I’d read one other collection of short stories with the same editor, Trisha Telep, and not loved it. But I was jonesing for more fantasy short stories, and the library had Kiss Me Deadly, so I gave it a try. I have to say that the title is misleading–at least it was for me. This is marketed like it’s romantic stories. No. There’s love in most of the stories, but not necessarily romantic, and I’m not even sure all the stories actually involved love. I don’t mind; I just think the title and marketing for the book were a bit misleading.
Also, I was surprised to read the controversy surrounding the editor and her last (cancelled) short story collection. I understand it was over a refusal to publish a homosexual love story, which is weird, because there were gay characters and homosexual romance in this book. I wonder how and why that changed in her final editorial work?
Anyway, here’s a breakdown by various authors:
Michelle Zink–This story was quite intriguing. The insta-love aspect was lame, but hopefully just a by-produce of a shorter format, and not how the author normally writes. I found the world set-up very interesting, and somewhat original (although also somewhat Cassandra Clare), and the characters were fairly likable. I’d try more by this author.
Diana Peterfreund–I liked this story about as much as the rest of Peterfreund’s unicorn writings, which is to say, not a lot. This was definitely interesting, set in a richly imagined medieval world. I didn’t really like the main character, though, especially how she treated/ planned to treat her unicorn. The story had more cruelty (and planned cruelty) to animals than I care for. And this story was the first one when I got a hint that these stories might not all be romantic. I didn’t dislike the ending, but I didn’t love the story.
Karen Mahoney–I know this was a different setting (and different cute young male) than the other Karen Mahoney “Moth” short story I read. But it felt the same. Insta-lust for a cute young thing that is the only thing standing in the way of her accomplishing her mission for Theo. Despite boy being cute, Moth thinks about Theo the whole time. I find Moth a little more likable than Anita Blake, but that’s not saying much. I think I’d need to read a full book about her to really decide if I like her or not, but, based on these two short stories, I’m not sure I’d want to.
Justine Musk–strange. I guess at the time this was written using Greek or Roman mythology was creative? I mostly found it creepy how teenage Sasha is like “OK, total stranger in an “abandoned” house. I don’t know you, but sure you can blindfold me and “teach” me things. Not dangerous at all, because you have super cute blue eyes.” or something like that. Perhaps with a full story treatment, this would have been better developed and hopefully less creepy. I don’t know. I wasn’t impressed.
Sarah Rees Brennan–This was incredibly creative, in a dark, creepy, haunting way. Peter Pan is one of those almost sacred stories from my childhood, and I wanted to be offended at the direction Brennan took this, but I couldn’t, because it was so well done. I can’t say I loved it, especially the ending, but it was really really interesting and kept me engrossed until the end. I mean, Peter Pan meets James Bond? How can you go wrong?
Becca Fitzpatrick–I haven’t read any of Fitzpatrick’s books, and based on this, I probably won’t. But it was certainly well written, a dark brooding setting with dark, brooding, rather unpleasant characters. The tone and characters were consistent. I have no quibbles with the writing. I just didn’t like anyone in the story, and the ending, while logical and probably inevitable, was not satisfying either.
Caitlin Kittredge–Brilliantly done. Super creepy. I didn’t love Jo, Ani, or Deidre–well, anyone in the story, really (They reminded me of characters in some of Holly Black’s short story writing)–but it was beautifully evocative and creepy. I liked the ending. I did, however, have nightmares from reading this right before bed (Bear in mind that I am a super sensitive bad dreamer, so it’s not necessarily saying a lot.)
Carrie Ryan–Considering how much I hate all things zombie, the fact that I actually loved this story enough to consider reading Ryan’s books is pretty impressive. Ryan created a very involving story, with a fairly likable protagonist who was easy to relate to, and a richly detailed world setting. She also doesn’t shy away from the difficult choices inherent in the story. Of course, maybe I liked this story as much as I did because it was less about zombies, and more about the people trying to live good lives in a world with zombies. The ending just blew me away.
Michelle Rowen–This was actually my favorite of the stories, despite being a bit insta-love and being about witches, which aren’t my favorite subject. I especially loved the image of the scruffy scrawny tabby kitten. Owen was pretty likable (and cute), and grew even within the course of such a short story, as did Brenda. I would like to read more about these two and their world.
Rachel Vincent–Very very original. I’d never heard of a mara before, so I don’t know if it was purely the invention of the author, or a folk tradition with which I’m unfamiliar. Either way, kudos for a creative story. Sabine wasn’t the most easy-to-relate-to character, but her struggle to be the best person that she could, despite her identity, is something most people can relate to. And I always have a soft spot for stories that involve orphans, runaways, and other at-risk youth. I could kind of tell what was developing, but was still somewhat surprised by who the villain was and how it all played out. The story was interesting, and I’d read more about Sabine and Nash.
Daniel Marks–This was another richly detailed world setting. The characters suffered a little by comparison, as they were less complex. Velvet was a bit abrasive, Nick was pretty boring, and Amie was pretty consistently yuck. But the richly imagined details of Purgatory, and how it related to the living world, were really interesting, and I want to read more stories set in this world.
Maggie Stiefvater–I’d only read Stiefvater’s Shiver before, and really disliked it. So I didn’t have high hopes for this story. I was pleasantly surprised–although I didn’t love this story, it was interesting and not bad, with a bit of a twist at the end that blew me away and made much of the interactions in the story make a lot more sense. I didn’t love her writing style–it felt too informally chatty, and a bit repetitious, and I found “Bryant” a bit petty and jealous. But I enjoyed the DC Irish music scene setting, and the interweaving of Irish fairly lore, the latter a haunting and inevitable part of the story.
Daniel Waters–Hands down, this is the most unusual zombie concept I’ve ever heard. My husband was offended when I told him about it, since it didn’t fit his notions of how zombies should be. But I found it both interesting and enjoyable. Cal was a good man, a good father, and a protagonist who was easy to relate to and root for. He and his fellow townspeople didn’t have the easiest situation to deal with, but they mostly handled it well. The ending felt a bit inevitable, but it also felt RIGHT. My only dissatisfaction was with the lack of resolution with Jake’s family. I’m not sure why those elements of the story were included if they were going to be left open-ended. But that doesn’t stop me from wanting to find more books set in this world and read more about it.
So, overall, an enjoyable collection, if not quite what it was billed as. I’ve got a lot of ideas of new authors for me to check out now.