Tag Archives: Urban Enemies

Urban Enemies edited by Joseph Nassise

Overview
Image result for urban enemies book cover

Title: Urban Enemies
Author: Joseph Nassise, Jim Butcher, Kelley Armstrong, Jeff Somers, Craig Schaefer, Lilith Saintcrow, Kevin Hearne, Caitlin Kittredge, Carrie Vaughn, Jonathan Maberry, Faith Hunter, Jon F. Merz, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Steven Savile, Domino Finn, Seanan McGuire & Sam Witt
In: Urban Enemies (Joseph Nassise)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Short story collections, Urban fantasy, Villains
Dates read: 31st July – 30th December 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Anthology
Publisher: Gallery Books
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: He’d sent her out of the morgue just long enough to make a quick phone call in private.

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Synopsis

Villains have all the fun

For every hero trying to save the world, there’s a villain trying to tear it all down – and in this star-studded urban fantasy anthology, the villains get their say. Told from antagonists’ points of view, this is a rare glimpse into the dark side of your favorite series.

John Marcone decides to battle a cantrev lord instead of going after Harry Dresden in Jim Butcher’s “Even Hand” (Dresden Files). Loki traverses Hell to ahve a sit-down with Lucifer in Kevin Hearn’es “The Naughtiest Cherub” (Iron Druid Chronicles). Kelley Armstrong’s “Hounded” (Cainsville) tells the tale of the Huntsman’s plot to replace his missing hound in a most surprising fashion. The cuckoos are powerful telepathic predators, but one finds herself with difficult decisions to make in Seanan McGuire’s “Balance” (InCryptid). In Jonathan Maberry’s “Altar Boy” (Joe Ledger), the man called Toys is no saint, and certainly isn’t playing around…

Includes other stories by Domino Finn (Black Magic Outlaw), Diana Pharaoh Francis (Horngate Witches), Faith Hunter (Jane Yellowrock), Caitlin Kittredge (Hellhound Chronicles), Jon F. Merz (Lawson Vampire), Joseph Nassise (Templar Chronicles), Lilith Saintcrow (Jill Kismet), Steven Savile (Glass Town), Craig Schaefer (Daniel Faust), Jeff Somers (The Ustari Cycle), Carrie Vaughn (Kitty Norville), and Sam Witt (Pitchfork County).

Thoughts

I really enjoyed this collection, but it was a little more difficult to get through. Unlike a lot of anthologies, every single one of these stories was placed in an already established world and series. However, unlike the few other books that I’ve read which have the same setup, these shorts didn’t stand by themselves very well. Actually, some were just downright confusing because I had no idea what was happening.

What I did love about this collection is that even though I wasn’t 100% about what was happening… there was a little introduction at the beginning of each story. It just explained the worlds and series in a brief manner. Not excellently because I still didn’t actually get what was happening in a number of stories, but enough that it helped me to place the stories a little.

I’d be keen to reread a number of these short stories. Particularly once I’ve actually read the series in which they are situated. At this point, they’re all on my wish list, so it’ll happen… eventually. I seriously need to stop starting a series and then starting a new one… should really finish a few before I get too hooked into a new series.

 <- Everywhere ReviewEven Hand Review ->
Image source: Simon & Schuster

Everywhere by Sam Witt

Overview
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Title: Everywhere
Author: Sam Witt
Series: Pitchfork County #3.5
In: Urban Enemies (Joseph Nassise)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Horror, Paranormal fantasy, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 30th December 2019
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gallery Books
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: He was debased and defiled, a broken shadow of his former glory.

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Synopsis

They’ve battled each other to the death before. But this villain managed to escape with a husk of himself. The next battle might make things even more dangerous. The villain might finally find a way to be everywhere.

Thoughts

The premise of this short story is kind of terrifying. After all, it’s the way in which a villain is able to make himself be a part of everything. Not exactly the kind of story that makes you feel safe. But, since it’s a tale about the villain of a series… it works perfectly. If you don’t think too hard about the whole hive mind villain thing.

At first I didn’t really enjoy this story. It talked a little too much about a past, epic battle that I had no idea about. I hate when I feel like I’m missing something. But, after a while, enough past information was filled in and I really started getting into this. After all, it was the beginnings of a new epic battle and setting up the storyline for a new version of the dangerous villain.

