Strange Brew, an anthology edited by P.N. Elrod
Released: July 7, 2009
Format: Trade Paperback
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Strange Brew is probably one of the best collections of short stories I’ve read. And it’s not just because some of the characters were familiar to me, as I read most of these authors; I really enjoyed all of the stories, even the ones by authors who are new to me, or by familiar authors with new settings and/or characters. This is really exciting to me since I’m not a huge short story person – I feel like they often lack characterization – but these were all quite enjoyable.
First up is Patricia Briggs‘ story, Seeing Eye, about a blind witch who helps a werewolf find his human brother. Set in the same world as her Mercy Thompson books, Seeing Eye was a great story – interesting characters, new world developments, and insights into a different werewolf group. I really enjoyed it as was sad when it was over.
Next is Jim Butcher‘s short story about Harry Dresden and some bad beer. In Last Call, Harry pops in to his local pub and finds everyone in a bad way, leading him to investigate what could have happened with the intrepid Murphy in tow. I’m a big fan of the Dresden Files and so I really enjoyed this. It was the perfect short story for someone familiar with the characters and the world; I’m not sure how well it works for new readers, though.
The third story in the book is Death Warmed Over by Rachel Caine. It’s about a witch who performs resurrections who’s hired to bring another resurrectionist back from the dead. I’m not a huge fan of Rachel Caine’s – her Morganville Vampires books don’t interest me and her Weather Wardens series lost its luster around book 5 – but I really liked this story. You don’t have to be familiar with her other work to get into it – she’s got some great characters and a fun plotline.
Vegas Odds by Karen Chance is the next installment in Strange Brew. Set in the same world as her Cassie Palmer books, this is a story about a War Mage and her werewolf boyfriend. Loved it! The characters really came off the page and it’s a great storyline.
This is followed by P.N. Elrod‘s Hecate’s Golden Eye, which is a period piece about a detective and his vampiric investigatory partner. It’s 1937 and they’re solving a robbery. There are some great supporting characters and a fun story. I’ve never read anything by this author but this short story features the main characters from her Vampire Files, which tempts me to pick something else of hers up.
Bacon by Charlaine Harris was interesting. Seemingly set in the same world as her Sookie Stackhouse novels but involving all new characters, Bacon is a vampire who’s seeking revenge on some werewolves. Once again, I enjoyed the stories and the characters. I also like that we learned more about the role of witches in the author’s mythology.
Faith Hunter has also contributed a piece to this anthology, called Signatures of the Dead. This may have been my least favourite story, which saddens me since she’s a great author. I love her Rogue Mage books but I didn’t find these characters particularly compelling, which is unfortunate since it features her new series star, Jane Yellowrock, in a supporting role. Perhaps I”ll like this story more after I get my hands on Skinwalker and get more familiar with this world.
There’s also a piece by Caitlin Kittredge featuring characters from her Nocturne City series. In Ginger, it’s Sunny, Luna’s sister, who’s the protagonist, which I love because I think she’s a great character. Probably my favourite in the series. So I was really happy to have a chance to get to know her better. Unfortunately, I didn’t really find the bad guy in this story that compelling. Other than that, though, I enjoyed reading this installment.
The final story in Strange Brew is Dark Sins by Jenna Maclaine. Another first time read for me, and coincidentally another period piece, which was neat. She writes books about a witch who becomes a vampire and this story is part of their adventures. It has fun characters and an engaging plot, which makes me think I should invest in the first book in the Cin Craven series.
All in all, a great anthology!