Edited by: Jim Butcher and Kerrie L. Hughes
ROC New York, NY 2016
This is an anthology that explores that grey space between “good” and “evil”. The stories tend towards characters most people would perceive as “evil” (or at least “bad”) doing good things. Alternatively there are stories where the characters are doing “bad” things for “good” reasons or to positive outcomes.
The anthology is marketed to the fans of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series. There is a Dresden Files story included (featuring Molly in her new role as Winter Queen). Here fans of the Dresden series know Molly as a “good guy”. She is after all the daughter of an Archangel. However, being a queen in the fairy realm brings with it certain “conditions” and Molly hasn’t read all of the small print.
Jim C. Hines is another featured author in this anthology. Many people see Hines as the “next” Jim Butcher. Some of his work does seem like highly elevated fan fiction. But he is clearly coming into his own and this piece is a good example. Like Butcher’s story, Hines main character is a woman who is immediately perceived as a “good guy”. But unlike Molly, Julia’s background isn’t happy and it’s coming back to bite her in the ass.
There does seem to be an attempt to include women authors in this anthology. A good third of the stories are by women and like Hines and Butcher many of the male authors feature strong female characters. The stand out female author for me was Kat Richardson.
Her short story, Peacock in Hell, did have a female protagonist, but her male counterpart was at least equally represented and in the end he was the one orchestrating the action. What I liked about this short story was its potential. This could easily be the lead in to a series, and one I’m sure I would enjoy.
In this short fiction the world is clearly established. The setting is vividly drawn. The dynamic between the characters is an entertaining push and pull. The supernatural elements are well grounded in an internal logic, apparent even in this limited space.
I like a good anthology and this is a very good collection. None of the stories fell flat. All of them really did explore the question of that line between “good” and “evil”. This fiction is thoughtful and thought provoking. It’s well written and has a great appeal in the fantasy genre.