Strange Brew is a collection of short stories by a variety of fantasy authors, compiled by P. N. Elrod. This was a fun read because I got to read some extra stories about characters or worlds I already knew about, and was also introduced to some new authors and universes I had not read before, and am now adding to my “to-read” pile. Here are some brief notes about each story and author.
Seeing Eye by Patricia Briggs
Seeing Eye tells the story of one of the side characters in Briggs’s Mercy Thompson/Alpha and Omega world, the white witch Moira. I was never super interested in Moira when she made her appearances in the other books (I can’t quite remember which series she was in; it’s all the same world and some characters overlap so I get them confused). Learning her back story certainly made her much more interesting, and gave us readers a better insight into how magic works in Briggs’s universe. And I just love the way Briggs writes, so this story was a hit for me.
Last Call by Jim Butcher
Last Call falls somewhere in with the rest of the Dresden Files book, though I’m not quite sure where other than way before book #14, Cold Days, which I read not too long ago (read my review here!). This was a fun story about Dresden working with Murphy to prevent an amusing, beer-related catastrophe. This is another series I already knew I loved, so this story was just bonus.
Death Warmed Over by Rachel Caine
In this story, Holly Anne Caldwell is a seventh-generation witch with the rather unusual ability to raise the dead. In this story, she gets in and out of trouble, falls in love, suffers terrible loss, and ultimately gets her happy ending. I absolutely loved this story, I think it was my favorite in the whole set. Which surprised me, because I have read several books in the Morganville Vampires series by Caine, which are alright but not great, and I read the first book in the Weather Warden series and didn’t like it at all. Not a bad book by any means, just not for me. I wish she would write more books about this character! She was cool. Maybe I’ll re-visit the Weather Warden series, and give her another try.
Vegas Odds by Karen Chance
This was a story set in the Cassandra Palmer universe, but to the best of my knowledge, didn’t include any characters we had met before in those books. I liked it a lot, though. Karen Chance really knows how to write a fast-paced story with epic fight scenes that you just can’t put down, and there’s always a twist that I never see coming. This story was no different. The “regular” books focus mainly on the time-traveling Cassie and her vampire friends, so you never get to learn much about the mages. This book was all about a battle mage and her capabilities. And Lia was a great heroine. This story reminded me how much I love Karen Chance’s books and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next Cassandra Palmer novel!
Hecate’s Golden Eye by P. N. Elrod
This was probably my least favorite story in the collection. It was a great story, I just couldn’t connect with the hero, vampire Jack Fleming. I guess, of all the crazy sci-fi/fantasy things I buy into without question, a vampire that could dissolve into mist and float around and spy on people while being mist was just too much for me, haha.
Bacon by Charlaine Harris
This was a fun story set in the Sookie Stackhouse universe. No characters from Sookie’s world were in it, but I could still tell it was the same world. The main character, Dahlia, is a ruthless vampire intent on getting revenge for the death of her werewolf husband. She is heartless, cunning, and very smart. I’ll admit, I gave up on the Sookie Stackhouse books awhile back. (Honestly, how many ridiculously good-looking vampire/werewolves/fae does one heroine need trying to sleep with her?) but this story reminded me about what I liked about Harris’s writing style. I had just begun to wonder what the title had to do with the story when we found out in hilarious and surprising fashion. Definitely a winner.
Signatures of the Dead by Faith Hunter
One of my favorite parts about reading this short story collection was discovering authors I had not read before. Turns out Faith Hunter is on my Goodreads “to-read” list, but now I’m moving her to the top. I really liked this story, the way magic worked, the brief glimpse we got of how vampires are portrayed, and the mystery surrounding Jane Yellowrock, the heroine of one of Hunter’s series. I am really looking forward to it and reading more about her.
Ginger by Caitlin Kittredge
This was another story that made me want to run out and start reading the series that goes along with it immediately. I have read a book or two in Kittredge’s Black London series and felt very lukewarm about them. This short story about the Nocturne City was spectacular, action packed with entertaining and diverse characters. Two more characters I am looking forward to reading and learning more about.
Dark Sins by Jenna Maclaine
Cin Craven is a recently turned vampire who now works for the vampire king, hunting other vampires and doing away with the really evil ones. She is special, in that she is the first witch-turned-vampire to keep her powers. I liked this story, since it was a new take on vampires with magic. I’m not in a rush to read more about this character, but I am intrigued.