Two brand new tales anchor this wide-ranging collection from one of urban fantasy’s most successful authors. Here is the first time that best-selling fantasy, YA, and crime author Kelley Armstrong has had her stories collected from Otherworld and beyond. With her signature twists and turns, Armstrong gives a fresh spin on city-dwelling vampires, werewolves, and zombies, while also traveling further afield, to a post-apocalyptic fortress, a superstitious village, a supernatural brothel, and even to feudal Japan.
With tales that range from humorous to heart-stopping, these are the stories that showcase Kelley Armstrong at her versatile best.
– Rakshashi (standalone)
– Kat (Darkest Powers universe, non-series narrator)
– A Haunted House of Her Own (standalone)
– Learning Curve (Otherworld universe, Zoe)
– The Screams of Dragons (Cainsville universe, non-series narrator)
– The Kitsune’s Nine Tales (Age of Legends universe, non-series narrator)
– Last Stand (standalone)
– Bamboozled (Otherworld universe, non-series narrator)
– Branded (Otherworld universe, non-series narrator)
– The List (Otherworld universe, Zoe)
– Young Bloods (Otherworld universe, non-series narrator)
– The Door (standalone, original to this collection)
– Dead Flowers by a Roadside (standalone)
– Suffer the Children (standalone)
– The Collector (standalone)
– Gabriel’s Gargoyles (Cainsville universe, Gabriel)
– Harbinger (standalone)
– V Plates (Otherworld universe, Nick)
– Life Sentence (Otherworld universe, non-series narrator)
– Plan B (standalone)
– The Hunt (Cainsville universe, non-series narrator)
– Dead to Me (standalone)
– Devil May Care (Cainsville universe, Patrick, original to this collection)
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review
I’ll share my thoughts on each short story and end with a conclusion and list of my favourite short stories.
This one was nice enough, not too impressed. It was pretty short, we get a bit of the feel for his life and background and it nicely wraps things up. I did like how it seemed like he was capable and knew what he was doing and even though he deceives someone I understood why he did that. Original concept and supernatural type, just wish we got more.
Kat (Darkest Powers universe, non-series narrator)
It was fun to see a character we don’t meet, as far as I can remember, in the series. Her story is very different from the main characters of those series, but there are a few similar things. All in all I liked it, I kept guessing what type of supernatural she was and it’s only revealed at the end. Filled with action and running and nicely get’s wrapped up at the end. I like Kat, just wish it was longer.
A Haunted House of Her Own (standalone)
This short story gave me the chills. It’s a short horror story. Not what I would normally read, but it was well written. The couple in this story buys a house and want to turn it into a haunted house inn, turns out the house really seems haunted. The twists at the end took me by surprise.
Learning Curve (Otherworld universe, Zoe)
Short, but fun. I have read another short story of Zoe once and this was nice little story about her and her Stalker. It was a bit too short to my liking, but it was a nice little tidbit, that gave a glimpse into her life.
The Screams of Dragons (Cainsville universe, non-series narrator)
Really enjoyed this one. We learn a lot about Bobby, but I still felt like there was a lot of mystery and questions left as well. There is a lot of character change in this story and it was amazing to see the small changes happening and then at the end he was a totally different person. It was a bit sad and disturbing at times. And I am really wondering what was up with the dragons and who and what the dragons really were. Really well written and the ending was well done. I liked seeing Rose when she was younger and it gave me a new appreciation for her characters and she has been through. I also liked Hannah, I wonder what happened to her and if we will ever hear from her again. I liked how they focussed on how their abilities weren’t a gift, but also a curse and how it was both good and bad. But the character changes of Bobby were my favourite aspect of it, strong story.
The Kitsune’s Nine Tales (Age of Legends universe, non-series narrator)
I haven’t yet started the Age of legends series so this was my first meeting with the world. I got a bit of a feel for the world, but very limited. the story is pretty straightforward and not all that captivating. I was wondering what he had really done to deserve this. And then I kept waiting for the twist I knew that would come. It ends with two twists at the end, which was nice, but beside that this one didn’t do much for me. maybe if you have read the first books in this series already the story has more relevance.
Last Stand (standalone)
I am not a big fan of zombie books as for some reason zombies don’t appeal to me. This one was well written and the zombies were different than I expected. There is a nice twists at the end, which is one of the things I am really starting to appreciate about these short stories. I felt a bit sorry for the main characters as they are in a difficult situation and have to make some hard decisions. The ending is open and maybe that’s for the best, but I still had hope and wondered what would happen next.
