Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Wolfsbane & Mistletoe; edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L P Kelner
The holiday season can bring out the beast in anyone - literally! Fifteen werewolf tales from an all-star line up.
Charlaine Harris, Keri Arthur and Patricia Briggs bring you a Christmas present to remember!
We all know the holiday season can bring out the beast in anyone - but it's especially hard if you're a lycanthrope! Gathered here together is a veritable feast of fears and tears: fifteen of the scariest, saddest, funniest werewolf tales, by an outstanding pack of authors, best read by the light of the full moon, and with a silver bullet close at hand.
WOLFSBANE AND MISTLETOE, the perfect antidote to Christmas mawkishness!
Thanks so much to our good friend Jamie "Wordweaver" Ambrose for reading and reviewing Wolfsbane & Mistletoe and for her sterling review.
When this book arrived from the kind folks at MFB, I have to admit I was fairly sceptical. I mean, c’mon: a collection of 15 werewolf short stories is one thing, but one with a Christmas theme seemed a bit, well, mismatched, somehow.
Until, that is, I got started on them.
From the first page of the first tale, ‘Gift Wrap’ by Charlaine Harris, whose Southern Vampire Mysteries have been turned into TV’s True Blood, I was hooked – and delighted. Here are stories with comic turns, dark imaginings, new takes on old myths, and genuinely haunting themes, and all of them wonderfully and imaginatively well-written by authors such as Patricia Biggs, Keri Arthur and Kat Richardson. They feature good weres and not-so-nice weres, by-accident weres and on-purpose weres, successfully integrated weres and desperate loner weres, and each has a holiday-related tale to tell (or should that be tail to wag?).
Richardson’s ‘The Werewolf Before Christmas’ is one of the cleverest things I’ve read in years, effortlessly weaving global legends and folklore into a seamless and unexpected twist on ‘a visit from Saint Nicholas’. If nothing else in this book appeals to you, please, please give this one a try.
Harris’s ‘Gift Wrap’, set in the bayous of Louisiana, features her well-known Sookie Stackhouse character, whose matter-of-fact, Southern dialog makes the perfect narrative voice for a story that wanders in and out of magic and ‘real life’ as effortlessly as stepping from one room into another.
Being a rather timid soul, I was a bit apprehensive by the title of Alan Gordon’s ‘Fresh Meat’, not to mention the first line, which mentions newly slaughtered beef carcasses ‘…so fresh they were mooing yesterday’ (ick!). But by the end of it, I was firmly on the side of Sam Lehrmann and his telepathic pack – just as I became a big fan of Patricia Biggs’ ‘The Star of David’ werewolves, whose decency (or agenda) wasn’t immediately apparent.
Obviously, I enjoyed some of these stories more than others, and although there are a few I found a bit ‘much’ on the gratuitous bloodlust front, each one is well worth reading – not something I can often say about anthologies. And many are certainly worth reading over and over, which, given the season, is something I’m just about to do.
So kudos, Ms Harris and Ms Kelner, and thank you MFB, so much, for introducing us. Wolksbane and Mistletoe is a great collection of imaginative writing, one that’s had the effect of making an overworked and slightly jaded fantasy reader sniff the air, hear a far-off howl – and be thrilled by it again.