Fantasy Mystery Romance Comics Non-Fiction

Home Improvement: Undead Edition

Friday, January 4, 2013

Home Improvement: Undead Edition (2011) Charlaine Harris, Toni L. P. Kelner

As with most anthologies, there are stories here I really liked, and some that I found to be just okay. What was unusual was that there were some stories that I actually strongly disliked.

“Gray” by Patricia Briggs isn’t a Mercy Thompson story, but is set her her world. A vampire returns to Chicago, to the home where she once lived. I quite liked this story. It stands on its own outside of the Mercy books, and is interesting in its own right. Vampires tend to be minor characters in the Mercy series, but I quite like her vampire mythology, and have very much enjoyed the short stories she’s written that have been about vampires. This is one of my favorites.

“It’s All in the Rendering” by Simon Green isn’t set in Nightside, or any of his existing worlds, that I can tell. It’s just about a house between the worlds, the couple who manage it, and the horrors of… bureaucracy.

I have to admit that I grew tired of Sookie Stackhouse a couple years ago, but I enjoyed the story “If I Had a Hammer” more than any of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie stories I’ve read in years. There’s no sex, just Sookie and her friends trying to solve a problem.

The story “Through This House” by Seanan McGuire may need a familiarity with Toby Daye’s world to be fully appreciated, but as I’ve read the series as published so far, that wasn’t a problem for me. This is how Toby comes to terms with/takes ownership (sort of) of her knowe. I was reminded why I like Toby so much.

“The Path” by S J Rozan was a somewhat unusual story for the collection, in that it wasn’t particularly about renovation, or even a home, but instead a ghost learning to be brave, and hoping to get an artifact returned to where it belongs. I quite enjoyed the story, and will probably look to see if I can find anything else by the author.

I wasn’t initially sure about Heather Graham’s story “Blood on the Wall” but kept reading and found myself really enjoying it. A private detective keeps finding his family tomb covered in blood. He knows who the culprit is–a young nobody who made a name for himself as an occult “leader” but hasn’t been able to do anything about it. Not quite home improvement, but good nevertheless.

I quite liked “In Brightest Day” by Toni Kelner, which was about voodoo and revenants and being yourself, with a bit of a murder mystery thrown in for fun.

The story “Wizard Home Security” by Victor Gischler wasn’t bad, but it just didn’t do anything for me.

Two stories, “Rick the Brave” by Stacia Kane and “Full-Scale Demolition” by Suzanne McLeod, were parts of series and involved already known characters, and I might have enjoyed them more if I was already familiar with the worlds, but as it was, I felt like I was missing something.

Two stories, “Woolsey’s Kitchen Nightmare” by EE Knight and “The Strength Inside” by Melissa Marr weren’t bad, but just didn’t grab me.

The other two stories, “Squatter’s Rights” by Rocelle Krich and “Mansion of Imperatives” by James Grady I actively disliked–their tone was…off… compared to the other stories in this series. I think both might have been better off in a straight-up horror anthology, which I wouldn’t have bought, because I don’t like horror, but they might be better appreciated.

All in all, an okay collection, but I’m not sure why it’s been so expensive for so long, and if I could have gotten the Patricia Briggs story solo (I really do enjoy her short stories), I’m not sure I’d necessarily haven bothered with it.
Rating: 6/10

Published by Ace


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