Wednesday, February 9, 2011

REVIEW: Kiss Me Deadly edited by Trisha Telep

Kiss Me Deadly is a young adult anthology containing 13 Tales of Paranormal Love and a treasure trove of short stories by some of today's leading young adult paranormal authors. I have only read books by three of the thirteen authors--Sarah Rees Brennan, Rachel Vincent and Maggie Steifvater, all of whose stories I enjoy very much, so naturally I was looking forward to their contributions. Reading this anthology also gave me the opportunity to explore the writing of the other ten authors with whom I was less familiar. I can't think of a better or more efficient way of sampling the works of so many authors than by reading an anthology such as Kiss Me Deadly. Now that I've finished reading all of the stories, I want to look into so many full length novels by these authors, not to mention entire series!

Since the stories are rather short, it's difficult to write reviews for them without giving things away, so instead I've written a one (or two or three) sentence synopsis, a brief impression and my rating for each story. I will say that all of the stories have interesting premises and characters, yet some authors were more adept than others at introducing their world, developing their characters and writing a cohesive story with closure in such a short number of pages. Also, it took me a few stories to realize that this anthology is not a collection of paranormal romance shorts as I expected, but rather a collection of supernatural, paranormal or urban fantasy type short stories with romantic elements, but the overall tone is not romance with happily ever after endings.

"The Assassin's Apprentice" by Michelle Zink
A young girl out to avenge her parents' death by killing the demon who murdered them. An Assassin interferes with her plan by stepping in to help her, much to her chagrin. A little lacking in world building. It took almost the whole story to understand the significance young girl's lineage and the role of the assassins in this world.
3.5 out of 5

"Errant" by Diana Peterfreund
A unicorn hunter arrives at a privileged French estate with her beloved unicorn to stage a traditional unicorn hunt for a spoiled young bride's wedding. Lessons in friendship and the cages that societal circumstances impose on two young women of completely opposite upbringings and lifestyles.
4 out of 5

"The Spirit Jar" by Karen Mahoney
A young vampire nicknamed Moth from Boston goes to London, UK on a mission for her Maker to retrieve a book of spells. While stealing the book, she meets a young man named Adam who is also trying to steal the book. Moth is tough, spunky, and determined, yet humanity still resides within her.
5 out of 5

"Lost" by Justine Musk
A sweet story about a teenager who has an uncanny knack for finding lost things. When her best friend is in a coma, she is compelled to visit a house on the route which she walks her dog and meets a stranger named Haiden who feels very familiar to her. He teaches her to focus on herself and her instincts, revealing her talent for helping the souls of people near death find their way. A little rushed in the character and plot development, but still an enjoyable and touching story.
4 out of 5

"The Spy Who Never Grew Up" by Sarah Rees Brennan
A spy story based on classic Peter Pan. Creative and clever story telling, yet I didn't particularly like the characters and the story felt a little lacking in purpose or of lessons in love or friendship. Or did I just miss it?
3 out of 5

"Dungeons of Langeais" by Becca Fitzpatrick
This is a prequel type story in the author's Hush, Hush series takes place in 1769 France tells the story of Chaucery who has become immortal as he is possessed by an angel for two weeks every year starting on the Jewish month (Rosh Hashanah, I believe) and how Chaucery tries to force the angel Cheshvan to break their contract by kidnapping his mortal lover. Satisfying dark, gothic tone.
4 out of 5

"Behind the Red Door" by Caitlin Kittredge
Jo Ryan finds Red Door in the Ash House, apparently a haunted house. Jo goes into the house on a dare and thinks she sees something in the shadows. Curious, if not obsessed, she goes back and meets Nicholas Day a ghost who has been stuck there for years, claiming to have killed himself with razors when his beloved drowned in the river. Jo spends her free time in the house with Nicolas, falling in love with him. Except she starts to lose weight and vitality and is haunted by visions of other young girls trying to tell her something. A ghost romance with deadly consequences.
4 out of 5

"Hare Moon" by Carrie Ryan
A story from the world of The Forest of Hands and Teeth.
Tabitha is a dreamer and feels restless in her village surrounded by forest, fenced off from the rest of the vacant world. She feels a yearning every time she passes a gate and finally garners the nerve to open it and see where it leads. Ignoring the moans and cries surrounding her in the forest, she follows the trail to another gate where she meets Patrick who lives in a village on the other side of a gate. They talk and decide to meet two days after the full moon every month. Over time they fall in love and hope for a life together. One month he doesn't come, leaving Tabitha distraught. When she is discovered with her hand on the gate, she is punished and forced to become a sister at the convent, where she discovers a hidden cavern with a written history of their village and the world. She doesn't give up on Patrick and when they meet again after the Hare Moon, life will never be the same for anyone. A great and terrifying introduction to the world of The Forest of Hands and Teeth. Am now considering picking up the full length novels in this series, even though horror is not my thing!
4.5 out of 5

"Familiar" by Michelle Rowen
Teenage witch Brenda is reluctant to come into her powers but finally agrees to obtain her "familiar" or her pet with whom she is to bond before she starts her formal training. She comes home bonded with an adorable kitten who immediately converses with her in her thoughts. Turns out he's a shifter named Owen who was hiding in the pet shop, biding time to figure out how to buy his way back into his pack of which he was kicked out. Brenda helps Owen retrieve the diamond bracelet that was his collar and they are confronted by a gang of werewolves who want to Owen's loyalty, profits from the bracelet or Brenda! The story was a tad bit predictable, but fun and was a sweet romance, hence a favorite.
4.5 out of 5

"Fearless" by Rachel Vincent
This short story is set in the world of Rachel Vincent's Soul Screamers series. Those familiar with the series will recognize Nash as a secondary character in this story along with a cameo appearance from his brother Tod.

