All the stories in this anthology revolve around the carnival and/or circus life, a subject I really enjoy. Didn't y'all want to run away and join the circus when you were younger... or is that just me? ;)
I reviewed this book on a story by story basis, and most of these stories were really good. I was also introduced to several "new to me" authors whose books and series I've since added to my TBR or wish list.
Painted Love by Rob Thurman - 6 stars
This story about a man, who's really a monster underneath, is purposely misleading, deceiving the reader into believing something that isn't so, just as Bart wears his false face to the rest of the world. I thought Doodle's endless narratives could drone on a bit too long at times, but overall the story was thought provoking and had me rereading it again after I'd finished.
The Three Lives of Lydia by Delilah S. Dawson - 6 stars
Parts of it were cool, other parts, not so much. I enjoyed the carnival scenes, but the reality of the situation was pretty depressing.
The Demon Barker of Wheat Street by Kevin Hearne - 8 stars
This was a fantastic short story, part of the Iron Druid Chronicles taking place after the 4th book in that series. The writing really drew me in, snarky yet action-packed. It can definitely stand on it's own outside of the rest of the series, but I enjoyed it so much that I immediately hunted down the Iron Druid Chronicles and added that series to my TBR list.
The Sweeter the Juice by Mark Henry - 1 star
Sorry but I didn't like this one at all. A transvestite junkie in a post-apocalyptic world of zombies. No thanks!
The Werewife by Jaye Wells - 6 stars
A riveting tale that teaches the lesson to be careful what you wish for... particularly while in the vicinity of the carnival freak show.
The Cold Girl by Rachel Caine - 7 stars
This was a fast-paced young adult story, and it held my interest throughout. Though I didn't like seeing Kiley as a victim, it at least depicted life honestly, albeit brutally, as to how cruel some people can be.
A Duet with Darkness by Allison Pang - 3 stars
I didn't really get this one at all, and the end was too obscure and made absolutely no sense to me. All the characters were unlikeable as well. Not a great introduction to this author for me.
Recession of the Divine by Hillary Jacques - 6 stars
The Greek goddess Mnemosyne taken on a human form and enslaved as a fortune teller at the local carnival. An interesting read.
Parlor Tricks by Jennifer Estep - 7 stars
An exciting short story that takes place in the world of the Elemental Assassin series. I got a bit of a feel for the main character Gin and think I'll check out the full series of which these characters are a part.
Freak House by Kelly Meding - 8 stars
Really liked this one, so much so that I'd like to check out more of this author's work. The title of this story states that it's a Strays Short Story, though I don't see that that's the name of any of her existing series, so I don't know if these characters are part of any of her other books or not. I hope so however, as I really liked the characters of Shiloh and Julius and would love to learn more about them.
The Inside Man by Nicole D. Peeler - 7 stars
This was a pretty decent read, and also part of an existing series, Jane True. I'm not sure if I loved it enough to seek out more books by this author or not, but I will definitely be checking goodreads to see what the Jane True series is about and find out what others thought of them.
A Chance in Hell by Jackie Kessler - 7 stars
I enjoyed this one, and liked Jezebel's character. I guess this is part of the author's Hell on Earth series, the first 2 books of which I have somewhere in my TBR boxes in the garage. I may just have to pull them out to add them to my more current TBR pile after this short but enticing short story.
Hell's Menagerie by Kelly Gay - 5 stars
The story itself was alright, though I didn't care for the author's writing style all that much. The action scenes, which should've been fast-paced and exciting, were instead bogged down with excessive detail. For this reason, even the actions scenes seemed to just sort of creep along with the rest of the book.
Daughter of the Midway, the Mermaid, and the Open, Lonely Sea by Seanan McGuire - 7 stars
Mermaids are magical! Though this story wasn't nearly as dark or action packed as the others, the author's writing style really drew me in. The quality of that writing, combined with mermaids and carnies, will definitely have me seeking out additional works from this author.