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