My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This thing is an enormous tome! I don’t know if it has been released in hardback or not, but if it has, that version has to be anchor-worthy. I requested it from the library because Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette had stories in it, and I’ll read pretty much anything either of those worthies publish. I didn’t expect to care for most of the rest, and didn’t plan to do much more than flip through them.
As it happens, I read most of the other stories, and there were many surprises. I did skip some of the reprints, such as the Anne Rice story (I wouldn’t have read it the first time it was published, and I wasn’t about to read it simply because she was in good company now). I had read Carrie Vaughn’s “Life Is the Teacher” before, but for some reason my eyes just fell into reading it again, and I felt well rewarded for doing so. On the other hand, while I had enjoyed “Twilight” by Kelley Armstrong the first time I read it a few years back, I wasn’t moved to repeat the experience.
I believe my favorite story may have been “Finders, Keepers” by L.A. Banks, as I still remember it clearly and with pleasure. I’ve only read one of Banks’ Vampire Huntress novels and didn’t find it interesting at all, so I haven’t read any more of her work, but I may seek out more of her short fiction in the future.
“Mama Gone” by Jane Yolen felt fresh, as Yolen’s work so often does. Garth Nix’s contribution, “Infestation,” was a little bit predictable, but that may be due to overexposure to the genre.
I found myself returning to the cover art by David Palumbo again and again, intrigued by the fascinating faces he gave the figures there. They aren’t classically alluring, and most aren’t hideous—most would look perfectly at home on any street. But they also have that, that something, an element you can’t quite put your finger on, an element of the other. Take a look and I believe you’ll see what I mean.