Saturday, 16 August 2014

Under A Spell

The Hexed anthology compiled by well known urban fantasy authors Ilona Andrews, Yasmine Galenorn, Allyson James, and Jeanne C. Stein, is one of my favorite anthologies that I've read this year. The anthology centers around the theme of strong women being able to encounter a nasty hex, and proceed to take it apart. It was a great read, and definitely inspired and surprised me in ways I wasn't expecting.

I think I know who's on the cover, and she's badass. This artwork is awesome.
The first story in the anthology is Magic Dreams, from Ilona Andrews. The short centers around
shapeshifting Tigress Dali Harimau, whose dream man is infected with a curse that is slowly killing him. To save his life, Dali must go head to head with not only dangerous poachers, but terrifying monsters that would love to hunt a Tiger.

This story was so much fun. I loved it way more than I expected to. Dali was a great character– quirky and awkward, but tough and smart. Another aspect I really enjoyed was the inclusion of different myths, including the Chinse story of the Dragon with Nine Sons (which absolutely sparked an idea for a series I want to write), and the inclusion of a JorĊgumo, a Japanese demon that I've always been fascinated with.

Next up was Yasmine Galenorn's Ice Shards, in which Finnish house sprite Iris Kuusi travels with her friends to a frozen world to learn if she was truly responsible for murdering her former lover. 

I'm not sure if Ice Shards was really my thing, considering there was a lot more fantasy than I expected. I think it would have made more sense if I'd read more of Galenorn's work, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it. The ending had a great twist, and the mythology behind the characters was very interesting. 

My favorite story was, without question, Double Hexed by Allyson James. In the story, Stormwalker
Janet and her friends become locked in her hotel after a powerful hex is placed over the building. But as they try to reverse the spell, they begin to realize that their worst enemies might just be themselves.

It was so good and so up my alley that I'm putting the entire Stormwalker series on my reading list. The characters were a lot of fun, loveable, and interesting, the magic and powers were really cool, and James has a style of writing that I truly love. Janet seems like the type of troubled hero that I adore, and I can't wait to read more into her adventures.

Last but not least, Blood Debt from Jeanne C. Stein. Bounty-hunter-turned-vampire Anna Strong isn't exactly thrilled when three witches seek her out in righting a magical wrong, so she shouldn't be surprised when danger follows their request. Anna's a tough woman, but fixing this mistake could cost more than she bargained for.

I've previously read the Anna Strong novels, though I admit I haven't read them in a while so I'm a little behind. There were some points where I needed to stop and remember what had happened in previous books, but that didn't stop me from enjoying this short story. Anna remains as tough and as feisty as ever, and the trial she faced was unexpected but entirely welcome. I realized that I missed her attitude, and the ending brought a smile to my face.

I knew that Hexed was going to be a great anthology, and I was glad that it amazed me in ways I wasn't expecting. These four authors have tremendous talent and clearly love their work. I would recommend this anthology to anyone who likes urban fantasy, strong female leads, and stories that have no shortage of imagination. If someone was ever trying to hex me, these ladies would be at the top of my Emergency Contact List.


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