Once I sunk into this story. I seriously sunk into it. There was something not only fun and amazing about it, but the idea of a villain finding a way to get his consciousness into beer. And then weasling his way into soooooo many other consciousnesses (consciousii?). That was brilliant and somewhat terrifying. I can’t wait to start reading this series! In a long while… I want to finish some other series first.

 <- Balance ReviewUrban Enemies Review ->
Image source: Simon & Schuster

Balance by Seanan McGuire

Overview
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Title: Balance
Author: Seanan McGuire
Series: InCryptid #6.6
In: Urban Enemies (Joseph Nassise)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 30th December 2019
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gallery Books
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: “Tangy,” I said, and felt him swell with pride.

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Synopsis

The world needs balance. And in the reality of the InCryptid’s, maths and malice work perfectly to do so. A cuckoo creates a new nest, but is removed. Then hes kin remove the hunter… it’s all about checks and balances.

Thoughts

This is my first every taste of the InCryptid series. And now I’m so excited that I already have the first novel in this series on my shelves. There was just something completely amazing about the idea of cryptids (monsters) that are hunted down for preying on humans. And writing this whole short story from the point of view of the monster… freaking, totally and utterly brilliant. I’m hooked. I’m happy.

I’ve read about a lot of monsters in my many, many, many fantasy books. I’ve never read about a monster that is a cuckoo. One that parasitising on the human race by doing exactly what a cuckoo does. And now I’m wondering why there aren’t more parasitic creatures like this. It’s just such a damn brilliant idea! And it asks, they exploit us, so does that mean that they’re actually malicious? Or like the cuckoo, just doing what they’re designed for?

Ultimately this story is all about checks and balances. Or at least, that’s how it’s written and acts are justified. Which I kind of like. The idea is that humans keep ruining things, they are getting a little too big for their britches, so we have predators that keep us in check. After all, ecosystems don’t survive when one organism is overpowering all of the others.

<- The Difference Between Deceit and DelusionEverywhere ->

Image source: Simon & Schuster

The Difference Between Deceit and Delusion by Domino Finn

Overview
Image result for urban enemies book cover

Title: The Difference Between Deceit and Delusion
Author: Domino Finn
Series: Black Magic Outlaw Companion
In: Urban Enemies (Joseph Nassise)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 19th December 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gallery Books
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: Bullets peppered the large surface but failed to penetrate.

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Synopsis

What’s the difference between deceit and delusion? Will this villain be able to figure out the answer before it’s too late?

Thoughts

This entire story was just a complete, total and utter massacre. Which I loved. Because I’m a blood-thirsty little freak. But it’s probably not okay that I actually enjoyed this much death and killing. I grinned the whole way through this story. Completely unable to remove the grin from my face. But, it’s hooked me into this series. So obviously it was a story that was worth reading and a series that will make it to the top of my TBR list.

I loved that this story utilises people of African faith and mythology. It’s not one that I come across frequently, and I hope that this African flavor makes its way into the greater series when I finally get to add them to my shelves. Most of my stories generally include European mythologies, and I’m sure some of that will makes its way in, but the fact that there was discussion of Anansi and the such? It made the bloodthirsty grin even wider.

One of the reasons that I probably enjoyed the bloodthirstiness of this story so much – I’ve been in a pretty bad mood of late. Reading a story which is incredibly violent and dark is always a way to draw me in when I’m in such a state. Not the kind of short story that I’m likely to forget anytime soon.

 <- Reel Life ReviewBalance Review ->
Image source: Simon & Schuster

Unexpected Choices by Diana Pharaoh Francis

Overview
Image result for urban enemies book cover

Title: Unexpected Choices
Author: Diana Pharaoh Francis
Series: Horngate Witches #4.5
In: Urban Enemies (Joseph Nassise)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Urban fantasy, Witches
Dates read: 13th December 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gallery Books
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: She lifted her chin, meeting his gaze.

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Synopsis

She’s banished him to purgatory for the past three and a half years. But now she brings him back to protect her from a greater evil. Will they survive or will he turn on this powerful witch?

Thoughts

So far in the collection of Urban Enemies, this is the most coherent story. All the other stories, you definitely have to read the rest of the series, or at least some of it, to understand the characters. To the point that I’ve almost given up… almost. And then you get a story like this… which makes sense completely on its own. I still feel like I need to read the series attached to this. But because it was such a great story, not because I finished it and sat there wondering “huh”?

