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on July 7, 2009
Vacations from Hell is the third in a series of YA fantasy and horror anthologies. With stories by such YA bestsellers as Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, and Libba Bray, this most recent installment of the Hell series does not disappoint. All of the stories are interesting and well written, though Libba Bray's is by far the best of the group. They range from heart-warming and inspired to incredibly chilling and horrific. Of the three anthologies, this one falls most squarely into the horror category, with less romance than the others had led me to expect. So if you're looking for paranormal romance, I'd check out the Love is Hell anthology first. Whatever Vacations from Hell lacks in steamy make-outs though, it more than makes up for in grade-A horror and general creepiness. There is some real top-notch YA fantasy happening here, with vampires, and witches, and Satan (oh my!). My advice? Definitely check it out.
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on July 22, 2009
VACATIONS FROM HELL is a win-win. Popular authors with dark and twisting fantasy stories have produced a collection that benefits College Summit, a nonprofit organization that helps students, especially from low-income areas, go to college. This is the latest in a series of anthologies, which include PROM NIGHTS FROM HELL and LOVE IS HELL, to support that cause.

Sarah Mlynowski, author of the Magic in Manhattan series, opens the book with "Crusin,'" the story of Liz and Kristin on a cruise. Kristin is determined to lose her virginity and envies the ease with which her friend and roomie picks up dates so quickly. Liz is always disappearing with hot guys or off for meetings. They meet fun girl Hailey and enjoy food, sun and dancing on the ship while Kristin keeps choosing the wrong guys. Rumors abound about people who have recently gone missing on cruises and the supernatural creatures that may have caused those disappearances. By the end of the cruise, readers will find multiple layers in the quests of the girls in this mysterious and very surprising story.

EVERNIGHT author Claudia Gray takes readers to the Outer Banks for a gathering of witches. Cecily Harper's mother has been training her for her powers for years in a coven at home, but each summer their family gets together with her mother's college friends. The fathers and brothers are told nothing, and sent to sporting events and activities. All the men think it's just a vacation where the female friends gather. But Cecily is no friend of Kathleen Pruitt. Kathleen is about her age and each year finds some way to torture Cecily. This year Kathleen brings a boyfriend who is gorgeous, interested in being a chef like Cecily, and seems to be the only male she's ever met who really gets her. What does he see in a brat like Kathleen? Kathleen avoids the women's witch trainings, and spends her time hanging on the ever-doting Scott. Cecily begins to think it is all too good to be true. Humor and powers mix here to let both girls know that they need to be careful what they wish for. Clare taps into the dreaded family friend many parents of teens want them to like and the claustrophobic family vacation, and mixes it with powers and imagination. Fantasy readers will enjoy this tale and its justice.

Maureen Johnson, author of 13 LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPES and other well-known young adult dramatic novels, sends Charlotte and Marylou to rural France for their vacation gone wrong in "The Law of Suspects." Charlie, as Charlotte is known, is trying to stop her lifelong habit of telling whoppers. So what if she likes to exaggerate? Her sister is now driving her crazy with her intro Psychology book, trying to diagnose all of Charlie's supposed neuroses. Through a series of odd occurrences, the girls find themselves in a cabin with no neighbors in sight and only a man who comes occasionally with food for company. Charlie breaks her cabin fever with a walk, only to find a strange man in a cabin who tells her horrific tales of the Revolution. Then she meets handsome Gerard, who warns her about Henri, the man in the cabin, telling her that people who heard the story will be unable to stop performing violent acts. He even shows her a severed hand found in Henri's garden. Things happen very quickly after that as Marylou and Charlie try to sort out who is telling the truth here while running for their lives. This one combines history, horror and suspense for a chilling page turner.

Cassandra Clare, author of CITY OF BONES and other notable young adult fantasies, brings evil to Jamaica in "The Mirror House." Violet's mother just married Phillip, and Violet feels anything but brotherly about her new stepbrother Evan. It doesn't help that she has to watch her mother be mistreated by Phillip and hurt every day in increasingly bad injuries. Evan escapes his confusing feelings for Violet and his father's temper by helping neighbor Anne Palmer around her house. Some native people warn Violet that Anne is evil and does things to young men in her clutches, but Evan won't listen. So while her mother is beaten, Evan becomes ghostlike and weaker every day. Violet finds some magic to help both of the people she loves.

