Pairing: f/f (including trans)
Rating: 3.5, averaged across overall
Argh, so hard to review and rate! Some of these stories blew me away, some were sort of meh. That’s probably how most anthologies go though. I’ve decided to review each story individually, to give potential readers the most information.
This one started strong, if not a bit heavy on the purple prose. I was invested in the characters and the story almost straight away, but by about halfway through, I got sort of lost in the plot. I like the idea of the forbidden romance, the white witch, the familiars, but this felt more like a synopsis to a full novel than a short story. I’d be curious to read a longer version of this, but as a short story it left me more confused than satisfied.
I don’t generally read shifter stuff. I don’t get the fascination with humans turning into animals at all, yet this story grabbed me from the start and held on. Simone was realistic and her pain palpable. I actually cared about her history, and the shifter lore here, and that is not something I’ve ever said before. Nice work on this one.
Dove in the Window
5 stars. 6 stars. HOW MANY STARS AM I ALLOWED TO GIVE?!?!
Best. Story. In. The. Book. I love me some dark fantasy, and this one was right up my alley. It’s just the right balance of creepy and lovely, the side characters are well drawn, and the world thick and full. The ‘Dumb Supper’ chilled me, Death was amazing, and Cissy is just about perfect. Fantastic read. Now excuse me while I go look up everything else this author has ever written, and buy it.
Bottom of the River
An interesting idea, this one, although the end execution slipped a little. Anja’s life is straight out of a fairy tale, having been promised in trade to the river spirit for the usual riches and such, and then never handed over. The tension in the first part built well, but in the end I was a little disappointed that Aleit didn’t have just a little darkness to her. But this was well written overall, and I enjoyed reading it.
If You Want to Walk
This one I just wasn’t into. Chess does far too much naval gazing and the narrative is very slow to start. Some places lacked adequate description, others had too much, and none of the characters popped. The romance line was interesting at first, but when it turned into solid internal monologue, I was no longer invested. The constant head hopping also confused me for most of the narrative, as I couldn’t keep whose POV I was in straight. I think this story had good bones, and maybe just got lost somewhere in execution.
A Tended Garden
There was nothing technically wrong with this one at all, it just didn’t click for me. For a reader interested in witches and ritual and character development without much plot, I think this would be a perfect piece.
Romancing the Healer
As previously discussed, I don’t tend to read shifter stories. This one was well executed, and I love the trans love interest, but had a hard time connecting with any of the characters. Sex scene was nicely done!
It was surprising to find a story of this quality in with the rest of the relatively nicely done shorts. The dialogue was stilted and unnatural, the backstory provided more through info dump than interwoven, and there were redundant words everywhere. I found instances of word redundancy in almost every paragraph for the first two pages, which is the point where I wanted to throw my tablet across the room. The piece read more like a first draft than a final work and made me a bit wary about the stories to follow it, especially since the book had started off so strongly.
Like a Bell Through the Night
Look, any story that contains the phrase “The phone number of a busty lesbian dominatrix who hosted tasteful orgies out of her Brooklyn apartment” has my full attention. Unfortunately, the story didn’t keep me hooked. I think this is another story that I would like a lot in full narrative form, but in a short was sort of confusing and seemed too long in some places, too curt in others. The flashbacks were fun, and the imagery presented throughout was lovely, but the middle and end of the story just felt muddled and hard to really latch onto.
The Imp In The Rock
HOT. So, there wasn’t a ton of substance to this one and I don’t care. The description was great, the sex scenes were fantastic, and really, what else does one need? Next time I head to the ocean I am looking for blue women, especially those near rocks who are wearing nothing. This is another author I now have to go binge read the rest of their writing.
Smile Like You Mean It
Oooh, dark fantasy. Yes please! This one was creepy through the first half, and I ate it up. Perfect settings, descriptions, characters, the whole package. The story fell off about halfway through, unfortunately, when the Split-Mouthed Woman does a very quick about face in tone. I would have enjoyed her staying more morally ambiguous till about halfway through, or having actually killed more people. Still, the end was lovely and it was an easy read. More of this, please!
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