Short Story Collections edited by Ellen Datlow

Teeth; Vampire Tales

Teeth

Teeth

A collection of short stories by some very amazing authors, including Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, Neil Gaiman and Melissa Marr – all with the theme of Vampires…

Some stories I enjoyed, but I think most of the stories struggled to give a new view of vampires, explaining the history and culture behind the stories and have credible and empathetic characters that the reader can relate to. Short stories are not easy, but when the author is trying to breath new life into an otherwise over exposed theme – their job is even harder!

Some stories were great, and some of my favourite fantasy and young adult authors are represented, but not all of the stories held my attention, or captured my imagination.

Naked City; Tales of Urban Fantasy

Naked City

Naked City

Urban Fantasy is just another name for paranormal or supernatural fantasy. Vampires. Werewolves. Witches…

Some great authors with a few favourite characters/worlds revisited… Jim Butcher (Harry Dresden – Wizard for Hire), Patricia Briggs, Melissa Marr, Holly Black…

Not quite what I expected, this collection of short stories mostly hit the mark! Again, short stories can be hard to sell – not enough time to fully explore the themes and concepts behind the worlds or assumptions, let alone the characters involved. You know that the story is good when you want to know more!

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

The Emerald Atlas

The Emerald Atlas

Three orphans, Kate, Michael and Emma P. are orphaned under unusual and difficult circumstances… and then over the course of ten years, are shunted from orphanage to orphanage until finally they end up at the strangest orphanage of all at Cambridge Falls!

While exploring their new home, they discover an old leather book, which when Kate places an old photo on one of it’s pages, transports them back to the time and place of the photo. A time and place where all children are prisoners of an evil but gorgeous witch who will stop at nothing to possess the old leather book!

The Leather book is actually the Emerald Atlas of the title, one of three powerful artifacts which were hidden, thought destroyed hundreds of years ago, and are now being sought by forces of evil. The three twins are each very different and lead by Kate, the eldest, they strive to understand the suddenly magical world they find themselves in, save the children and adults of Cambridge Falls, help the Dwarves,  keep the Atlas out of  the hands of the Wicked Countess, understand the mysterious hints and plots of Doctor Pym as well as stay together as a family and find their parents!

I enjoyed this book greatly, but found the start a little cumbersome! Suitable for mid to late Primary students.

Troubletwisters by Garth Nix and Sean Williams

Troubletwiters

Troubletwisters

Jack and Jaide are twins. They are sent to live with their Grandmother, Grandma X, when their hose explodes, their father disappears and their mother needs to work to get the money together to rebuild their lives!

They have never been to their Grandmother’s house in the small town of Portland. They are not comfortable with their Grandmother at all! Especially when Grandma X and her house turn out to be quite eccentric and not a little disturbing! Then there are the strange things that happen around the town… talking cats, disappearing and reappearing doors, swarms of insects, including cockroaches, hot chocolate that makes you forget what just happened, tornadoes inside… and then things get really messy!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! The story is told from two points of view, with each twin taking turns to be the narrator. The stories overlap nicely with each child having a distinct voice and often differing opinions on what is happening! Grandma X is quite annoying as she constantly tries to divert the children from their questions and basically just confuses the issues… but all for good reason… can’t say too much more without giving the whole thing away – but destiny, family traits, abilities and inheritance play a big part in the adventure as the twins battle to keep together and understand the changes taking place around them – all while evil lurks around the corner and tries to kidnap or hijack them!

Wereworld: The rise of the wolf by Curtis Jordan

Rise fo the Wolf

Rise fo the Wolf

Drew is the odd one out in his family. Even his twin looks like his father, blonde and blue eyed… not slight and dark like Drew. He has a special affinity with animals but with his slight build struggles to keep up with his farm work.

left at home with his adored mother, he is devastated when his beloved mother is attacked and killed by a monster. He then partially changes himself, trying to protect/avenge her, only to be attacked by his own father, who mistakenly believes Drew is responsible for his wife’s death!

Drew is on the run and fully transforms into a wolf – the lost werewolf is a land dominated and ruled by weres – werelions, werepigs, werebears…

But all is not well in this world. The deadly politics and jealousy of the king (a werelion) lead to Drew being captured, tortured, escaping and embarking on a journey across the country, rescuing princesses, holding true to the morals taught to him by his mother and showing the world that there is hope for a better life.

Strong characters also, I enjoyed this book, which is action packed and great for male readers. The female characters are a bit limited, but still reasonably believable.

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

The Dark Divine

The Dark Divine

I read this book last year… and have to admit that I had to re-read/scan quite a bit before I was up to speed with which book it was!

