A well-organized, wide-ranging collection of consistently strong genre stories.

Love Hurts


In this anthology of short speculative fiction, debut editor Reeks gathers 26 stories about love—and the jealousy, sacrifice, and pain that can haunt even the most devoted hearts.

“I’ve always had a taste for dark,” says Reeks in her introduction, and she goes on to prove it with a top-shelf selection of tales, 20 of which are original to this book. They run the gamut of sci-fi and fantasy subgenres: there’s the gory horror of Matt Leivers’ “The Ghûl” and David Stevens’ “The Boulevardier”; the quickly sketched dystopias of Steve Simpson’s “Jacinta’s Lovers” and Michal Wojcik’s “Iron Roses”; and the time-travel troubles of Michael Milne’s “Traveler” and G. Scott Huggins’ “Past Perfect.” Although most of the stories focus on heterosexual romance, Reeks also features LGBT authors, such as io9 editor Charlie Jane Anders, whose snarky urban-fantasy tale, “Fairy Werewolf vs. Vampire Zombie,” is as laugh-out-loud funny as the title implies, and A. Merc Rustad, whose beautiful story, “The Sorcerer’s Unattainable Gardens,” gets the anthology off to a strong start. She also includes tales about different types of love, such as Jeff Vandermeer’s “A Heart for Lucretia,” about a brother who’s willing to give up anything for his sister, even himself, and Mel Paisley’s short but heartbreaking “A Concise Protocol for Efficient Deicide,” in which a captive alien soothes a mutilated human child with dreams of escaping the scientists who hold them both, so they can go someplace “Where they could understand something without breaking it.” Other standouts include “Virgin of the Sands” by Holly Phillips, set in a World War II–era North Africa, where an army-intelligence group employs a necromancer; “Back to Where I Know You,” by Victoria Zelvin, in which two women struggle to prevent their memories of each other from being erased; and “While (U>I)I- -;” by Hugh Howey, a tear-jerker about an android who meticulously ages himself for the sake of his robot-hating wife.

A well-organized, wide-ranging collection of consistently strong genre stories.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9966262-2-4

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Meerkat Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.


A tightly wound caseworker is pushed out of his comfort zone when he’s sent to observe a remote orphanage for magical children.

Linus Baker loves rules, which makes him perfectly suited for his job as a midlevel bureaucrat working for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, where he investigates orphanages for children who can do things like make objects float, who have tails or feathers, and even those who are young witches. Linus clings to the notion that his job is about saving children from cruel or dangerous homes, but really he’s a cog in a government machine that treats magical children as second-class citizens. When Extremely Upper Management sends for Linus, he learns that his next assignment is a mission to an island orphanage for especially dangerous kids. He is to stay on the island for a month and write reports for Extremely Upper Management, which warns him to be especially meticulous in his observations. When he reaches the island, he meets extraordinary kids like Talia the gnome, Theodore the wyvern, and Chauncey, an amorphous blob whose parentage is unknown. The proprietor of the orphanage is a strange but charming man named Arthur, who makes it clear to Linus that he will do anything in his power to give his charges a loving home on the island. As Linus spends more time with Arthur and the kids, he starts to question a world that would shun them for being different, and he even develops romantic feelings for Arthur. Lambda Literary Award–winning author Klune (The Art of Breathing, 2019, etc.) has a knack for creating endearing characters, and readers will grow to love Arthur and the orphans alongside Linus. Linus himself is a lovable protagonist despite his prickliness, and Klune aptly handles his evolving feelings and morals. The prose is a touch wooden in places, but fans of quirky fantasy will eat it up.

A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21728-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.


Book 2 of Hearne's latest fantasy trilogy, The Seven Kennings (A Plague of Giants, 2017), set in a multiracial world thrust into turmoil by an invasion of peculiar giants.

In this world, most races have their own particular magical endowment, or “kenning,” though there are downsides to trying to gain the magic (an excellent chance of being killed instead) and using it (rapid aging and death). Most recently discovered is the sixth kenning, whose beneficiaries can talk to and command animals. The story canters along, although with multiple first-person narrators, it's confusing at times. Some characters are familiar, others are new, most of them with their own problems to solve, all somehow caught up in the grand design. To escape her overbearing father and the unreasoning violence his kind represents, fire-giant Olet Kanek leads her followers into the far north, hoping to found a new city where the races and kennings can peacefully coexist. Joining Olet are young Abhinava Khose, discoverer of the sixth kenning, and, later, Koesha Gansu (kenning: air), captain of an all-female crew shipwrecked by deep-sea monsters. Elsewhere, Hanima, who commands hive insects, struggles to free her city from the iron grip of wealthy, callous merchant monarchists. Other threads focus on the Bone Giants, relentless invaders seeking the still-unknown seventh kenning, whose confidence that this can defeat the other six is deeply disturbing. Under Hearne's light touch, these elements mesh perfectly, presenting an inventive, eye-filling panorama; satisfying (and, where appropriate, well-resolved) plotlines; and tensions between the races and their kennings to supply much of the drama.

A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-345-54857-3

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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