Telep, Trisha (Editor). Kiss Me Deadly (2010). 430 Pages. RunningPress. $9.95
There is an awful lot to say about this anthology, so it has been split up into several parts. You can find Part 1 and Part 2 in their own posts. This book is definitely worth picking up, as it features several very good stories.
The anthology is the second to a “pair,” though the first half The Eternal Kiss is focused on vampires, and this is general paranormal. As I think I’ve said before, it features a lot of authors who I have never heard of, but there are at least a few whose other works I’ll be seeking out.
We’ll start Part 3 with Michelle Rowen’s “Familiar,” which was rather middling. Brenda doesn’t want to be a witch, she just wants her mother to get off her back. Finally, Brenda gives in (for a bit of peace) and so picks out her familiar– a runty kitten named Owen. Things are never as they seem in stories about magic, and Brenda soon learns that Owen comes with a lot of baggage. As a whole, the story is fairly good, and the idea is unique. As is true with so many short stories, there are moments where we are told rather than shown, and things feel a bit rushed. Despite that, in both the theme and plot, this story fits the volume perfectly.
Next was “Fearless” by Rachel Vincent, which reminded me a lot of Kelley Armstrong’s Darkest Powers series. Sabine has had a rough life which has led her to Holser House; a sort of halfway house for troubled teens. Sabine is a mara, a creature of nightmares, literally. She lives on the fears and anger of others, and expects her stay at Holser House to be a buffet. When it isn’t, she knows something is up, but she doesn’t expect the answer she finds. There’s a lot of self-discovery in “Fearless,” Sabine learns more about herself, and more about Nash (her boyfriend.) It is clearly a part of a greater story (The Soul Screamer series is the rest of this story, though it is apparently only related through Nash.)
Next was “Vermillion” by Daniel Marks, which is an interesting take on the concept of Purgatory. The City of the Dead is a rough analog of the living world, but with vast regions represented by neighborhoods. Velvet and Nick are part of the Latin Quarter’s team of Salvagers; they help keep order, and keep the line between living world and dead world clear. Velvet and Nick are off on a special assignment; Vermillion is having a problem that their Salvagers can’t handle– their undertaker has run off to the living world, and is wreaking havoc. Things are not as they seem (are they ever, in fiction?) and the pair have to fight to achieve their goals and save Vermillion from the shadowquakes the imbalance causes. This whole concept, the plot, makes the story unique, and helps keep it interesting. At the moment, it’s the only story set in this world, but I’d like to read more.
Maggie Stiefvater’s “The Hounds of Ulster” was part of what ultimately convinced me to read “Shiver.” Bryant and Sullivan are inseparable. Together, they will rise in fame and fortune until they become punk-rock stars. Bryant tells the story, about Sullivan, who plays the fiddle like a madman, and draws the attention of the Sidhe. But the story isn’t about Sullivan, the story is about Bryant, the one who got left behind. It’s actually a fairly brilliant short piece, with just enough of their world to tell the story, without overwhelming the reader. It’s one of my favorites from the volume, to be sure.
The volume closes with “Many Happy Returns: A Generation Dead Story” by Daniel Waters. It starts with a car crash, and I nearly couldn’t read it, even knowing the premise of the Generation Dead world*. I’ll leave it at “it’s a really sad story” which I will likely never re-read. It’s got a lot of raw emotion and inner conflict.
Get the book. It’s worth the money. 5/5
* I’m from a really small town, where all we had was a volunteer fire department. One night, some kids thought they could drive on a curvy road after having some drinks. God knows why they thought that, it can be hard enough to drive them sober. My teachers were the ones who had to pull them from the car. We were lucky, most of them lived. Four didn’t. This story hit a little too close to that (even with the paranormal twist) for me to really enjoy it.