Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday's Feature - Down These Strange Streets - Book Review

I discovered about two years ago that I love reading anthologies. I can't really remember how I stumbled on this discovery, I suspect I was browsing the shelves and found something that looked interesting, and I've been hooked every since! I love the fact that you get to read stories by a whole bunch of different authors. It can be a great way to get a taste of what they write, without investing as much time in any one author as if you read the whole book. I know that shouldn't matter too much to me with how much I read, but I'm the type who has a really hard time putting down a book, even one I don't like, once I've invested any time in it!

Every anthology is different. Some showcase only 3 or 4 authors, others are much longer, and most have some sort of theme. "Down These Strange Streets" is based in urban fantasy, but it goes way beyond the normal expectations of that genre. The first section, an essay really, is called "The Bastard Stepchild," by George R.R. Martin. It both introduces the book, and also explores the origins of Urban Fantasy, what it is, where it comes from, and why we love it so much.

As much as Ioved some of the stories in the book, I think the intro essay was my favorite. I like learning about the origins of things, and the more I write, the more I want to understand this world I've being brash enough to enter. It helps, of course, that I'm fascinated with Urban Fantasy. I love fantasy of all kinds, but I can't even begin to tell you how excited I was when I first discovered Urban Fantasy! I don't have any stories in that genre yet, but I aspire too, and these stories left me itching to put my fingers on the keyboard and write!

It would take way too long to mention each of the stories in this book because this anthology is longer than most  - 17 stories plus the introduction! Martin and Dozois drew from a variety of genres for the authors they invited to write this story. The only stipulation they gave them was that the "story involve a private detective and a case with fantastic slant, be it real or... less so." I'm also a huge fan of mystery stories, so this made for an exciting combination!

My favorite story in here (other than the intro) is probably "In Red, With Pearls." It's written by one of my favorite authors, Patricia Briggs, and is set in the world of her most famous character, Mercedes Thompson. Mercy doesn't appear in this book, but I loved that we got to know the werewolf Warren a little bit better, and I would love to see her do another spin off series (she already has one, Alpha and Omega) featuring his work as a detective!

I don't think I can pick a story that comes next in my favorites, I just loved this book!

I'm giving the book 4 out of 5 cups of coffee. I did love the book, but I'll admit there were a couple stories that I wasn't as thrilled with. They were great writing, but they just weren't my style, or what I was hoping to read. There was one story that I had a hard time following, and I think a lot of it was that there were too many characters, and if you didn't already know his work it was easy to get lost. I've ordered the first book in the series that the story was based on because I'm very curious to see if it actually was just the story out of context, or if it's the way the author writes. Either way I was disappointed to see that this particular author couldn't make his world more easily understood by someone who's never read his books, none of the other writers had a problem with that!

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