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Strange Candy Paperback – June 5, 2007
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This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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From Publishers Weekly
Fans will best appreciate the 14 often darkly humorous fictions in bestseller Hamilton's first story collection, which includes several unpublished tales. Stories like "Selling Houses," in which a determined real estate agent faces up to the difficulties of selling a house where a gruesome mass murder has taken place, and "Here Be Dragons," a horrific account of a psychic child whose dreams can kill, show talent but need polish. Anita Blake aficionados, though, will relish the opener, "Those Who Seek Forgiveness," with its early version of a somewhat naïve vampire hunter. Stories set in the sword-and-sorcery world of Hamilton's first novel, Nightseer—"A Token for Celandine," "Winterkill," "The Curse-maker" and "Stealing Souls"—reveal that she has always had a talent for portraying strong female characters. Brief author introductions to each selection provide context. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Laurell K. Hamilton is a full-time writer and the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series and the Merry Gentry series. She lives in a suburb of St. Louis with her family.
Top customer reviews
Now it's 2016. I recently was thinking of two of these short stories. That's right, nine years later. How many times have you recollected a short story you read NINE YEARS ago?? Endurance in the mind is a powerful test of a writer. Ms. Hamilton and Strange Candy clearly passed that test.
With that in mind I bought a Kindle version to replace the old paperback that I gave away, and reread every story. In case anyone's interested, here are my thoughts.
Many of us were poorly served in high school when subjected to the peculiar thing called a short story. Short stories are terrific for a high school English class because--guess what?--they are SHORT. Of the many, many thousands of short stories available, a tiny fraction get collected in the anthologies used in high schools. As one example, how many of us read "Clay," by James Joyce? First published in 1914, it is still a teacher's darling for the economical writing that makes every word count. Well done, Mr. Joyce. Dubliners (Illustrated)
But I'm no longer in high school. Short stories have other uses! Many writers use a short story to test a new character. There's no point in writing a novel if the hero can't jump off the page of a short story.
That said, a character's depth comes from living the longer life of a novel, or a series. The character's resonance with a reader is a combination of not just the intrinsic merit of the character and story, but also the reader's familiarity with the character. How many times will Robin Hood stride the silver screen? Many already, and more to come--because the audience already "knows" Robin. So familiarity with a character such as Anita Blake tugs us right in, whether in a novel or a short story. Perhaps we expect too much if the experiment of a character's first short story does not have the polish of that character's third (or twenty-third) novel. I enjoyed "Those Who Seek Forgiveness" as a good story.
One of a writer's challenges is naming the characters. In the contemporary world, resources like name dictionaries and telephone directories work well. For an historical story there are always graveyards with their interesting names. But in a fresh fantasy world, where is the social fabric from which naming conventions emerge? Some writers--including Ms. Blake in her Merry Gentry series--look to mythology. Others lean on languages with resonance in English, such as Latin or Celtic.
In a single short story fantasy the social fabric is gossamer at best. Character's names may seem strained. That's how several stories read to me. The names Bilbo, Frodo, and Gandalf might seem strained, too, if only encountered in a single short story. I'm inclined to think that a few of Ms. Blake's characters could change their names if hired for a novel. Meantime, their stage names are fine as they appear in Strange Candy.
Then there are characters with perfect names. Leech. I love Leech, the thirsty-for-blood sword with a mind of his own. Leech appears in two stories, "The Curse Maker," and "Stealing Souls." Leech is one of the two reasons I remember Strange Candy, even nine years after reading this book.
The other story that survived all those years in my head? "Selling Houses." It enriches Anita's world even though she never appears. It's just a very human story that happens to include some not-quite-human (or formerly human) characters. Brava!
Whilst rereading Strange Candy I re-encountered "Geese." I enjoyed this story. It parallels the European fairy tale tradition without being beholden. A few more like this could make another book. It's hard to find good, American fairy tales. L. Frank Baum did it with American Fairy Tales. I feel "A Lust of Cupids" is in the same vein. Perhaps Ms. Blake will find a few more. I hope so.
I'm posting this review because, clearly, I liked Strange Candy. I hope you find it helpful.
Strange Candy gives us three brief glimpses into the wonderful world of the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series. The introductions that accompany each of the chapters gave us a glimpse into Laurell K. Hamilton’s creative process. We get to understand what inspired her to write about Anita and the many different directions she has taken the series.
The first story, Those Who Seek Forgiveness, showed the birth of the Anita Blake character: a mere animator (zombie raiser). I love the story because it showed how simple Anita’s life would've been had she not been seduced by Jean Claude. I would use the term “normal”, but as the story shows, Anita’s job as an animator comes with its own inherent risks. In someway, the story actually acts as an introduction to how Anita met the Regional Preternatural Investigation Team squad. I could just see Dolph and Zebrowski coming to interview her on what happened in the cemetery, and then asking her, “Hey since you’re so good with the weird, can you help us with this case?” I love how Laurell K. Hamilton has kept shots of pure animator-Anita throughout the series. We get to see Anita dealing with clients who lie about their true motivations for having a zombie raised, or the different reasons for having zombies raised.
See the rest of this review at: https://theribbonmarker.wordpress.com/2015/04/25/book-review-strange-candy-by-laurell-k-hamilton/
I like the Merry series too.
But this book shows you how good a writer LKH actually is, and it's a side we never get to see, which is our loss, and I think to her detriment.