Editors: Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong
Other Reviews for These Authors: The Awakening; The Reckoning
As always, I'm going to try to review this anthology by the individual stories. Some are great, some aren't, and some are in the middle. Enthralled was a read that I was very excited for, and for the most part it really succeeds in providing a fun and fresh set of stories for readers. Some of the authors hit it out of the park, and others don't. There's an author for every YA paranormal reader, though, and at least one story will resonate with someone based on the mix of authorial types and styles within the anthology.
Giovanni's Farewell by Claudia Gray
Claudia Gray, as always, starts off strong. Her story involves a brother and sister who help a troubled spirit lay itself to rest, and also deals with the supernatural powers associated with seeing said spirit. I love Gray's work, and her stories - short and novel-length - always have an easy style to them that feels vibrant and exciting. This story could easily expand into an idea for a novel or lead into one, and Gray makes the characters amiable and easy to read about. Really, if you like any of her work, this story is worth a read. It's also a great introduction to her writing style.
Scenic Route by Carrie Ryan
Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth is, to this day, one of my favorite zombie novels. Ryan's style is morbid and fabulous. She writes zombie novels the way Ally Carter writes heist novels. The tone and mood are just pitch-perfect. Much like Ryan's story in Zombies Vs. Unicorns, Scenic Route is written with a deft hand and a great sense of pacing. Ryan's world is tough, gritty, and accessible to new readers as well as old ones. This story scared the crap out of me and reminded me why I love Ryan's work. Seriously, the anthology is worth buying just to read this story.
Red Run by Kami Garcia
This was my first introduction to Ms. Garcia's work, as I have not read Beautiful Creatures. Red Run was a decent story about a haunted road and a fight with a ghost, but after reading it I didn't feel satiated as a reader. It was a well-done story, but nothing about it really hit my short-story pleasure center. I do enjoy reading about ghosts, but felt like Garcia's construction of the story and the actual plot didn't work well enough for me to recommend it. Still, a solid read and better than some other stories in the anthology.
Things About Love by Jackson Pearce
This was also an intro to a new author - and I've since gone on to read a novel by Pearce, Sisters Red, which I didn't enjoy as much as this story. This story follows a genie and her ward as he goes through college, both of them experiencing a type of affection for a guy. It was sweet, cute, and I loved that the genie's ward was gay. He apparently was a secondary character in Pearce's novel You Wish as well, although the story stands on its own. It's on the lighter end of the stories in the anthology, and I loved seeing an LGBTQ character, humor, and cute romance.
Niederwald by Rachel Vincent
This is a story that works better if you've read the author's young adult work before. In this story, a few of Rachel Vincent's secondary characters from her Soul Screamers series - and I believe this story is somewhere around book four/book five in that series chronology wise. I could be wrong, but either way it doesn't stand completely on its own. Despite this, the story is still entertaining. I've read the first three Soul Screamers books, but not being caught up did make some of the backstory/motivations more unknown to me. Overall, it's a nice addition to Vincent's established world, but it won't work as well for readers who don't know much about it.
A Mortal Winter King by Melissa Marr
Though I've never read Marr's books (I know, it's practically treason) and did not know of the context in which this story formed (I assume it is based on her Wicked Lovely series somehow), it was a wonderful read. Marr's writing is excellent, and her romance is exceedingly brilliant. There's something about this story that captures so many heavy emotions. It's a story that leaves a very strong emotional mark, and I loved how she tackled the Fae and the Fae royalty from what little of it I garnered from the story. It really makes me want to read her novels, now.
Facing Facts by Kelley Armstrong
This short really best appreciated when you have read Armstrong's Chloe Saunders trilogy (reviews for books two and three are above). This story revolves around a major plot point of the third book that is explored and questioned but never really resolved. Armstrong uses this short story to give it some resolution with the characters. I would have liked the resolution in the actual novel, but it's a really nice story that provides an extra tying of loose ends - of which The Reckoning did very little. The issue with it is that readers who have not read the books at all or who have not read all of the original trilogy will either be confused and/or spoiled to this plot point, so be warned....
