Of Invaders, Lovers, and Assassins - a Review Catch-up

While I've been doing a lot of reading lately, I haven't had much time to do any reviewing. Things have been crazy busy at the office, and after working early morning through late evenings (and sometimes even later nights), the last thing I often want to do is keep the laptop for another few hours. With that said, I do need to share my high-level thoughts before those reads get stale . . .

Invaders: 22 Tales from the Outer Limits of Literature edited by Jacob Weisman

This was a wildly uneven collection that started off strong, and became a struggle to slog through. I can't say whether they were too 'literary' for my tastes, or just too 'wildly' speculative to really strike a nerve, but far too many of them seemed rather plodding narratives about concepts I didn't find the least bit intriguing.

I should know better than to trust in the blurb to sell me on an anthology, when neither the editor not any of the authors immediately strike me as must-reads, but sometimes you are pleasantly surprised. Not so much here.

Love Hurts: A Speculative Fiction Anthology edited by Tricia Reeks

This is an anthology I struggled with for a long time, desperately hoping that the next story would be the one to hook me, but eventually I just had to accept the fact that the very concept didn't work for me.

I'm sorry to say, but many of the stories were just poorly written, relying on narrative tricks and heavy-handed allegory to disguise the absence of well-developed plot or characters. There was one that I swear made it in my accident, with the kind of sentence structure that reminds of the breathless stories my toddler tells.

Fairy Werewolf vs. Vampire Zombie and Traveler were really the only 2 bright spots in the collection, at least in so far as I forced myself to read.

Red Hourglass by Scarlet Risque

Such a great concept, dragged down by some uneven writing and a core relationship that just does not work. The whole secret assassin concept was intriguing, especially with the homeless, rags-to-riches, girl gang twist, and could have lent itself to a really strong story. Add in a BDSM twist, and I thought there was real WTF Friday potential in it.

For me, though, it crashed and burned on that core romance. I actually liked that Janet, the assassin, was so conflicted about herself and her duties, but I didn't buy for one moment her affair with the nice guy who treats women like dirt. While get plenty of his abuse here (which never for moment seemed erotic), the thriller side of the assassination plots is almost non-existent. It's a story that's awkward and pulls its punches, at the same time.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ARC of these titles from the publishers in exchange for review consideration. This does not in any way affect the honesty or sincerity of my reviews.


  1. I'm about to give up on short story anthologies. They frustrate the hell out of me. For every story I like I have to feel guilty for skipping four others. Can't do it anymore.

    1. Yeah, I usually stick with a small handful of editors I trust to make amazing choices, but I took a chance on these two . . . and it didn't work.


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