You can tell that this short story takes place at a critical turning point in the series timeline. It is the turning of the world – from our current reality, to one in which magic is commonplace and there are greater battles going on. See how much I can get out of a well written short story? Actually, the entire turning of reality seriously intrigued me and now I want to know how that happened, why and what’s going to happen next… pity there’s such a thing as a budget, hey?

I like that this seems to be an enemies to friends kind of story. I don’t really read many of them, but the consensus I got was that the Big Bad Wolf (or angel, whatever) is starting to question his reality and motives. And, in doing so, understanding that of the “good witch”. It’ll be interesting to see how this change in perspectives changes the rest of the series narrative.

 <- Chase the Fire ReviewReel Life Review ->
Image source: Simon & Schuster

Chase the Fire by Jon F. Merz

Overview
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Title: Chase the Fire
Author: Jon F. Merz
Series: Lawson Vampire Series Companion
In: Urban Enemies (Joseph Nassise)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Urban fantasy, Vampires
Dates read: 6th December 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gallery Books
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: Get to it, please.

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Synopsis

Shiraz thinks that he’s found the ultimate weapon. But will he be able to secure it before he’s found out?

Thoughts

When I started this short story, I just kind of assumed that Shiraz was going to be the big, master villain of whatever series this is part of. There was something wonderfully sinister and intense about him. But, as the story found its conclusion, I’m beginning to think that he’s getting outdone by a far more insidious villain that the hero won’t see coming.

I love that this story feels like it’s setting up a master conspiracy within the greater series. Like it’s explaining how this secret villain has a power that no one knows about and is willing to use. At least, that’s how it reads to me. A person who has no idea about this series or where and how this book will fit into it. This feeling of conspiracy has made me seriously intrigued though.

I’m also seriously intrigued by the idea of a secret society of vampires. There is always something so much fun about secret societies. And when you add the supernatural and paranormal… it is so much more likely to draw me in completely! More books to add to the wish list…

 <- Make it Snappy ReviewUnexpected Choices Review ->
Image source: Simon & Schuster

Make it Snappy by Faith Hunter

Overview
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Title: Make it Snappy
Author: Faith Hunter
Series: Jane Yellowrock #0.75
In: Urban Enemies (Joseph Nassise)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Animagus, Dark fantasy, Strong women
Dates read: 28th November 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gallery Books
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: Katie pouted, her lips pursing around her canines.

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Synopsis

Leo’s heir has pinned and trapped him with some help. What she wants is something a little more difficult to define than simply power… plus, there’s some betrayal in the mix.

Thoughts

It’s been a little while since I picked up a Jane Yellowrock novel. It just seems to have fallen on the wayside of the series that I’m insanely digging through. I also tend to be a bit of a book slut – I’ll read one or two books from a series, and then move on to another one. I’m currently reading about 190 different series. Having said that, I did love revisiting this world and the introduction that this short story provides to Leo and his heir, Katie.

One of my favourite things about this short story is the final sentence. I won’t tell you what it is, because you should read it yourself… but it is a great ending to a fantastic story. It also gives a little more insight into the dynamics of the vampire clan which Jane is most closely involved with.

I love that although Katie is in a position of power over Leo, she doesn’t actually want to take his place. It’s a reminder that for different people, power means different things. And we all take advantage in our own ways. Actually, mostly, it just made me like Katie all the more – it’s the unseen powerful that you never see coming that are intimidating.

<- Signatures of the DeadSkinwalker ->

Image source: Simon & Schuster

Altar Boy by Jonathan Maberry

Overview
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Title: Altar Boy
Author: Jonathan Maberry
Series: Joe Ledger Companion
In: Urban Enemies (Joseph Nassise)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Horror, Thriller, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 6th November 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gallery Books
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: “She was brilliant.”

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Synopsis

He’s a “recovering bad guy”, but when he gets involved with a woman, he might just have to question his priorities.

Thoughts

I love that this short story features a “recovering bad guy”. Unlike the other short stories in the Urban Enemies collection, this villain isn’t really trying to be a villain anymore. Rather, he is trying to atone for some of the horrifying acts that he has committed in the past. It’s a nice change from the more typical villain stories throughout the collection.

