Hex Appeal by Various Authors isn’t as Spellbinding as Expected — a ☆☆☆ Read!

Retribution Clause by Ilona Andrews ☆☆☆

Last book I read by the duo left me unimpressed. So, I wasn’t expecting a lot from it. As I began, I realized that I’d read this short before but went ahead anyway. Two mercenaries get a contract to enact the retribution clause on the husband of one of their clients. She’d taken out the policy because she suspected her better half might murder her some day.

Like all good stories, though, things weren’t as simple as going in and doing a guy. There were gods and blood magic involved. Add to that the complication that the mercenaries themselves weren’t as human as they seemed.

In all, a good romp with some tender moments and interesting twists.

Bigfoot on Campus by Jim Butcher ☆☆☆

Reviewed as part of the anthology, Brief Cases.

Holly’s Balm by Rachel Caine ☆☆☆

I hope to be reading something or the other by this author at all times. Currently, that happens to be the Ink and bone series and I’ve already read books 1 and 2.

This story is a sort of a sequel about an unusual couple — a witch and a resurrected wizard who may or not may be a zombie. They find themselves looking for a serial killer — again, an unusual one. Because this guy resurrects the same women to murder them over and over again. Technically, he commits no crime.

Even though the writing didn’t flow as smoothly, I am tacking on another star for the novelty of the concept.

Snow Job by Carole Nelson Douglas ☆☆

I’ve read another story set in the same universe. So you’d think the familiarity would have helped me understand this one. Well, it didn’t! After reading it, I was still as confused as I had been before.

I’m not saying that the world it is set in isn’t interesting. A casino where characters from classic movies are created as sims. Run by a vampire who may secretly have the hots for the protagonist. The said protag is a PI who has a few surprises of her own. Oh, and Lilith makes an appearance. The casino owner pissed her off or something.

But the execution…sigh. Half the time, you’d have no clue as to what is going on. The other half you’d spend debating whether you should continue to read when you don’t give a fig about any of the characters.

Outside The Box by P. N. Elrod ☆☆☆☆

Another story that gets an extra star for creativity. Vampires are made, registered, and given certain social benefits just until they can get back on their feet. Loved the whole bureaucracy approach.

In this story, a witch and a vampire work for the company that controls the vamp population. They go on a routine mission to bring back a newly risen bloodsucker. Only, they find it’s the girl who has been in the news because of her recent kidnapping.

Things escalate. Secret plots are revealed. And attempts foiled.

How Do You Feel? by Simon R. Green ☆☆☆

A character from the Nightside books, Dead Boy, serves as the main character in this short. He has been dead for so long that nobody remembers his backstory. The Boy himself never knew who killed him and why, either. We learn all about it.

Typical Nightside adventure.

There Will Be Demons by Lori Handeland ☆☆☆

Interesting world-building. The fight between good and evil is on. The protagonist is a demon hunter. An oracle assigns her missions. This time, she is to partner up with a dhampir. When he shows up, she realizes he’s literally the dhampir of her dreams.

Some heartbreak and a compromise make the ending of the story a bit sad.

Cherry Kisses by Erica Hayes ☆☆☆

I’d easily give this one another star just for the ending. A witch goes to hell to retrieve an amulet. She reluctantly teams up with another practitioner whom she has a history with. They descend into hell and interesting things happen!

The Arcane Art of Misdirection by Carrie Vaughn ☆☆☆

I read a short story by the same author in this collection. I’ve also enjoyed her novel, After the Golden Age. So, I was excited about this one.

A casino. A dealer. And a cheater. Then arrives a magician, Odysseus Grant. As he sniffs out the cheater who’s also a master illusionist, the dealer tags along. I enjoyed the story but I wasn’t blown away by it.

On average, a 3-star rating is appropriate for this anthology.

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