Finally, A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY author Libba Bray reminds readers that "Nowhere is Safe" in this deliciously haunting story of four bored friends going through Europe after high school graduation. Poe Yamamoto doesn't know why in particular he and his friends decided to stop in the European town of Necuratul, but their rumored history of evil rituals and upcoming village festival on August 13th seemed too weird to ignore. They meet other young people there who grew up in the town, and they all have fun drinking and swapping stories. Poe does wonder about the children he observes peeking from the forest, and why other people don't seem to see them. Necuratul is going to be erased by a power plant soon, and Poe and his friends learn just how desperate some natives are to keep it.

While set with varied creatures and in different time periods, these fantastical stories will appeal to fans with their suspense and surprises.

--- Reviewed by Amy Alessio
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on June 30, 2011
Compilation books are always a bit of a risky read, but VACATIONS FROM HELL (Short stories from hell) is a decent set of stories with contributions from some pretty popular and strong writers; but like any group of shorts, some of the tales are better than others.

Surprisingly enough, even though I'm a huge Cassandra Clare fan, two of the stories I found the most enjoyable were from authors I was previously unfamiliar with. For me, Sarah Mlynowski's CRUISIN' and Maureen Johnson's THE LAW OF SUSPECTS, were the most interesting because they were the least predictable. Although, the most entertaining award (and the most gruesome) goes to Libba Bray's, with her special breed of humor and sarcasm that present and shinning through all the creepy of NOWHERE IS SAFE.

When all is done and read, VACATIONS FROM HELL is a pretty good collection of vacations gone supernaturally wrong and a fun little worthwhile read.
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on March 4, 2010
I had bought this originally because I loved the Mortal Instruments series. I did not know the other authors, but I figured it was worth a shot. I was beyond pleasantly surprised! It is a compilation of short stories about supernatural and weird events that all take place with the characters on vacation. What is so great about this book is now I have knowledge of a handful of other authors to check out now! The first story is a little cheesy, still not bad, and they get better as they go along! I read the whole book in one day, and am now going to try out the rest of the Hell books! Happy reading :)
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on December 4, 2013
First off, I’m not a huge fan of anthologies, but I wasn’t going to miss out on anything written by Cassandra Clare. So, I picked this up and finished it in little over a day as I simply couldn’t put it down. I loved this book! It’s an anthology of horror stories and, of course, my number one favorite genre is horror. “Vacations from Hell” exceeded my every expectation, and as I’ve always wondered what Libba Bray’s storytelling was like, I was overjoyed to find included in this anthology a short story written by her. And yes, I’m definitely going to read more of her books. Another author’s short story included in this anthology, and whose books I’ve never read before, is Maureen Johnson. You can be sure I’ll be adding her books to my reading list as well.

I enjoyed the first two short stories in “Vacations from Hell”, but my favorite ones turned out to be the last three. I can see why these authors’ books sell in the thousands. All three of them – Cassandra Clare, Maureen Johnson, and Libba Bray – are exceptional storytellers! Each of them wrote a tale that, for me, was refreshingly different from what I’ve read before, but reminded me of earlier works by two of my favorite horror authors, Dean R. Koontz and Richard Laymon. All five authors kept to the vacation theme and presented me with tales of which the outcomes were completely unpredictable.

“Vacations from Hell” is a wholly captivating compilation of short horror stories written by extremely talented authors. It kept me glued to the pages, sent chills up my spine, had me breaking out in goosebumps, and is a book I will undoubtedly read again, and share with my bookworm friends. I highly recommend it to fans of horror or readers looking for a thrilling read. Fans of these authors will be delighted by these stories, so of course I would recommend it to them as well. I happily give this book five stars!
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on August 27, 2013
I will admit that the reason behind my picking up this book is because I noticed that Cassandra Clare (one of my favorite authors...TMI, duh!) wrote a story for this. And overall, the book did not disappoint!!

1. Cruisin' by Sarah Mlynowski- two girls off on a cruise to have a little fun. Turns out there could be vampires aboard the ship??
This one was one of my favorites!! Loved the twist in the end. Is sooo did not see that coming!!

2. I Don't Like Your Girlfriend by Claudia Gray- on an annual trip to the beach to meet her coven (all the women are witches, and the men know nothing about it), Cecily suspects of her rival. For some reason this year she brought a boyfriend along with her who seemed to be perfect for Cecily. Strange. Could a spell be involved?
This one was alright..

3. The Law of Suspects by Maureen Johnson- this one is about 2 sister who go to France for summer vacation. While waiting for a cousin to show up, the 2 girls could be victims of a killer curse.
One of which I didn't entirely understand, mostly toward the end of the story.

