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116 of 130 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tasty surprise!
I have given up on the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter novels and am hanging on a very thin thread with the Merry Gentry series because those serials are not what they used to be. However, I heard that this book contained short stories written years ago, in the beginning of Laurell K. Hamilton's career as a writer. And so, I decided to give it a whirl by checking it out of...
Published on October 4, 2006 by CoffeeGurl

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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre Short Stories - With Two Exceptions
Strange Candy is a collection of 14 short stories by Laurell K. Hamilton, author of the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter and Merry Gentry novels.

The first story in the book, "Those Who Seek Forgiveness" is, as Laurell puts it, "the first time Anita ever walked on paper for me." I hate to say it, but it's not that great a story. This is obviously Anita Blake Mark I...
Published on March 21, 2007 by Duane Thomas


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116 of 130 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tasty surprise!, October 4, 2006
This review is from: Strange Candy (Hardcover)
I have given up on the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter novels and am hanging on a very thin thread with the Merry Gentry series because those serials are not what they used to be. However, I heard that this book contained short stories written years ago, in the beginning of Laurell K. Hamilton's career as a writer. And so, I decided to give it a whirl by checking it out of the library. (I am still in the "live and learn" mentality when it comes to buying books by this author.) I was pleasantly surprised with this compilation. Strange Candy contains various pre-published and never-before-published short stories that will satisfy your craving for dark and sensual gothic/fantasy tales. I loved the dark language in the stories and this book has reaffirmed my opinion that Hamilton has one of the best imaginations and ability to create great story development and flawless characterization I have read. I loved the stories, especially "Stealing Souls," "Selling Houses" (which is set in the Anitaverse, but without Anita or other recurring characters), and "A Token for Celandine." But my big favorites are the following three: "Those Who Seek Forgiveness," which is the very first Anita Blake story. Those who love Anita's earlier installments will enjoy this one. However, do not expect Jean-Claude or any of the other recurring characters to appear, for this is Anita Blake long before the Anitaverse was created. "A Lust of Cupids" is the shortest of them all and also the cutest. It was nice to read a more lighthearted short story and this one made me smile. My absolute favorite in the collection is "The Edge of the Sea." This is the story of a merman serial killer, one who seduces women and then kills them. This one is truly brilliant and I wish Hamilton would write an Anita Blake novel with a central plot similar to this one (that is if she ever goes back to writing books with an actual plot in them). Now that she's introduced merpeople in her series she might as well do something useful with them. All in all, Strange Candy is a wonderful and surprising treat. I almost regret not having bought it. If only this once beloved author would go back to the storytelling that had once characterized her and made her successful I'd be a very happy camper. In the meantime, I have her old Anita Blake novels to reread and enjoy. I may give Mistral's Kiss a whirl and hope it'll be something along the same lines of this book, but I'm not holding my breath.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If only all candy tasted this sweet, October 20, 2006
This review is from: Strange Candy (Hardcover)
I've never read any of Laurell K. Hamilton's books so I figured a short story collection would be a good place to start. Knowing nothing about her writing style, I was surprised that this book contained so many different types of paranormal stories. There are wizards, lake monsters, cupids, witches, and--as expected--vampire hunter Anita Blake.

For an excellent collection of paranormal romance stories of many different subsets, look no further than Strange Candy. The stories collected therein give an excellent depiction of Laurell K. Hamilton's range as an author. Each story has a personalized introduction from the author and it's nice to have added perspective on a story's history rather than just reading it cold. Some of them were considered failures by editors, others display the goals she set for herself as a novice author. I've never read anyone who takes as many risks as Hamilton does within the paranormal genre. Though not every story hit home with me, there were a few that I felt were stellar, and that was enough to ensure that I'll read more of her work in the future.

In particular, I loved:

A Lust of Cupids: A woman in her early-thirties is hunted by a group of young cherubs determined to see her fall in love. When she is rescued by a man around her age who is equally determined to stay off the marriage market, what else could happen but that they'd fall in love. I was particularly captivated by this story because I've never thought of Cupid outside of the idea that he was a single Roman god and had never even considered that there might be groups of cupids. That Hamilton was willing to twist such an established idea, and do it so thoughtfully and humorously, was delightful to me.

Here Be Dragons: This is one of the darkest tales in the book, and for that reason it stood out for me. Jasmine Cooper is an empath and dream therapist who is called in to consult on the case of a ten-year old sociopath. Jasmine is known for quelling the sadistic desires of some of the harshest criminals by using their dreams against them, but even she doesn't know if she's any match for this child's dangerous mind games. In the introduction Hamilton says that this is the only science fiction story she's ever completed. It's a shame because I'd love to read more where this one came from.

