An engaging anthology of queer fiction filled with monsters, mysteries, and menace.

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All in Fear

A collection of horror tales from six romance writers highlights queer characters in fearful circumstances.

The introduction nicely sums up the anthology’s goal: to present “the top names in queer romance” writing horror, featuring monsters, killers, and sci-fi terrors. In Roan Parrish’s (Where We Left Off, 2016, etc.) “Company,” a teen facing his old cohorts’ homophobia befriends a vampire—or an imaginary comrade—whose attentions turn threatening. In Kris Ripper’s (Ring in the True, 2016, etc.) “Love Me True,” a man’s life seems to be going great, with a new boyfriend into the same kink—as long as the city’s mysterious killer doesn’t target them. KJ Charles’ (Rag and Bone, 2016, etc.) “The Price of Meat” is an alternative Sweeney Todd tale, with a strong heroine investigating a lawless section of London. Steve Berman (The Letter That Doomed Nosferatu, 2016, etc.) contributes “His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl,” about a pledge with problems with his fraternity brothers and a magical (or cursed) flask. Avon Gale’s (Power Play, 2016, etc.) “Legion: A Love Story” takes the format of a soldier’s journal and emails as he’s tasked with guarding an enigmatic prisoner, who may or may not be a demon with plans and feelings of his own. And the final story, “Beauties” by J.A. Rock (Slave Hunt, 2016, etc.), explores a researcher of Artificial Beings (human-shaped creations) trying to rehabilitate a troubled android with a shadowy past. As with many collections, each story here hits different tones or focuses: “Love Me True” offers more graphic erotica than the other tales, while “Company” might be read as a metaphor of internalized homophobia, with the main character’s conflicted feelings being concretized into a jealous vampire lover. “Beauties” circles around the issue of consent and trauma. Each of the stories in the anthology, edited by Peterson, has something to recommend it: “Legion” may not terrify the reader, but most will nod along with the narrator’s actions (and Google searches); “Chernobyl” engagingly examines a young person’s struggle to find himself; and “Meat” delivers the fun pace of an alternative history thriller.

An engaging anthology of queer fiction filled with monsters, mysteries, and menace.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2016

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Open Ink Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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