Top positive review
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The Eternal Kiss
on November 22, 2009
For the record, I really don't like the back cover blurb. It wouldn't interest me at all if I wasn't already a fan of most of the authors herein. Stories are reviewed individually as well as an overall comment at the end.
"Falling to Ash" by Karen Mahoney
Moth is a (fairly) new vampire returning home for her mother's memorial service. Unfortunately her sire, Theo needs her to do a job for him that involves reclaiming the ashes of a dead vampire master from a deadly vampire killer. I really liked Moth and her ways of handling the various situations thrown at her. I want to know more about her, read more about her adventures. The only part I wasn't too happy about was the end, after her run-in with Vamp Slayer Jr, when it handles her family. It was rushed and we're not really given a lot of depth to understand why it was as sorrowful as I feel the author was going for.
"Shelter Island" by Melissa de la Cruz
A young girl meets a former resident of her house and the danger that has kept him from leaving. This was short, sweet and entertaining. Hannah is a level-headed girl, not prone to hysterics (thankfully) and the vampire boy she meets and befriends has angst issues, but they're understandable and not annoying. The story flowed easily and didn't seem like it was in a rush. The end came when the end came, but it was a satisfying ending.
"Sword Point" by Maria V. Snyder
Ava dreams of training under the Italian fencing master Bossemi at his illustrious school. She does not, however, dream of vampires ending that ambition before it even begins. This is only my second taste of MVS's writing outside of the Poison Study/Storm Glass world and I found this one to be as engrossing as her others. Ava is a likable character and Jarett is a fairly likable guy (dressed all in black, which is a sure marker for hero designation I sometimes think when reading her stories). You get a real sense of Ava from the story and fair sense of Jarett as well--who they are, their motivations and ambitions. The vampires (vampiros) were gruesome, creepy and totally deserving of their ending.
"The Coldest Girl in Coldtown" by Holly Black
Matilda used to be a normal girl, until she was bitten and made Cold. Now as she fights to keep her humanity by saying perpetually drunk, the friends she left behind may need her help. This was a different look at vampires and vampirism. I liked that you could, in theory, not turn into a vampire if you could hold out from drinking human blood for 88 days. The idea of Coldtown, where the vampires lived and where humans could go and party by bartering their blood for life, was also an interesting concept. While I was rooting for a different outcome to the story, I found the ending to be...poetic. It fit perfectly.
"Undead is Very Hot Right Now" by Sarah Rees Brennan
All Christian wanted to be a rock star--he got his wish, but is being the vampire gimmick of a boy band really what he wanted? Alternatively I think this should have been titled 'I'm not a brooding vampire looking for his soul kthaxbai' This is a snarky, amusing and slightly wistful tale of a guy who just happens to be a vampire that's being exploited by a grasping manager. I felt so bad for Christian, its not that no one understood him, it was more that they thought they understood him better then he understood himself. There are a bunch of really witty one-liners in here and I think that the pamphlet that Christian has memorized needs to be updated since it didn't help him handle an idiot lead singer with idol aspirations, nerdy asthmatic bandmate so very scared of him or a stoner drummer who just does not get anything, ever.
"Kat" by Kelley Armstrong
Kat and her 'Aunt' Marguerite have been on the run from the vampires hunters for two years, but are they after Marguerite the vampire or Kat the unknown supernatural? This loosely ties in with Armstrong's 'Otherworld' books and her young adult series 'The Darkest Powers' (also set in the Otherworld universe). For me this was a win because it fits nicely within The Darkest Powers books (which features the Edison Group's genetic testing on supernatural teens extensively) which I adore to pieces. I don't think I would have guessed Kat's supernatural truth though it does explain quite a bit.
