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Strange Brew Cover Picture

Strange Brew

Edited by P.N. Elrod

Published 2009            371 pages

Summary (from the book jacket)

Today’s hottest urban fantasy authors come together in this delicious brew that crackles and boils over with tales of powerful witches and dark magic!

In Charlaine Harris’ “Bacon,” a beautiful vampire joins forces with a witch from an ancient line to find out who killed her beloved husband. In “Seeing Eye” by Patricia Briggs, a blind witch helps sexy werewolf Tom Franklin find his missing brother—and helps him in more ways than either of them ever suspected.  And in Jim Butcher’s “Last Call,” wizard Harry Dresden takes on the darkest of dark powers—the ones who dare to mess with this favourite beer.

For anyone who’s ever wondered what lies beyond the limits of reality, who’s imagined the secret spaces where witches wield fearsome magic, come and drink deep. Let yourself fall under the spell of this bewitching collection!

This anthology contains nine stories as follows:
Seeing Eye by Patricia Briggs
Last Call by Jim Butcher
Death Warmed Over by Rachel Caine
Vegas Odds by Karen Chance
Hecate’s Golden Eye by P.N. Elrod
Bacon by Charlaine Harris
Signatures of the Dead by Faith Hunter
Ginger: A Nocturne City Story by Caitlin Kittredge
Dark Sins by Jenna Maclaine

The Review

Strange Brew is billed as an all new urban fantasy anthology loaded with magic, mystery and mayhem. I’m happy to say that it doesn’t fail to deliver on any of those counts. With contributions from some of the genre’s top authors Strange Brew offers consistent high quality reading across all of the nine stories contained within its pages.

The stories are on average about 40 pages long. At first glance this is a bit of an odd length. Too long for a short story and too short for a novella but either way the page length and content come together and really work well. Strange Brew is a witch and magic themed collection, so every story contains at least one witch. Four of the stories feature vampires in addition to witches.

All of the stories in Strange Brew serve up a respectable helping of mystery and fantasy action but some really stand out, such as Karen Chance’s “Vegas Odds”. This was the longest story in the anthology and also the most action packed. Told in first person by Lia, a war mage instructor, it is the exciting story of her fending off a surprise attack by her students. Saved by a combination of her quick wits and her werewolf boyfriend she kicks serious magical ass as she finds the person responsible for setting up her students. Vegas Odds combines fast paced fantasy and a mystery plotline to good effect - pretty much what fans of Karen Chance’s full length novels have come to expect.

Bacon by Charlaine Harris is the story of Dahlia, a widowed vampire, who hires a witch (called Kathy) to use her magic to get revenge on the person responsible for her husband’s death. This is a well written tale that reveals the mystery piece-by-piece with a darkly humorous twist. Initially Dahlia is a hard character to like but the story effectively twists readers’ perceptions to a complete turn around from where the story started.

Hecate’s Golden Eye by P.N. Elrod is a Jack Fleming vampire PI mystery. Set in 1930’s Chicago the story involves the theft of a cursed necklace. The necklace is reputed to kill any man who touches it – so it’s a good thing that hard-boiled detective Jack is already dead. Mystery and vampires are combined to good effect as the investigation takes some surprising twists and turns as the plot unfolds.

Signatures of The Dead by Faith Hunter is another favourite of mine. The story is told from the perspective of Molly, a witch who is asked by the police to track down a group of killer vampires. The star of the story is actually Jane Yellowrock, skinwalker and vampire hunter, who has the job of actually finding and exterminating the vampires. This story is an introduction for the Jane Yellowrock character, who is going to be the protagonist of her own series of books – which I can hardly wait to read if Signatures of The Dead is anything to judge them by. Horror and fantasy are well combined in this vampire slaying story.

All-in-all this anthology offers readers a solid instalment of top quality urban fantasy. It’s also worth noting that although all of these authors have their own established fantasy series characters the stories in Strange Brew all work as stand-alone tales.  So you don’t need to be familiar with the authors’ previous works to enjoy these stories. Making it a great way to try out the work of any of these authors if you aren’t already familiar with them.

LoveVampires Review Rating:

Review Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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