For those who thirst for accounts of paranormal romance, Trisha Telep has compiled some of the most thrilling takes of forbidden love in this collection. First crushes and last rites; dark spells and bright magic; forbidden lovers and enchanted beings -- and always, always the hungry games of desire. Pucker up for a darkly sweet collection of ghosts, shape shifters, fairies, unicorns, vampires, and demons in tales from today's biggest writers of the paranormal persuasion. (goodreads.com)
I came at this one with two minds. KISS ME DEADLY has been sitting on my review shelf for far too long and I remember when I initially took it on it sounded really interesting and just dark enough that I thought I would enjoy it. When I picked it up to read a few weeks ago, I asked myself, "what the hell was I thinking?" PNR? ME? Do I know me right now? I try to stay as far away from PNR as I can right now. I don't do romance as a default, PNR especially because not only does it not interest me but the stuff I've come across . . . not good. But I said I'd review it so I read it. And loved it.
Small doses, people. Small doses. I think that's what really does it. Each story is at most 50 to 60 pages long so there isn't time enough to dwell on the romance. It's shit or get off the pot territory and there were really only a couple that I was less than thrilled with. The rest I was like "Yeah!" Now don't expect me to run out and start gobbling PNR. Not going to happen. But KISS ME DEADLY was a good foray into the genre for someone like me that would rather run away screaming. Telep did an excellent job of compiling a variety of stories that focused on all aspects of paranormal love, from the sweet to the sinister, the light to the dark. There is literally something for everyone and more than one of the stories got this book blogger's black heart beating again.
Here are my thoughts on each individual story -
THE ASSASSIN'S APPRENTICE by Michelle Zink - I think this might have been the precursor to A TEMPTATION OF ANGELS that just released this month. The time period for the story was maybe a day so it's more of an insta-love that I really try to veer away from. It was okay but like AToA it didn't really blow me away.
ERRANT by Diana Peterfeund - aka I need to read more Diana Peterfreund. Nasty unicorns and the warrior virgins that hunt them. Yes. Dementing more classical creatures. Yes. There wasn't anything not good about this one.
THE SPIRIT JAR by Karen Mahoney - An excellent premise but had me questioning why the MC was a vampire because it wasn't really relevant to the story. It was all about the boy's love to his dead girlfriend which was actually really sweet. It was refreshing.
LOST by Justine Musk - A great retelling of Persephone and Hades just with a choice. Brings in reincarnation and opening doorways to other worlds. The love aspect was kind of weird but not off-putting. Just an odd set-up.
THE SPY WHO NEVER GREW UP by Sarah Rees Brennan - This one was more about demented love and, of course, this demented chick really liked it. Granted I found Peter wholly annoying but the twist Brennan gave on Peter Pan darkened it enough for me to get invested.
DUNGEONS OF LANGEAIS by Becca Fitzpatrick - I didn't really get the context because it's a HUSH, HUSH story but removed from that, it's another demented love tale that brought me in. I couldn't help but think of whore complex, though, when it came to the MC's lover so that kind of tampered it. Neat premise despite some awkward elements but it was dark enough for me to like.
BEHIND THE RED DOOR by Caitlin Kittredge - This one was my absolutely favorite. Screw PNR. It was totally YA horror and showed succubus love for what it really was (not literally, no succubus in this one). It was dark and scary with the right amount of light at the end. I need to read more Caitlin Kittredge.
HARE MOON by Carrie Ryan - A FoHaT story, it's context was much easier to grab as the world was more familiar to me. The best part was the religious brainwashing and what can happen when one strays off the path. Yeah it can be read as love being a downfall and that is partly it. But I think it goes beyond that, maybe even a little bit of a satire, a comment on it all. I liked the ending especially.
FAMILIAR by Michelle Rowan - This one was sweet but a little too sickly sweet for me. It was cutesy in the sense that this is the type of PNR I stay away from. They're super hooked on each other at the end and kind of just had me going, "yup, moving on."
FEARLESS by Rachel Vincent - Another awesome one. Again super dark, a girl who needs to feed on people's fears to survive gets to know what it feels like on the other side of the wall. Boyfriend rescuing going on but I was okay with it. It rounded out the strength of the story nicely.
VERMILLION by Daniel Marks - A story from the other side, Purgatory, it was kind of odd but not necessarily in a bad way. There were confusing elements about it that all ended up being part of the greater plot. And I liked the Hulk-Smash ending. The crazy things people do for love!
THE HOUNDS OF ULSTER by Maggie Stiefvater - The first piece I've read by her where the character actually sounds like what I'd think the character sounds like instead of her writing the character in her own author voice. I have to say, I enjoyed it. Of course it's faeire-centric but I was just so floored that the MC sounded genuine that I didn't want to stop reading. I may have the courage to tap into her later books. Maybe.
MANY HAPPY RETURNS by Daniel Waters - I wasn't a GENERATION DEAD fan (far too preachy) but this was a good snippet into the world. Told from the POV of a girl's father so it was a nice departure from the rest. It really hit me because it's about the love of a father for his daughter and I'm totally a daddy's girl. So yeah, I liked it.
Overall an excellent selection. Even if you're not a PNR fan (Hi! Have you met me???) I still think you'd find something you liked in KISS ME DEADLY. The stories are just so varied and come at the topic from so many angles that if you don't find at least one you like you might just be dead on the inside.
Ban Factor: High - Teen love, sex and the paranormal? Need I explain that one?
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