Published by Ace on September 4th 2007
Genres: Anthology, Paranormal
Source: Book Swim
Never-before-published vampire stories by Charlaine Harris, Jim Butcher, Kelley Armstrong, and many others.
Suspenseful, surprising, sometimes dark, sometimes humorous-these all-new stories will ensure that readers never think of vampires (or birthdays) in quite the same way again.
In New York Times bestselling author Charlaine Harris's "Dracula Night," Sookie Stackhouse is the only human at the annual commemoration of Dracula's birth. But this year, the Prince of Darkness actually shows up-and finds Sookie to be a tasty-looking present.
New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher's crime-solving wizard Harry Dresden, of the Dresden Files novels, heads to a role-playing party to give his vampire brother a birthday present in "It's My Birthday Too," only to discover there are some bloodthirsty party crashers who don't share their brotherly love.
In "Twilight," Cassandra DuCharme, who appeared in New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong's Dime Store Magic, knows she has to kill to live as a vampire another year-but finds herself disturbingly disinterested in the hunt.
Plus ten more bloody good birthday stories that take the cake.
Now on to the fun part: My opinion! And I’m taking it story by story.
First up we have Dracula Night by Charlaine Harris, which is a Sookie Stackhouse short story. More importantly though, it features one Eric Northman- hottest vampire gracing the pages (and the tv screens because Alexander Skarsgard practically walked off the pages and onto the show). One thing I love about Sookie stories is that there’s always a hint of humor even in the darkest of situations. Dracula Night is as lighthearted as Sookie’s life gets, with Eric running around like a headless chicken, hoping that Dracula will honor Fangtasia with a visit. It’s all very cute and It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, only with blood and yet another ruined dress for our poor Sookie. If you’re a fan of the series, this story is worth the whole book- but Harris just came out with a book filled with Sookie short stories which is probably a better buy.
The Mournful Cry of Owls by Christopher Golden- To be honest I’ve never read any of the other authors involved with this short story collection and based on this story by Golden I don’t feel that I’ve missed anything. First it was set in the 70’s, which for some reason bugged me. Secondly, owl people are not vampires. There are no vampires. At all. What I do like about this story is the mythology behind it. However, if it had been 10 pages shorter I would have liked it more. And if it had had a vampire.
I Was a Teenage Vampire by Bill Crider- Never heard of Mr. Crider- but I really enjoyed the story of a young boy with a spoiled, older sister who inadvertently gets her brother turned into the undead just because she wants a vampire at her birthday party. The vampires in this story are not the shiny, sexy vamps of modern tales, being a vampire is actually kind of lame. And funny.
Twilight by Kelley Armstrong- now I have heard of her, but haven’t read her books. This story is a bit more melancholy. In Twilight vampires do not live forever, they have an expiration date. And once a year, on their birthday- or is it death day?- they have to drink from and kill a human. This year Cassandra seems to have the birthday blues, she doesn’t really have the appetite. So her former lover and creation tries to help her out, and theirs is a relationship I would have liked to explore more. However the ending, while not a total bummer, is definitely not a happy ending. Like the main character itself, the ending is a bit numb.
It’s My Birthday, Too by Jim Butcher- I have often meant to start The Dresden Files books, but now I know I need to read them. Featuring wizard Harry Dresden and cast of quirky characters, this is one of my favorite stories from the lot. Butcher does a great job of describing Harry’s world so you can catch up, but without it turning into a boring summary (God knows I LOVED Sweet Valley High Books- but I hated how the first chapter of every freaking book was a summary of the girls lives, with the same tired descriptions. Besides, I don’t believe in books being read out of order. That is to say, I realize that some people do it, but none of them are named Kate Towery). Anyways, Harry is trying to deliver a birthday present to his hottie vampire brother (vampires in Harry’s world seem like they’re pretty complicated) but the party gets crashed by another birthday vampire who is seeking revenge. Loved it.
Grave-Robbed by P.N. Elrod- Now this story is also set in another time, the 1930’s, but for some reason I love that. It’s based on the series The Vampire Files which features undead detective Jack Fleming. His job is to help a young girl prove to her sister that her dead husband is not contacting her beyond the grave, but rather she is the victim of a money grubbing conman. I really liked Jack, and I liked the use of the song Gloomy Sunday- because that is one damn, depressing song. Will be adding The Vampire Files to my tbr piles soon.
The First Day of the Rest of Your Life by Rachel Caine. This short is based off the young adult series The Morganville Vampires. I did feel at a disadvantage with this story, because I’ve never read the series, but I still enjoyed it. Plus Michael Glass sounds hot. I can’t really sum this up much, but young girl turns 18 has to decide if she should sign up for vampire protection (in a town run by vampires) or risk being a human cocktail if she goes it alone. Might have to cave and read this series too. Just wish the Hubs would see book reading right up there with doing laundry and fixing dinner…
The Witch and the Wicked by Jeanne C. Stein- I was inclined to like this story because the main character is a witch that caters. I love that. Anywho, Sophie uses the ashes of a dead vampire (his birthday candles were his undoing) into her proposed skin care line (she’s had enough of the catering business, exploding clients get a girl down). And her cream works amazingly… until she begins to hear the vampire’s voice in her head.
Blood Wrapped by Tanya Huff- Missing kid, rescuing vampire, gotta love it. Despite the fact that the whole birthday angle seemed a little forced. Interestingly enough the authors Vicki Nelson Blood books was made into the show Blood Ties, which I didn’t watch. The story was intriguing enough that I probably won’t say no to a Huff book. But who am I kidding, I’m an easy read.
The Wish by Carolyn Haines- not a bad short story but far from my favorite. Woman who lost her kids is seeking a way to cheat Death from taking her life since Death wouldn’t take her in place of her children. I probably would have preferred the story more without the emphasis on the telling of how the kids died, because I really like the ending.
Fire and Ice and Linguini for Two by Tate Hallaway- another one of my favorites. I will be looking up her other books. Mostly because her vampire is called Sebastian, which is a great name for a vampire. Garnet- a human with the spirit of Lilith trapped inside her (yeah, that part could have used a bit more description, but that’s why I want to read the books) forces Sebastian out in the cold on Christmas to celebrate his birthday despite his assurances that his birthday is cursed. And you know what? Sebastian is right. Not only do they find themselves stranded in a blizzard, but they are soon “rescued” by Fonn- a mysterious stranger. All in all, just a great story.
Update: I tried to read the series that Fire and Ice and Linguini for Two was based on, and dnfed it. I hated the whole Lilith angle, and didn’t connect with Garnet at all… so I’m a little surprised that I liked this story so much.
Vampire Hours by Elaine Viets- finally! A vampire tale for the middle aged woman! Okay, I’m not too far into my 30’s but it gets annoying how perfect every heroine is these days ones that bemoan that they’re really really a plain jane but suddenly becomes a magnet to every sexy supernatural being in the universe. Katherine, our heroine, is about to turn 45 and lose her cold, arrogant plastic surgeon husband to some overly plucked and stuffed twenty something. It’s a story of what happens first wives, but with a great vampire twist. Loved it. Want to read more of Viets.
How Stella Got Her Grave Back by Toni L.P. Kelner- great title, okay short story. Vampires go back to hometown only to find their empty grave has been filled in with a Jane Doe. Mark and Stella do a little detective work to figure out who is laying in Stella’s grave, along with who killed her. It was just alright with me. I think Vampire Hours would have been a better ending.
And that’s it! Thirteen stories filled with vamps (except the one stuffed with owls). Lots of new authors for me to lust after and a good, solid October read.