Friday, January 7, 2011

Anthology Review - Horror, Humor, and Heroes: Volume II Edited by Jim Bernheimer

Horror, Humor, and Heroes Volume 2: New Faces of FantasyReading level: Adult
Genre: Fantasy/Urban Fantasy
Size: 274 pages
Publisher: CreateaSpace
Release Date: December 4, 2010
ISBN-13: 978-1456435783
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: eBook from Author
Rating: 5/5 stars

I got a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.  For the most part I enjoyed the book.  It is a solid collection of stories with a good mix between classic fantasy and urban fantasy.

My favorites of this bunch were Boomerang by Matthew Schocke (a story about a mage that takes on an evil lab) this story had wonderful action scenes and a great array of characters.  I also really enjoyed Fate's Apprentice by Brian James, a story about some apprentice mages competing.  The Wild Field by Susan Nance Carhart was a wonderful story that blends fantasy with Russian folklore.  My Mace Craves Blood by Jim Berheimer was a classic fantasy

story about a mace with a mind of its own which was very engaging and enjoyable.  The last story that really caught my eye was Hell's Recruiter by Heather Sinclair; this was a fun story about a Hellish recruiter who takes on more than she can handle.

That being said there are a lot of well-written and creative stories in this set.   It was fun to read stories written by a whole bunch of unknown writers and have so many of them be so entertaining.  There are a few in here that I wasn't super impressed with, but there aren't really any bad stories.

If you are a fan of fantasy and urban fantasy you should find a lot here to interest you.  Who knows you may even be reading a story by the next big fantasy/urban fantasy writer :-)

Overall it is a solid and entertaining collection with a good variety.  The majority of stories incorporate some irony or humor, so you way find yourself chuckling out loud at points.  See below for brief synopsis and comment on each of the stories.

- Pest Control by J.B. Ward (4/5)
Humorous story about a young man who ends up as a trainee for a pest exterminating job.  He finds the pests he's eliminating are more monstrous then originally thought.  With witty dialogue this was a amusing story feature vampires, zombies, and the poor schmuks that get saddled with hunting them.

- Maiden Quest by Clell Harmon (3/5)
A Dungeons and Dragons type story told from the dragons point of view.  The dragon is with your classic contingent of fantasy characters (paladin, elf, sorceress, dwarf) on a quest to destroy an evil mage.  Time is taken to go back and give brief histories for the characters  It was written well enough, but a bit rambling and the action scenes could've used some polishing up.  An okay read.

- Forever young by Keith McComb (3/5)
A one sided interview with a woman who has lived over a hundred thousand years. This was okay but a bit rambling and sometimes the lack of the question side of the interview made things a bit confusing.  Overall it was interesting to hear the supposed perspective of someone who has lived that long.  The story also had a nice ironic twist at the end.

- Boomerang by Matthew Schocke (5/5)
An excellent urban fantasy story about a mage and crew who go up against an evil lab.  Tons of action, well written, and great characterization.  Has a bit of a Dresden Files feel to it.

- Fate's Apprentice by Brian James (5/5)
An exceedingly well written and well woven story. This is a fantasy story about a competition between mage apprentices.  It is incredibly ironic, has a cleverly woven plot, and a touch of humor.  The best story in this anthology so far.

- The Quantum Garage Mechanic by Ted Vinzani (3.5/5)
Story about a quantum garage mechanic who uses his practical knowledge of quantum mechanics to save the world.  It was amusing and decently written.  All the years and times that are thrown around are a bit hard to follow though, I felt like I should write out a timeline to keep track of everything.

- Upon Crystal Shores by Joe Ducie (4/5)
A man and his friend enter the subway to take revenge on an evil killer for the death of his brother.  Only he finds himself suddenly embroiled with a fight not only to destroy a demon but to save mankind itself.  This was well-written with excellent action scenes; a great urban fantasy.  Looks to be the prelude to other urban fantasy stories.

- The Wild Field by Susan Nance Carhart (5/5)
A very well written story about a woman warrior and a Prince who have to deal with something evil in a bog.  This story has a classic fantasy tone to it and pulls in things from Russian folklore.  I really enjoyed it.

- Scarecrow by Anne B. Walsh and Britnee Bloschichak (4/5)
This story was well written, but it was almost identical to the episode in the first season of Supernatural called by a similar name.  I was kind of expecting to find out that may that TV episode was written off of this story or visa versa.  That being said I enjoyed the characters.  Probably the creepiest story of the bunch.

- Dryad by Tom P. Arachtingi (3/5)
This is the story of what happens when you sleep with a Dryad.  It was okay, decently written but fairly predictable.

- Incarnations of Empathy by P.R.S. (4/5)
About an a guy who investigates supernatural activity and banishes it...kind of.  It was well written and humorous.  I would enjoy reading more stories about these characters in the future.

- My Mace Craves Blood by Jim Bernheimer (4/5)
Well written classic fantasy story about a Mace that forces its wielder to go berserk.  The reader only gets the beginning of the story; I really wanted to know what happened next and can see the main character embarking many more fantastic adventures.

- Hell's Recruiter by Heather Sinclair (4/5)
A cute and funny story about what happens when a recruiter for Hell has the tables turned on her by a sneaky force of good.  I really enjoyed this and thought it was a fun read.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:

Horror, Humor, and Heroes Volume 2: New Faces of Fantasy

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