Laurell K. Hamilton
Never After (2009)
The only reason I have this book a second glance after seeing Laurell K. Hamilton’s name was because I’ve read books by Yasmine Galenorn, Marjorie M. Liu, and Sharon Shinn and loved what I read. So I grabbed the book, despite my misgivings.
I freely admit that I didn’t bother to read Laurell K. Hamilton’s story. I’ve read other stories by her in other anthologies, and wasn’t impressed, and since I was looking for something enjoyable, I skipped straight to Yasmine Galenorn’s story “The Shadow of Mist.”
Siobhan is a selkie who has moved to American to escape a forced marriage. When her former betrothed hunts her down after a century, she turns to her friends for help, but also has to learn to depend upon herself.
I enjoyed the fact that she chose to write about a selkie character. Strangely enough, I just read another story about a selkie, but I’m still glad to see supernatural fantasy stories branching out from vampires and werewolves and elves.
Although the story was about love and forced marriage, it was in greater part about Siobhan learning to trust herself and take care of herself, which I quite liked.
The second story was “The Tangleroot Palace” by Marjorie M. Liu. Sally is told by her father that she is to marry the Warlord of the South, to create a peace between their peoples. As the Warlord of the South has a terrible reputation for violence and destruction, Sally wants nothing to do with him. When her oldest friend, the gardener, suggests that she will find a solution in the haunted Tangleroot , Sally runs there in the hopes of finding a way out without leading to the destruction of the kingdom.
I really liked this story. Even though I guessed a major plot point right away, it didn’t particularly matter to the story. Sally was a wonderful heroine, and the supporting characters were also very good, and well developed despite the short length of the story.
The final story, “The Wrong Bridegroom” by Sharon Shinn was the longest–and also possibly the strongest–story in the anthology. Olivia is a princess who’s father wants to marry her off. His first choice, Harwin, she most definitely didn’t want to marry, and so convinced her father to hold a contest for her hand in marriage. Unsurprisingly, things don’t go as Olivia expects.
This was an absolutely fabulous story. Olivia is not particularly likable at the start of the story–she’s very much a spoiled brat and you know she’s being stubborn for the sake of being stubborn and you kinda want to smack her. But you have to keep reading, to see what happens, and then pretty soon things have changed.
The story is full of surprises, the characters are extremely well done, and overall, this is one of the best stories I’ve read in a long time.
So although I can’t tell you about the first story, I can highly recommend the remaining three stories. Check out this anthology, I don’t think you’ll regret it.