Overall, I think this book is a great introduction into Hamilton's work. There's enough range to get you interested in her different characters and to let you know which of her different forays into the paranormal you'd be most interested in. Strange Candy was a delight to read and has definitely made me interested in checking out some of her other stories. It's a shame all candy doesn't taste this sweet.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre Short Stories - With Two Exceptions, March 21, 2007
By 
Duane Thomas (Tacoma, WA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Strange Candy (Hardcover)
Strange Candy is a collection of 14 short stories by Laurell K. Hamilton, author of the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter and Merry Gentry novels.

The first story in the book, "Those Who Seek Forgiveness" is, as Laurell puts it, "the first time Anita ever walked on paper for me." I hate to say it, but it's not that great a story. This is obviously Anita Blake Mark I. The character traits that would make Anita something special, the wit, the vicious sense of humor, the repressed sexuality, are nowhere in evidence - because they didn't yet exist in the author's mind.

Many readers will be shocked to discover "Those Who Seek Forgiveness" was the template for much of Laurell's short novel Micah. I said good things about Micah upon its release. I would have been less impressed had I known how much of it was a retread. The basic plot of Anita being hired by a murderer to raise the zombie of their victim, the zombie breaking free of Anita's control to attack its killer, Anita flung through the air to crack her head on a gravestone, being knocked unconscious, waking up at the end of the story in a hospital bed after her client's death, all were lifted from "Those Who Seek Forgiveness".

The rest of the stories are mostly forgettable, about half-and-half not-very-fantastic fantasy and not-very-horrible horror. There's a reason Laurell K. Hamilton is not known as a great short story writer: she isn't. Overall her characters are cardboard, she hasn't the gift of sketching a believable, sympathetic personality in the few strokes allowed within a short story's limited word count. There's rarely a sense of real peril involved in the problems her characters face. The stories come across as unsatisfying, by-the-numbers exercises in which "people" you don't care about go through the motions of adventures that don't involve.

One irritating thing about the stories in Strange Candy, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the order in which they're presented. For instance, there are two stories starring Sidra Ironfist set in Laurell's Nightseer universe. But why the hell is Sidra's first-ever appearance presented **after** the follow-on story?

We're almost through the book before we hit a real winner, "Here Be Dragons". And Here Be One Hell of a Story. It's shocking, after wading through so much dreck, to suddenly hit one of the neatest, most vicious little psychological horror pieces I've ever experienced. It's like reading the work of a completely different writer. If every story in Strange Candy was of the quality of "Here Be Dragons" this would be a 5 star collection.

"Winterkill" which is also set in the Nightseer world, is, surprisingly, pretty darn good. Other than "Here Be Dragons" it's the only decent story in the collection, in my opinion. I found myself liking and rooting for main character Jessa - which, considering she's basically a killer-for-hire is a great accomplishment on the writer's part.

Strange Candy is bookended by two Anita Blake tales. It begins with "Those Who Seek Forgiveness" and ends with "The Girl Who Was Infatuated With Death" which takes place within continuity just before the novel Narcissus in Chains. As with so many recent Laurell K. Hamilton tales, "TGWWIWD" has a great set-up. Anita is hired to find a girl who is (a) dying of bone cancer and will in fact have her leg cut off in a few days, (b) about to be "turned" by a vampire, that very night, mostly so she can avoid the mutilation and painful death by cancer awaiting her otherwise. Problem: she's underage to legally make that choice. If the vampire turns her, he'll be up for execution. Does Anita "save" the girl from being turned - which legally is what she should do - knowing that by doing so she's condemning her to mutilation and, in short order, real death, or should she let it happen, knowing she's condemning the vampire? This presents Anita with a no-good-choices serious moral dilemma.

Unfortunately the great set-up soon gives way to zero forward momentum as the focus turns to - you guessed it - Anita's sex life. An over-emphasis on this one facet of Anita's life to the exclusion of plot has ruined every recent Anita Blake story, and it's no exception here. Thus, instead of bending all her efforts to finding the girl and the vampire in the few hours she has left, instead Anita spends the time playing footsy with Jean-Claude in his office at Guilty Pleasures while the police and other vampires do the job for her. Even Jean-Claude comments, "There was a time, ma petite, that you would have insisted on riding to the rescue yourself, questioning the girl's friend, and refusing to bring in the police at all." At which point I could not help but think, "Yeah, and wouldn't that be fun to read? There was a time this story would actually have been good."

Recommended for Anita Blake completists who absolutely need to own every word ever written about the character. Recommended for "Here Be Dragons" and "Winterkill". For myself this is a library rental, nothing more - a collection of mediocre short stories that just happens to contain one absolutely killer piece and one pretty good.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly Surprised !!!, October 23, 2006
By 
V. Thompson (Canberra, Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Strange Candy (Hardcover)
Okay where to start, if you are one of those readers who loved the early Anita Blake series, but are not so impressed with the last few to get released then you will probably love this book. I think I loved every one of these stories except the last one, which I had already read in another short story anotholgy book a few years back.

