Review: An Apple for the Creature by Charlaine Harris (ed.)

Filed in 2 1/2 Stars , Charlaine Harris , Draconismoi , Faith Hunter , Ilona Andrews , Marjorie M. Liu Posted on November 29, 2012 @ 12:00 pm 10 comments

 Format Read: ebook.
Number of Pages: 336.
Release Date: September 4, 2012.
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Anthology.
Publisher: Ace.
Formats Available:  ebook, hardcover.
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Bookdepository, Author.

Book Blurb:

What could be scarier than the first day of school? A crash course in the paranormal from Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner, editors of Home Improvement: Undead Edition. Your worst school nightmares will pale in comparison to these thirteen original stories that take academic anxiety to new realms.

My Thoughts:

I HATE hardcover. Why? Because it is expensive, makes my books heavy, and takes up way too much physical space. To make things even worse, the hardcover print editions jack up the prices on ebooks. It’s extortion and I won’t stand for it! Even when there is a new Ilona-story included.

Which is why I shamelessly promoted the new Sookie story in this anthology to a certain  Viking-vampire groupie who does not share my qualms about underhanded publishing tactics. Then I stole it from her. So, was my friend ripped off paying full hardcover price for this collection?

In a word: yes.

Do I feel guilty about this? Not at all.

Playing Possum by Charlaine Harris: Jesus, Sookie, this woman is being stalked and tormented by a complete fucking psychopath, would it kill you to show the tiniest bit of empathy? You’d think a woman who’d been in her share of abusive relationships would be able to dredge up some compassion. I’m sure if she had it all to do over again, she would have ignored her murderous ex rather than making you wait 30 seconds for directions. (-)

Spellcaster 2.0 by Jonathan Maberry: Quelle surprise, a queer atheist pursing a graduate degree unleashes the apocalypse! It’s boobquake all over again. Quick, quarantine the intellectuals before they rain down destruction on us all! Remember kiddies, curiosity killed the cat, and science will kill us all. (-)

Academy Field Trip by Donald Harstad: It’s really no surprise to me that small-town cops are a bunch of addlebrained junkies who couldn’t deduct their way out of a paper bag. It’s jus so refreshing when commanding officers baldly admit to writing off all undercover operatives in this investigation, then immediately offer one lucky girl an exciting undercover opportunity. How strung-out do you have to be to not connect these dots? (-)

Sympathy for the Bones by Marjorie M. Liu: This is why small towns need strong social services programs. Someone who will do something about all the child abuse, murders, and grave-robbing. Alternately you can wait for the abused apprentice grave-robber to grow up and apply her training in a more community-building manner.  (+)

Low School by Rhys Bowen: Here’s a surefire recipe for a mediocre short story! First, close your eyes and grab a handful of trite cliches. 1) High school is hell, 2) Lawyers are soulless, 3) Powerful women are terrible mothers, and 4) Politicians sell their souls to the devil. Mix well, and vomit onto page. Now you are ready for publication! (-)

Callie Meet Happy by Amber Benson: Aw, poor little CEO has to take remedial lessons, and her classmates are mean to her! Nevermind that she can destroy their careers on a whim, let’s just focus on the injustice of expecting students to come to class prepared. (-)

Iphigenia in Aulis by Mike Carey: An anti-choice government gets itself into a sticky situation. Zombies. This had better be an introduction to an ongoing series. The Adventures of Sergeant Shithead and the Mongrel Mutant! I will read these stories, because I am deeply in love with Melanie. She is one badass adolescent half-zombie. (+)

Golden Delicious by Faith Hunter: What better way to get an unremarkable Paranormal CSI story into an anthology about education than awkwardly working the anthology title into a line of dialogue. Pandering for the win! (-)

Magic Tests by Ilona Andrews: I smell the groundwork for a Julie-centric YA spinoff of the Kate Daniels’ books. In another 5 years we’ll all be arguing over whether Julie should hook up with the overprotective patronizing werewolf (boo!) or machiavellian egomaniacal dragon (yay?). (+)

An Introduction to Jewish Myth and Mysticism by Steve Hockensmith: I do love a good revenge story. Sadly, it never turns out like this. The friends and family never rally around the victim and shun the perpetrator. An immortal doesn’t drop in and mind-fuck the abuser until he runs off with his tale tucked firmly between his legs. (+)

