I love anthologies. It’s like speed dating for me. I get introduced to a lot of authors I might not meet otherwise without the fear filled commitment of a novel. I also get a chance to see favorite authors take a detour from their usual storylines.
Home Improvement: Undead Edition is the fourth anthology from Charlaine Harris & Toni L. P. Kelner, the same duo who brought us anthologies dealing with paranormal birthdays, paranormal winter holidays, and paranormal vacations. Considering how many shrinks classify remodeling as one of the top 10 causes for a nervous breakdown or divorce, the topic sure gives you plenty to work with. And this is perhaps the only bug-a-boo I have with this book. When considering that we are talking about a supernatural community – it is surprising that most of the authors didn’t stray from a traditional stick & brick type dwelling.
Here’s is the table of contents provide by Toni herself:
“If I Had a Hammer” by Charlaine Harris A Sookie story.
“Wizard Home Security” by Victor Gischler
“Gray” by Patricia Briggs Not werewolves or shape shifters this time – vampires!
“Squatters’ Rights” by Rochelle Krich I don’t even know how to describe this one. But it’s delightfully creepy!
“Blood on the Wall” by Heather Graham Heather gives us nasty murders in New Orleans, cultists, and a PI with strong family feelings.
“The Mansion of Imperatives” by James Grady Yes, this is the James Grady who wrote Six Days of the Condor. When I told my father he was going to be in the anthology, he squee-ed. In a manly way, of course.
“The Strength Inside” by Melissa Marr Don’t you just hate home owner associations?
“Woolsley’s Kitchen Nightmare” by E. E. Knight It’s hard work putting the perfect dining experience together.
“Through This House” by Seanan McGuire Yes, it’s a Toby Daye story!
“The Path” by S. J. Rozan Nobody writes about China like S.J!
“Rick the Brave” Stacia Kane How can a guy named Terrible be such a wonderful character? And Chess is there, too.
“Full-Scale Demolition” Suzanne McLeod Suzanne has published three of her amazing Spellcrack books in the UK, but so far only one is out in the US. You’ll want to buy it.
“It’s All in the Rendering” by Simon R. Green Some houses have doors on both sides–and some Houses open onto more than one world.
“In Brightest Day” by Toni L.P. Kelner In which I exploit the hitherto neglected sub-genre of zombie mysteries.
My favorite story is “Squatters Rights” by Rochelle Krich. Krich’s piece is fresh and different while thrilling the pants off me. It is simply told – no fancy gimmicks but, I swear to you that this story is the one that has stayed foremost in my mind. Heather Graham’s “Blood on the Wall” takes full advantage of the paranormal world and gives us a fun ride through NOLA. Stacia Kane’s “Rick the Brave” was wonderful. But it is Toni’s story that gave me a real chuckle and closed the collection in a most irreverent way.
So – as we enter the Halloween season and you begin to look through your stored items for all the Halloween decorations you plan to set out, spend some time relaxing with Home Improvement: Undead Edition and get yourself in the holiday spirit!
This review also appears on http://paperbackdolls.com/?p=7584