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Need a good vampire/magic anthology? Check out this list! November 29, 2009

Posted by Diana McCabe in Book lists, Reviews/summaries.

I recently asked if there were any good anthologies out there, and Dot in New York (a regular contributor to this blog!) sent me her take on anthologies and a  roundup of titles she’s read. Have an anthology you’d recommend? Let me know! Here’s Dot’s wrapup!

Why do we gravitate toward anthologies?  I think it’s mainly two reasons; one, to get a taste of different authors in a genre in which we have an interest; two, because we want some quick reads to fit into our busy schedules.  Anthologies truly can fill both of these requirements.  For me there is a third reason; I have favorite authors and will read whatever they write.

Why then do so many anthologies disappoint?  For me poor or slap-dash writing is a big turn off.  Even some established authors come off as bad when they obviously have turned in subpar work in a hurry.  If we normally like the long read, the short story format can leave us wanting more to the story. Anthologies differ in the length of the stories also.  Some contain really short reads of 20-30 pages.  Others have novella length stories.  Here is a list of anthologies I have read in the past 18 months.

This is one of Dot's fave anthologies.

Dot’s Disclaimer: The star ratings are totally subjective.  I love vamps but not so much witches, demons and werewolves.  I would advise you check out other reviews for more information on any collection that sparks your interest.

1) The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance,  edited by Trisha Tellep  (2008).  Contains more than 25 short stories — some good, some bad, all short.  Lots of vampire tales. Authors include Keri Arthur,  Alexis Morgan, Susan Sizemore, Shiloh Walker, Rebecca York, Amanda Ashley and Karen Chance. 2 out of 5 stars. (Diana has previously blogged about the second edition of this anthology. Read her post HERE.)

2) My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding, edited by P.N. Elrod  (2006). Nine stories. This is one of my favorites.  Theme is based on weddings among various supernatural creatures. Authors include Jim Butcher, Sherilynn Kenyon, Susan Krinard, Rachel Caine, and Lori Handeland. 5 out of 5 stars.

3) Many Bloody Returns: Tales of Birthdays With Bite, edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P.Kelner  (2007). All 13 tales are vampire  stories that focus on birthdays for bloodsuckers. Authors include Charlaine Harris,   Jim Butcher, Kelley Armstrong,  Tanya Huff and Rachel Caine. Very good. 4 out of 5 stars.

4) Wolfsbane and Mistletoe, edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner  (2008.) Fifteen stories based on the theme of Christmas and werewolves. Authors include Charlaine Harris, Patricia Briggs, Keri Arthur and Carrie Vaughn. Very good. 4 out of 5 stars.

5) Strange Brew, edited by P.N. Elrod (2009).  Nine stories of magic about everything from witches to maenads to avenging vampires. Authors include Jim Butcher, Charlaine Harris, Caitlin Kittredge, Rachel Caine, Patricia Briggs, Karen Chance and Jenna Maclaine.  Good. 3 out of 5 stars. (Read Diana’s post on Charlaine’s “thing” for pigs — about her story in this anthology — HERE.)

6) Unusual Suspects: Stories of Mystery and Fantasy, edited by Dana Stabenow (2008). Follow-up to Powers of Detection. Twelve  stories that feature otherworldly investigators on the trail of otherworldly criminals. Authors include Simon Green,  Laurie King, Charlaine Harris, John Straley and Sharon Shinn. OK. 2.5 out of 5 stars.

7) Night’s Edge. Three novellas by Maggie Shayne, Charlaine Harris and Barbara Hambly (2004). Shayne’s tale is about a reporter who doesn’t believe in ghosts. Harris’ story is set in her Club Dead books and involves a dancer who must trust her new dance partner — a vampire. And Hambly’s story also involves trust. Her heroine has to trust a suspicious man when her roommate disappears. 4 out of 5 stars.

8) My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon, edited by P.N.Elrod (2007). Nine stories dealing with the theme of supernatural honeymoons. Authors include Marjorie M. Liu, Kelley Armstrong, Katie MacAllister, Rachel Caine, Jim Butcher and Lilith

This also ranked high on Dot's list.

Saintcrow. I’m still reading these, so no stars yet but so far not as good as “Supernatural Wedding.”

9) The Magical Christmas Cat, by Lora Leigh, Erin McCarthy, Nalini Singh and Linda Winstead Jones (2008). Four stories featuring felines of the supernatural kind.  Another favorite. 5 out of 5 stars.

My conclusions:  Out of nine books of short stories , two  were terrific (No. 2 and No. 9), three were very good and justified buying them (No. 3, 4 & 7), one was good (No. 5) and two, although they had some good stories had some bad ones, too (No. 1 and 6). I’m still reading and debating No. 8’s merits.


1. Diana McCabe - November 29, 2009

Thanks Dot. After reading through your list, I realized I’d read some of these before. I also liked NIGHT’S EDGE and WOLFSBANE AND MISTLETOE!!!


2. Diana McCabe - November 29, 2009

Oh — and I liked parts of STRANGE BREW, too!!!! Had forgotten until I started going through my book pile!


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