I generally review romance, paranormal and urban fantasy. I tend to pick review books that I want to read, so generally my reviews will be positive. I always give my honest opinion: good, bad, and indifferent.
Note: on my blog I use a letter grading system. I've listed the ratings below. For sites with stars, I have listed the equivalent rating. If I didn't finish the book, I will not rate it with stars.
A+ Personal Favorite (5 stars)
A Loved It (4.5 or 5 stars)
A- Enjoyed A Lot (4 or 4.5 stars)
B+ Liked It A Lot (4 stars)
B Liked It -- Recommend (4 stars)
B- Liked It -- But I had a few small issues (3 or 3.5 stars)
C+ Liked It -- But I had issues (3 or 3.5 stars)
C Finished It -- Liked some, didn't like some (3 stars)
C- Finished It -- Liked a little, didn't like a lot (2 or 2.5 stars)
D Not A Big Fan (2 stars)
E Don’t Waste Your Time (1 star)
TW: Reading this book was like watching a Train Wreck
DNF: Did Not Finish
updated July 9, 2015
“Even Hand” by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files)
This story is shared from Dresden’s long-time nemesis, John Marcone.
Justine shows up with a baby and asks for sanctuary from Mag, a powerful fomor wizard. Marcone isn’t one for making bad business decisions, but takes Justine in because one of Marcone’s rules is no harm to children. Mag is extremely determined to get back Justine and brings all his power to bear down on Marcone, Gard, and Hendricks.
While the tale doesn’t directly tie into the overall Dresden story arc, it gives great insight into the warped mind of Marcone, reminding readers he isn’t anybody’s hero. I love he remains the bad guy, even when saving Justine. And his plans for Dresden left me shivering.
“Hounded” by Kelly Armstrong (Cainsville series)
Never having read this series, Ms. Armstrong does a great job giving readers just enough information to understand the short without going into the entire series background and history.
The Cwn Annwn are the Hunters of the Wild Hunt. “Hounded” follows one Huntsman whose hound was taken from him and was cut from his pack for reasons we discover as the story unfolds. Unlike the previous story, where a bad guy does a good deed, this Huntsman is not good, and we witness how he corrupts a woman, bending her will to suit his needs. Very well done and a bit creepy!
“Nigsu Ga Tesgu” by Jeff Somers (Ustari Cycle story)
Once again, the author does a great job giving readers a blurb about the world and antagonist featured in this anthology. Mika Renar is a magician, and she is one of the most powerful and dark ustari in the world. The first line in the story tells us she killed her father, and thus starts our lesson of how wicked magicians truly are.
Told in first person, present tense, “Nigsu Ga Tesgu” shares an attack meant to destroy Mika. While I had no problems following the storyline, I found that it held little interest for me. Maybe if I knew more about Mari, I would have been more invested in her survival. However, she is an evil, selfish woman, one I didn’t care about.
“Sixty-Six Seconds” by Craig Schaefer (This story contains characters from two interconnected series: Harmony Black and Daniel Faust.)
Fontaine and his new apprentice, Rache, work for hell by bringing in damned souls. They are on a mission to stop the Redemption Choir, a group set on bringing down the beings of hell.
The story takes place over the course of one night, while Fontaine takes on a difficult bounty with a big payoff. I like how the tale unfolds and the twist that plays out. It’s an interesting story; I wanted to know more about Fontaine and his human informant, Ada.
“Kiss” by Lilith Saincrow (Jill Kismit series)
The main character in this one is Perry, a nemesis of the series heroine.
Honestly, I was lost most of this story. I think Perry was the first person, “I” telling the story and he is the son (?) of Argoth. Perry is working with a hunter, his enemy, to take down Argoth.
It was also confusing because Perry refers to “you” and “your world,” and it’s unclear if he’s speaking to another character or the reader directly. I ended up DNFing this one after reading about half of it. It was way too confusing.
“The Naughtiest Cherub” by Kevin Hearne (Iron Druid Chronicles)
This story is shared by Loki as he prepares to begin Ragnarok, and without the bounds of Fate, he approaches the Christian devil, Lucifer, for assistance in the upcoming battles.
Mr. Hearne’s sense of humor shines in this short story. Both Loki and Lucifer had me smirking. Loki is growing stronger, and the time to take on Atticus, the Druids, and all of Midgard draws near. As a big fan of the series, I enjoyed this little look inside Loki’s mind.
“The Resurrectionist” by Caitlin Kittredge (Hellhound Chronicles)
This story, set in the 1930’s, features a monster hunter named Lee, who is considered evil to the population of non-human beings living in this world. It’s more of an origin story about Lee.
Reading this one, I was lost most of the time until the very end. I think I would have enjoyed the story much more had I been a fan of the series. With that said, Lee and his nemesis, Ava, intrigued me, enough that I’d like to check out the full series.
“Down Where the Darkness Dwells” by Joseph Nassise (Templar Chronicles)
The story is narrated by necromancer Simon Logan, who is also an acolyte of the big, bad fallen angel, Ashereal, also know as the Adversary. This tale takes readers back to the time when Logan came into power.
I found this dark tale interesting. It’s clear the narrator is a bad man, but I enjoyed learning about how he came to power.
“Bellum Romanum” by Carrie Vaughn (Kitty Norville series)
Heroine Kitty Norville is a werewolf who has stumbled onto a rather large, evil conspiracy, and at the center of the trouble is 2,000-year-old vampire, Roman, aka Dux Bellorum. This story shares how he came into power and hints at the evil plans ahead.
