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#80 Dark and Stormy Knights edited by P.N Elrod

Dark and Stormy Knights is an anthology of longer short stories by some of the biggest names in urban fantasy. The theme this time in anti-heroes. Each story focuses on some sort of a bad boy/girl type character, such as a vigilante, or a mercenary. The story can be part of a larger universe that the author has created, or something completely stand alone. The end result is a solid, if somewhat uneven batch of short stories. Of the the nine stories, five of them were really satisfactory to me. Of the remaining four, I felt pretty conflicted about three of them, and only really disliked one. For a paranormal anthology, that's a pretty good track record.

For a complete list of contents, and brief review of each, check under the cut.

A Questionable Client by Ilona Andrews- The first story takes places in Andrews's Kate Daniels series. In A Questionable Client, Kate, a mercenary, get's hired to protect a man with a secret. I found this story to be very easy to get into, despite having no knowledge of the larger universe coming in. The heroine was likable and the supernatural forces refreshingly outside the norm for the genre. I'm seriously considering picking up the novels in this series. 4.5 stars

Even Hand by Jim Butcher- Even Hand was my main reason for expressing interest in this anthology. Fans of The Dresden Files will appreciate getting a glimpse in the mind of of the gangster Marcone. I've always been fascinated by human characters like Marcone who somehow manage to survive in Harry's world despite being surrounded by beings infinitely more powerful then themselves. Although Even Hand is not the strongest Dresden File short story, it has a satisfying amount of action, and a bit of a twist at the end. 4 stars.

The Beacon by Shannon K. Butcher- In Shannon Butcher's story, innocent individuals (called beacons) have the power to unintentionally summon demons. Our hero (Ryder) hunts down beacons and kills them before their abilities are triggered. That is until his next target turns out to be a child. I have never picked up a Shannon Butcher novel mainly because she is more of a romance novelist, which isn't really my thing. I was a little surprised to find out that The Beacon is not a romance story at all, and is filled with plenty of action. I was pretty happy with the result, even though I didn't find the main female character to be as interesting as the main male character. 4 stars.

Even a Rabbit Will Bite by Rachel Caine. I have to admit, I kind of groaned when I saw that there was a Rachel Caine story in this anthology. This is because I have been dissatisfied with every short story I have read by her, and I haven't been that happy with her full length novels either. I even considered skipping over it. Then I saw that she had written about dragons, and I knew that skipping was not an option. I am so glad that I did that, as Even a Rabbit Will Bite is probably the most satisfying story in this anthology. It tells the story of an ancient Dragonslayer, who must pass on her training to the next generation. Even a Rabbit Will Bite is well structured story with an ending that I did not see coming. Reading this has taught me to be a little more open minded about Rachel Caine's work. 4.5 stars.

Dark Lady by P.N. Elrod. Jack Fleming is a vampire detective living in the crime filled Chicago of the 1930s. In Dark Lady, Jack takes on a woman's case, and almost loses his life in the process. I've been curious about book series that Jack Fleming stars in for a while. As I enjoy the mixture of noir and supernatural found in The Dresden Files, I've been curious about this series, which is even stronger on the noir. In the end, even though I found the setting to be fascinating and enjoyed the protagonist, I struggled to connect with the story itself. 3 stars.

Beknighted by Deidre Knight. In Beknighted, an artist struggles to free a knight who's been trapped in a puzzle box. To me, this was a really interesting premise, but the execution of it wasn't to my liking. I thought that the world building was a little sloppy, making the story slightly confusing. I did not like the mix of overly dramatic dialogue with more modern speech. I also could not connect emotionally with any of the characters, and often had a hard time understanding their motivations. Although I must give Deidre Knight the credit for having the most original short story in the batch, I cannot say that I enjoyed it. 2 stars.

Shifting Star by Vicki Pettersson. Shifting Star tells the story of Skamar, an individual not born, but created by an agent of light. Shifting Star takes places in Pettersson's Signs of the Zodiac series. Although I have read the first two novels in this series, this one takes place further down the time line, and therefore spoiled me for events in the series (whoops). One thing I liked about Shifting Star was it's protagonist. I feel that that the kidnapping storyline was less successful, as was the romantic aspect. As a result, I felt conflicted over this story. 3 stars.

Rookwood and Mrs. King by Lilith Saintcrow. In this story, a vampire named Rookwood agrees to help a wealthy housewife whose undead husband is trying to turn her into a vampire as well. The story itself moved quickly, and kept my attention, which was good. I also liked the concept of struggled against “the thirst.” Unfortunately, the twists and turns didn't have much of an impact on me, due to not caring too deeply for the protagonist. As a result, I felt kind of blah about this story. 3 stars.

God's Creatures by Carrie Vaughn. Vaughn's contribution is one of my favorites and a great way to end this anthology. Fans of The Kitty Norville Series will recognize it's protagonist, Cormac. In God's Creatures, Cormac is summoned to hunt down a violent werewolf. Although the result was a little predictable, I can't deny that this was an engrossing story. I really enjoyed getting a closer look into Cormac's head. 4.5 stars

I conclusion, although there are a few stories that didn't work for me, I feel as if the good content outweighs the bad in this anthology, thanks to contributions by Ilona Andres, Jim and Shannon Butcher, Rachel Caine and Carrie Vaughn.

Rating: 3.5 stars
Length: 357 pages
Source: generous gift from a friends (thanks calico_reaction !)
Challenge: This book is not part of any challenges
Similar Books: For other paranormal anthologies, there's Prom Nights from Hell, Dates From Hell, On The Prowl, My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding (my review), and Blood Lite (my review), although I find Dark and Stormy Knights to be superior to all of these selections (paranormal anthologies are notoriously mixed, and often not too good).
Other books I've read by this editor: My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding

xposted to temporaryworlds , bookish  and goodreads
Tags: xxx author last name: a-h

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