Altar Boy is kind of tragic – a man is atoning for his past and his sins, but he can’t be left in peace. He’s attempting to find a way in which to just exist is hopeful at the beginning. But, when he is once again forced to face up to his past, things take a more sinister turn. And it’s actually kind of heartbreaking in their eventuality. It doesn’t matter what he does, he has to find a way to justify his actions that are, after all, for the greater good.

One of the most powerful aspects of this story was the key question that it asks you: when has biological weaponry gone too far? It’s an incredibly relevant and scary question in today’s society and one that I kept on playing with like a loose tooth long after turning the final page.

 <- Bellum Romanum ReviewMake it Snappy Review ->
Image source: Simon & Schuster

Bellum Romanum by Carrie Vaughn

Overview
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Title: Bellum Romanum
Author: Carrie Vaughn
Series: Kitty Norville #0.2
In: Urban Enemies (Joseph Nassise)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Paranormal fantasy, Urban fantasy, Werewolves
Dates read: 1st November 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gallery Books
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: The force of Gaius’s rage surprised him.

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Synopsis

Roman was once a man called Gaius. Who was turned against his will. But, in his quest to find vengeance, he might go a little bit further than expected.

Thoughts

Thoroughly enjoyed the idea of a villain who is simply seeking revenge on the entire paranormal community because he was forced to join it. No more sinister, intense reason, nothing else going on… he’s basically just cracking the shits because someone turned him against his will, so he may as well burn the whole world down because of it. Talk about a temper tantrum.

Although I didn’t feel sympathy for this villain (as I do tend to do with a lot of villain POVs), I did gain a little understanding into him. And that was kind of nice. After all, the best villains are the ones you can understand, and even imagine yourself becoming… mostly I think that this villain is a bit of a petulant child. And probably just needed to break something. Too bad that someone came along and gave him the means to break the world…

I absolutely love when you can recognise a historical moment woven into a series. Especially when it’s a contemporary, urban fantasy like Kitty Norville. But Pompeii is in this. And I have a slightly intense fascination with this, have had since I was a young child. Which meant I was completely digging the idea that the villain in this caused Pompeii. That that was one of his petulant child moments of destruction… completely brilliant and so much fun!!! Except for the peoples of Pompeii… not so much fun for them.

 <- The Book of Daniel ReviewA Princess of Spain Review ->
Image source: Simon & Schuster

Down Where the Darkness Dwells by Joseph Nassise

Overview
Image result for urban enemies book cover

Title: Down Where the Darkness Dwells
Author: Joseph Nassise
Series: Templar Chronicles Companion
In: Urban Enemies (Joseph Nassise)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Horror, Paranormal fantasy, Urban fantasy
Dates read: 20th October 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Gallery Books
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: This man was perhaps a bit smarter than his colleague, for rather than protesting he simply turned and pointed into the ranks of those behind him.

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Synopsis

Logan is expendable. At least that’s what the head magic user in his group believes. But, when they leave Logan underground to die a painful death, he might just find a way to wreak vengeance. To get even and become more powerful than anyone ever dreamed…

Thoughts

This short story is kind of creepy. And makes me really feel sorry for Logan. Which I think may be bad, since he’s the villain in this series (that I have now added to my wishlist). After all, he’s simply a novice and is trapped in a horrible situation by a not-so-nice man. And then makes a bad decision that turns himself into a not-so-nice man… but still!

There is a serious level of goose bumps that this story give you though. The depths of a mine, trying to find a Mayan treasure is how so many adventure, Indiana Jones stories start. But they don’t normally involve animated skeletons and magic run amok. Nor do they tend to include a guy who actually seems more horrifying than the villain. Someone who has decided that others are dispensable because of their lack of power. Alright, that does happen quite frequently with villains… but something about this story made it seem that much worse.

Although I did feel sympathy for Logan throughout this story, that sympathy did change as the story unfolded. It was amazing how you start off really feeling sympathy for a young novice. This quickly turns to horror when you realise just what he’s capable of and the lengths that he’s willing to go to. Now I want to see what a terrifying villain Logan turns out to be in the greater series…

 <- The Resurrectionist ReviewBellum Romanum Review ->
Image source: Simon & Schuster