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50 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best UF anthology I've ever read.
A Questionable Client by Ilona Andrews (Kate Daniels prequel)

Review:
I would have bought the whole anthology for this story alone. We get an early glimpse at Kate's life and find out how she met the shapeshifter Saiman. Sadly, no Curran, but we do get a fun bit of Russian mythology. If you haven't tried this series yet, you get a great sense of the...
Published on July 20, 2010 by AJ

versus
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dark and Stormy Knights
Ilona Andrews "A Questionable Client" I really enjoyed this novella. It reads like a prequel as Kate's first encounter with Saiman. It was interesting creative and action-packed. I am a huge Kate Daniel's fan; however this novella just didn't feel the same without Curran. 4.5/5

Jim Butcher "Evenhand" Mr. Marcone, a crime lord assists a desperate woman n the...
Published on August 4, 2010 by Kathy E.


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50 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best UF anthology I've ever read., July 20, 2010
A Questionable Client by Ilona Andrews (Kate Daniels prequel)

Review:
I would have bought the whole anthology for this story alone. We get an early glimpse at Kate's life and find out how she met the shapeshifter Saiman. Sadly, no Curran, but we do get a fun bit of Russian mythology. If you haven't tried this series yet, you get a great sense of the humor, characters, and world that Kate lives in all packed into 46 excellent pages....5/5 bats

Even Hand by Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files #11.5)

Review:
I've only ready a couple Harry Dresden books so far, and wasn't familiar with the character of Gentleman Johnnie Marcone who is the protagonist this time (Harry only gets a few mentions, mostly from Marcone wanting to kill him). This story had a Thumbelina quality for me in that Marcone protects a beautiful young woman who escaped after being abducted by a nasty froglike creature. I loved the character of Marcone with his harsh, stoic exterior that belies a more compassionate man than even he's willing to acknowledge...4/5 bats

The Beacon by Shannon K. Butcher

Review:
Possibly the weakest story in the bunch for me, but still good. A self-loathing man has killed dozens of men who, unbeknownst to them, are beacons for unstoppable killing monsters, before they can summon the creature...until he discovers the next beacon is a little girl with a beautiful single mother...3/5 bats
Even a Rabbit Will Bite by Rachel Caine

Review:
My second favorite after the Kate Daniels story. The last dragonslayer must train her replacement before she can retire. This one had a cool Buffy vibe with the idea of a watcher training a young woman who had no idea she had a destiny. The ending was a fantastic surprise...5/5 bats

Dark Lady by P.N. Elrod (The Vampire Files #?)

Review:
Vampire PI Jack Fleming helps a woman trying to clear her fiancés name and keep the mob from killing him in this 1930's story. A fun supernatural mystery with temperamental ghost...3/5 bats

Beknighted by Deidre Knight

Review:
Another one of the weaker stories. A puzzle maker/painter must work alongside a dangerous man to free another who has been haunting her dreams. PNR fans will like the added romance of this story, but I found it slightly confusing and apart from a few references, it could have been a regency story...3/5
Shifting Star by Vicki Pettersson (Sign of the Zodiac #4.5)

Review:
I'm not a huge fan of this series, and it took me awhile to remember what was going on since the author didn't ever really explain her complex world this time. I don't recommend newbies to this world start here as there are lots of spoilers from the previous books. It focuses on the character Skamar as she continues her quest to destroy the Tulpa, this time with the help of her hot neighbor cop...3/5

Rookwood and Mrs. King by Lilith Saintcrow

Review:
I'm a fan of Lilith Saintcrow's Dante Valentine series, so I was hopeful with this one, and I loved it. A dhampir vampire hunter helps a wife/widow stake her newly turned lawyer husband and imparts his vampire knowledge along the way. A little sexy, a little mysterious, and a lot of fun. I hope Lilith considers writing more about Rookwood in the future...4/5 bats

God's Creatures by Carrie Vaughn (Kitty Norville #2.5)

Review:
This is the shortest story in the bunch (only 31 pages) and it feels it. Kitty is a no show. Instead this story focuses on werewolf hunter Cormac as he accepts a job to eliminate a rogue werewolf before it kills any humans at the local Catholic school. Not a lot going on in the story, but Cormac fans might enjoy it...3/5 bats
Sexual Content: Kissing. References to sex.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mixed bag, some great, some Ok, a little dark in places, July 28, 2010
By 
Wulfstan "wulfstan" (San Jose, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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Ok, I know many Jim Butcher fans are going to be interested in the short story here, hoping it has a hint about what the heck happened to Our Hero (I am being a little vague in case some of you haven't read "Changes" Book 12). No, sorry, no news here, this story is told from the viewpoint of Gentleman Johnnie Marcone. Not a bad story at all, but not Jim's best, either. Note that "Side Jobs: Stories From the Dresden Files" ("This title will be released on October 26, 2010") will include a story titled "Aftermath" , which is set right after the end of "Changes". I already have mine pre-ordered!

