Holidays are Hell, an anthology
December 16, 2008
This holiday-themed anthology came out last year, but I didn’t pick it up until recently. Holidays are Hell has four stories, two of which are related to full length novels by the authors.
- “Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel” by Kim Harrison
This is a Rachel Morgan story set several years before the events of the first Hollows book. Rachel casts a powerful spell on the night of the solstice and the unexpected results draw her into an investigation of a criminal that’s been preying on the helpless for a very long time. It’s interesting to see a younger version of Rachel that’s less sure of herself. I think it’s much better than the young Ivy story from an earlier anthology, but then again Ivy is probably my least favorite Hollows character. Since it takes place before the books, people new to the Hollows should have no trouble following along. Thankfully there’s no series-critical information, making the story an optional treat for Harrison’s current fans.
- “Run, Run, Rudolph” by Lynsay Sands
This is a follow up to the story by Sands in the Dates From Hell collection, but those who haven’t read that one will be able to follow the plot easily because it’s fairly simple. It’s a romantic comedy involving a person who becomes a shapeshifter in a scientific experiment. The very different tone and fact that the story uses a scientific rather than supernatural slant makes it not fit in too well with the rest, I also found some of the plot elements a bit goofy for my taste.
- “Six” by Marjorie M. Liu
Six is a kick-ass agent of the Chinese government whose life is turned upside down by a necromancer that she meets while investigating a terrorist cell. This is a fast-paced story with some really touching moments. It steams up pretty heavily while we’re still trying to get a handle on the characters, but everything else is good enough that it’s hard to mind. I really enjoy Liu’s style.
- “The Harvest” by Vicki Pettersson
This story is about Zoe Archer, the absent mother of Pettersson’s Zodiac series heroine. Zoe is a superhero who gave up her powers in order to protect her family, but when Zoe’s newborn granddaughter is kidnapped then she needs the help of her former teammates. This brings her back into contact with two of the men from her past, one that she loved and one that she only pretended to in order to spy on the agents of darkness. Fans of the series know what to expect in this twisty, dramatic world, but I’m guessing that the references and level of detail will confuse those who haven’t read other Zodiac books. Pettersson’s series is action oriented and has a unique comic book setting, but if that sounds interesting then you’d be best off just picking up The Scent of Shadows, this short story would probably be frustrating as an introduction and it spoils a few plot points from the other novels.