Let's Get This Undead Show on the Road by Sarah Rees Brennan
Though I've never read Brennan's work, Let's Get This Undead Show on the Road was very cute and funny. Vampires. Boy bands. Some welcome emotional depth and a lot of snarky humor about how the pop music scene is fake and ridiculous. Really, one can't enjoy this type of story enough. It wasn't my favorite of the anthology, but it's quite good and memorable. It makes me want to read Brennan's novels, and it's not connected to any of them (that I know of). If it is, it is a really easy story to read on its own.
Bridge by Jeri-Smith Ready
Ms. Ready's work has been in my tbr pile for some time. I have Shade and Shift but have yet to read them. Bridge makes me regret not attempting to more, because it's arguably the best story in this entire collection. It's written in free-verse and works very well. Better than one would anticipate. This story is emotional, dealing with unresolved relationships and ghosts. Topics that work very well when done right. Ready blows them out of the water, folks. This story and Scenic Route are worth reading the entire thing for, and I can't praise it enough. Truly an exceptional story.
Skin Contact by Kimberly Derting
This is an offshot to Derting's Body Finder series. I had yet to read it when I read the short story, and as a result I didn't find the story very appealing. Nothing about it stood out to me, and the emotional build-up of characters from the books was lost on me as a reader who had never read them before. It might work better for people who read the series, but it's really not something that one can pick up and enjoy to the fullest extent without first reading the books that accompany it.
Leaving by Ally Condie
An emotional story involving a dystopian-esque world. I loved the concept of this short, and Condie's writing is always a treat to read. After all, I loved Matched. This story isn't as excellent, but it's still a solid entry in the anthology. Overall, it's not extremely memorable, but it's a short and sweet read that fans of Condie's will enjoy reading.
The Late Night, Double Feature, Picture Show by Jessica Verday
You guessed right - another YA short story that is a homage to Rocky Horror. In this case, it also involves vampire slayers and some other fun supernatural creatures. I liked that Verday had solid conflict throughout the story and a fun voice, but overall I felt like she tried to build up a really solid backstory that still left me with questions that I would have preferred to have been answered within the story. It's fun and it's cute, but more for those who are in line with a story exploring pure plot over other things.
The I.V. League by Margaret Stohl
This story was just the worst for me. The voice, the tone - nothing worked. I'm not sure if it was how the vampires were tackled, the plot, or the execution, but something was off. Everything vaguely frustrated me, and I was glad when the story was over. Other readers will doubtlessly enjoy it more than I did, but this was one of those stories that I wish I skipped.
Gargouille by Mary E. Pearson
I've heard much praise for Pearson's book The Adoration of Jenna Fox, and found this short story to be an enticing reason to try out more of her work - although it is very different in idea from Jenna Fox. Instead, it focuses on gargoyle-like creatures in a European/fairy-tale like setting that get captured because of supposed medicinal properties they have. It's quite emotional and unusual, and I loved the originality behind the story. Totally worth reading, though I feel like it lacked the impact that some of the better stories had.
The Third Kind by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
The Third Kind is a short story that tries to pack a lot of cool world-building ideas and characterization into one small space. Barnes is a great author and succeeds to some extent, but in the grand scheme of things this story needed more room to truly be effective. There was a lot to explore within a minimal frame of word count, and the idea seemed more like a great seed for a book/series than one that is easily wrapped into the package of a short story. Still, Barnes is a solid writer, and this story is quite worth the time.
Automatic by Rachel Caine
Caine has a lot of fans. Her Morganville vampires series is hugely popular, but I haven't read them yet. This is a short story taking place in Morganville, and it just didn't work for me as a reader. There wasn't much conflict there that I cared about, and I felt like I missed out on a lot of it because I had never read the series. It's similar to Derting's story, although I felt Derting's story had a bit more of an appeal to readers who hadn't read the books before. Solid, but not satisfying for a reader new to Caine's work.
Enthralled is an enjoyable anthology that will satisfy readers of paranormal YA. Most of the stories are solid. A few I really disliked, and a few were just okay because of how they felt unappealing without knowing the context of the world they belonged to. Still, there are some winners in it that make it worth a read.
Cover: I love the concept of the cover, and the picture of the roadway used for it...
Rating: 4.0 Stars (overall)
Copy: Received from publisher/publicist for review (Thank you, Heather and Harper Teen!!)