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Friday, October 7, 2011

Review: Hexed

Title: Hexed
Authors: Ilona Andrews, Yasmin Galenorn, Allyson James, Jeanne C. Stein
Page Count: 326 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: paranormal romance
Copy for review was purchased by me

Four of the bestselling names in romance and fantasy come together in this collection of thrilling novellas featuring powerful women who know how to handle a hex or two...

New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews spins "Magic Dreams." Shapeshifting tigress Dali Harimau finds herself in deep waters when she must challenge a dark being to a battle of wits or risk losing the man for whom she secretly longs.

In "Ice Shards," New York Times bestselling author Yasmine Galenorn returns to the Otherworld as Iris Kuusi, a Finnish house sprite, journeys to the frozen Northlands to confront the crazed shadow of her former lover and break the curse that is keeping her from marrying the man she loves.

National bestselling author Allyson James takes you to Magellan, Arizona, where Stormwalker Janet Begay and her friends are trapped by a powerful curse. It will take every bit of magic simmering beneath her skin for the Stormwalker to survive being "Double Hexed."

From national bestselling author Jeanne C. Stein comes "Blood Debt," in which bounty-hunter-turned-vampire Anna Strong is visited by three witches who ask her to right an old magical wrong. Anna will have to live up to her last name to make it through alive.

I freely admit that I preorderd this anthology when I found out that the installment from the Kate Daniels universe was going to star Dali and Jim. I'm glad I opted to buy this book for myself as the other three authors were new to me and I really enjoyed the chance to discover their books/series.

First up in the anthology was the initial reason that I bought this book- "Magic Dreams" by Ilona Andrews.  I was super excited to find out that a) Jim and Dali have a mutual interest in each other, and b) that that interest is going to be explored here and (ultimately) in a full length novel!  This story was precisely what I'd hoped it would be- a cool, quick battle with a creepy bad guy (or girl, as the case may be) and a chance for Dali and Jim to finally realize that they both have a serious case of like going on.  He packed a picnic basket!  The overall story arc for the Kate Daniels universe isn't really advanced here and that's okay, as the groundwork is laid for these two to become a seriously fun couple.  Rating for this story: A.

It's hard for me to believe that I haven't read anything by Yasmine Galenorn before, but this story, "Ice Shards," is my first foray into her writing.  It won't be the last, as the setting and the descriptions were vivid and lush- the perfect blend of fantasy and action to keep the story moving.  I wasn't familiar with the series events leading up to this story nor was I familiar with how the characters are connected to or know one another, but that wasn't an obstacle to enjoying the story and now I want to go back and start the Otherworld series from the beginning.  Rating for this story: A.

Another new series I discovered from this anthology was Allyson James's Stormwalker series, and I'm ashamed to admit that I have the first book therein on my shelf and haven't read it yet.  That's got to change, because I enjoyed meeting the characters in her story here, called "Double Hexed," and am looking forward to getting further acquainted. The story is an interesting take on the locked room mystery concept- someone has brought a wickedly awful curse down on the hotel where all the characters, including the series's star, Janet Begay, are currently working or visiting, but who was it, and did they do it on purpose?  This was a fun, snarky and entertaining story that served as a good introduction to the writing style for the series. Rating for this story: A

If I had to label one of the four stories included here as weaker than the others, it would probably be the fourth story, Jeanne C. Stein's "Blood Debt," which is from her Anna Strong series.  Anna is a bounty hunter who was turned into a vampire and is now trying to find some common ground so she can live both lives peacefully but simultaneously.  This story didn't have as much in the way of introduction and as a result it didn't grab me quite as strongly as the other three, but it was still well written and Anna as a narrator is interesting.  Rating for this story: B

I'm always kind of wary about buying anthologies because sometimes they're worth the money and sometimes they're not, but in this case I'm glad I did.  Having picked up two series that were new to me and enjoying a brief installment in one that's already a favor, I think that reading this book was a really enjoyable experience overall.

Overall Grade: A-
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