Sink your teeth into these bite-sized tales exploring the intersections among the living, dead, and undead. Features stories by Neil Gaiman, Melissa Marr, Cassandra Clare, Garth Nix, and many more.
Discovery: I first heard about this collection through Melissa Marr’s Twitter. I’m a huge fan of hers and I also quite enjoyed Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling’s previous anthologies. However, I’m not a vampire fan at all–in fact, they’re the supernatural entities that I fear. I actually had to put this book away before going to bed because I couldn’t handle reading about vampires during the night. (Let’s disregard the fact that I’m writing this review at night. D:)
+ Variety. None of the stories in this collection could qualify as fluffy fare, but they do succeed in shedding light on vampire mythology in unique ways. From stories that make you ache with emotion to ones that are upsetting enough to have you throw the book across the room, each piece is a marvelous surprise. I’m particularly smitten with “Flying” and “Sunbleached,” two pieces that are horrifyingly beautiful in their treatment of modern-day vampires.
+ Complexity. This collection, much like its subject matter, is extremely complicated. The last few years have seen dozens of vampire novels being churned out, and many of them barely scratch the surface of what it means to be undead. More than anything else, the stories found in this anthology display an unmatched ability to sink into the despair, loneliness and fascination with the all-too-human condition that is vampirism. They go beyond the romanticisation that is so common now to tear apart misconceptions and make you believe that maybe, just maybe, it’s not so far to fall.
- Length. As a relatively fast reader, I didn’t have too much of a problem getting through the 19 stories in this anthology. However, I can tell that it might be a long trek for most casual readers, as some of the heavier pieces run up to 20 pages.
“Things to Know About Being Dead” – sheer joy of the shock
“Gap Year” – satisfying and full read
“Flying” – most interesting premise
“Late Bloomer” – an ending that made me want to punch my pillow
“List of Definite Endings” – heartbreak city
“Best Friends Forever” – most emotional premise
“Sit the Dead” – unique and creative mythology
“Sunbleached” – an ending that made me want to cry and hide in my sock drawer
“Baby” – creep factor
“History” – pure, unadulterated love
Recommendations: Horror fans will love it, but casual paranormal readers may not be able to stomach some of these pieces.
Rating: Very Good.
This anthology was edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, with contributions from: Genevieve Valentine, Steve Berman, Christopher Barzak, Neil Gaiman, Delia Sherman, Garth Nix, Suzy McKee Charnas, Kaaron Warren, Cecil Castellucci, Jeffrey Ford, Nathan Ballingrud, Kathe Koja, Catherynne M. Valente, Melissa Marr, Ellen Kushner, Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, Lucius Shepard, Emma Bull and Tanith Lee.
Next review: Starcrossed, Josephine Angelini