by Terrance V. Mc Arthur
This is a fun book for the Halloween season filled with a lot of our favorites like Charlaine Harris, Amber Benson (Buffy fame), Illona Andrews, Rhys Bowen & many more! Details on how to win a copy at the end of this review.
An Apple for the Creature is a new anthology edited by Charlaine Harris and her partner in the paranormal-collection business, Toni L.P. Kelner. I love this book, but I’ll tell you what’s going to happen on Amazon and other review sites.
People will be screaming, “I bought this Charlaine Harris book, and it’s not a real book, it’s just a bunch of stories…and there’s only one Charlaine Harris/Sookie Stackhouse story in it, without any vampires!”
Let me tell you about this book…Charlaine and Toni got in touch with a bunch of really good writers and told them, “Our theme is schools, teaching, and education. Take that idea, and write the coolest urban fantasies you can imagine.”
They did a good job.
Harris leads off the batting order with “Playing Possum,” a new Sookie Stackhouse story of everyone’s favorite Southern telepath going to visit her sort-of nephew at school with cupcakes for his birthday, but she gets mixed up in a bad situation involving a school secretary with a vengefully over-possessive ex-boyfriend and a little bit of witchcraft. It’s a good, solid hit, fleshing out Sookie’s relationship with Hunter her late cousin’s son, a character I’d like to see grow up, although there aren’t many books left before the series ends.
Kelner comes in at the tail end of this baker’s dozen of tales by offering another Pirate Dave story, “Pirate Dave and the Captain’s Ghost,” another installment in a series of shorts she introduced in Harris and Kelner’s Death’s Excellent Vacation anthology. A recently-made werewolf temporarily leaves her vampire lover in charge of the amusement park they run to go to a werewolf convention, where she gets haunted by a ghost with a grudge against vampires. It’s fun, with a definite peril quotient.
In between Harris and Kelner, there are chuckles, thrills, scares, and tears, some base hits, bloop singles, and a few home runs.
Some of my favorites:
“Low School” by the award-winning Rhys Bowen drops a successful lawyer into a high-school nightmare of unprepared-for tests, no number-two pencils, unpopular body shape, and a demonically unprincipled principal.
“An Introduction to Jewish Myth and Mysticism” by Steve Hockensmith (Holmes on the Range and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Rise of the Dreadfuls) pits a female professor’s psychopathic ex against a protective man who wants him to leave…and keeps coming back to press his argument. It’s a fascinating little foray into Hebraic and Christian folklore.
Fans of Ilona Andrews (the husband/wife writing team of the Kate Daniels [Magic Slays] series) are writing glowing reviews about “Magic Tests,” where Kate’s ward Julie is sent undercover into a school for exceptional students…and in this book, that’s saying something. It was a little convoluted, but things worked out all right in the end.
My personal favorite was a mixture of apocalyptic zombies, right-to-life politics, Greek mythology, and special education, “Iphigenia in Aulis” by Mike Carey, comic-book writer and author of the Felix Castor novels. Melanie is a ten-year-old kept in a cell, except when she is strapped into a chair and taken to her classroom. There, she is taught about a world that existed before the Hungries rose from the earth. She learns many lessons, including the nature of her own hungers, and puts some of them to use in a heart-wrenching climax that made me misty-eyed.
“Callie Meet Happy,” by Amber Benson (formerly Tara of Buffy the Vampire Slayer), puts Calliope Reaper-Jones, newly-elevated president of Death, Inc., into a Remedial Wormhole Calling class that catapults her into a parallel world where Pat Boone (instead of David Bowie) starred in The Man Who Fell to Earth and Edgar Allen Poe is a famous painter. Meeting up with another set of Benson’s characters, Calliope finds herself in a chaotically silly adventure, full of snarky humor and strange situations.
An Apple for the Creature is a good collection, giving you glimpses into the styles and popular characters of a talented bunch of authors. Give it a try, and you might discover several book lines you’ll want to investigate.
It’s a hit.
To enter to win a copy of An Apple For The Creature, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Apple”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 13, 2012. U.S. residents only.
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