As with most anthologies, there are good stories and bad stories, but there weren’t too many stories that I hated, though there also weren’t too many stories that I adored. So I’d say it all came out in the wash.
The Ungrateful Dead - Kelley Armstrong
Mr. Bear - Joe R. Lansdale
Hell in a Handbasket - Lucien Soulban
The Eldritch Pastiche from Beyond the Shadow of Horror - Christopher Welch
Elvis Presley and the Bloodsucker Blues - Matt Venne
No Problem - Don D'Ammassa
Old School - Mark Onspaugh
The Sound of Blunder - J.A. Konrath and F. Paul Wilson
An Evening with Al Gore - Charlaine Harris
Dear Prudence - Steven Savile
A GOod Psycho Is Hard to Find - Will Ludwigsen
High Kicks and Misdemeanors - Janet Berliner
PR Problems - Eric James Stone
Where Angels Fear to Tread - Sherrilyn Kenyon
A Very Special Girl - Mike Resnick
Love Seat Solitare - D.L. Snell
I Know Who You Ate Last Summer - Nancy Holder
Bitches of the Night - Nancy Kilpatrick
The Bell...FROM HELL - Jeff Strand
Dead Hand - Sharyn McCrumb
Day Off - Jim Butcher
Jim Butcher’s story, “Day Off” was one of the best in the anthology. The start of the story was fabulous, but I’ll leave it at that for those who have not yet read the story. As far as the rest of the story, Harry has the day off, but just like his life, things end up spiraling out of control quite quickly. I was reminded of something I read, and I can’t for the life of me remember where, so I’m paraphrasing “when you take each action individually, it’s completely reasonable,” and that’s where Harry is. Any single individual thing would be fine, but (as with life) everything always seems to happen at once, which is what makes things so difficult.
I also quite liked Charlaine Harris‘ story, “An Evening with Al Gore.” Her non-Sookie stories are hit and miss with me, but this one was definitely a hit. It’s a look at what happens when a wealthy couple and their friends watch “An Inconvenient Truth” and decide to do something about it.
The story “The Eldritch Pastiche from Beyond the Shadow of Horror” by Christopher Welch was quite amusing, and also made me think of my friend Eric, who is a fan of Lovecraft and horror. I’m sure there were plenty of jokes that went over my head since I really do not like horror, but I was amused all the same.
Kelley Armstrong’s story, “The Ungrateful Dead,” was the first story in the book, and although I didn’t think it was as good as Jim Butcher or Charlaine Harris’ stories, I did enjoy it, and thought again about picking up another series by Armstrong.
I also like Mike Resnick’s story, “A Very Special Girl.” It was different in tone from the other stories in the book, and although it felt like these characters belonged in a longer story than this, it was both fun and interesting.
There were some stories that I didn’t like at all, I thought “Mr. Bear” was particularly awful, and I didn’t like “A Good Psycho Is Hard to Find” either. But over all, the stories were pretty good, and the series was worth reading. I would have been annoyed if I’d bought this in hardback, but it’s not a bad buy as a paperback.
By Blood We Live (2009) edited by John Joseph Adams
Snow, Glass, Apples - Neil Gaiman
The Master of Rampling Gate - Anne Rice
Under St. Peter’s - Harry Turtledove
Child of an Ancient City - Tad Williams
Lifeblood - Michael A. Burstein
Endless Night - Barbara Roden
Infestation - Garth Nix
Life is the Teacher - Carrie Vaughn
The Vechi Barbat - Nancy Kilpatrick
The Beautiful, The Damned - Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Pinecones - David Wellington
Do Not Hasten to Bid Me Adieu - Norman Partridge
Foxtrot at High Noon - Sergei Lukyanenko
This is Now - Michael Marshall Smith
Blood Gothic - Nancy Holder
Mama Gone - Jane Yolen
Abraham’s Boys - Joe Hill
Nunc Dimittis - Tanith Lee
Hunger - Gabriela Lee
Ode to Edvard Munch - Caitlín R. Kiernan
Finders Keepers - L.A. Banks
After the Stone Age - Brian Stableford
Much at Stake - Kevin J. Anderson
House of the Rising Sun - Elizabeth Bear
A Standup Dame - Lilith Saintcrow
Twilight - Kelley Armstrong
In Darkness, Angels - Eric Van Lustbader
Sunrise on Running Water - Barbara Hambly
Hit - Bruce McAllister
Undead Again - Ken MacLeod
Peking Man - Robert J. Sawyer
Necros - Brian Lumley
Exsanguinations - Catherynne M. Valente
Lucy in Her Splendor - Charles Coleman Finlay
The Wide, Carnivorous Sky - John Langan
One for the Road - Stephen King
I picked this collection up solely for the Patricia Briggs story, but once I saw some of the other authors, read through the stories that interested me (but skipped the ones that didn’t grab me after a page or two).
