Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Review: Dark and Stormy Knights edited by P. N. Elrod

It was a dark and stormy knight, and nine dark defenders are about to embark upon a perilous quest...

They're the shadowy defenders of humanity - modern-day knights committing the darkest of deeds for all the right reasons. In this all-star collection, nine of today's hottest urban fantasy authors bring us thrilling, all-new stories of the supernatural brimming with magic, mystery, and mayhem.

An unlikely hero goes head-to-head with a ruthless cantrev lord in Jim Butcher's "Even Hand." Kate Daniels is called upon for bodyguard duty to protect Saiman, a shifter she trusts less than her worst enemy, in Ilona Andrews's "A Questionable Client." At all costs, Cormac must stop a vicious werewolf before it attacks again on the next full moon in Carrie Vaughn's "God's Creatures." And in Vicki Pettersson's "Shifting Star," Skamar reluctantly enlists the aid of her frustratingly sexy neighbor when she takes on a vengeful creature kidnapping young girls.

When everything's on the line, can these sinister guardians complete their missions and live to fight another day? Find out in Dark and Stormy Knights!

First off, here's the lineup in the order in which they are in the book:

"A Questionable Client" by Ilona Andrews
"Even Hand" by Jim Butcher
"The Beacon" by Shannon K. Butcher
"Even a Rabbit Will Bite" by Rachel Caine
"Dark Lady" by P. N. Elrod
"Beknighted" by Deidre Knight
"Shifting Star" by Vicki Pettersson
"Rookwood & Mrs. King" by Lilith Saintcrow
"God's Creatures" by Carrie Vaughn

I should say right up front that the reason I bought this book was pretty much all about the Ilona Andrews story. That the Jim Butcher story came with it was just gravy. The lineup is pretty impressive author-wise but story-wise? It falls a little short in that department.

"A Questionable Client" by Ilona Andrews - you can see what little I said about it HERE. Two months later, I was still working off my Ilona Andrews/Kate Daniels fix when I got this book. My expectations were pretty damn high for this background story about Kate and Saiman and I loved every word. (A)

"Even Hand" by Jim Butcher - Butcher does something here that I found to be refreshing and disappointing at the same time but I loved it nevertheless. Rarely do we, Butcher's faithful minions, get to see Harry Dresden from another's point of view, let alone a negative one. John Marcone is the main character here and I can tell I'm two books behind in this series because I thought things between Marcone and Harry were at a cease-fire. Apparently, they're not. Harry is not in "Even Hand" but he is on Marcone's mind. (A)

"The Beacon" by Shannon K. Butcher - this lady should stick to pararom and leave UF alone and I don't care if she is married to the UF master. I like her pararoms and have a trilogy of romantic suspense novels of hers to read as well but this story wasn't my favorite. (C)

"Even a Rabbit Will Bite" by Rachel Caine - I started this one but didn't finish it. (DNF)

"Dark Lady" by P. N. Elrod - Dick Tracy would have fit right in here. I don't think I've ever read any of Elrod's books and I'm pretty sure I would have remembered. She writes about a vampire who is living (pardon the pun) and running a bar in Chicago a few years after Prohibition. I kinda liked "Dark Lady," with  its white knight vampire and his haunted bar. It's okay, the ghost is a friendly one. (B)

"Beknighted" by Deidre Knight - another pararom author that I like who didn't impress me here. It felt like she started this one as a pararom and then slammed on the brakes just before the good stuff. (C)

"Shifting Star" by Vicki Pettersson - I didn't read this one because I'm two books behind in her Zodiac series. A few pages in and it was clear that I had no idea what was going on. (N/A)

"Rookwood and Mrs. King" by Lilith Saintcrow - this chick is one of my favorite authors because she's so quirky. Her blog and contributions on Deadline Dames are always well-written and entertaining yet informative and I never know what to expect from her. This short story has plenty of punch for forty or so pages. (A)

"God's Creatures" by Carrie Vaughn - a few years ago, I read Vaughn's first Kitty book and dropped her like a hot potato. That may have been a little hasty. It wasn't Vaughn's writing style that bothered me; rather, I was put off by the attitude of the werewolves. (I was probably semi-subconsciously comparing them to the pack mentality in Patricia Briggs's Mercy Thompson series.) I wasn't familiar with Cormac since I don't remember him from Kitty and the Midnight Hour but I did like him. The plot here wasn't much to write home about - just one of Cormac's jobs - but I thought it was decently done. (B)


Jen D. said...

*gasp* You didn't finish the Rachel Caine story?! She's one of my favorite authors.

Thanks for reviewing this antho. Seems like it did pretty well overall.

Jen said...

I started it...and didn't like it much. I like Rachel Caine too but this was about dragons (?) and the cranky old dragonslayer who was passing the torch to the newbie. Eh.

Jen D. said...

I'm sorry...did you just say dragons..? Um...yeah...that's kind of weird.