VSI by Nancy Holder: Someone’s shopping for a series pickup. Too bad this is a pretty bland feds-vs-vampires setup. But it makes two whole references to Sookie Stackhouse! Charlaine Harris must love the meta. (-)

The Bad Hour by Thomas E Sniegoski: A little consistency would help the world building. Either this guy talks to dogs or his dog talks to humans. The author didn’t bother keeping it straight in under 20 pages, so why should I bother trying to figure it out? (-)

Pirate Dave and the Captain’s Ghost by Toni L.P. Kelner: You’d think sometime in 20+ years at least one werewolf in the world would catch a whiff of psychotic serial killer on their friendly doctor, or notice the distinct werewolfy death mark on their resident ghost. (+)

4/13. A 70% failure rate! Keep in mind that a couple of those “successes” were pretty tepid.

There is only one absolute must-read story in here. Tragically, my google-stalking has provided no indication that Mike Carey plans to continue writing The Adventures of Sergeant Shithead and the Mongrel Mutant.

The Julie story provides some fun insight into the Kate Daniels Parenting Manual, but that will only be interesting to established fans of the series. (I wonder if Ilona got a sneak peek at the selection since she essentially told us not to bother buying the collection when it was first released.)

Nothing about this collection would entice newcomers to urban fantasy, and (with one exception) utterly fails to bring anything new to the genre for those of us already invested. I give An Apple For the Creature 2.5 Stars for being utterly predictable and entirely forgettable.

 

****FTC Disclaimer. Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

About Draconismoi


Draconismoi is a Legal Aid Attorney out on the frozen tundra. After two weeks of -30F, she started telling people she moved to Alaska because she loves the indoors. Right now you'll find her curled up under all the blankets she owns, surrounded by a pile of books. Every so often she emerges from her cave (when there is food) and wonders how she'll justify prolonging this behavior once the temperature rises and the sun returns.

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10 Comments

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  • aurian November 29, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    Well, the book has stories by 2 favourite authors, and you have them +. Ilona Andrews and Marjorie M. Liu. A few other authors are still on my wishlist or “have to start reading but already on my shelves” list.
    And I also dislike hardcover, too expensive, too heavy, and they take too much room on my shelves. So, waiting for a paperback copy in a few years, or downloading the short stories somewhere.

    • draconismoi November 29, 2012 at 7:01 pm

      The Ilona and Sookie stories were the only series stories I noticed, so I am not sure the others will ever show up as individual downloads.

      But if the Mike Carey story does, EVERYONE SHOULD BUY IT. I defy you not to love that story!

  • Sheree November 29, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    I did enjoy the book but I also borrowed it from the local library so perhaps my expectations weren’t as high.

    • draconismoi November 29, 2012 at 6:40 pm

      I have the same expectations for books no matter how I acquire them.

      Incredible books just have to be purchased in both ebook and paper form so I can always access it.

      This is not one of those books.

  • blodeuedd November 30, 2012 at 1:23 am

    There is a dragon for Julie to hook up with? Interseting

    • Draconismoi November 30, 2012 at 1:52 am

      It’s the dragon from Magic Dreams – Dali and Jim’s story.

  • Maria D. November 30, 2012 at 10:36 am

    Well crud! This depresses me since I just forked over for the hardcover…lol..

    I usually try not to buy hardcovers for this reason but this time I caved…sigh

    • Draconismoi November 30, 2012 at 11:12 am

      I’m in no position to judge. My friends peer pressured me into buying Seraphina in hardback. After they caught me petting it and swearing about underhanded publishers.

  • Susan November 30, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    I really do like the +/- rating system.

    I’ve never liked one of these Harris/Kelner anthologies so I passed on this one. I admit that I was somewhat tempted just for the Andrews story but I’m not a Julie fan (I pretty much want her to be killed off in a dramatic fashion, which I know won’t happen) so I decided I could live without the book.

    • draconismoi November 30, 2012 at 11:59 pm

      I like the +/- bit too. I don’t have to weigh my reaction. No scales. Just instant reaction!

      I am not a fan of Harris anthologies either. This one just cemented it. She is too egocentric to be a good editor – picking too many stories that pander to her vanity or imitate her series.

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