Short stories focusing mainly on Marr’s previous novel series crowd out other interesting tales in this uneven collection.
Beginning with an intriguing vampire tale and an affecting love story involving seal-people ("selchies"), the author continues by using most of the book for a multi-chaptered novella plus more stories that deal directly with her earlier Wicked Lovely series but never provides any exposition for them. Instead, these stories, comprising about two-thirds of the book, demand knowledge of her already created faerie world. Absent that knowledge, the faerie stories, especially the novella, are virtually incomprehensible. Two or three have tenuous plot lines, but most appear to be filling in possible loose ends from the series. Other, much shorter stories provide better impact, especially “Flesh for Comfort,” a nicely creepy tale. However, one wonders why the standalone stories have been included here. Wouldn’t a final addition to the series and a separate short-story book have served readers better? Add to that the author’s fondness for italicizing emphatic statements and such eccentric sentences as, “The tangles of panic and fear and guilt hit Irial like an unwelcome banquet,” and readers will understand another of her statements: “Excess is normalcy.”
For dedicated fans only. (Fantasy suspense. 12 & up)