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Home Improvement: Undead Edition
by Charlaine Harris, E.E. Knight, Heather Graham, James Grady, Melissas Marr, Patricia Briggs, Rochelle Krich, S.J. Rozan, Seanan McGuire, Simon R. Green, Stacia Kane, Suzanne McLeod, Toni L.P. Kelner, Victor Gischler
Other books by this author that I've reviewed include When Demons Walk, Steal the Dragon, Something From the Nightside, Mean Streets, Death's Excellent Vacation, Must Love Hellhounds, Agents of Light and Darkness, Bite, Nightingale's Lament, Paths Not Taken, Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth, Hell to Pay, Just Another Judgement Day, The Good, the Bad, and the Uncanny, A Hard Day's Knight, Hex and the City, The Unnatural Inquirer, The Bride Wore Black Leather, The Wild Side: Urban Fantasy with an Erotic Edge, Fair Game, Aftertaste, Hex Appeal, Man with the Golden Torc, Daemons are Forever, An Apple for the Creature, The Spy Who Haunted Me, From Hell with Love, For Heaven's Eyes Only, Live and Let Drood, Frost Burned, Casino Infernale, Blue Moon Rising, Night Broken, Tales of the Hidden World, The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination, Half-Off Ragnarok, Midway Relics and Dying Breeds, Blood and Honor, Games Creatures Play, The Winter Long, Shifting Shadows, Sparrow Hill Road, After Dead: What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse, Bone Crossed, Silver Borne, River Marked, Hunting Ground, The InCryptid Prequels, Pocket Apocalypse, Black as Blood, Blocked, White as a Raven's Wing, The Ghosts of Bourbon Street, IM, Iron Kissed, "Good Girls Go to Heaven", Cry Wolf, A Red Rose Chain, From a Drood to a Kill, Fire Touched, "Full of Briars", The Dark Side of the Road, Reflections, Once Broken Faith, "Dreams and Slumbers", Shadowed Souls, Chaos Choreography, Silence Fallen.
An anthology of 15 short stories within the paranormal / urban fantasy worlds revolving around home improvement.
“If I Had a Hammer” (Sookie Stackhouse, 13.25
“Through This House” (October Daye, 4.5)
“Rick the Brave” (Downside, 3.5)
“Gray” (Mercyverse, 0.6)
“Full-Scale Demolition” (Spellcrackers.com, x.5)
Charlaine Harris‘ “If I Had a Hammer” was a blip into Sookie’s life. More particularly an incident involving a remodel of a few rooms in Tara and J.B. Du Rone’s home to accommodate their twins, Robbie and Sara.
Victor Gischler‘s “Wizard Home Security” is a clever story that reminds us to beware of fraudulent door-to-door salesmen. I thoroughly enjoyed Gischler’s descriptions of the security setup which Broahm had to survive as well as his well-aimed revenge! Very nice. I’ll have to check out more of Gischler’s work!
Seems Gischler is in the process of writing a novel based on the characters he created for this short story…yeah!!
Patricia Briggs‘ “Gray” is absolutely lovely!! A sweet yet sad romance encompassing the start and state of Elyna Gray’s life as a vampire and the condo she’s rehabbing with the help of moonlighting policemen.
Rochelle Krich‘s “Squatter’s Rights” is just creepy! Krich really caught me up in this story of a lovely young couple who start out so very happy with their lovely new…very creepy house that slowly drives her mad. Truly horrible and incredibly well done!
Heather Graham‘s “Blood on the Wall” finds a young cultist caught up in a horrible series of murders in New Orleans. Funny with an appropriate sideline.
James Grady‘s “Mansion of Imperatives” starts with a clever charity dodge and thoughts of marital infidelity and goes downhill in every way you can imagine from there. My first thought was how stupid this story was, but then I started to wonder if Grady was being clever in how he depicted the group’s disintegration. Unfortunately, I’m not interested enough in the story to explore this…
Melissa Marr‘s “Strength Inside” is a homey look at home improvement intended to protect the children…and ends up improving the neighborhood when this “nest” of littles incorporates the petty tyrant from the neighborhood’s architectural review board. Ahh…such a fitting end. All who have suffered from stupid neighborhood associations will empathize…and consider the possibilities! Too funny…albeit in a rather morbid manner…snicker…
E.E. Knight‘s “Woolsley’s Kitchen Nightmare” is, oh lord, morbidly, hysterically funny…and finally explains all those missing people. Hmmmm. It’s a paranormal “Gordon Ramsay” hired to perform a restaurant overhaul which undergoes some unexpected, yet very welcome changes.
Seanan McGuire‘s “Through This House” finds Toby and friends breaching the Wintergreen knowe only to come under fire from its current inhabitants.
S.J. Rozan‘s “Path” is all about the Buddhist path to reincarnation with its primary characters spirits and ghosts protecting a religious site in China. The spirits want a particular artifact returned by the museum which took it. While I didn’t care for the story, the premise of repatriation of museum artifacts to their countries of origin is definitely a plus. It’s also a rather sweet if somewhat comic peek into Buddhist culture.
Stacia Kane‘s “Rick the Brave” is a blip into Terrible’s boss’ business. This time, it’s a building rehab that goes wrong for an electrician, Rick, who discovers that an encounter with ghosts requires particular handling.
Suzanne McLeod‘s “Full-Scale Demolition” is a strong peek into Genny Taylor’s work life at Spellcatchers. I have got to pick up this series! She’s fae and she has a particular skillset that makes her perfect for cleaning up after pixies. Which “appears” to be the reason her latest client has hired her…uh-huh… Good thing Tavish comes along to help, especially since he’s the one who set her up!
Simon R. Green‘s “It’s All in the Rendering” has a strong start and a weak end. Peter and Jubilee (a human and a fae) have a fascinating and interactive homelife living as the custodians of a safehouse perched between our reality and others. Until they and the house come under attack from a human architectural review board AND a fae one. It’s as though Green got up a good head of steam and someone told him he’s only allowed χ number of pages. At which point, Green lost all steam and just ended it. It was too easy. Clever, but a letdown.
Toni L.P. Kelner‘s “In Brightest Day” finds Dodie Kilburn raising a dead architect up to finish a class-act of a charity house amidst a cluster of cookie cutter crap even as she comes underfire from her associates for her less-than-professional attire — it’s those jeans and slogan-bearing T-shirts that have her fellow houngans upset.
The Cover and Title
The cover is definitely representative of the stories within with its Tim Burton-like cover: a screaming red sky, a zombie’s arm rising up out of the sod holding a hammer, and the Mother Hubbard house perched on the lawn.
The title is the theme of this anthology with each story having its own take on what constitutes Home Improvement: The Undead Edition.