There's a Kate Daniels tale by the husband & wife writing team known as "Ilona Andrews", which is very "Kate Daniels" in tone- fans of that series will love it, new readers can see if the series is their cup of tea, so this is a good choice for either.

"The Beacon" by Shannon K. Butcher reads a great deal like a Twilight Zone episode, one of the better ones, but not one of the "top ten" if you know what I mean. It starts with the twist. Interesting.

Rachel Caine comes at us with a new character, and the story is quite interesting with a few twists and turns. Reminds me a bit of "Buffy", you'll see why.

PN Elrod supplies us with a new short about her Vampire Noir Detective, Jack Fleming, set in 1930's gangland Chicago. Good intro for new readers, nice tidbit for her fans. I found her series interesting, and the first couple of books I enjoyed very much. This has prodded me into looking for the next couple of these books.

Deidre Knight, a writer of paranormal romance novels, has a short story set in an very different world. I think I needed to know more about that world's backstory before I could enjoy this, but I have never read any of her stuff before, so it went over my head. Confusing if read by itself. I am not sure if her other novels tread into this world.

Vicki Pettersson's short is set in her world, and it's also a bit hard to get into or grok unless you have read more of her stuff. Good for her fans, not very useful if you haven't read that series.

Lilith Saintcrow has a nice little Dhampir/half-vampire detective story. I think it's a stand-alone, certainly it's not based upon her two well-known series protagonists. I enjoyed it.

Carrie Vaughn has a nice but very short character piece on what it's like to be a werewolf hunter.

Overall a mixed bag. If you are a fan of two or more of these authors or series, this would be a good choice.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dark and Stormy Knights, August 4, 2010
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Ilona Andrews "A Questionable Client" I really enjoyed this novella. It reads like a prequel as Kate's first encounter with Saiman. It was interesting creative and action-packed. I am a huge Kate Daniel's fan; however this novella just didn't feel the same without Curran. 4.5/5

Jim Butcher "Evenhand" Mr. Marcone, a crime lord assists a desperate woman n the run whose plight is not as it seems. I haven't enjoyed many of Jim Butcher's novellas but I did enjoy this short story. The novella was interesting, felt hard-boilish and was full of action. 3/5

Shannon K. Butcher "The Beacon" Ryder is a hunter walking a fine line between villain and hero. This was my first experience reading any of Shannon's work and I enjoyed this novella. It was entertaining and fast moving. 3.5/5

Rachel Caine "Even a Rabbit Will Bite" This story really grabbed my attention in the beginning but after a quarter of the way through, the story just seem to drag on and on. Nothing exciting seemed to happen and the story became more about a dragon slayer's long and grueling training, than the exciting and dangerous profession of being a dragon slayer. I am not a fan of Rachel's Weather Warden series. I stopped reading it simply because there were too many convenient coincidences and it was becoming completely unbelievable, even for fantasy. 2/5

P.N. Elrod "Dark Lady" I've never clicked with P.N. Elrod's novellas in the past and this short story is no different. Even though this novella had a nice 1930s detective feel to it, the plot was completely predictable and boring. 1/5

Deidre Knight "Beknighted" This short story was way too bad paranormal romance for me and I just couldn't get into it. 0/5

Vicki Pettersson " Shifting Star" Skamar learns what it means to be human, with human frailties. This story was well done and extremely interesting. I am a huge Joanna Archer fan and this tease of a story made me salivate for the next book in the Sign of the Zodiac series The Neon Graveyard. 4/5

Lilith Saintcrow "Rockwood & Mrs. King" Rookwood, a vampire PI finds himself in a bind when a mysterious widow shows up with deep pockets and trouble. 3.5/5

Carrie Vaughn "God's Creatures" I just couldn't get into this short story, it was so boring. 0/5

Authors rarely seem to impress me these days and as far as anthologies go, this was ok. The only exceptions were Ilona Andrews and Vicki Pettersson's short stories. Without those novellas this anthology would have been a bust.

