Anthologies can be hit or miss for me. Often, they seem to be positioned as a way to introduce readers to series and authors. Now this is just my opinion, but too many times short stories aren’t as engaging and just don’t pull me in like a novel. The characters may not be as well introduced because they exist in a series or novel already. There are exceptions of course. For example, Alice Munro, Patricia Briggs and Jim Butcher write beautifully executed short stories. But honestly, too often there are so many authors in an anthology that I don’t care about with only one or two authors I do care about. Oh and many times, I feel forced to read the short story if it takes place between a series, because I worry that I will miss out on a crucial series development if I miss reading. What struck me about Dark Duets is that the stories can be read as standalones. But I should say upfront, I did not read all the stories. I read the stories by authors I love. The theme for each story in Dark Duets is that two or three authors team up to write a horror story collaboratively. Two out of the three I read were 5 star reads, the third below average. The beauty of the three stories I read is that no one author’s style shows through but it reads as the best of each author.
Dark Witness - 5 stars by Charlaine Harris and Rachel Caine
I feel like every time I read something new by Charlaine Harris I am hoping that what I used to love about her is evident in the text and there is none of what I came to strongly dislike toward the end of the Sookie series. Well BAM. I loved this story. This story is not obviously written by either Caine or Harris. I couldn’t recognize either authors’ style. It is spooky and well developed and it begins with a nightmare. There is a hint at the coming apocalypse and it is not romantic. The characters are there to allow the story to unfold, rather than the story being about the characters. This is just a darned good spooky tale.
T. Rhymer – 5 stars by Gregory Frost and Jonathan Maberry
So I read this story because I love Maberry’s Rot and Ruin series. I know nothing of Gregory Frost (but now I will seek out books by him). Again, this story is really good and very well done. Maberry’s writing style was not obvious in the story, the authors blended so well together. This story takes what we usually read about elves, the fae, and hell – - and turns it on its head. T. Rhymer is a character in the story and I would love to read more of him. There is non stop action and some interesting surprises. I could not put this one down.
Sisters Before Misters - 2.5 Stars by Sarah Rees Brennan, Cassandra Clare, and Holly Black
Love the title and I love the line-up of authors that contributed to this story. Ultimately, Sisters Before Misters was just okay. I didn’t think it was funny – -I saw what the authors were trying to do but for me it just didn’t work. I think it is worth reading if you have the anthology as it is a quick read. But if you are looking to read it because it is authored by Holly Black or Cassandra Clare, then you should know it doesn’t read like one of their novels.
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