I was lucky enough to win a copy of this anthology at a ComiCon 2015 panel hosted by the authors. The reason I'm breaking this review into two parts is because I've been a bad person and haven't finished reading the whole book yet. I'm considering it a win, though, because that gives me two blog posts instead of one.
The Hunt of the Unicorn by Donna A. Leahey: As the title suggests this story deals with a hunt for a unicorn. It's set in the modern era when unicorns are not as plentiful as they once were, but they are still sought after by those who know the true healing and restorative properties of their horns and magic. One thing that I've come to expect from Leahey is that she has a great grasp of societal norms and how to turn them enough to still be recognizable when viewed from a different angle. I know that sounds weird and cryptic, but I don't like to give things away. While I figured out the direction of this story fairly quickly, it didn't make it any less enjoyable. (Five Stars)
Vampire City by Madalyn Singer: This story focuses on a young vampire who is taxed with writing an essay on why Vampire City is the best city on the moon. It's imaginative and has a little bit of the exasperation everyone felt when having to write one of these mundane essays in school. Singer captures this well. My only issue with this story, and this is personal pet peeve, is the length of the paragraphs. They tend to run on the long side, but that doesn't detract from the piece. (Three Stars)
Crow Creek Road by Margaret Perdue: What would have happened to Gladys Kravitz if she had lived next door to a serial killer instead of Samantha Stephens on Bewitched? Possibly what happens to Molly Baxter in this piece, or possibly something more gruesome. I'll admit that I have a soft spot for werewolf stories, since werewolves are my favorite supernatural character. Perdue gives a great werewolf story that also manages to add suspense and tension. I read this one in bed, and I was definitely looking toward the closet on multiple occasions. The only issue I have with this story is being able to see a plot element coming from quite a ways off. (Four Stars)
The Practice Bride by M. A. Chiappetta: This story is inspired by Frankenstein and witnesses young Dr. Von Franck attempting to recreate the work of his grandfather.When he is approached by a descendant of his grandfather's creature, the doctor learns about family expectations from a different point of view. With the running plot of reanimating a female corpse, the creature, Cal, and Dr. Von Franck wonder which of them she will choose. Chiappetta takes a deep look into the darkness of family dynamics in a way that keeps interest in this longer piece. (Four Stars)
Fungus Amongus by L. A. Smith: I'm not going to lie. When I read the blurb before the story, I thought it was going to be boring and mundane. I thought I would lose interest quickly and just skim over the story. Well, I didn't. Actually, this is my favorite story of the first half I've read, and it could very well be my favorite of the entire anthology. I'm not going to give anything away. Just read it. (Five Stars)
Quiet Whisper by Donna A. Leahey: Who doesn't love a good revenge ghost story? Against the backdrop of domestic abuse, Annette has to figure out how to deal with her husband Stan. Luckily she has a friendly voice who offers suggestions and guidance around the flying fists and controlling behavior. I like that fact that Leahey adds an element to the revenge ghost story that I don't believe I've seen before. What is it? You'll have to find out for yourself. (Four Stars)
So, that leaves me with four more pieces to read and review. Based on what I've read so far, Dark and Dangerous Things II is a showcase of some talented authors who know how to tell a great story. Check it out for yourself, or you can wait until I finish part two of the review. But, honestly, why wait?