Bamboozled (Otherworld universe, non-series narrator)
This was a fun short story about a supernatural couple. It takes place in the past, but it wasn’t elaborated too much. I think it would make for a fun setting and story if it was a bit longer. We only get a taste here, but I did enjoy it. I liked how the couple interacted with each other and dealt with the issue they ran into. It stays a secret what supernatural they are until later in the story. I also like the fact that the main character was an actress and a good one at that.
Branded (Otherworld universe, non-series narrator)
I already read this once before in another short story collection, but I enjoyed it enough to read it again. This short story is a bit longer than most of them, which also makes it easier to get a feel for the world. I never realized this was an Otherworld universe book as the world is very different and takes place in the future with a dystopia/ post apocalyptic setting. It was really well written and just as the first time I read it I had hoped it was longer as it was so good and I want to know what happens next, but on the other hand there is enough story and the ending is well done, it wraps things up nicely and it tells the story it needs to tell.
The List (Otherworld universe, Zoe)
I like Zoe, so I was happy we got another short story by her. I think Brittany is the same girl we met in the Zoe story earlier in this book. It gave a nice view of her life and her personality and the idea of a professor making a vampire list was fun. It was short, but long enough. With a small twist towards the end.
Young Bloods (Otherworld universe, non-series narrator)
Another fun short story. It’s nice to see a bit more of the vampires in these short stories as in the main series they don’t play as big of an role. An older man is sitting on the metro with a corpse and two vampires and hopes to come out alive. There is a fun twist towards the end and I liked how it got wrapped up. Although I do wonder what the police will think of it.
The Door (standalone, original to this collection)
This was a bit of a fast forward story, we get to hear what happened over the span of the years. It wad told in a bit of a detached manner which made it difficult to connect to the characters, but it still made for an interesting story. There is a door and the main character doesn’t know what is behind it, in the end she finds out, but it brings us more questions than answers.
Dead Flowers by a Roadside (standalone)
This one was sad, horrible sad. The story is told from the point of view of a man who lost his wife and kid in an accident. I just felt really sorry for him. There are some events that happens, but it’s also him getting lost in his thought. There is a paranormal twist, but there isn’t really much attention to it. He can see ghosts but not his wife and child. I am not sure if I fully understood the ending. Overall this wasn’t one of my favourites, it is well written, but I just don’t like sad stories that deal with topics like this. It made me feel sad.
Suffer the Children (standalone)
I wasn’t really sure what to expect of this story, but it quickly turned into one of my favourite reads of this book. It’s original, slightly creepy and disturbing and even a bit sad and really well written. I had wished there was a bit more explanation towards the end of how one of the characters did what he did, but that was my only minor complaints. I really like Arie, preacher and Sophia. I quickly could relate to them. It is a dark read, lots of kids have died due to a disease and strangers come to town, saying they can help. But the price might be higher than they expect. Slowly Preacher and Arie piece the pieces together and we learn the horrifying truth. This was a slightly longer story and I couldn’t finish it in one sitting, but it was really hard to put it down as it was so interesting.
The Collector (standalone)
Didn’t care too much for this one. It was okay, but we don’t get enough details plus at the end it is mentioned this one was written in another author his universe and therefore it was a bit hard to place. I did like the puzzle element, but I just didn’t understand it fully and there was a mention of some creatures I think and I had no clue what they were and it didn’t really mater. This one was a bit meh.
Gabriel’s Gargoyles (Cainsville universe, Gabriel)
I already read this one earlier in Gifted and I really enjoyed it. having just finished Visions that gave me another perspective and made things make even more sense, understanding something more about it. Gabriel is one of my favourite characters and I just love stories written from his point of view. Gabriel’s Gargoyles is a short story about Gabriel finding the last gargoyle, it was a fun read and it gave me a better understanding of why Gabriel is the way he is. He is a smart kid that learned to care for himself at an early age. It was sad to see how his mom treated him, never being there for him. I liked seeing how at easy Gabriel felt with his aunt and in Cainsville and it gives a different view of some character we’ll see again in the other books. All in all this was a fun little novella!
This one was really short. With a twist at the end, but I didn’t care much for this one. It was interesting to have the main character be the party girl and her room mate stay home. I was a bit surprised the main character didn’t freak out more by the dead girls following her and tries more to figure it out. It’s a bit sad.
