There are a bunch of really good reviews of this anthology, most I agree with totally. There are some great stories in this anthology, and a couple my particular tastes didn't care for. But even the ones I wasn't crazy about, I still liked well enough. As with all anthologies I read, I also found a couple of new authors that I didn't know that much about - but find that their work is worth looking into! Overall, I would say a 3.5 more than a 4 in total, but a couple of the stories threw it over the top into the 4 territory.
So, here is a short anthology review of my take on this great anthology!
Retribution Clause by Illona Andrews:
What can I say? It is Illona Andrews, my favorite writing team. They are, in my own estimation, wonderful writers. I love that every time they do an anthology, they give a bit more on characters mentioned in their other works, but you never learn much about. This one is about Adam Talford, cousin of the notorious Saimon the Ice Giant, made popular in Andrews MARVELOUS "Kate Daniels" seriesMagic Bites (Kate Daniels, Book 1). Adam is a much different character than Saimon, in what I consider to be a good way. I have always felt somewhat sorry for Saimon, no matter what an ass he can be. He feels like a scared, broken creature, lacking in confidence and self love. Adam is a different character, more comfortable in his own skin. I would be happy to read more about him, if this mighty writing duo ever thinks to do so.
5 of 5 for character development and story line
Bigfoot on Campus - Jim Butcher:
OK, I love Jim Butcher's work. His Dresden filesStorm Front (The Dresden Files, Book 1) are creative, funny, and well worth a read at any time. Bigfoot On Campus is definitely one of the best of his short stories. Which is saying a lot, as all of his short stories are wonderful. Highly creative, with very likable (and very hateable) characters, this is one of my favorites. A newbie could certainly jump into the Dresden Files from this spot and get a good overview of just what a great series this is.
5 of 5 for interesting characters, and Butcher's unique style
Holly's Balm - Rachel Caine
I have to admit, I have only read one other of Rachel Caine's stories, "Death Warmed Over" in the anthology Strange Brew (2010). I really enjoyed that story, and absolutely enjoyed this one. Holly Anne is a strong resurrectionist witch, but still has to deal with a 9-5 as a paper pusher, just to make the bills. Especially since the testimony of resurrection corpses is no longer legal. Start with Strange Brew, then read this one, in order to keep the story line in order. Or not. Up to you. Still a wonderful addition to my anthology collection.
5 of 5 for continuing storyline, and a female heroine who is a working stiff
Snow Job by Carole Nelson Douglas
Carole Nelson Douglas is an author I never really had in my 'go to' list. No real reason, other than I just have a lot of really great authors on my list. Until, that is, I ran across Dancing with Werewolves: Delilah Street, Paranormal Investigator. Anyone who lives in a magical cottage from a movie set with a huge half wolf, half wolfhound, gets my attention! The series is now on my "must read" list, and will be, without a doubt, one of those series I read more than once. This short story is set later in the book series, so I almost wish I had waited to read it, but I don't regret it - much.
4.5 of 5 for being a bit lost in the storyline as I have only read the first book.
Outside the Box - by P.N. Elrod
Marsha Madinia Goldfarb. An interesting name for a witch, right? Well, a junior witch, with a lot to learn. Vampires are real in Miss Goldfarb's world, but we don't want the 'normals' to know that, now do we? All in all, I found this story to be cute, but not one of my favorites in the anthology. No real reason, it just didn't catch my interest as much as some of the others. You may very well find it one of your favorites of the whole book. Maybe just because I am sort of burned out on vampires? Hum, now that is a possibilities.
3 out of 5 for not being really all that entertaining
How Do You Feel? by Simon R. Green
Let's admit it-I much prefer stories with women heros. However, with Simon R. Green's and Jim Butcher's world building, I have to say this this story is probably my favorite in the whole anthology. This story focuses on one of the more fascinating (to me) characters in Green's Nightside. Dead Boy. You learn more about him, his history, why he is still walking around, and why he is one of the most fearsome of Green's characters from the Nightside. Awesome.
5 of 5 for all sorts of reasons
There Will Be Demons - Lori Handerland
I have never read any of Handerland's works. Won't go on my list. Even the good guys stab each other in the back, and the main character gets whored out by her boss? Meh.
1 out of 5 for the Skinwalker, the rest of it was boring
Cherry Kisses by Erica Hayes
Another story where the main female character has no redeeming qualities? I don't want to be her, don't want to know her, don't like her. No more Hayes for me, any more than Handerland.
1 out of 5 just because she does have chutzpah, even though I couldn't like her
The Arcane Art of Misdirection by Carrie Vaughn
This story gets points for being clever. A blackjack dealer in Las Vegas knows good and well that the person at her table is cheating, but doesn't know how. Bring in wizards, demons, and things that go bump in the night, and I had fun reading the story. I have to admit, I tried Vaughn's "Kitty" series Kitty and the Midnight Hour (Kitty Norville, Book 1), and was deeply unimpressed. I couldn't force myself to like Kitty or her world, but this story was clever.
3.5 out of 5 for creativity of storyline