Grace is the goody two shoes daughter of the local pastor – or is she. She struggles with the ‘Pastor’s Daugter’ tag a bit and especially with her family’s treatment of her childhood friend, the now estranged Daniel.

The family has good reason to be wary of Daniel, especially given the circumstances surrounding his disappearance, the behaviour of his father, and the injuries caused to Jude (Grace’s brother). Once again, there is no hodling back true love – against all odds and of course there is the obligatory werewolf angle!

An interesting take on the werewolf legend – controllable with magic talismans, but also curable through the sacrifice of true love…

Strong characters. Grace is quite conflicted, with her needs and desires at odds with her family loyalties. I particularly like the art references and descriptions.

Reckless by Cornelia Funke

Reckless

Reckless

I am a big fan of Cornelia Funke – Inkheart, The Thief Lord, Igraine… I did enjoy this book, but not as much as I hoped!

Jacob and Will Reckless lost their father… he disappeared one night, never to return. this had a profound effect on both boys, but particularly on the eldest, Jacob. Eventually he learns the secret of his father’s mirror, the strange world on the other side and slowly but surely he too begins to disappear beyond the mirror on the wall.

Will (and his fiancée) try to follow, just at the worst possible time and falls victim to a terrible curse. Slowly, inexorably Will turns into living stone – a creature from prophecy, destined to lose his humanity and become the ultimate weapon in a fairy tale war of politics and deception – but not if Jacob has anything to say about it!

A great premise for a story, but Jacob in particular, but the characters in general, don’t quite connect for me. Still enjoyable and readable, but not as good as I expected!

Rose by Holly Webb

Rose

Rose

Rose is an orphan. Found in a fish basket at the foot of a war memorial, Rose has no hope of her parents descending on the orphanage to rescue her… she must make her own luck! So when the chance comes to go into service in the house of famous magician, Mr Fountain, she jumps at the chance and her life is turned upside down. None of the other servants seem to notice the strange behaviour of the house and it’s occupants. Rose however can’t walk down the stairs without feeling the house moving. As for the magic…

What a beautiful story! Rose is so human, with her sudden bursts of strength and insight and her self doubt and fear. The other characters are equally believable and likable. The stench of evil is at first barely noticeable, slowly escalating until more and more evidence of wrongness builds up and others notice. The Family is under threat and it is up to Rose and her new friends to save the day!

Great story, lovable characters and beautiful writing! Love it!

Darklight by Lesley Livingstone

Darklight

Darklight

The only thing that I found off putting about this book, was the fact that I hadn’t managed to work out which book was the first in the series, and ended up buying the second. Bugger!

Kelley Winslow used to think she was an ordinary girl with aspirations to be on the stage… then she discovered who her real parents are (not human) and met the love of her life, Sonny, who was sort of human but had spent most of his life in the court of her father, the fairy king Auberon… of course there are the bad guys; leprechauns, secrets; just who is Sonny really

I enjoyed this book, the sometimes opposing views of what is good and what is evil, how magic should or shouldn’t work and the sacrfices we make for those we love.

I wish I had read the first book inn the series though!

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

The Replacement

The Replacement

Not a great picture – but it could be worse!

Mackie Doyle is a bit of on odd character. He cruises through school, deliberately trying to stay under the radar, for the sake of his family, especially his Mother and his sister, he must not attract any attention, which can be quite difficult when you have pale blonde hair and black as black eyes!

Somehow he manages to be noticed by one of the popular girls, at the same time that Tate starts to pay attention for a different reason. Tate’s sister has gone missing, the thing left in her place has died and somehow Tate feels that Mackie can help her find out what is going on in a town that is dark and tense, with little hop and even less happiness! Only problem is, Mackie is slowly dying, largely due to the fact he is allergic to most metals… especially iron!

I quite enjoyed this book, dealing with how the fey now interact with the modern world where no one believes in them and the world itself, full of iron and metal, is poison. Mackie begins as quite a loser, especially when he is made physically ill by the sight and smell of blood, but as he and his friends try to deal with the town’s manipulation, he becomes more and more likable.

Ash by Malinda Lo

Ash by Malinda Lo

Ash by Malinda Lo

A very unusual take on the age old Cinderella fairy tale, Ash looks at tradition, family, magic and fairies from a very different view point. Ash’s mother is a village wise woman, who dies and leaves her daughter behind in a time when wise women have fallen into disrepute in favour of university learning and science.

When her father remarries and then dies deeply in debt, Ash’s new family (Stepmother and two Stepsisters) expect her to pay his debts through hard labour in the ashes of the kitchen and as their personal maid / housekeeper / cook.

In this world the fairies still live in the woods, and the King’s Huntress holds a special place in society, steeped in tradition and esteem.

I was enthralled with this book, but sometimes found it hard to follow some of the social and historical references.