Book Review: Ellen Datlow’s Naked City: Tales of Urban Fantasy

Posted February 15, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Ellen Datlow’s Naked City: Tales of Urban Fantasy

Naked City: Tales of Urban Fantasy


Ellen Datlow

It is part of the The Dresden Files #10.7, , , series and is a anthology, short stories, urban fantasy in Paperback edition on July 5, 2011 and has 539 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

An anthology of 20 urban fantasies in a variety of cities.


“Curses” (Dresden Files, 10.9)
“Duke of Riverside” (The World of Riverside, 1.6; before and after Swordspoint, #1)
“Guns for the Dead” (Graveminder, 1.6)
“Fairy Gifts” (Mercyverse, 0.7)

The Stories

Jim Butcher‘s “Curses” is a funny tale of baseball, the Cubs, and Wrigley Field when Harry is hired to lift the curse preventing the Cubs from winning the World Series. Any World Series.

Delia Sherman‘s “How the Pooka Came to New York City” is cute and unexpectedly benign with a pooka involved! It’s 1855 and we follow the emigration of Liam O’Casey accompanied by a pooka who believes he owes a debt.

Richard Bowes‘ “On the Slide” is a well-done, but sad tale of a bad economy and how a guy, himself down on his luck, is coping. Only there’s more to sliding than simply slipping down the economic scale. It can also have a time element. One which could save your butt.

A good story, but rather confusing to read. I’d be curious to know if this is a series.

Ellen Kushner‘s “Duke of Riverside” leans heavily to the fantasy side of urban fantasy with a lord wanting to escape his destiny.

This was clever and cute, and I’m’a gonna put the Riverside series on my TBR, starting with Swordspoint.

Christopher Fowler‘s “Oblivion by Calvin Klein” is an odd tale about a woman addicted to spending money.

These days her clitoris was located somewhere near Harrods.

I did not understand the ending at all.

Patricia Briggs‘ “Fairy Gifts” combines an historical introspection in 1900 and present-day Butte, Montana about the mines with opium, vampires, and the fey thrown in to make it interesting.

Pat Cadigan‘s “Picking Up the Pieces” will resonate with those of you with a dysfunctional family member whom you always have to rescue as well as those who fall in love with users. Cadigan combines this with the fey and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Peter S. Beagle‘s “Underbridge” is a grim tale of a professor desperate for permanence and tenure and the lengths to which he may go if provoked. Eeek!

I do wonder if he’s having a poke at Kat Richardson and her Greywalker series…hmmm…

Naomi Novik‘s “Priced to Sell” short story is a series of tiny tales reflecting the travails of a real estate broker in New York City when dealing with supernatural issues.

This is just too funny with its combination of human concerns and fey problems.

Matthew Kressel‘s “Bricks of Gelecek” is just too creepy with its foursome of destruction and eradication. And it’s tiny kernel of hope.

Kit Reed‘s “Weston Walks” is a sad tale of conflicting desires: retain the material goods you value or chase the one you love.

Lavie Tidhar‘s “Projected Girl” takes place in Haifa as an episode in young Danny’s life

I loved the references to favorite Hebrew authors and series as well as the incorporation of Jewish culture — especially Tidhar’s creating a character who loves books! Tidhar really caught the flavor of a child’s view of the world. I wish, however, that Tidhar hadn’t just left us hanging at the sad end.

Nathan Ballingrud‘s “Way Station” is another sad tale of a homeless man’s life as he considers tracking down his daughter and her family.

Melissa Marr‘s “Guns for the Dead” slowly seeps its reality into your head as Francis Lee Lemons undergoes an unusual job interview. After he’s dead.

Sounds like this might be a prequel to a new series. Marr has created an entire world with backstory and intrigue in this short. If it is a series, it’s going on my TBR!

John Crowley‘s “And Go Like This” is confusing and appears to be a dystopian short with the world twisting in on itself.

I think.

Holly Black‘s “Noble Rot” starts out so sweetly, and then she hits you with the truth behind it.

Don’t eat before reading this one! Yup, it just takes that one twist…

Jeffrey Ford‘s “Daddy Long Legs of the Evening” is just so gross. Yuck. Ick.

Lucius Shepard‘s “Skinny Girl” is just weird. Maybe you need to know something about Santa Muerte to understand what Shepard is doing, but there was a very surreal quality to this one.

Caitlí R. Kiernan‘s “Colliers’ Venus” takes a really long time to get started. When it finally did get to the point, I got lost in why she bothered with one end or the other.

Elizabeth Bear‘s “King Pole, Gallows Pole, Bottle Tree” does indeed fulfill the title of the story. I have to wonder if Bear just couldn’t decide which one she wanted as a title, though. This one was another weird one. You are left to wonder throughout the entire story just who the main protagonists are without ever learning. The story itself is interesting, and scary as I/me/Jackie loses his memory.

The Cover and Title

The cover is sleazy in its bright blue and browns with a punkish Harry in a shrunken hat checking out a corset-clad Santa Muerte.

Ellen Datlow discusses her reason for the title in a reference to an old television series, The Naked City, which provides the theme for this anthology of urban fantasies in a variety of cities.