Thursday, October 27, 2011

Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions

Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions
Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions
An Anthology
Edited by: Melissa Marr & Kelley Armstrong
Stories by:

Sixteen of today’s hottest writers of paranormal tales weave stories on a common theme of journeying. Authors such as Kelley Armstrong, Rachel Caine, and Melissa Marr return to the beloved worlds of their bestselling series, while others, like Claudia Gray, Kami Garcia, and Margaret Stohl, create new land-scapes and characters. But whether they’re writing about vampires, faeries, angels, or other magical beings, each author explores the strength and resilience of the human heart.
Suspenseful, funny, or romantic, the stories in Enthralled will leave you moved.

My Review:
Enthralled was an excellent anthology of paranormal stories that had me riveted. Normally, I am not such a short story fan. I think it's because I never get to know the characters on the personal level I want to, or there isn't enough in the plot line for me, but there are probably other reasons as well. But Enthralled was definitely an exception. I'm going to go on to read many more short stories after this. For this review, I am simply going to say a few sentences about each short story and give it a rating out of five stars.

1. Giovanni's Farewell by Claudia Gray: 3/5 Stars - To be honest, I am not a big fan of Claudia Gray. I read Evernight about a year and a half ago and was not impressed and I haven't made an attempt to pursue any of her other books. However, I did enjoy her short story a bit. Giovanni's Farewell was definitely not in my favorites in this anthology, but the main characters, Ravenna and Cairo (and I guess Giovanni as well) were well developed and interesting. I liked the paranormal flare it had, but it wasn't the most original. In the way that I rolled my eyes once or twice.

2. Scenic Route by Carrie Ryan: 5/5 Stars - I loved Carrie Ryan's three books from The Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy, and I am now a big fan of her short stories as well. She has such a horror factor present in this, both in the thought of being a part of the zombie apocalypse as well as the actual gore, but paired with the beauty, the complications, and determination of the human spirit. Scenic Route was a pulse-pounding, thrilling, and scary story, and one of my favorites in Enthralled.

3. Red Run by Kami Garcia: 4/5 Stars - I love The Caster Chronicles books, so I was quite excited to see what this short story was going to turn out to be. Definitely an excellent addition, Red Run was mysterious and creepy, a perfect balance of paranormal and a spooky murder mystery.

4. Things About Love by Jackson Pearce: 4.5/5 Stars - I've read Jackson Pearce's Sisters Red and Sweetly is at the top of my to-read list. Though I loved Sisters Red, for some stupid reason I haven't made a move to read As You Wish, which is the world that Things About Love is set in. I am certainly going to read it now. This short story was a charming one that really touched me. Jackson combined just the right amounts of magic and a fictional world with a more contemporary plot line. I loved the ending, the last three sentences from Juliet. I thought it was cute but hilarious, how it ended the same way it started.

5. Niederwald by Rachel Vincent: 4/5 Stars - I have no previous experience with Rachel Vincent, though I am planning to read her Soul Screamers series sometime (hopefully) soon. Niederwald is a short story connected to the Soul Screamers books, and I loved it. I'm certainly reading the books now. It was full of action, mystery, and magic/folklore. A great additions to Enthralled, not to mention a paranormal masterpiece.

6. Merely Mortal by Melissa Marr: 4.5/5 Stars - I'm a huge fan of Marr's Wicked Lovely books, and out of the 4+ couples that are main characters at one point or another in the series, Keenan and Donia are my absolute favorites. So, a short story about them with their happily ever after? Yes! Merely Mortal takes place after the events of Darkest Mercy, though within the year between the last chapter of it and the epilogue. I loved this short story. It was romantic, fun, and creative. Mostly I was just happy because it involved Keenan and Donia, but it was also quite a captivating story.

7. Facing Facts by Kelley Armstrong: 4/5 Stars - I was glad to be able to return to the world of The Darkest Powers for a bit, and Facing Facts was an excellent short story. It takes place after the events of The Reckoning. Full of suspense and danger, it was supernatural at its best and a fantastic read.

8. Let's Get This Undead Show On the Road by Sarah Rees Brennan: 3/5 Stars - I liked this one, but it wasn't my favorite. I am typically not a huge vampire fan (though I loved Vampire Academy,) so that is one reason this one didn't appeal to me. I felt as if it was so stereotypical, but it did have an entertaining side as well.

