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An Apple for the Creature
by Amber Benson, Charlaine Harris, Donald Harstand, Faith Hunter, Ilona Andrews, Jonathan Maberry, Marjorie M. Liu, Mike Casey, Nancy Holder, Rhys Boween, Sara C. Snider, Steve Hockensmith, Thomas E. Sniegoski, Toni L.P. Kelner
Other books in this series include Blood in Her Veins.
Other books by this author that I've reviewed include Darkness Calls, A Wild Light, Mean Streets, A Kiss Before Apocalypse, Where Angels Fear to Tread, Death's Excellent Vacation, Must Love Hellhounds, A Hundred Words for Hate, Chicks Kick Butt, Bite, Dark and Stormy Knights, In the Dark of Dreams, Angels of Darkness, Huntress, Wild Thing, Hexed, Within the Flames, Dancing on the Head of a Pin, Raven Cursed, The Wild Side: Urban Fantasy with an Erotic Edge, Never After, Home Improvement: Undead Edition, Hex Appeal, In the House of the Wicked, Mortal Bone, Death's Rival, Holidays are Hell, The Fallen, Leviathan, Aerie, Reckoning, Magic Bites, Blood Trade, Kicking It, The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination, The Thirteenth Tower, Magic Bleeds, "A Dream of Stone & Shadow", Games Creatures Play, Burn For Me, After Dead: What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse, Night Shift, Labyrinth of Stars, Walking in the Midst of Fire, End of Days, Magic Shifts, A Deafening Silence in Heaven, Blood in Her Veins, Mercy Blade, Shadow Rites, Burn for Me, Magic Binds, Bloodring, Seraphs.
An anthology of — appropriately — thirteen educational, creepy tales in the supernatural.
“Playing Possum” (Sookie Stackhouse, 11.2; GR says 17)
“Callie Meet Happy” (Calliope Reaper-Jones, 4.5 (or 1.5??))
“Golden Delicious” (Jane Yellowrock, 4.2)
“Magic Tests” (Kate Daniels, 5.5)
“Bad Hour” (Remy Chandler, 2.5)
“Pirate Dave and the Captain’s Ghost” (Pirate Dave, 2)
Charlaine Harris’ “Playing Possum” finds Sookie being the good auntie and bringing cupcakes to Hunter’s kindergarten class for his birthday. Only she and Hunter are trapped between the car and the school by a raving psychotic who wants to kill.
This is a good one combining events that have happened in real life and making you wish there were more telepaths in the world.
Jonathan Maberry’s “Spellcaster 2.0” is full of sarcasm and arrogance which melts into belief. Nothing like a good look at what’s behind the curtain to make you humble as Trey LaSalle finds out when it comes to the debut of Spellcaster 2.0 for the anthropology department.
This one is good! I’m putting Maberry’s name down in my TBR pile!
Donald Harstad’s “Academy Field Trip” is sneaky and creepy! Harstad did a marvelous job of leading you in and on until the twist at the end. It’s your standard law enforcement seminar. Well, standard if you consider this is about catching vampires. Seems there’s a slow-mo serial killer on the loose and the law has realized it’s a vampire. They have been trying for some time to get someone in undercover to spy on him and gather information, and it looks like they’ve finally managed it. With a twist.
Marjorie M. Liu’s “Sympathy for the Bones” is just not the Liu I expected. This was a seriously creepy story that was well-written but I did not like it. And I still don’t understand the why. It’s quite possible that the creepy factor was so high and grotesque that I didn’t want to understand. Ughh.
Rhys Bowen’s “Low School” is another creepy story whose concept you will grasp long before the protagonist grasps it. Even then you will wonder why she deserves it. Until the end. It’s all your high school nightmares come true. Ms. Bowen, you are wicked good!
Amber Benson’s “Callie Meet Happy” is rather funny with Callie Reaper-Jones having to attend night school or possibly lose her position as president of Death, Inc. It’s annoying, embarrassing, and why she should have to do this… Well, she’ll just have to suck it up. Only to find herself in an alternate universe, being rescued, and rescuing right back.
Mike Carey’s “Iphigenia in Aulis” is another creepy one! Carey keeps it very vague and disturbing. Soldiers forcing children into wheelchairs and restraints for classes and showers. Never being fed. No water. No touching. The focus is on one particular little girl and what she thinks and feels. The minute joys she finds in her life. The loyalty she has and displays at the end. It’ll make you wanna cry.
Faith Hunter’s “Golden Delicious” is about Rick LaFleur’s new, hoped-for career with PsyLED, if he can just get through the training camp and survive his teammate. Oh, and whoever it is who’s sabotaging him… This is a pip although I do have to confess that I love this series, heck, I love all Faith Hunter’s writing. It’s the stereotype of being a shifter and all the negatives that cops and others see. It doesn’t help that someone wants him to fail.
I’m wondering if this is a test to see if Rick spins off into his own series. What with a new character, Soul, being introduced. Y’all know what my vote is on it.
Ilona Andrews’ “Magic Tests” finds Kate insisting on Julie continuing her formal education. In a proper school. Whether she’s accepted or not depends on how well she does on her test — using her skills to locate a missing student.
It was cute enough, providing us some time getting to know an older Julie and her stubbornness and compassion for a fellow student. A couple new characters at her school could well provide some interesting future stories.
Steve Hockensmith’s “An Introduction to Jewish Myth and Mysticism” is pretty funny in a dry way when Professor Andy Abrams comes to the rescue of a fellow professor, Karen Mossler. An ex-boyfriend returns to town. One who requires a restraining order. Only, he don’t read too good. “He’ll be sor-r-y…”
Nancy Holder’s “VSI” reads like a test dip in the water for a new series. Please, please, please! It’s another entrapment, but with a reverse intention as a select group of FBI agents take a course in vampire evidence collection.
Thomas E. Sniegoski’s “Bad Hour” finds Marlowe helping Remy with a case at a local dog obedience school where some thing or someone is stalking the trainer. I do so enjoy Marlowe’s conversations with Remy. Makes me wish I could communicate with my cats although I’m not sure, it might be too esoteric for me…
Toni L.P. Kelner’s “Pirate Dave and the Captain’s Ghost” finds Joyce and Pirate Dave quite happy together even though Joyce has gone off to a seminar intended to “help interpack relations” and she’s feeling the need to howl with her fellow wolves. As well as eat mass quantities without looking bad! Only one of the lectures provides a little too much material in the form of a bigoted ghost who is anti-vampires.
I did enjoy the last short that Kelner wrote about Joyce and Pirate Dave in Home Improvement: Undead Edition and I was pleased to find another. They’re a cute couple with an unusual business.
The Cover and Title
The cover is very like Harris and Kelner’s last collaboration, Home Improvement: Undead Edition, with a collage of cartoonish effects. A green carpeted landscape and a lovely blue-green sky with a glowing, foggy light behind the one-room, red schoolhouse and its dead tree beside it (“Magic Tests” perhaps?) with the dog bones and pencils providing the extras for the pièce de résistance, a skull-cored Red Delicious apple grinning with glee.
The title represents both the theme of education — An Apple for the Teacher — and refers to a thank you in Faith Hunter’s “Golden Delicious”.