I hope LKH has more old stories tucked away somewhere.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed and Surprised, February 19, 2007
By 
This review is from: Strange Candy (Hardcover)
I was really looking forward to this book because it received so many good reviews.

But with the first few stories I was very disappointed. They were not good. I thought the first Anita story was dull, the second A Lust of Cupids simplistic and predictable. And the forward remarks by LKH to the Cupid story were unbelievable. Her arrogance about the rejection of this story when she originally submitted it only because she wasn't "a big enough name" at the time. Edge of the Sea was interesting but Why and How was never answered! I think about 6 stories were in the Nightseer world and though I did enjoy them the plots were repetitive.

I was very surprised by A Clean Sweep. I liked it a lot. I thought it was very different, clever and amusing. I read it to several people. I was also surprised that there was only one sex scene and a very mild and romantic one too!!! The last story with Juan Claude was very good, I did enjoy it. But really it was the usual stuff.

As has become my habit now with this author, I did not buy this book new. I am so glad I did not. Recycled short stories do not deserve my money.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strange Candy., October 26, 2006
This review is from: Strange Candy (Hardcover)
**** We have all heard, possibly ad nauseum, "don't judge a book by its cover." Never was it more true than in the case of this book. Going by the cover, I had some qualms as I opened the novel. However, although the picture there portrays something on the edge of being unportrayable in public, what lies behind it is a collection of tales that are much more like the original Anita Blake stories. True, there are a couple of disturbing entries, in particular The Edge of the Sea and Here Be Dragons. However, their subject matter is subtly eerie, true horror, not something to do with eroticism. In fact, the only thing that truly is sensual is the easily removable cover. There are two stories that return to the world of Nightseer, but even if, like me you have no idea what that land is like, you can follow the action. Anita Blake starts and finishes the collection, and she is the Anita who hunts the monsters, not does everything else with them. If you are among those who have despaired of this author after recent books, get this one. It will restore your hopes. ****

Reviewed by Amanda Killgore.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Sweet Surprise, March 11, 2007
By 
This review is from: Strange Candy (Hardcover)
Laurell K. Hamilton's "Strange Candy" is a collection of 14 short stories, each with a brief introduction by the author. The short stories all contain fantastical creatures. There are mermen, wizards, wicked sorceresses, and even some Anita Blake that readers have not previously seen.

Considering my recent disappointment with Hamilton's Anita Blake and Meredith Gentry series, I was pleasantly surprised by her short stories. I enjoyed every single one of them and found them to be well written and very entertaining.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes supernatural short stories. I would also recommend it to the Hamilton fan who is feeling a bit disgruntled with her recent novels. "Strange Candy" is a breath of fresh air.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars See?, October 10, 2006
By 
Ron Macquarrie "scsurfer" (San Clemente, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Strange Candy (Hardcover)
She can write and excellent story (stories) without burying it in endless creative sex. These stories are a collection of various places in her very creative worlds. No Merry Gentry story but two Anita stories an early one and a more evolved later one. And some stories from the world of Nightseer. Ms Hamilton has a very good grasp of how short stories work and an excellent ability to make them pop. The pacing is totally different. The difference between a sketch and a painting. She does it well. Now if we could just get her to do this with the Anita novels: more story, less paint.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars dark droll fantasies, October 4, 2006
This review is from: Strange Candy (Hardcover)
This fourteen short story fantasy collection showcases Laurell K. Hamilton's dark humor and strong female characters. Six are brand new; three were published in 1989; four in 1990s; and one in 2005. The first tale, "Those by Themselves" is an Anita Blake story back in her early days when she was an unconfident inexperienced rookie and the Hamilton-Blake mythos had not quite developed; for followers of the executioner this will be fun culture shock as she has come a long way baby. Three of the contributions are set in the sword-and-sorcery realm of NIGHTSEER (the author's first novel from the earl 1999s). The compilation is solid with most of the stories great fun. Fans of Ms. Hamilton and anyone who appreciate her dark droll fantasies will want to read this delightful anthology.

Harriet Klausner
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A refreshing change, October 18, 2006
By 
Brandee Youngdahl (Orange, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Strange Candy (Hardcover)
I have all but given up on the so called "Vampire Hunter" books (there is no hunting only sex), but this book was why I first started reading her work in the first place. She can weave a great story, and leave the reader on the edge of their seat waiting for more. Everyone changes as time goes on, and I can appreciate that but they say when you are lost look to your roots. Maybe there is hope for Anita yet. No sex, just wonderful short stories that prove Hamilton can do it.
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Strange Candy
Strange Candy by Laurell K. Hamilton (Audio CD - October 3, 2006)
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