My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding was given a chance because of the Jim Butcher story (which was fantastic). All in all it rates head and shoulders above all of the other anthologies that I’ve read, although the content is still uneven. All nine stories (some which seem a little long to be considered a “short story”), take the typical wedding elements such as runaway brides, whirlwind romances, wedding singers, and cold feet, and spice them up with faeries, cursed pirate ships, psychic powers, and the undead. One thing this anthology has going for it, is the authors are not afraid to take risks and move beyond the typical supernatural trends of vampires, werewolves, witches, and more vampires. Sometimes, the risks pay off, other times they do not.
For a break down of each story, check under the cut!
“Spellbound” by L.A. Banks takes the Hatfield and McCoy myth and brings it into the 21st century. In this story, Odelia Hatfield and Jefferson McCoy are in love and planning to get married, but fear what will happen when their family, who happen to be powerful spellcasters discovers them. They are also cursed with a “chastity” spell that put a damper on any pre-wedding naughtiness. Although “Spellbound” has a unique premise, the execution was very disappointing. It runs long for a short story, and is over stuffed with too many characters, that make it difficult to keep them straight. I didn’t really see the point of some of them, such as the two ghosts in the beginning. Also, all of the characters speak in a really pronounced dialect, which the narrator of this audiobook preformed quite well. Unfortunately, it was a little too much for me, as it made a lot of the minor characters sound alike, and again, hard to tell apart. I also had a hard time relating to the protagonists, which makes it hard for me to get into any story. Originality aside, this one was not for me- two out of five stars.
In “Something Borrowed” by Jim Butcher, Billy and Georgia the werewolves are about to get married, and wizard for hire Harry Dresden has just been cast as the last minute best man. That is, until Georgia is kidnapped on the day of the ceremony. It’s up to Harry, Murphy, and Bob the talking skull to find her before its too late. Jim Butcher does a lot of things well with his Dresden Files series. Two of his biggest strengths are humor and page turning action. “Something Borrowed” has this in spades. I found myself cracking up at Harry’s one liners and practically sitting on the edge of my seat with the exciting conclusion. There is also a rather nice almost-romantic moment between Harry and Murphy. This isn’t something you get to see in the series that often, so it was a nice bonus. This is my favorite story in the collection- five out of five stars.
“Dead Man’s Chest” by Rachel Caine- Cecilia Welles is engaged to short-term boyfriend Ian, and is experiencing cold feet when he decides to get married on a very realistic looking pirate ship. Much like “Spellbound,” I was happily surprised to see Rachel Caine go for something you don’t see in much paranormal lit, pirates. Unfortunately, I feel as if she drew a little too much from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise with her tale of cursed pirates. In fact, it felt close to plagiarism at times. It doesn’t help that Cecelia is a not likeable lead. I’m all for the insecure heroine that finds confidence and becomes a stronger woman, but it feels like she didn’t really do anything, stuff just happens to her. She does show signs of a spine at the end, but by then, it’s too little too late. There is one likeable character, the first mate, but the rest of the characters were bland and unoriginal, even the romantic lead. Also the plot (for reasons I cannot risk here- don’t want to spoil the “twists”) has serious problems logic wise. One and a half out of five stars
P.N. Elrod’s “All Shook Up” is about a wedding caterer who can read peoples “vibes” and the performing Elvis tribute artist that seems too good to be true, especially when he takes the stage. “All Shook Up” is a lot of fun. I enjoyed the enthusiasm that the author has for Elvis, even though I’m not a huge fan myself. I also liked the fact that the heroine here was a much more likable, much more interesting, protagonist whose personality extends beyond what’s necessary by the plot. I also liked the unconventional romantic tension, and the fact that the story is not predictable. Some of the dialogue falls flat, but the overall product was very enjoyable to read. Four out of Five stars.
"The Wedding of Wylda Serene" by Esther M. Friesner tells about the wedding of a well-to-do girl in a fancy exclusive club that just happens to be possessed by gods and monsters. The narrator is a rich middle aged snob, whose snooty voice is a delight to read. I especially liked the interaction between the upper-class “old money” humans, and the more colorful Greek Gods who plague them. Much like “All Shook Up” this story is not predictable at all, and it makes for a fun read. Four and a half out of five stars.
You can tell that Lori Handeland's "Charmed By The Moon" is part of a larger universe. It tells the story of a Jager-Suchers (werewolf hunter) named Jessie who is about to get married to a man named Will. When she finds a love charm in his possession, she worries that their feelings may not be real. The paranormal genre is often a blend of romance and the supernatural. I’m a huge fan of the supernatural, but not always of the romance. I found this story to be a little heavy on the romance, to the point where it seemed pretty cheesy. I have a feeling that if I had read the series, I might have appreciated this story more, but as I had no previous emotional connection with the characters, I had a hard time relating to their story. Two and a half our of five stars
Charlaine Harris’s “Tacky” appears to take place in her Southern Vampire Series (which I have not had the pleasure of reading yet). Vampire Dahlia is about to watch her friend Taffy get married, to a werewolf, Don, a marriage that looks like it will end up bloody. This is my first story by Charlaine Harris and I really enjoyed reading it. I liked the humorous beginning, where the protagonist watches a normal human wedding. As always, when seen by an outsider’s perspective, our rituals look very strange indeed. I also like the romance that blossomed between Dahlia and another werewolf, which I felt was done quite well. Four and half stars out of five.
In Sherrilyn Kenyon's "A Hard Day's Night-Searcher," when Rafael's Squire, Jeff, writes a thinly veiled fictionalization of the Dark-Hunters (similar to vampire slayers- but with an immortal twist), he finds certain members of the supernatural community are gunning for him, especially Celena, another squire. Rafael manages to distract her with a bet. If he can get her to break a squire rule in one week, she’ll let Jeff live. Kenyon’s story had a really promising beginning. Most of the necessary world building is seamlessly inserted into the dialogue in a discussion of Jeff’s story. This is really well done. I found myself quickly intrigued by the story, and the universe. Unfortunately, just when the story seems like it’s going to end, it launches itself into a romantic storyline, filled with an unnecessary sex scene, and one of my least favorite types of developments. The “hey I know I just admitted my feelings to you but lets pledge our lives together based on this half hour long relationship” plot line. It makes the story quite uneven. Three out of five stars.
Susan Krinard's "... Or Forever Hold Your Peace," finishes off the anthology with a story that’s not what I would consider paranormal. I see it more as historical fantasy. "... Or Forever Hold Your Peace," is set in an alternate England where people have magical talents. During the wedding of Emma Wakefield and Edward Parish, someone stands up, protests to their pending union, and then drop dead. Soon after this, Emma goes missing. Mystery solvers, Olivia and Kit are determined to track her down. "... Or Forever Hold Your Peace" is a nice way to end the anthology. I enjoyed the world building, as well as the romantic tension between Olivia and Kit. The story did feel a little over stuffed (especially with the twist after twist ending), and some stuff felt like it needed to be developed more. Despite it’s flaws. I felt it was pretty enjoyable. Three and a half out of five stars.
In the end, there are some nice stories here, some just okay, and some that are downright awful. The book is nice for a beach read, but if you decide to pick it up, I’d recommend some of the stories, but not all.
Rating: three stars
Length: I listened to the audiobook, but the print version is 310 pages
TBR Pile: 144 books
Similar Books: Rachel Caine’s Weather Warden Series, Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files (my reviews)
Other books I've read by this editor: This is my first experience with P.N. Elord
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