Review: Strange Brew Anthology

November 20, 2009 Review 3

Book Description: Today’s hottest urban fantasy authors come together in this delicious brew that crackles and boils over with tales of powerful witches and dark magic! In Charlaine Harris’ ‘Bacon,’ a beautiful vampire joins forces with a witch from an ancient line to find out who killed her beloved husband. In ‘Seeing Eye’ by Patricia Briggs, a blind witch helps sexy werewolf Tom Franklin find his missing brother – and helps him in more ways than either of them ever suspected. And in Jim Butcher’s ‘Last Call,’ wizard Harry Dresden takes on the darkest of dark powers – the ones who dare to mess with this favorite beer. For anyone who’s ever wondered what lies beyond the limits of reality, who’s imagined the secret spaces where witches wield fearsome magic, come and drink deep. Let yourself fall under the spell of this bewitching collection!

Review of Vegas Odd by Karen Chance:
The longest story in Strange Brew is Karen Chance’s Vegas Odds coming in at 56 pages.  The tale opens with a scene straight out of Mr. & Mrs. Smith.  Half-Were Lia and her boyfriend Were Cyrus destroy her house while under attack from a group of War Mages.  From there, author Karen Chance does a wonderful job of creating a world full of magic and a strong instantly likeable heroine while never letting up on the non-stop action.  This is probably my favorite story that Ms. Chance has written and I would love to spend more time in this world.

Sexual Content: A woman performs oral sex on a man in a brief scene that in not overly graphic.

Review of Death Warmed Over by Rachel Caine: 
I’ve read several books in Rachel Caine’s Weather Warden series (I’m looking forward to starting her Morganville Vampire series soon too), so I expected something good from this talented writer and that’s exactly what I got with Death Warmed Over.  Witch Holly Caldwell is not that dissimilar to early Anita Blake: both occasionally work with the police to raise the dead.  This time, the case intimately affects Holly in more ways than one because the dead man they want her to raise has been raised before, and when Holly lost Andrew last time, she lost her heart as well.

My only disappointment with Death Warmed Over is that it appears to be the only Holly and Andrew story that Rachel has written (please let me know if I’m wrong).  I thought for sure reading it that it was the second story featuring these characters.  I hope Rachel does write more about Holly because she does have that early Anita vibe that I love so much.  There is more of a romantic focus in this story but it doesn’t overshadow the paranormal elements.  Death is easily one of the best in this anthology.

Review of Last Call by Jim Butcher:
Jim Butcher’s story continues his popular Dresden Files Series.  In Last Call, which occurs chronologically between Small Favor, book 10 and Turn Coat, book 11, wizard Harry Dresden is on the hunt for the mastermind behind some bewitched beer.  I’ve only read the first book in Butcher’s Dresden Files, and despite the gap in my Harry knowledge, this was an easy story to slip into and I never felt disoriented like I had missed a lot in the interim. Harry and Murphy play off each other in just the way I remembered.  Harry was, if anything, more enjoyable for me.  He is a perfect anti-hero with his sarcasm and humorous non-alpha acts of self-preservation. I’m seriously going to have to pick up Full Moon after thoroughly enjoying this funny paranormal romp.

Sexual Content: None

Review of Seeing Eye by Patricia Briggs:
Seeing Eye is a very short story.  It clocks in at only 38 pages, and in the hands of a lesser author, it could have been a disaster trying to build a world, create compelling characters, and tell a satisfying story in so few pages.  Fortunately for us, Patricia Briggs was more than equal to the task.

The story is simple enough, Wendy Moira Keller (yep, named after the Peter Pan character), a blind witch, agrees to help a desperate werewolf, Tom Franklin, search for his abducted brother. If you’ve read Brigg’s Hunting Ground already, then these character’s will be familiar to you. If you haven’t read it yet, start with Seeing Eye first as it explains how Moira and Tom met.

Even though we spend such a brief time with Moira and Tom, Brigg’s writes them as fully fleshed out character’s.  Moira specifically is appealing as she provides us with a firsthand look at what Witches are like in the world of Mercy Thompson.  Mercy deals with all kinds of paranormal creatures: vamps, fey, weres, but she only rarely interacts with witches.  In Seeing Eye, Brigg’s gets to explore that world a little more. The result is that I, for one, have two more reason’s to look forward to Hunting Ground.