9. Bridge by Jeri Smith-Ready: 5/5 Stars - An excellent addition and one of my favorites! I loved Jeri Smith-Ready's Shade and Shift, so I was really intrigued by this story. Very fascinating, quite heartbreaking, and beautifully written. This short story is set in the world of Shade and Shift, and is told in Logan's POV after he is dead. He is struggling to make amends and send last messages to his brother Mickey. I was almost hesitant to read this one, though I don't know why. Definitely one of the best stories! A total knockout. I am now a fan of Logan, even though I will always be on Team Zach.

10. Skin Contact by Kimberly Derting: 4/5 Stars - Skin Contact is a short story connected to Kimberly Derting's The Body Finder novels. I have read both of them and I am a huge fan. Skin Contact centers around Rafe, the assisstant of the forensic psychologist who takes an interest in Violet in Desires of the Dead, the second Body Finder novel. I have to admit, Kimberly Derting did an amazing job of crossing creepy and disturbing mystery with sweet romance. But this story was sad. Heartbreaking? Yes. Traumatizing? Yes. But quite enjoyable.

11. Leaving by Ally Condie: 5/5 Stars - Another one of my absolute favorites! Actually, I think this is in my Top 3. Ally Condie's Matched was amazing, and she creates another very creative and strong dystopian world in this short story. It had a very whimsical, magical, and dream-like atmosphere to it, which I loved. I adored the ending, and I was left breathless.

12. At the Late Night, Double Feature, Picture Show by Jessica Verday: 3.5/5 Stars - Woah. This one can be described as weird and....different. But that's a good thing! When I started Jessica Verday's short story, all I could think was "cannibalistic girl scouts?" What!? One of the stangest things I have come across while reading. But this was a good story to read. Incredibly creative and a wicked fast plot. And a little creepy, too. But I guess I sort of find everything creepy.

13. IV League by Margaret Stohl: 4/5 Stars - I loved The Caster Chronicles, so I was also excited for this short story. First of all, I adore the titles. It's about the "Ivy League" universities, and there are five different sections of the short story, divided by roman numerals. So, "IV League" is absolutely genius. It was also a wonderful short story. I can't give it five stars because I was really confused about what was going on for the longest time, and it took until almost the end of the short story to figure out what they were talking about, and that is including rereading. Other than that, once I figured things out, IV League was perfectly enjoyable and charming. I loved the ending. It had me giggling and smiling.
14. Gargouille by Mary E. Pearson: 5/5 Stars - Besides "Leaving," Gargouille is probably my favorite short story in Enthralled. I loved Mary E. Pearson's The Adoration of Jenna Fox, and though is probably the exact opposite of it, Gargouille was wonderful. It was fresh and creative and romantic and very bittersweet. I thought they ending was stunning in a way- incredibly sad and bittersweet, but really lovely and romantic in others. I was swept up into a magical historic (it seemed to be set in the past!) landscape of mythical creatures. It was quite an original story as well.

15. The Third Kind by Jennifer Lynn Barnes: 4.5/5 Stars - Woah. A fantastic whirlwind of action! I liked Raised By Wolves, but I think this is (so far) my favorite thing I have read by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. I flipped through this story so fast, and I was really sad when it was over. I think it would be great to see an actual book surrounding this story line. For the most of it, I was very intrigued and was practically screaming: "I want to know what is going on!" But in a good way.

16. Automatic by Rachel Caine: 2.5/5 Stars - I hate to end on not such a positive note, but this was my least favorite in the series. I have previously not read anything by Rachel Caine, so maybe I would've appreciated more if I had read some her books? But, from what I read, I don't think I'll try Morganville Vampires anytime soon. I was quite interested in the story, but, like I said before, I am not such a vampire fan, and the whole "drinking blood from a vending machine?" Not really my thing.

Overall, Enthralled is an anthology that is not to be missed. If you are a paranormal fan, or a fan of any of these authors, I would advise picking this book up! Even if you don't like short stories, I would read this one. (Alas, my opinion on short stories has been miraculously changed!)

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