'Fantastic Hope' is a new anthology filled with various sci-fi and fantasy tales that has been edited by authors Laurell K. Hamilton and William McCaskey.
I knew I had to read this because it contained a brand new Anita Blake story.. and I'm a huge fan of Jean-Claude and the other great males from the series. Touted as being a collection deigning to focus on the positive sides of life, while still mixing things up with the darker aspects I typically enjoy, I was eager to try it out.
At first though, I wasn't sure happy endings were for me. As I slogged my way through the stories at the beginning of the collection, I found myself frequently putting the book aside to do anything. It just made me tired. I was bored, but wanted to persist.. in the hopes they would improve and it did have some great quotes.
"He had the kind of face you wanted to throw a coffee cup at. Even if you like coffee as much as I do."
-('Twilight Falls' by Jonathan Maberry)
"My father always used to say you can't beat the stupid from people, but it sure beats listening to their stupidity."
-('Broken Son' by Griffin Barber)
Just over a third of the way through the book, suddenly that's exactly what happened.
'Heart of Clay: A Dan Shamble, Zombie PI Adventure' by Kevin J. Anderson was a wonderful play on some old ideas. A combination of a pseudo-retelling of a classic and a humorous zombie detective novel, it was warm, inspired, and full of humor.
Likewise, 'Reprise: A Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter Short Story' by John G. Hartness really warmed me to the collection. It's obvious, I'm sure.. that Harker name most of us recognize, is indeed Dracula related. But what a sweet story, despite the awfulness of the topic within. I really enjoyed the intermingling of demonic/angelic mythos as well.
Now, for many years I've been intending to read a Patricia Briggs book and it just hasn't happened. But as luck would have it, there was a short story included by her as well and I couldn't have been happier.
'Asil and the Not-Date' had me off balance from the start. It has such a strange, yet interesting opening. I wasn't entirely sure what was going on and it took me a few pages to get my bearings, but her writing is so smooth. Basically, the main character is being set-up on 'dates' with by an anonymous group. All the information is being exchanged only by emails coming from someone marked 'Concerned Friends.
At the point where we pick up, he's already two dates down out of five and they have been more than interesting, to say the least. From here though, the next one definitely takes it up a few notches and I absolutely loved the story.
Other's included that deserve mention are McCaskey's 'Ronin' - which is a truly unique guardian tale, 'Skjoldmodir' by Michael Z. Williamson and Jessica Schlenker - a heartwrenching retelling of Beowulf, 'Bonds of Love and Duty' by Monalisa Foster, and of course.. 'Zombie Dearest' by Laurell K. Hamilton, which was unfortunately the last title in the book.. but well worth the wait.
After all, I did get to see Jean-Claude and Nicky was there too. I've always been conflicted about the Anita character and the whole center of everyone's universe angle, but the boys and the unique stories drive me to continue reading the series. When it comes down to it, that's a personal preference issue and does nothing to take away from Hamilton's ability as a writer.
If you're looking for a good collection of stories that you can easily read in chunks around quarantine home-schooling, with positive endings to brighten your days indoors.. look no further. Give this one a try.