Shadowed Souls edited by Jim Butcher, Kerrie L. Hughes

Shadowed SoulsShadowed Souls

edited by Jim Butcher, Kerrie L. Hughes
Series: The Dresden Files, #14.5; InCryptid, #531; Simon Canderous, #0.5 (I’m guessing) ; and some others that I don’t have a tag for right now

Paperback, 330 pg.
Roc, 2016

Read: January 10, 2017

This is a collection of stories

based on the idea that good and evil are just two aspects of a complicated and very human story . . . [with plots that] play with the concept and invite the reader to explore the edges of their own darkness.

Eleven of the best Urban Fantasy authors working today contributed to this book, each bringing their worlds to life from that basis.

I’m not going to talk about each story, just about those from authors I talk a lot about here — I don’t have the time and energy to talk about Kevin J. Anderson, Kat Richardson, Tanya Huff or the others. If for no other reason, I feel like I should read more of these series/characters/authors before talking about them — many of whom are on my “Try Out Sometime” list.

We, like the book, have to start with “Cold Case” by Jim Butcher. Harry’s former apprentice, Molly, gets to shine in this story. This is one of her first tasks in her new role as Winter Lady — in Alaska, fittingly enough. There’s a large amount of on-the-job training going on for her — more than she bargains for, really. We also get to spend some time with Warden Carlos Martinez — been too long since we saw him. Perfect mix of action, humor and atmosphere — we also get a good idea what’s in store for poor ol’ Molly.

We got to meet another member of the Price family in Seanan McGuire’s “Sleepover”. Elsie Harrington is a half-succubus cousin to Verity, Alex and Antimony. Their presence is felt in the story, but other than a couple of name-drops, they don’t factor into things, it’s just in that series’ universe. Elsie’s watching Antimony in a roller derby match and finds herself kidnapped. Not for any nefarious reasons — just because some people needed her help and are bad at asking for favors. Elsie has a very Price-like voice and outlook on life, but she’s got her own way of doing things. I really enjoyed this — even if the ending felt abrupt.

Anton Strout got to revisit the series that gave him his start in “Solus,” which featured Simon Canderous as a rookie DEA Agent dealing with a haunted house. His partner/mentor, Connor Christos, has almost no use for him at this point and seems to have no interest at all in working with him/training him. Maybe I’m not remembering the character as clearly as I thought, but I thought I liked him as a person more. Still, this was early enough in the relationship that it was probably the right way to deal with it. Other than happening before I was ready for it, I really enjoyed the conclusion of this story. In short, “Solus” was good, it reminded me why I liked the series and why I miss it.

My one complaint about all these stories (save for “Cold Case”), was that they were too short. It’s not just Strout and McGuire. In all the stories, just as things started to get going, they resolved. I’m not saying I wanted a collection of novellas, but another 5-10 pages each, maybe?

Yeah, like all collections, you’re going to get some that just don’t work for a particular reader, and others that are going to get a reader pumped – and maybe one that’ll make you wonder why you bothered. Your lists of each will be different from mine — but there’ll be more than enough of the good ones to make it worth your while. You may even find a new series/author to check out.


3 Stars

2017 Library Love Challenge

Anton Strout-Apalooza 2013

I want this blog to be about more than just my reviews, like many readers, I’m interested in the process of writing and the people who do it. So I thought I’d try to look at what various authors are up to. One of the best side-effects of one of your favorite authors coming out with a new book in this social media-heavy age, is them being interviewed and/or writing guest posts for various and sundry blogs.

To promote his new book, Stonecast (which I’ll be reviewing here tomorrow), Anton Strout‘s been just about everywhere over the last couple of weeks, talking about Stonecast as well as sharing his thoughts about Urban Fantasy and writing in general. Thought I’d share a sample, there’s a lot to chew on and enjoy here:

Hopefully that gives you a decent flavor of both the author and the book/series. Check out both The Spellmason Chronicles as well as his Simon Canderous books.

Dusted Off: Dead Waters by Anton Strout

Dead Waters (Simon Canderous, #4)Dead Waters by Anton Strout

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dead Waters displays the growth of Anton Strout as a novelist as much as it shows Simon Canderous’ growth as a person. This fourth installment in the Simon Canderous series is (like each installment before) better than its predecessors — which works out great for me, because I’ve enjoyed all four of them.

The best part of this series (next to the characters) is the way Strout mixes magic into the real world. The adversary in this go ’round brings the challenge in the best mix of magic, myth and technology I can remember. Worth the read just for this.

The humor sprinkled (sometimes heavily) throughout the tale isn’t forced, like I think it was earlier in the series. It flows from the characters and the situations naturally.

Simon’s partner, Connor, still doesn’t get as much screen time as he should, but the partnership does seem stronger this go around — and Connor’s character feels more like a person. Maybe its because Connor’s family situation is a bit more settled, or maybe it’s just the nature of the case. Doesn’t matter, it’s a lot of fun.

Speaking of fun, Jane, Simon’s girlfriend really gets to strut her stuff magically here, frankly, I’d love to read a solo adventure or two featuring her. More pressing for our hero, however, is the fact that she’s putting pressure on him to deepen their relationship — which causes Simon to go through a good amount of maturing (or at least to consider it).

The ending of Dead Waters is one I should’ve seen coming, it was telegraphed like crazy. BUT, I’d spent most of the book convinced Strout was telegraphing something else, so what do I know? Frankly, I’m not crazy about the major character development that happened at the end, I’m afraid it will lead to this series losing some of what sets it apart from the rest of the genre and become a little more like typical Urban Fantasies. But I figure Strout’s gonna pull this off right and show me I’m worrying for nothing.

I should add here, that almost immediately after finishing this, I sent a tweet Strout’s way bemoaning the ending, and in only a few minutes got a reply that made me laugh. Gotta love an author who’ll take a moment for a fan and this Internet thingy that makes that interaction possible.