Elrod, P.N. My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon (2008). 358 Pages. St Martin’s Griffin. $13.95
I like trade paperbacks, they’re big, and they feel solid when you hold them. However, they’re tough on my style (what little there is) because while most of my purses are chosen for their ability to carry a book, mass market paperbacks are more common, and fit into more of my purses more easily. I checked this book out well over a month ago, and have been slowly reading it, trying to get through it, and wondering why it was so very difficult to read. I’ve decided that it is because of its format, and the fact that it is so very hard to fit it into my purse, so I haven’t been taking it to work for lunch-time reading.
Anyway, this is a very solid volume with a lot of stories that I really enjoyed. I sort of wish I’d read My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding first, but this was an impulse grab from a bookshelf, so I didn’t realize there was another volume in this set. (Though it’s hardly a prequel/sequel pair, as most of the stories are unique from the first volume, though I hesitate to call them stand-alones.)
Kelley Armstrong opens the book with “Stalked,” which is about Elena and Clay, the werewolves from her Women of the Otherworld series (particularly Bitten and Stolen, though they cameo in the rest of them.) They’re doing their best to enjoy their honeymoon and relax, but both of them are a little bored. Things take a turn for the less-boring when Clay realizes that there is a “mutt” (a pack-less werewolf) stalking them. It’s a better story if you’re familiar with Clay and Elena and their relationship, but does reasonably well as a standalone.
Next, we’ve got Jim Butcher’s “Heorot,”* in which Harry Dresden helps a newlywed locate his stolen wife. Of course, with a name like “Heorot,” you really have to be expecting some Norse mythology, and with a character like Harry Dresden, it’s sure to be full of magic. I’m not familiar with The Dresden Chronicles, though I think I may have to start reading them soon. It came across as a solid sword-and-sorcery adventure which was just the right story for the format.
“Roman Holiday, or SPQ-arrrrrr” by Rachel Caine is the one story which is not a stand-alone. It’s the second half of a story which I believe began in My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding, in which some cursed pirates become un-cursed. In this one, a formerly-cursed Pirate Captain and his new wife must deal with mutiny and kidnapping during their honeymoon.
P.N. Elrod (the editor) has “Her Mother’s Daughter,” which was one of my favorites in the volume. “It’s been my experience that a blushing bride usually waits until after the honeymoon’s over to check up on her husband’s whereabouts… when [she] plowed into the office still in her wedding gown, I figured she was out to break a record along with anything else in her path. She was the angriest woman I’d ever seen– which is saying a lot.” (123) The story stands alone, though it is related to The Vampire Files. In classic hard-boiled detective style, it starts with a woman and a detective, and ends with a solved case. Add to that the fact that our detective is a vampire, and the dame is a mafia-princess, and you’ve got one hell of a story. The title doesn’t explain itself until closer to the end, but that’s alright, because it was a great story.
Caitlin Kittredge’s “Newlydeads” was perhaps my least-favorite, which is a mild term, considering that it was still a pretty good story. It’s set in “Black London,” which seems to be a parallel world of sorts. The universe starts unclear, and ends unclear (likely because this was not truly a stand-alone), though the prose and dialog are well done. I never really found myself connecting with the characters (again, because this is more of a glimpse into their world than a true stand-alone tale), but I was interested, and did care about how things came out.
“Where the Heart Lives” by Marjorie M. Liu is clearly a prequel, and is clearly related to a greater series, but it’s a good story nonetheless. Perhaps because it’s set in the past, long before her series (Dirk & Steele) begins. Lucy Steele– the protagonist– finds herself with a very eccentric group in a large, old house with a large, old cemetery. Odd things happen, and there is some magic and fae involvement which seems to be setting the stage for her full series. It was a rather average story– nothing amazing or horrible about it.
“Cat Got Your Tongue?” by Katie MacAlister was a bit… disappointing. I love Katie Mac, and have really enjoyed a lot of her books, but I’m not familiar with The Dark Ones, so this particular story was much less interesting than it might have been. Raphael St John and his new wife Joy St John are on their honeymoon to an ancient castle when a ghost interrupts. There are references to things I’m not familiar with (characters, situations, magical abilities and the like) which are glossed over, because it’s meant for people who have already read The Dark Ones. I think if I knew the series, I’d enjoy the story a bit more.
Lilith Saintcrow’s “Half of Being Married” describes itself fairly well; “When a werewolf marries a vampire hunter, the honeymoon can be a killer….” (278). It leaves out quite a bit, like the fact that neither of them is aware of the other’s hobby. “The worst moment of my life was seeing Kat go over backward, vanishing under the first bloodsucker’s bulk” is how it opens. It’s a fast-paced adventure which just keeps trucking on, managing to fit in enough details about the universe without feeling overwhelming. I enjoyed the universe, the prose, and the characters, and might have to find a few more stories by this author.
The book ends with Ronda Thompson’s “Wulf in Groom’s Clothing,” which opens strong, and stays entertaining throughout. “Laura Wulf was a city girl all the way. She knew her husband of five hours enjoyed monthly trips into the woods. Sam liked to fish, hunt, and do whatever it was that men did when they became one with nature, but Laura had never wanted to stay anywhere there wasn’t an outlet for her blow-dryer and a Starbucks on the corner” (324). Of course, Sam Wulf is a werewolf, cursed from the moment he meets his true love until they consummate their wedding, except that isn’t how it really goes. It’s a strong story to end on, and was a good choice for that position.
The Quick Version:
Most of these stories are stronger if you’re aware of their universes, and every single one of them ties into a greater book series. Sometimes I enjoy that, but once in a while, I think I want to just read a short story, without feeling a greater investment into their history. As I’ve said before though, these anthologies are a great way to get a sense for an author without committing to a whole book, and the result is an enjoyable read. It gets a 4.5/5, because it was good, but these stories really needed their series to explain them.
* Beowulf! Hooray!