"The Thirteenth Step" by Libba Bray
Lauren takes on an assistant's job at The Angelus House, a Drug Rehab center that has amazing results. But what exactly are those amazing results and how are they achieved? Okay Buffy fans, when you see Angelus it should say something to you right away (whether the author intended it that way or not). Anyhow, meta-analyzing aside, I wasn't sure what to think of this story at first. The vampires here aren't perfect, but they do help people so that's the important thing right? Lauren's choice isn't easy, but from a pragmatic standpoint I think it was the right one.
"All Hallows" by Rachel Caine
One Year after the horrific Dead Girl's Dance Morganville hosts another Halloween dance--but will this one turn out any better for The Glass House crew? The most interesting thing about this story was that it was told from Eve's POV, whereas the books are told from Claire's, and Eve has a distinctly different view of the world. More assured and confident in herself, Eve notices little things and remarks about other things that would otherwise not be mentioned in the series proper. The 'prophecy' that Miranda (the town's resident psycho-seer) says at the end, I'm not sure of the implications, but I'm definitely interested and hope to see how it plays out in the book series soon.
"Wet Teeth" by Cecil Castellucci
Miles has been a vampire for sixty years, but hasn't felt human for a single. When meets Penny he thinks that maybe things can change, and they do, just not how he expected. Sad, sad story. I had hope, because Miles isn't a bad sort, but sometimes happily ever after doesn't exist. I would have liked to know if this Penny was related to the Penny he knew, when he was a human. I fancied she was that Penny's grand daughter and that's why he felt so comfortable with her, but we're not told one way or another.
"Other Boys" by Cassandra Clare
Jennifer wasn't allowed to go out with boys, but when the new kid Colin--a self proclaimed vampire--draws her interest she suddenly finds the determination to be someone different. This was an all right story, though I probably wasn't as surprised as I should have been since a similar plot point is important to one of my favorite young adult vampire trilogies. I was however pleased with Jennifer reaction at the end.
"Passing" by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie
As a young vampire hunter's graduation begins, she reflects on vampires, comrades and the coming battle that could mean her death. This story surprised me in that much of what the narrator was saying, later turns out to be misleading and there are surprises that come at you rapid fire at the end. I've also always been a sucker for those romances that have one of the leads 'against my better judgment...' sort of feelings. I kind of want more of this and would have adored this beyond measure if I had read it as a novel instead of a short story. I'll cross my fingers and hope!
"Ambition" by Lili St. Crow
Told in first person narrative--the charity case at a rich all-girls' Catholic school, a nasty trick by her oldest friend starts her on a path towards a darker tomorrow. The story was a little confusing, because sometimes it would be in in past tense and sometimes it would be in present tense. I related with the narrator strongly and the ending is sort of a 'Lady or a Tiger?' situation leaving it up to the reader to decide if Johnny came back or not and what her reaction was. There was less of a 'vampire' presence in this story then any of the others and the narrator never clarifies if he is or isn't. "I don't know what Johnny is. There's not a word for it." (page 371, US trade paperback), but contextually that's what he seems to be.
"All Wounds" by Dina James
A young girl gets a late night visitor from a classmate in need and learns that some interesting things about herself and her the grandmother she's been taking care of. According to the author blurb this story is the start of a new young adult series the author is working on. GOOD. I really want to see what sort of hijinks Becky gets into as a healer-in-training and what sort of snarky banter her and Sydney engage in. That being said, the story made me tear up because I would give (and do) anything to have had more time with my grandmother when she was cognizant of her surroundings.
I don't think you can rightfully call these romance, or at least not most of them in the Harlequin sense. Certainly some of the stories deal with that sort of romance, but all of them look at vampirism from a romantic standpoint--the mystery, the darkness and power. The allure of the unknown right? Each author took a different view of what it means to receive a vampire's 'kiss' and depicted the consequences thereof.
I honestly enjoyed all of the stories, revisiting some of my favorite series (Morganville and Darkest Powers), reading new fiction from some of my favorite authors (Snyder, Bray, Black and Brennan) and being introduced to new authors (Mahoney, and James) made this anthology a great buy and a recommended read for the post-Twilight crowd.