“Naughty & Nice” by Kevin J. Anderson
“Close Knit” by Nina Kirki Hoffman
“Astronaut Nick” by Brad R. Torgersen
“The Longest Night” by Mercedes Lackey
“Jimmy Krinklepot and the White Rebels of Hayberry” by Quincy J. Allen
“Midnight Trains” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
“A Christmas Feast” by Jonathan Maberry
“A World Done In by Great Granny’s Grateful Pie” by Ken Scholes
“Santa’s Mortuary” by Heather Graham
“Yes, Virginia2097c, There is a Santa Claus” by Sam Knight
“Christmas Eve at Harvey Wallbanger’s” by Mike Resnick
“The Atmosphere for Miracles” by David Boop
“A Sufficiently Advanced Christmas” by Eric James Stone
“Unappreciated Gifts” by Patricia Briggs
“Naughty & Nice” by Kevin J. Anderson has a zombie for the main character, but I didn’t immediately skip, since it was also a private detective story. I ended up enjoying it.
I have a close cooperative relationship with government agencies, considering all that airspace I fly over— and my work has to be done in a single night, so I have no time to mess with clearances. I even let NORAD track me every year.
Was it a ridiculous story? Yes. But it was fun.
“Close Knit” by Nina Kirki Hoffman is a story about family and magic and relationships and learning to do what is right and correct.
In his parents’ house, he was in his mother’s power, which made it hard to move out.
He had been hoping the split with Melissa was temporary, hoping he’d move home to her and the kids in a week. It had stretched into months.
I really so enjoy her stories.
“Astronaut Nick” by Brad R. Torgersen is a science fiction story. Skipped.
“The Longest Night” by Mercedes Lackey was a story I read more than a couple pages of, but just couldn’t get into, so I eventually skipped on.
“Jimmy Krinklepot and the White Rebels of Hayberry” by Quincy J. Allen was a bit steampunk and definitely alternate history, with the Civil War still going on. It’s deserving of note just for this.
“It’s perfect,” Jimmy said to his sidekick. “Set the power level to one and flip those three switches on the side,” he added, excitement filling his voice like wind-blossomed sails.
William gulped once, his eyes shifting from the pack on Jimmy’s back to the house. He carefully turned the knob from zero to one, noting that it went to eleven, which struck him as a bit odd.
“Midnight Trains” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch was an interesting story that was a bit about trains, a bit about fairies, but mostly about Christmas.
“A Christmas Feast” by Jonathan Maberry I ended up finishing, but I did NOT like it at all. Zombies for one, and terribly sad for another.
“A World Done In by Great Granny’s Grateful Pie” by Ken Scholes was an odd story, that I never quite got a handle on. Again with the zombies (I hate zombies) but the main character was a female veteran and I enjoyed the machinations of her mother–and how they failed.
“Santa’s Mortuary” by Heather Graham I just skipped. Too many zombies.
“Yes, Virginia2097c, There is a Santa Claus” by Sam Knight was SF and skipped.
“Christmas Eve at Harvey Wallbanger’s” by Mike Resnick I read because I generally like the Harvey the Book stories, although this one was… weak.
“The Atmosphere for Miracles” by David Boop was a very fun story.
A Western that turned all kinds of stereotypes sideways.
She was of a sophisticated age, too old to take for granted, but still young enough to be gawked at.
Evil comes to a town that has nothing but bad luck.
“What’s going on?”
Owner kept wiping the glass he’d taken from the wash sink. “Don’t know. It’s probably just Wednesday. I’d say bad stuff happens in the middle of the week more than any other time.”
More cries of alarm and Patrick got to his feet.
“A Sufficiently Advanced Christmas” by Eric James Stone was skipped.
“Unappreciated Gifts” by Patricia Briggs is the story I bought the anthology for, and I’ve actually read it multiple times. Partially because Asil is one of my favorite characters, and partially because it’s fun.
When packing, he had briefly considered an outfit he’d saved from the rococo era. The silver-blue looked particularly good on him and the fabric looked as though it had been manufactured yesterday instead of nearly three hundred years ago. But, in keeping with the style of the era, it made him appear a little pot-bellied. It hadn’t bothered him at the time, but his tastes had changed. He also had no inclination to wear a powdered wig.
Who a man’s friends are, says a lot about him. She knew who and what I was— and still tried to save you from me. She is brave and loyal. No one needs to apologize for such a friend.”
I really love appearances by Asil.
This is a decent collection with something for everything, even if all the stories don’t appeal to everyone.
Published by WordFire Press