There are two gems in this book: The Robber Bride by Marjorie M. Liu and Down in the Ground Where the Dead Men Go by Caitlin Kittredge. Their characters come alive on the pages. The world building is impressive.
Liu delivers a coming-of-age novella, a post apocalyptic fairy tale, where women are fed on for their life forces. It’s up to Maggie, a Jill-of-all-trades and one of the last female survivors, to hunt down and destroy an army of darkness. This story reminds me a little of the movie Legends starring a very young Tom Cruise and Mia Sara where the princess is taken into the lair of Darkness where she was tempted to become one of them. In The Robber Bride, Maggie is also taken by the leader of an army of supernatural beings. He spared her at first because he was drawn by the magic in her. He then attempted to seduce her with sex and power to join them. Guarding Maggie is a mysterious crow man with a tragic past. As they fulfill their quest, Maggie discovers more about her world and about herself. I love it. I love the battle between innocence and evil, the attraction to both dark and light. I wish the author would develop this world further for it is rich with promise. Imagine a dark fairy tale series infused with Native American mythology set in a post-apocalyptic world. 5 stars
Kittredge provides the prequel to the dark and edgy Black London series. Ava is a demon slayer who needs help from mage Jack Winter to reach the demon underworld—a place of dark seduction…and, maybe, one of no return. In this series, even the good guys aren’t really all that good. Ava is a master manipulator while Jack is kind-of-an ass. But there is an interplay between gripping story, supernatural horror and flawed characters that is compelling, if a bit depressing. I will check out the series because of this short story.
In the Devil’s Bargain by Christine Warren, supernatural bounty hunter Lilli Corbin made a pact with the Prince of Hell: She agreed to recover a book of prophecies. When she learns it could trigger the apocalypse, Lilli is forced to make the ultimate choice: save her soul, or the man she loves? The story sounds interesting but I was not blown away by it. The romance is lack luster and the characters fall into bed with each other within just a few hours. The tone is paranormal chick-lit.
In Sin Slayer by Jenna Maclaine, Jack the Ripper is killing off the city’s vampire population, and now it’s up to Cin Craven to hunt him down—and save the infected Michael, the love of her undead life. This story did not do anything for me. Maybe I need to read the series first to appreciate this short story.