4. The Mirror House by Cassandra Clare- I was super excited for this one! It was about Violet and Evan. whose parents just got married. Even though they're now stepsiblings, they might be having some feelings for each other that they both know they should not be having. So while on vacation, they meet a suspicious woman, but Evan finds nothing wrong. But Evan's life depends on if Violet can get him away from this mysterious woman.
This one was another of my favorites!

5. Nowhere is Safe by Libba Bray- this one was a little strange. 4 friends go to Europe after they graduate high school. It was supposed to be fun! They went to a village where they may or may not be worshiping the Devil. Fun? I `m not sure. But all the worshiping and sacrifices is all stuff from the past...or so they say.
This was another okay story.
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on September 11, 2009
Did you ever think you had the worst possible vacation ever? Well, pick up VACATIONS FROM HELL and realize that what you think was horrible is just icing on the cake.

Five of today's most popular paranormal young adult authors combine their talents in this collection of short stories. This is a compilation that is sure to appeal to everyone. I will admit at the beginning that I've only read works by Sarah Mlynowski and Maureen Johnson in the past, but will definitely be looking forward to reading works by the other three authors now.

This collection has something for everyone. For fans of The Blair Witch Project, check out Nowhere is Safe by Libba Bray. Four thrill-seeking teenagers on a trip around Europe stumble across scary things in a dark and dangerous forest. For anyone that hated that other girl for one reason or another and wanted to get even, check out I Don't Like Your Girlfriend by Claudia Gray. If you like those twisted ghost stories that are handed down from person to person, then The Law of Suspects by Maureen Johnson is for you. Got a hankering for a bit of dark witchcraft? The Mirror House will make you think twice about looking in mirrors again. And my personal favorite was Cruisin' by Sarah Mlynowski. It was one of those stories where I totally didn't expect the ending. You have to love when a story can do that!

The stories are all well-written and blend together perfectly. Each story is the perfect length to sit down and read in a sitting. After reading VACATIONS FROM HELL you will never again complain of a bad holiday!

Reviewed by: Jaglvr
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on June 27, 2012
This collection is light entertainment, junk food for the brain. Two of the five stories are written in the present tense, which I find distracts me from the storyline. I have to say I'm doubtful of all the 5 star reviews, because honestly, this isn't a 5 star book.
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on May 23, 2011
I did not recall ordering this book and found it in my room. I'm glad I found it! It was different, but a fun read. Hope nothing that happened on these vacations happens to me :) Entertaining book.
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on February 23, 2011
This was the first book I read in the hell anthology series, and I enjoyed it so much that I ended up reading the rest of the series. None of them were able to top this one. All five stories were interesting and kept me on the edge of my seat. I brought this book on vacation with me and it was a great choice because I would read one story, then put it down and pick it up to read another story when I had some more free time. You're able to get a small taste of each author in these stories, and its a great way to discover new authors.

Sarah Mlynowski's story is about two girls on a cruise ship enjoying the boys all around them, but then rumors start to surface about people going missing on cruise ships and you start to wonder if more is going on than meets the eye. Great surprise ending that I didn't suspect at all. I started reading Sarah's books because I liked this story so much. Glad I found a new favorite author!

Claudia Gray's story is about a girl named Cecily who joins her family for an annual gathering of witches, which are her mom's friends from college and their families. Of course the men know nothing and think it's just a usual get together, but the women spend their time learning spells and teaching magic to their daughters. Unfortunately, Cecily has to put up with Kathleen who goes out of her way to torture Cecily. This year Kathleen brings her boyfriend, who Cecily starts to fall for and wonders how he could ever be interested in someone like Kathleen. Great twist ending and everything makes sense in the end. My favorite story in the anthology!

Maureen Johnson's story freaked me out. That's all i really need to say about that.

In Cassandra Clare's story, Violet is on vacation with her mom, and her new stepdad and stepbrother. She doesn't get along with her stepdad and she gets along too well with her stepbrother. Her stepbrother tries to get away from it all by helping Anne, a nearby neighbor, but some natives claim the lady is evil, will Violet be able to save her brother in time? Ended up reading the mortal instruments series after this and I'm hooked now!

Libba Bray's story is about friends vacationing in Europe. On a whim, they decide to head to a small town called Necuratul for a festival. They don't realize what they are getting into until its too late. Really didn't want this story to end. I hope she writes something similar to this in the future.
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