THOSE WHO FIGHT MONSTERS:
Tales of Occult Detectives
EDGE Science Fiction & Fantasy
Received from editor for review
This anthology includes 14 individual stories from some of the most well known authors in the urban fantasy genre. Each tale features a character or characters from popular book series working cases where the paranormal is just another normal day at the office.
Laura Anne Gilman, Julie Kenner, Simon R. Green, Lilith Saintcrow, Carrie Vaughn, Justin Gustainis, T.A. Pratt, Tanya Huff, Chris Marie Green, Caitlin Kittredge, C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp, Jackie Kessler, C.J. Henderson, and Rachel Caine.
Those Who Fight Monsters is an entertaining collection of short stories featuring a strong combination of both male and female protagonists with a proclivity for fighting supernatural crime. As with any anthology, some stories are more intriguing than others with certain authors managing to create a complex and layered tale in just a few pages while others struggle a bit with the short length, leaving us wishing for an extra twenty pages to give us that added depth we're seeking. All of the fourteen individual tales feature characters from already-established paranormal series, and most do a beautiful job of quickly introducing us to the world should we be unfamiliar with it, giving us just enough information to be able to connect easily as we jump right into the action with little prelude.
This collection would be perfect for those on the hunt for some new urban fantasy series to try, each tale giving us a brief taste of the author's style and their characters. Some delight us with humor and wit, some shock us with paranormal twists to standard detective work, and some hint at a darkness and pain we know will affect us more profoundly should we pick up the full length novels. The only complaint would be the length of each story, on average about 15 pages–a challenge that forces us to absorb a lot of details and individuals in rapid succession and never allows us time to fully settle in. Reading this book is akin to ordering a sampler platter–a great variety of tasty morsels are presented but ultimately we find our favorites and try to savor them before moving on to nibble on the next.
MY PERSONAL FAVORITES:
Little Better Than a Beast by T.A. Pratt
Marla is a fun, take-no-nonsense chief sorcerer who approaches her monster of a problem with humor and isn't afraid to dispense some much-deserved violence on a man suffering rather impressively from sexism. Mr. Pratt gives us a complete tale that leaves us wanting numerous additional pages and much, much more time with Marla and her smart mouth.
Under the Hill and Far Away by Caitlin Kittredge
Ms. Kittredge is another on who does a spectacular job of illuminating the world from her Black London novels just enough to provide us a proper welcome and introduction to Pete Caldecott while spinning a mystery that, though easily solved, is enough of a taste of her style to spark a potential addiction.
Defining Shadows by Carrie Vaughn
Jessi Hardin is a detective in the world of Vaughn's Kitty Norville series, and she headlines perhaps the most unusual an fascinating story in the book. Focusing on an incredibly bizarre and exceedingly memorable supernatural being, Ms. Vaughn ensures her tale stands out as unique even amidst a plethora of talented writers. The case Hardin is called in to solve is grotesque but undeniably captivating, and Ms. Vaughn makes a spectacular use of every single one of her pages, making us feel like we've read a full novella instead of a short story.
Overall Rating: 3/5