Kisses From Hell
Kristin Cast, Alyson NoŽl, Kelley Armstrong, Richelle Mead & Francesca Lia Block
Published 2010 262 pages
Summary (from the book jacket)
This irresistible collection features stories of love amid vampires by five of today's hottest authors – Kristin Cast (Tempted), Richelle Mead (Vampire Academy), Alyson Noël (Evermore), Kelley Armstrong (The Summoning), and Francesca Lia Block (Pretty Dead).
From a fugitive vampire forced to trust a boy who might work for the group bent on destroying her to the legendary romance of two immortals whose love compels them to risk everything, this heart-pounding collection brings new meaning to the words "love you forever." Whether you're into romances that are dark and moody or light and fun, these stories will quench that insatiable thirst for enchanting tales of the beautiful undead.
Kisses From Hell is the latest offering in the Young Adult “From Hell” anthology range of books. Previous volumes have included “Prom Nights From Hell” and “Love Is Hell”. Kisses From Hell, like the anthologies before it features five stories, is written for YA readers, with a paranormal romance theme. While all of the stories in this volume feature vampires, the romance, and indeed the “Kisses”, are sometimes lacking.
First up we have “Sunshine” by Richelle Mead. This story is part of the author’s Vampire Academy world but it’s the story of how Lissa’s parents met rather than a part of the current Vampire Academy timeline. Surprisingly, given how much I usually like Mead’s work, this lack-lustre story failed to hold my interest. It’s fair to say that if you weren’t already a Vampire Academy fan this story wouldn’t make you one and it certainly isn’t the best advert for new readers of the series either. 2 stars.
Next we have “Bring Me To Life” by Alyson Noël. I haven’t read any of Noël’s popular Immortals books so I can’t say how this story compares to those. However, the story works well enough when read as a stand alone piece and out of all the stories in this collection it has the best atmosphere. It’s dreamy, yet sinister, fog-shrouded Victorian gothic setting going a long way to build dramatic tension for the tale. Its gothic mystery vibe also goes a long way to disguise the vaguely incomprehensible nature of the story as a whole – there was reincarnation and vampires but I wasn’t always entirely sure what was going on… 3 stars.
Third up is “Above” by Kristin Cast. Oh-dear, this is going to make me sound like a bitch but I’m afraid that this has to be said. “Above” raised a number of questions in my mind but probably not the one’s the author intended. Questions like: How did Kristin Cast get first billing on this anthology when at least three other authors are popular bestsellers (without their mothers)? And how did this pretentious piece of claptrap (Above) get published and not returned by the book’s editor with “FAIL” stamped across it in big letters?
“Above” is possibly the worst piece of badly written, self-indulgent crap that I have ever read. The author appears to have been going for some sort of experimental writing style but missed avant-garde and edgy by a mile. (Incidentally this is the kind of sh*t I wrote for my own amusement when I was fifteen and thought I was being innovative.) Kristin, my message to you is this: experiment on your own dime. Punctuation and line breaks, like story-telling and coherent dialogue, exist for a reason – please feel free to use them at any time. 0 stars.
“Hunting Kat” by Kelley Armstrong is by far the best story in this collection. Armstrong (in my opinion) is one of the most consistent, high-quality urban fantasy authors published today and “Hunting Kat” outshines the other stories in this collection with ease. Set in the same world as her YA Darkest Powers trilogy the story sees teenaged vampires evading capture by the Edison Group, a shadowy organisation which experiments on young supernaturals. While there isn’t actually much romance, I don’t think the story’s protagonists even kiss, there is plenty of action, suspense and dramatic tension – so the lack of kissing will probably go unnoticed! Great story.
Finally, “Lilith” by Francesca Lia Block is the shortest story in this anthology. At approximately 20 pages it reads like a short story should and ticks most of the right boxes for that format. A punchy tale with a twist, “Lilith” is the story of an outsider high-school boy who finds himself drawn to Lilith, a cool Goth girl who is new in town. Kissing and murder swiftly follow in this enjoyable story. 3.5 stars.
Summing-up, Kisses From Hell is filled with stories of widely differing quality and strength. “Hunting Kat” and “Lilith” are definitely worth reading but the rest… not so much. The book is also printed in a large font-size with plenty of white space leaving me to guess that the total word count for the anthology is on the scanty side too – making it poor value for money at full price. If you really must read it, a trip to the library might be the best option here…
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