Teenager Sabine was abandoned as a toddler and has spent her troubled youth bounced between foster homes. In this story, she has been sent to a halfway house for delinquent girls. Sabine has definitely gotten herself into trouble, but not without reason. She's a mara, a very rare kind of banshee who survives by feeding off the fears of others, which she does by visiting them while they dream, causing nightmares and exacerbating their fears. Shortly after arriving at the halfway house, Sabine starts to die when she can't nourish herself from the other girls. Interesting glimpse into another aspect of Vincent's Soul Screamers series, but now I'm all uncomfortable about Sabine and the promises she and Nash have made to each other when I am loyal to Kaylee and obviously want Nash and Kaylee together! I sense major trouble in the latest novel in this series, My Soul to Steal. Yikes!
4.5 out of 5

"Vermillion" by Daniel Marks
This quirky story takes place in Purgatory and features the teenage supernatural clean-up team of Velvet and Nick, a.k.a. Nyx, who also happen to be romantically involved. They work for Manny, a Station Agent in their district of Purgatory and through her, they meet Amie Shin who works for Howard Barker, the Station Agent of Vermillion, another district within Purgatory. Velvet and Nick are sent on assignment with Amie in Vermillion to chase down and trap a particular errant soul who is haunting humans in the realm of the living. Agents do this by slipping into the living realm through cracks and temporarily 'slipping' into human bodies to contain the evil spirits or illegal haunters or .. hmm.. dead souls doing bad things. Amie is also using seduction and trickery to try to break up Velvet and Nick. Bitch. This story was surprisingly complex in both the nature of the relationships and the world building and had an exciting and satisfying finish. I did a little investigating and have gathered that Daniel Marks has upcoming trilogy of full length novels set in this world featuring Velvet and Nyx and I think book one will be titled Velveteen. Very exciting.
5 out of 5

"The Hounds of Ulster" by Maggie Steifvater
Bryant and Sullivan are best friends and talented young musicians, with a particular affinity for Irish folk rock. Bryant plays guitar and Sullivan plays the fiddle. Determined to be a part of an elite club of musicians who play at Mullens, an Irish pub, the two brazenly crash a jig and finally capture the attention of the club members. A mysterious and beautiful girl standing in the wings sets her sights on Sullivan, jeopardizing his friendship with Bryant as well as his future. A poignant story of friendship and perhaps unrequited love. Not part of any series, but has elements similar to Maggie's Faerie books, Lament and Ballad.
4 out of 5

"Many Happy Returns" by Daniel Waters
A Generation Dead story
A bunch of teenagers of a small New England town are involved in a deadly car crash, leaving six dead and one in a coma, barely alive and if she does survive, is not likely to ever walk again. In this world, a certain genetic disposition enables some teenagers with the possibility of waking up from the dead within seven days after they have died, but in a permanent zombie-like state of being. As parents wait around to see if their child will be among those who 'wake' from the dead, feelings of anger, denial, grief, acceptance, anger and hope are rampant within the community. I've gone back and forth between giving this story a 3.5 or a 4 out of The focus of this story is on the adults as opposed to the teenagers, but it is a well written, thought provoking and heart breaking story with a bittersweet ending. Also, this story is more about the parents than with the teens or their relationships.
3.5 out of 5

Average rating: 4.11 out of 5


Do you have any book recommendations by any of the contributing authors above? 


  1. I've read a few books by MIchele Rowen. But, the other authors are authors I haven't read. Anthology's are a fun way to be introduced to new-to-you authors. *g*

    Hope you and yours are well and happy!

  2. I agree with Brandy. I really love your review style! And this title sounds great all the way through. I'll go pick this one up!

  3. Hi Brandy!
    I loved sampling the works of these authors. If your library has this one, you and Daughter may want to give it a try. Have you read Michelle Rowen's latest adult release? I think it is getting really good reviews so far. I'm curious now...

    Hi Zee! Thank you! You're such a sweetie. :) I hope you like the stories!

  4. Great way to review this type of anthology! I haven't read many anthologies, I'm actually on my first official one right now, but I do think it's a great way to sample new authors and pick out ones that you want to hear more from! I will be writing this down on my TBR list since I haven't read many YA authors but I did enjoy the Harry Potter Series and the Twilight Series and I would love to read more YA Paranormal type books!

  5. What a nice cover!! Nice blog by the way.


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