Telep, Trisha (Editor). Kiss Me Deadly (2010). 430 Pages. RunningPress. $9.95
Because I have so very much to say about all of the stories in this anthology, I’ve opted to break it into parts. You can find Part 1 here, though, in short, I’ll say that Diana Peterfreund’s “Errant” is excellent. I’ve been slowly enjoying the next few stories, and I figure four is enough for another post. I hadn’t heard of any of these authors before reading this anthology, but I’ll be finding more works by a few of them after this.
For Part 2, we’re starting with “Lost” by Justine Musk, which starts with an intriguing premise, and builds a fascinating story from there.
“I’ve always been good at finding lost things, but three weeks after a car accident dumped my best friend in a coma, I was the thing that felt lost. And nobody knew where to find me.” (p 108)
Sasha is found, eventually. She finds herself, and her future. It’s an interesting take on some classic greek mythology. It was a little cheesy, but mostly good.
“The Spy Who Never Grew Up” by Sarah Reese Brennan was not my favorite by a long shot. It features the boy who never grows up– Peter Pan. Except, Peter has grown up, a bit, and he has been recruited by Her Majesty, the Queen of England, to work in Her secret service. It plays with egomaniac Peter, the boy who wants a Mother, who is also a spy. It uses a dark, twisted Neverland, and a terrorized family. I am not really a big Peter Pan fan (excepting Hook) and that may be part of why I did not enjoy this story. The other part may be that it was a clear example of childhood classics twisted by adults.
Becca Fitzpatrick’s “Dungeons of Langeais” is strange, and another that I did not particularly like. It is reminiscent of the Labyrinth, but focuses on a spoiled French lord. There is some love, but it is of the dark and twisted and cruel variety. There is something going on, where Chauncy made a deal with a dark Angel– the Angel would inhabit his body for Cheshvan, and in exchange, Chauncy will never grow old and die. Except that Chauncy could not be happy with this, and has sworn to stop the angel’s possessions.
I didn’t really get this story. What it seemed to me was that a spoiled brat made a deal with a monster, and is now hoping to renege on the deal. The story is dark and violent, and not at all to my usual tastes.
“Behind the Red Door” by Caitlin Kittredge was quite the transition. Jo Ryan is a small town girl who dreams of escaping. While she waits for her chance, she spends time playing with her band, and drinking with her friends. It is while she is out with her friends one day that she decides to poke around Ash House– an old, abandoned place– and dares to go inside. It is there that she meets Nicholas, a ghost who has haunted this house for a very long time. Things aren’t quite what they seem, and Jo ends up fighting a battle she is completely unprepared for. It ends on a positive note, in the way that stories sometimes do, where you can tell that there is potentially more to say that is not necessarily being said.
Then there was “Hare Moon” by Carrie Ryan. After the Zombie Apocalypse, very few humans survive. Tabitha is from a small, incredibly conservative and religious town, surrounded by fences that keep the Unconsecrated at bay.* Except, Tabitha is not content with this life. She dreams of so much more, a chance to be somewhere else, out in the world. Tabitha learns much, about the history of her town, and has to make a major decision about the future. It was a solid, fascinating story. Much of it was unexpected, but parts of it reminded me of “Memories Traced in Snow” which is not necessarily a bad thing.
The middling segment of the book was not as strong as the beginning of the book. It was still good, and still interesting, but it definitely opened with some of the strongest stories in the volume.
* This whole premise makes me think of Fido— a fairly entertaining movie about a town which is surrounded by fences to keep the zombies out. If you like Zombies, there’s also Dead Snow, which is about Nazi Zombies, Black Sheep, which is about Zombie Sheep in New Zealand, and the brilliant Shaun of the Dead, which features Simon Pegg & Nick Frost.