I recommend:
Magic Bites (Kate Daniels, Book 1)
Cheat the Grave (Sign of the Zodiac, Book 5)
Must Love Hellhounds
Strange Brew
First Drop of Crimson (Night Huntress World, Book 1)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Intro to some New Authors, August 2, 2010
Dark and Stormy Knights is a collection of short stories by some great authors of paranormal and fantasy fiction. The book includes stories by Ilona Andrews, Jim Butcher, Shannon K. Butcher, Rachel Caine, P. N. Elrod, Deidre Knight, Vicki Pettersson, Lilith Saintcrow, and Carrie Vaughn. I had read books by a couple of these authors before but many of them were new to me.

I really loved the majority of stories in this collection. I think short stories are incredibly difficult to write because there is not as much time to develop characters and do world building. The writing has to be very tight to fit all the information in that the reader needs to understand what is going on during this brief episode in the character's journey. All of the authors did a wonderful job with this. The stories that I enjoyed less were still very good and well written, they were just not to my reading taste as much as the others.

Another thing that I find difficult with short stories is when they are written about a character who is also a main or supporting character in a series of novels. Sometimes I feel like I need to have read the other books to have the background to understand the story. This was not the case with the stories I read in this book. I've been wanting to read Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels' series anyway and now that I've read "A Questionable Client" I'm moving those books up on the list. Although I've read Jim Butcher's books, I think I would have been able to follow "Even Hand" just as easily if I hadn't known Harry Dresden's story. "Dark Lady" by P. N. Elrod made me want to read more of The Vampire Files that my husband has sitting on the shelf.

I think Dark and Stormy Knights is a fantastic collection of stories for paranormal and fantasy lovers. It introduced me to some new authors and now I want to read more!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely recommended!, July 23, 2010
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I enjoy anthologies very much. You get a story or two from authors you know and love (Jim Butcher, you rock and so does Marcone! Loved the story from his POV and PN Elrod, I love Myrna and was thrilled to read a story that featured her more!). And, you get a chance to sample other authors of that genre. As far as I'm concerned, those two stories in particular made this book worth the purchase. However, this book also gave me the chance to try out several other authors without investing in their books right away and I love that opportunity. Pick this book up. You may discover your new favorite author.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Knights of all stripes, September 9, 2010
This is the fourth P.N. Elrod-edited urban fantasy anthology I've picked up. Honestly, the deciding factor to purchase each lay in the fact that each includes a story / novella of The Dresden Files written by Jim Butcher. I also have to be honest and say I haven't really finished any of the other anthologies. Over time, I've picked out a story or two to try out but have never really had the urge to read the anthologies cover to cover. I didn't have that urge with this anthology at first, either, but I kept finding first lines / first paragraphs that interested me, and after the third time that happened I decided I needed to just read the whole thing.

I'm glad I did. The contents of any anthology can be described as "hit or miss," but I can say this collection actually had more hits than misses for me. According to the back cover text, the characters in these stories are "the shadow defenders of humanity -- modern-day knights committing the darkest of deeds for all the right reasons." Most of the main characters fit that description well, both in the stories that are part of an already existing larger fictional world and the stories that introduce us to new settings.

As I've already reviewed each story individually on the 365shortstories community on livejournal, I won't retread those thoughts here in any detail. Of the nine stories in this collection, five are definitely part of existing fictional worlds: Jim Butcher's Dresden Files, Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels books, Carrie Vaughn's "Kitty" books, Vicki Pettersson's "Sings of the Zodiac" series, and editor P.N. Elrod's Jack Fleming mysteries. I was already very familiar with the Dresden books and have a decent familiarity with the Fleming stories; the other three were new to me. Of those, I thought Ilona Andrews and Carrie Vaughn did the best at making a new reader feel comfortable. Pettersson's story was interesting (especially in terms of the question "what makes us human?") but I felt like I was being penalized for not having read the novels -- too much of Pettersson's story seemed to rely on knowing exactly where in the novel series the characters were, while Andrews and Vaughn gave me enough world and character background to enjoy the story as a stand-alone piece. As for the two worlds with which I was already familiar, I'm probably not in a good position to judge whether the Dresden story (which does not feature Harry Dresden himself, but rather gangster "Gentleman" John Marcone) is easily accessible without knowledge of the novels. I think it is, but readers new to Dresden can judge better than I. The Fleming story, as with the others I've read, is a decent little mystery, serviceable towards the anthology's theme, and I think ultimately accessible to new readers; Elrod gives you everything you need to know about Jack to get you through the story.