While I’ve never read the Kitty Norville series, I’ve heard great things. Regardless, the story was easy to follow and drew me in. I want to know more about the world and what Roman plans to do with his magic lamp.
“Altar Boy” by Jonathan Maberry (Joe Ledger weird science thrillers)
Joe works for a covert Special Ops group that stops terrorists using cutting-edge science weapons. This story follows a reoccurring, “recovering” villain named Toys, a man who firmly believes he is damned due to his past actions. Yet a new relationship with an equally broken woman gives Toys a new outlook on life.
Wow! Did I love this one. I’ve never even heard of this series, yet I found this to be a powerful story that was emotionally gripping. Toys is a complex man, one worthy of redemption, yet will never seek it. I want to read more from this author ASAP!
“Make It Snappy” by Faith Hunter (Jane Yellowrock series)
This story takes a small look at a backstory of Leo, the vampire Master of New Orleans. The author sets the stage at the opening, which probably makes a lot a sense to those familiar with the series.
Even though I was a bit lost (this series is next on my audiobook TBR), I enjoyed this short episode about Leo and his nemesis, El Mago. Leo is a just Master, but cruel when he is crossed, and this story demonstrates what happens to those who cross him. Entertaining reading!
“Chase the Fire” by Jon F. Merz (Lawson Vampire series)
In this world, vampires remain hidden from the world and protected by an elite cadre. However, there are some vampires who do not wish to live by the rules. Shiraz Aziz is one such creature.
This story sets the stage for a large conspiracy within the ruling vampire council. Shiraz and his partner work to find an artifact and kill Lawson, and I found myself interested in their tale, despite knowing nothing about the series. The plot against Lawson appears to be rather well-thought out, and I want to know if it is successful or not. This one was an exciting tale.
“Unexpected Choices” by Diana Pharaoh Francis (Horngate Witches series)
In Ms. Francis’s world, a group called the Guardians has unleashed a magical apocalypse with the hopes in killing off the humans. Giselle is a witch who formed the Horngate coven to fight on the side of humans. She foresees the need to steal something and calls upon her sometimes nemesis, Shoftiel, a righteous angel of justice, to guard her. The pair form a fragile alliance in an effort to save the world.
I was a bit lost with this story at first, but as I read on, the author filled in more gaps and the mythology became more interesting. What seemed like a “Kate Daniels knockoff,” became a detailed and unique world. I loved the back and forth between Giselle and Shoftiel and want to know what happens after the events of this story.
“Real Life” by Steven Savile (Glass Town Story)
Seth Lockwood is envious of his brother’s life. Obsessed with his brother’s love, Seth kidnaps Eleanor, and the pair live in a magical construct outside of time known as Glass Town. Seth is an evil man who enjoys causing physical and emotional pain.
“Reel Life” is a disturbingly odd story. The magical construct is a lonely, desolate place with only two inhabitants; the captive held against her will and the captor now stuck in this place because of the passing time outside of Glass Town. Seth is truly evil, ruining his own life in an effort to destroy his brother. The story is creepy and distressing.
“The Difference Between Deceit and Delusion” by Domino Finn (Black Magic Outlaw series)
This is the backstory of Tunji Malu, one of the first villains in the series. He is a supernatural bodyguard for a Nigerian businessman making his way in Miami.
Tunji is a being akin to a vampire, best I can tell. He’s a loyal bodyguard and does the things necessary to protect his boss. Yet his boss is only a means to climb out from the world Tunji once lived. In this story we get a taste of his ruthlessness and cruelty. Yet all isn’t what it seems, and by the end of the story, new alliances are formed. The tale is action-filled and exciting, yet easy to follow. I am interested in reading more.
“Balance” by Seanan McGuire (InCryptid Universe)
The InCryptid universe is filled with shifters (?), humans, and non-human others. I believe it is the job of these others, cryptids, to keep humans from discovering they aren’t alone. There are also cuckoos, and I am unsure if they are related to cryptids. The story, shared in first person narrative, follows a female cuckoo who has the ability to read and manipulate the minds of those around her. She’s warped and loves messing with those around her in awful, usually deadly ways.
I think in his effort to explain his world, the author confused me by adding information that was unnecessary for understanding this short tale. The narrator, Eliza, a one of many cuckoos that have invaded our world. They manipulate humans to survive, leaving them after they are used up. In this story Eliza discovers that those hunting the cuckoos have learned a new way to trap her kind. I enjoyed the story, wondering about the larger universe outside the cuckoos.
“Everywhere” by Sam Witt (Pitchfork County Story)
Joe Hark, the Night Marshal, fights the forces of darkness in the world. His mentor and ally, the Long Man, became one of the monsters they fight, and Joe was forced to kill his once friend. However, the Long Man, didn’t wholly perish and has returned, looking to gain back the powers Joe took from him.
Oh... another dark, yet interesting tale! The Long Man is warped... at first wanting to find eternal rest with the Father, but when turned away, his demented mind hatches plans to “save” his soul. Getting inside this dark mind reminded me of a creepy horror movie. I fear for Joe and the world he struggles to protect.
Urban Enemies is an interesting look into several different worlds through short stories that center on a villain or antagonist from each series. Some of its villains are simply misunderstood or have good intentions, while others are truly evil. I enjoyed reading the several varieties of writing styles and antagonists. Even though I only follow two of the seventeen series represented in Urban Enemies, I enjoyed the book, wanting to look further into some series. I recommend this unique anthology to fans of the urban fantasy genre.
My Rating: B, Liked It
Originally posted at That's What I'm Talking About
Review copy provided by publisher