The Urban Fantasy Anthology

Overview: This ought to be fun. It’s a collection of stories, long and short, in the three sides of urban fantasy. The editors and writers have included essays on the different sides of urban fantasy. Useful for those, like me, that have barely scratched the surface. Let’s get on with the stories, shall we?

A Bird That Whistles by Emma Bull

Overview: It’s a musical journey for John. The journey starts when he meets Willie for Open Stage night at the Orpheus. Willie dresses in an old-fashioned way, has plenty of advise about music to offer, and seems otherworldly at times.

Likes: Good switch Ms. Bull. I could have sworn that Willie was a vampire. But the clues to his identity were well placed. Biggest hint: music, singing…hint, hint.

Conclusion: I liked this one. It was fun.

Make a Joyful Noise by Charles de Lint

Overview: Wow. Maida and Zia, part of the Cousins as they call themselves, have gotten themselves caught up in human affairs. Well Maida has anyway. Promises are sacred to the Cousins, and she has made a doozy. Oh, did I mention that it’s to a ghost?

Likes: This story explains a lot of how family relationships work. Maddy’s death was open to your interpretation. But it was Donnie and their mother that I felt for the most. Every family has feelings like this, and it’s nice to see it being portrayed as just the way it is.

Conclusion: As close as this is to a true depiction of mother and child, this will be a ‘love it or hate it’ story. I enjoyed it , even though it was sad.

The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories by Neil Gaiman

Overview: Um, what was this? I have no idea where we were going here. All I know is it’s all 30 minutes away.

Conclusion: I didn’t like this one. It was confusing. This is the second time something from Mr. Gaiman just confused me, so I’ll count my losses with his works.

On the Road To New Egypt by Jeffrey Ford

Overview: This starts out like a bad joke. A guy picks up Jesus and the Devil. It wasn’t a funny one either.

Conclusion: This is another one that I didn’t care for. Jesus wasn’t portrayed in the best light. And I’m not talking about the smoking and drinking either.

Julie’s Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

Overview: What do you get when an artist with a magical background finds a tapestry that shows something that she doesn’t like? Hang on for Julie here.

Likes: This was kind of cool. A teacup unicorn, the joy of all little girls. Or was that just me? The ending was sweet.

Conclusion: I liked this one. Julie’s grandmother must have been one scary woman to disobey.

This ends the “Mythic Fiction” sub-genre. We go to “Paranormal Romance” next.

Companions To the Moon by Charles de Lint

Overview: Mary is worried. Edric has seemed to close himself away from her. And she fears he might be cheating on her.

Conclusion: This is a cautionary tale. I’m not sure what to make of this one. All I do know is that the relationship could never work under the guidelines both parties put it under.

A Haunted House of Her Own by Kelly Armstrong

Overview: Tanya and Nathan have bought a supposedly haunted house. Haunted bed and breakfasts are considered to be all the rage these days. Not that Tanya has bought any of those stories. So why are there so many freaky occurrences with Nathan at the center?

Likes: I like haunted house stories. This one is no different. Tanya’s fear is quite understandable. The ending now, that was the real kicker.

Conclusion: Isn’t karma something? I liked this one.

She’s My Witch by Norman Partridge

Overview: Oh my. Young love, or more like teen love. A teenager with his witch and the last night of summer.

Likes: It was a pretty neat story. A guy bringing out the beauty he sees in a woman. It just got a little weird when you find out Johnny’s secret.

Conclusion: What comes around, goes around. Why can’t anyone get this? I liked this one.

Kitty’s Zombie New Year by Carrie Vaughn

Overview: Kitty just wants a New Year’s kiss. Is that too much to ask? When a woman in a stupor shows up at the party, it’s up to Kitty to figure out what’s wrong with her. The joys of having a supernatural call-in program.

Likes: Kitty’s research on zombies was kind of fun to follow. And the way that they were able to help Beth was sweet.

Conclusion: I liked the character of Kitty, not so sure about reading her story any further though. I did like this story.

Seeing Eye by Patricia Briggs

Overview: Tom is searching for Jon, his brother both in blood and in blue. To aid his search, he is sent to Moira to help him. Since the group that has Jon is called the Samhaim Coven, he needs a witch’s help. Good thing Moira isn’t scared.

Likes: Tom is my kind of guy. He doesn’t care what he has to do to get the job done. Let him watch my back.

Conclusion: I liked this one. Maybe I ought to find more on Patricia Briggs.

Hit by Bruce MacAllistair

Overview: Would you take out a repentant vampire for the chance of ultimate forgiveness? That’s what Anthony has been offered. Did I mention that the hit takes place in the Vatican?

Conclusion: I didn’t like this one. God doesn’t play these games.

Boobs by Suzy McKee Charnas

Overview: We have another werewolf story. One about young teens.

Conclusion: This one is just sick. I’m pretty freaked out by the main character. I hated it.

Farewell My Zombie by Francesca Lia Block

Overview: A woman’s son was eaten by zombies. So she’s out to help others threatened by them. The only question is, was Max really eaten by zombies?

Conclusion: Have I mentioned how little I like unreliable narrators? I think it’s the feeling of being lied to. This is just one reason I didn’t care for the story. The other reason is how Ms. Block referred to those with the slightest conservative slant.

This ends our trip through “Paranormal Romance.” All in all, it wasn’t a bad trip. We’re starting the “Fantasy Noir” next.

The White Man by Thomas M. Disch

Overview: Another bipartisan story with an unreliable narrator. Tawana is worried about vampires attacking the Somali refugees in Minneapolis.

Conclusion: Why is it that there is no backlash when the liberals start preaching in their stories? C.S. Lewis is still taking flack for “The Chronicles of Narnia.” Preaching, of any kind, isn’t much fun to read. I didn’t like this one.

Gestella by Susan Palwick

Overview. This is different. Here we have Gestella, a werewolf who falls in love with a man named Jonathan.

Conclusion: This story was awful. Between the second person point-of-view and the ending, well it made for terrible reading, and made no sense. Especially since the ending made the story void.

There are more stories in the “Fantasy Noir” section, but this is where I stop.

Over all Conclusion: After ‘Gestella,’ I bummed out on the anthology. Out of twenty stories seven were good, eight I couldn’t stand, and five I couldn’t read. I did look up the last five stories, and found that “Fantasy Noir” really isn’t my style. Maybe, you will like it better.

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