The remaining four stories in the anthology appear to be truly stand-alone tales. Shannon K. Butcher's "The Beacon" reads like an introduction to a series. I have no idea if she plans to continue with the Ryder Ward character, but I think she certainly could and could build up an interesting world around him. Rachel Caine is always a favorite of mine in these anthologies, and this time she gives a tale of dragon-hunting in the modern day that is both funny and heart-breaking. The Lilith Saintcrow story also felt like it might be an introduction to a new series (or perhaps it is part of something that already exists -- it didn't seem so from the author's notes, though). And the Diedre Knight story felt so complete that I can't imagine where she would go if it was part of a series.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good mix of some great urban fantasy authors; the Ilona Andrews story is awesome, August 2, 2010
All of these stories have something in common; they feature a "knight" someone who will go to heroic measures to protect innocents (or to make some money).

The best of the bunch is Ilona Andrews "A Questionable Client"; this is a great story in and of itself and is a great sample of Andrew's writing style. Kate Daniels fans will love it too because it fills an important event that happened between Kate and Saiman. My second favorite was Caine's "Even a Rabbit Will Bite" loved the characters and the irony of the story.

There were some stories that were entertaining but not outstanding. "Even Hand" by Jim Butcher give insight into John Marcone's character from the Dresden Files. "Rookwood and Mrs. King" by Saintcrow introduces some new characters that I hope she expands on in a series. "Shifting Star" by Vicki Pettersson gives you a story about Zoe's Tulpa, Skamar; unfortunately if you aren't reading Pettersson's Signs of the Zodiac series I think you will be totally lost as to the meaning behind this story.

My least favorite of the bunch was Beknighted by Deidre Knight; there was a bit too much of a romance vibe going on here and the world wasn't described well...I thought it didn't really fit with the rest of the stories and the theme of this anthology.

Overall a decent anthology. The Ilona Andrews story makes it worth reading. The other stories provide good samplings of some of the best Urban Fantasy authors out there. This is definitely urban fantasy and not PNR; which was awesome...it seems like so many anthologies tend towards paranormal romance (PNR). I personally got it from the library but it might be worth buying if you are a huge fan on one of the series represented. See below for a description and mini-review of each story.

- A Questionable Client by Ilona Andrews (5/5 stars)
We get to find out about that time Kate served as a bodyguard for Saiman. Action-packed filled with sharp humor; it was nice to have that story filled out some.

- Even Hand by Jim Butcher (4/5 stars)
A story from John Marcone's point of view. It was interesting to gain some insight into Marcone. The story was entertaining but over-all nothing mind-blowing.

- The Beacon by Shannon K. Butcher (4/5 stars)
A story about a hunter who assassinates Beacons that lure evil creatures called Terraphages to earth to destroy humanity. This was an entertaining story, I enjoyed the main character and there was a lot of action. I am curious as to what else Butcher has written, but not curious enough to immediately pick up books by her to read.

- Even a Rabbit Will Bite by Rachel Caine (5/5 stars)
Story about a retired dragon trainer and the young trainee that is supposed to take her place. I liked this story it was entertaining and ironic. I love how the story wrapped up but wasn't all that surprised at the ending. Overall a great story. I have read some of Caine's Weather Warden series and like her okay as an author in general.

- Dark Lady by P. N. Elrod (3/5 stars)
This is another Jack Flemming story. In general I am not a big fan of Elrod's Jack Flemming stories and this story was no exception. I've read some short stories with Jack and the first book in the Flemming series. This was another noir/gangster-type vampire story. It was okay and was well-written.

- Beknighted by Deidre Knight (2/5 stars)
An artist has to pay a steep price to free a knight from his prison. The world surrounding this story isn't very well defined and it is a bit confusing. This is more like a romance than anything else and was my least favorite of the bunch. There are parts of it that are a bit amusing and the idea is interesting...just not that well done.

- Shifting Star by Vicki Pettersson (3/5 stars)
If you have read all the Signs of the Zodiac book (which I have) then this story will be an interesting read for you. It features Skamar, Zoe's tulpa, and takes place sometime after the 4th book in the series. We get to learn more about Skamar as an individual and about what she is doing while Johanna is recovering. Kind of interesting. I think anyone who has not read the series will be totally lost though.

- Rookwood and Mrs. King by Lilith Saintcrow (4/5 stars)
Story about a woman named Amelia who comes to investigator Rookwood with a plea that he kill her already dead husband. Not much world-building but there was a lot of action and the characters were interesting. It would be great to see some books about Rookwood and Amelia in the future. Previously I have also read Saintcrow's Dante Valentine series and liked it.

