Read the last Bookshelves of Doom on characters she can't stand.
Last year, a group of YA paranormal fantasy authors formed the Smart Chicks Kick It tour. The project was spearheaded by authors Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong, completely organized by authors (rather than publishers), and ultimately, 19 authors made fans in 12 cities extremely happy. It was a huge undertaking. And a successful one, as they’re planning another tour for later this year.
Enthralled is comprised of 16 short stories about road trips—some physical and some metaphorical—by authors who participated in the tour (and two by authors who’re scheduled to appear in this year’s tour). Large anthologies like this tend to be somewhat hit-or-miss, but Enthralled is satisfyingly strong right across the board. Many of the stories are set in the worlds of the contributors’ novels, but almost all of them work just fine as stand-alones.
“Scenic Route,” by Carrie Ryan. Ironically, my favorite story in the collection was written by an author I mentioned in last week’s column. “Scenic Route” is set in the same zombie-filled world as her Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy, but it takes place almost entirely in a small, cramped cabin. The horror in it comes from the wrongs people do to one another, rather from than the simple violence of the walking dead. A genuinely scary (and particularly gruesome) story about characters I immediately sympathized with, believed in and rooted for.
Sarah Rees Brennan’s “Let’s Get this Undead Show on the Road.” This one proved, once and for all, that I really, really need to read Brennan’s Demon’s Lexicon series. The story is about a boy band that capitalizes on the fact that it has a real vampire as a member. Turns out, being in a part-vampire band isn’t all that different from being in an all-human one: the fans are crazy, the manager is bossy, there’s tension among the members and there’s even the ubiquitous druggie drummer. The story is laugh-out-loud funny, but it’s also a sweet story about a group of disparate guys coming together as a unit.
Marr’s contribution, “A Mortal Winter King,” is one of the stories that doesn’t quite work as a stand-alone, but for fans of her Wicked Lovely books (like myself), it will read like an epilogue to the series. (One hopes, though, that it won’t be the only epilogue: I know I’m not the only one who isn’t quite ready to let those characters go.
Kami Garcia’s “Red Run” is a straight-up ghost story about a local legend that could easily be adapted into an episode of Supernatural; Armstrong’s “Facing Facts” convinced me to give her Darkest Powers trilogy another chance; Jackson Pearce wrote about genies, and Jessica Verday’s story involved cannibalistic Girl Scouts.
If you enjoy the paranormal fantasy, don’t miss this one. If you’re not into the subgenre, you should at least give Ryan’s story a try. Who knows? You might become a convert.
If she isn't writing Bookshelves of Doom or doing her librarian thing, Leila Roy is probably engaged in another battle with her new cat.