Sexual Content: None

Author Comments:

So there’s this really neat anthology of witch-based stories edited by P. N. Elrod featuring stories some of my all-time favorite authors. Of course, I had to sneak a werewolf into the mix. And a dash of romance, and a snippet of revenge. Eye of newt, wing of bat . . .-Patricia Briggs.

Review of Hecate’s Golden Eye by P. N. Elrod:
P. N. Elrod is a new author for me. This story continues her Vampire Files series with vampire P.I. Jack Fleming and his partner Escott in 1930’s Chicago.  I would categorize this story as a noir mystery that just happens to have an undead lead.  Not a lot of paranormal.  Jack is described as a vampire much in the same way another character is described as being tall.  Not a bad story, just not what I look for in urban fantasy. But if you like Raymond Charles with a dash of Tanya Huff…

Sexual Content: None

Review of Bacon by Charlaine Harris:
Bacon takes place in the same Sookie Stackhouse world from the Southern Vampire series but minus Sookie.  If you read Harris’ story Tacky in the anthology My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding then these characters will already be familiar to you. If your planning on reading both, start with Tacky and STOP READING THIS REVIEW because it will spoil aspects of that story. In Bacon, newly widowed vampire Dahlia seeks out the aid of a witch descendent of Circe to get revenge on the werewolf pack that killed her were husband.  So far, this is my least favorite story in this anthology: It’s predictable, feels small because it fails to take advantage of the Sookieverse, and lacks even one likable character.  At only 32 pages, it went on way too long.

Sexual Content:  None

Review of Dark Sin by Jenna Maclaine:
Dark Sins picks up after Wages of Sins but before Grave Sins in Jenna Maclaine’s Cin Craven series.  In 1818 Italy, witch turned vampire Cin and her lover Michael along with another vamp couple travel throughout Europe doling out justice on the criminal vampire population.  When the four are abducted by an evil wizard and his followers in an attempt to add Cin to his coven, she must finally learn to use her magic before her friends are killed.  If you are a fan of Colleen Gleason’s Gardella Vampire Chronicles, you’ll probably love this.  Me not so much.  There are no major faults in these 33 pages, but I like my fantasy urban, without gowns and carriages etc. The idea of a vampire who uniquely retained her human magical abilities make for an interesting character in Cin, and if she survives into the 21st century I’ll be sure to look her up.

Sexual Content: A man performs oral sex on a woman without graphic description.

Review of Ginger by Caitlin Kittridge:
Like Faith Hunter’s story, Caitlin Kittredge’s Ginger (41 pages) takes the main character from her Nocturne City series, werewolf detective Luna Wilder, and relegates her to the sidelines.  Instead, Ginger focuses on Luna’s self-proclaimed wus witch cousin Sunny who agrees to go undercover investigating a blood magic coven.  The world building was good here, but Sunny was a bit too prone to crying for my taste.  The ‘villain’ in the story is pretty comic book evil too which added a level of corniness that I hope doesn’t extend to the whole Nocturne City series because for the world building alone I plan on picking up Night Life to see what Luna does in her own story.

Sexual Content: None

Review of Signature of the Dead by Faith Hunter:
Faith Hunter kicked off her Jane Yellowrock series in July ‘09 with Skinwalker (book two, Blood Cross is due out in Jan ‘10) but we get an earlier peak at this shapeshifting vampire hunter in Signature of the Dead.  Earth witch Molly is the main character who Jane helps track down a feral pack of new vampires.  I didn’t even realize that Jane was the main character in Skinwalker (which I’m now adding to the top of my wishlist), but I’m thrilled we’ll get to read more about her.  She reminded me of a cross between Mercy Thompson and Kate Daniels which means I may have just found a favorite new series.

Sexual Content: The rape of a woman and her two little girls is referenced but not described.

Product Description:

  • image Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin; (July 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312383363
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312383367

3 Responses to “Review: Strange Brew Anthology”

  1. KIWI

    I just picked this one up! I got it for Patricia Briggs and have read her story but not the other ones, can't wait to read your review when you get to her story 🙂