- God's Creatures by Carrie Vaughn (3.5/5 stars)
Story from the point of view of Cormac the Bounty hunter from Vaughn's Kitty Norville series. Basically it just tells about Cormac going on a wolf hunt. It was okay and I enjoyed reading it, but it didn't add much to the characters for me and as a stand alone story it wasn't anything special.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Anthology with Great Authors, July 30, 2010
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Overall I liked it and I'm glad its part of my Urban Fantasy collection. I was looking forward to reading it for awhile, and was not disappointed.

Ilona Andrews - how Kate met Saiman, a couple of years before the events in the series. Fun story. I am a big fan of Andrews' work, so its no surprise that I loved it. New readers to Kate's world will not be confused - a good standalone.

Jim Butcher - I've read very little from the Dresden series, but I still liked this one well enough. Harry's not in it. The "knight" in question is Marcone. I wasn't lost at all.

Shannon Butcher - Decent story about a world where certain people, "Beacons," can unknowingly bring evil demonic killing machines into the world unless they are killed first. Hadn't read any of her books before, looks like they are mostly Paranormal Romance, but this story is not a PNR.

Rachel Caine - really enjoyed this one about a dragonslayer nearing retirement who has to train her replacement. A fun Buffy-vibe with a great twist. It's tied with the Kate Daniels story as my favorites.

PN Elrod - I haven't read any Vampire Files stories since the early 90s, so this was a bit of a treat. Good story, shouldn't be too confusing for new readers.

Deidre Knight - I thought this was the weakest story of the book. It felt like an interesting story was there, but we never got to it.

Vicki Pettersson - I haven't read any of the Zodiac books, so I was a little lost, but I went with it. The darkest story of the bunch.

Lilith Saintcrow - the vampires in this one are evil, with the "knight" being a person who was bitten and is now halfway vamp. I liked it, definitely one of my favorites.

Carrie Vaughn - Kitty is nowhere to be found, its about Cormac (my favorite character from the one Kitty book I read). I'm iffy on this one; I'm not sure where this plays out in the whole Kitty universe. Seems like its before he meets her, so maybe he is supposed to have an epiphany that not all werewolves are evil? I had higher hopes for this one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One Word: Badass, January 7, 2011
By 
Stephanie Lorée (TOLEDO, OH, United States) - See all my reviews
(No Spoilers) Dark and Stormy Knights is an anthology of short stories by heavyweight writers in the urban fantasy genre. Every name on the table of contents (Jim Butcher, Ilona Andrews, Rachel Caine, Carrie Vaughn, etc.) was one I recognized. And being a Jim Butcher super-fangirl, there was no way I could stop myself from reading Dark and Stormy Knights.

I have one word for you: badass.

Starting with "A Questionable Client" by Andrews and ending with Vaughn's "God's Creatures," I couldn't put the book down. It's a fast read, full of action and hard-hitting hero/ines. The characters are gritty, flawed, and full of ass-whoopery, and the plotting is well done.

Despite being a gun-and-magic romp through the contemporary world, Dark and Stormy Knights also contains stories that made me pause to reflect, something I rarely see in urban fantasy shorts. For this reason, Rachel Caine's "Even a Rabbit Will Bite" is my favorite of the anthology (Sorry Jim, though I adored "Even Hand" too!). In Caine's story, our protagonist is an ancient, curmudgeonly dragon slayer, training a new apprentice for the task of defeating the last remaining dragon--also ancient and curmudgeonly. The ending made the story, and I found myself thinking back on it days after the reading. It was wonderful to experience a fresh take on an old fantasy trope. I love me some dragons!

I give this book high marks for entertaining, thoughtful, and well-paced adventures. Nothing like a little fire-bombing-the-baddie to make my day!

Content Warning: PG-13 (mild language, violence)

Rating: 4 Stars
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great anthology, July 30, 2010
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This is 9 short to longish shorts. There are a couple of 3 1/2 stars (much better than average for the genre), a couple of 4 stars (great but not home runs) and some 5 star truly excellent stories.

One by Ilona Andrews tells about how Kate met Saiman and why he as sch a case of the hots for her. The Jim Butcher is a surprise as is about John Marcone not Harry Dresden but it adds depth to the character and has a nice twist. The Carry Vaughn is about Cormac when he is starting out and has a nice but linear plot and a kind of bitter sweet ending. A nicely done vampire slayer who inadvertently teaches his client to hunt vampires.

Very rare to have this many high quality stories together.
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Dark and Stormy Knights
Dark and Stormy Knights by P. N. Elrod (Paperback - July 20, 2010)
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