of it. Well, I can’t say I loved every story, but I can say I liked every single one. Some I loved and some were just decent entertainment, but I read them all without considering jumping ahead instead of finishing.
I’m not going to go over every story but some highlights for me:
Mr. Positive: The ending was almost predictable but not quite and I won’t say more than that. The characters however were perfect together and I laughed several times. There was a little bit of nerd fantasy fulfillment going on with the author I suspect by the end, but it doesn’t matter it was still good.
No Greater Love: Woof. I mean that literally. There was a lot going on here but I loved it and knowing it was loosely based on a real event in history made it soooo much cooler for me.
Broken Son: This story felt a bit out of place here. Most of this book is fantasy, supernatural or paranormal while this is straight up sci-fi but I found it a really nice change of pace. If there was a full book available about the Broken character, I think I would buy it because it made me very curious.
Heart of Clay: Now this is an author I remember from way back. I’ve read some of his Star Wars books so I was expecting sci-fi here, but they did a switch on me and it’s straight up fantasy. Parts of it dragged a bit mostly because I was confused. I felt like I was reading an excerpt from a larger book and missing some important bits (Maybe it is?)
What I really loved though was the idea of a renfaire that’s really filled with all the magical things that people dress up and pretend to be at renfaires. It was such a clever idea that I really got into that part, and I kinda dig the mixing of horror ‘creatures’ like vampires with fantasy creatures like dragons.
Asil and the Not-Date: Of course, this story is one of the reasons I bought the book so I’m well familiar with the author and she didn’t disappoint. I’ve been fascinated with the character of Asil for a while and I was afraid we wouldn’t see much of him since it felt like his character arc was kind of wrapped up in the last book. I was so excited that he got a short story.
The ending wasn’t what I expected. I really thought it was going to go a whole different way but it was so much better!
In the Dust: A new author (to me at least) and I struggled a bit with this in the beginning but then it started to pick up and when it did it went quick! I binged the whole thing and wanted more when I was done. Funny the author’s first name is Robert because I got a really strong Heinlein juvenile vibe from this and it’s also one of the few sci-fi stories in the book, though you don’t realize it immediately.
Ronin: Ohhhhh It took me a couple pages to realize what I was reading and I outright gasped. The mention of the Tiger should have clued me in, but once I figured it out, I love the idea. So creative! And then the story took a dark turn… in a good way, if that makes sense. It addressed some problems that really need a light on them. So, thank you for this story and how it was presented.
Zombie Dearest: A new Anita Blake story, but not a modern one. We fall back to when Anita was just becoming a marshall and was still doing a lot of animating work. I miss this Anita so much so it was great to have a flashback to the good old days. Definitely worth reading and it’s got me thinking it’s time to do a re-read of the series.
All in all the compilation was a good book with moments of greatness which is really all you can expect when you combine such varied stories and authors. There are stories I would give a 5 and stories I would give a 3 so I'm averaging it to a 4.