V Plates (Otherworld universe, Nick)
It was fun to be back in the Otherworld series. I did have some trouble remembering who was Nick, Reese and Noah, but luckily there were enough reminders of that. My favourite part of this was seeing the three of them interact. The plot was okay. It was fairly short, there is a bit of action and then it ends already. I did like how Nick seems level headed, he knew he couldn’t solve things himself so he tried to call someone else.
Life Sentence (Otherworld universe, non-series narrator)
Didn’t the narrator of this one much. He wants to be immortal and is going far to achieve that. Didn’t really like this methods and thought that the supernatural he turned into didn’t much look like the original anymore and I thought it was a bit weird how much they changed it. Because what makes a supernatural what it is, when you can remove almost all things that make it what it is. Sorry don’t want to spoil anything. There was a twist at the end.
Plan B (standalone)
The title is very fitting. Not very likeable characters, but a well written story with lots of twists. And the title plan Bis very appropriate. I liked this one and it surprised me with the twists. I did expect one of them, but was surprised by the next one.
The Hunt (Cainsville universe, non-series narrator)
This one didn’t do much for me. It was a bit too short. Someone goes to hunt and then there’s a twist. It takes place in the Cainsville world, which was nice, but it was just too short for me to really care.
Dead to Me (standalone)
This one was a bit weird, not sure what to make of it. Didn’t really do anything for me and the twist at the end only made me more confused.
Devil May Care (Cainsville universe, Patrick, original to this collection)
I loved this short story! It sheds some light on Patrick his life and certain events very important to the Cainsville series. I would recommend reading Visions before you read this one as else this short story might spoil some revelations for you that take place in Visions. When I realized where this short story was about I was really happy and I read this almost in one sitting until I had to tear myself away from it and go to work. I also feel that patrick maybe isn’t fully to blame, while I thought he was as simply he got tricked. I hate the person who tricked him even more than before, what a despicable human being. Sure things turned out fine, but i still feel sorry for the one who got the worst end of the deal here. I also feel a bit sorry for Patrick, although I am not sure if he wanted more, he sure tried. All in all this was one of my favourite short stories in this collection, it sheds more light on a topic in Cainsville and I loved learning more about it all.
To conclude: This is a great short story collection of short stories written by Kelley Armstrong, some take place in the universe of her existing series and other are standalones. I think the ones that take place in her series universe are my favourite as there I have more of a context to place them in, more background and knowledge about the world. Especially the Cainsville short stories, I read Visions at the same time as I read this and the short stories all shed a new light on events and reveal a bit more about Cainsville.
Although some of the standalones ones were very good as well. Most short stories contain some kind of twist which I really liked. As even though they were short they were enjoyable and often managed to surprise me with the twist. The short stories are all very well written, there were a few I didn’t care for, but most were enjoyable. All in al I think this is a great book for fans of Kelley her writing or those wanting to get a feel for her writing style. I do recommend to read Visions before you read Devil May Care as else you will be spoiled.
My favourite series short stories: Devil May Care, The Screams of Dragons, Gabriel’s Gargoyles, Kat and Branded
My favourite standalones: Suffer the Children, A Haunted House of Her Own and Bamboozled
Other books I read and reviewed by this author:
– Kelley Armstrong – The Gathering (Darkness Rising #1) – 5 stars
– Kelley Armstrong – The Calling (Darkness Rising #2) – 5 stars
– Kelley Armstrong – The Rising (Darkness Rising #3) – 5 stars
– Kelley Armstrong – Omens (Cainsville #1) – 5 stars
– Kelley Armstrong – Visions (Cainsville #2) – 5 stars
– Kelley Armstrong – Exit Strategy (Nadia Stafford #1) – 4 stars
– Kelley Armstrong – Made to be Broken (Nadia Stafford #2) – 4 stars
– Kelley Armstrong – Wild Justice (Nadia Stafford #3) – 5 stars
– Kelley Armstrong – Forbidden (Otherworld #10.2) – 4 stars
– Kelley Armstrong – Gifted (Otherworld #13.4 and Cainsville #?) – 5 stars
– KL Armstrong and MA Marr – Loki’s Wolves (The Blackwell Pages #1) – 4 stars
– KL Armstrong and MA Marr – Odin’s Ravens (The Blackwell Pages #2) – 5 stars