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Written by Jim Butcher, Kevin Hearne, Kelley Armstrong, Seanan McGuire, Jonathan Maberry, Steven Savile, Carrie Vaughn, Caitlin Kittredge
Edited by Joseph Nassise
Published by Gallery Books
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Here I am again, late to the party. I could give you a myriad of excuses but at the end of the day, I am still delivering this to you a little later than I should. However — and it is a huge however, mind you — I cannot just let this one pass me by. Urban Enemies was wicked fun. Yeah, I did say wicked fun.
I have always been told there are two sides to every story, as I am sure you have. But in this case, these sides, these stories are just plain dark. Because, my dear reader, some characters are meant to be bad, with no hope of redemption. And for the ones that embrace their darker side, it apparently can be quite exhilarating. Or that is what the writers of these short stories have led me to believe. So, while late I might be, this was definitely worth the wait!
Darkness abounds in hearts and souls of the evil supernatural monsters and characters in this anthology. But I do not use the word monster to describe a scary otherworldly creature or denizen of the underworld. No, even simple, everyday humans can be monsters if they so choose. But not to worry, there are plenty of demons, vampires, and the like to sate your appetite for destruction and mayhem. Seventeen stories exist within this tome and I will take the time to tell you of a few that stood out to me. In no particular order, here are my favorites.
By far the creepiest of all the tales in Urban Enemies was “Reel Life” by Steven Savile. I had never read anything by this author but after having done so, I am without a doubt a fan. Revolving around his book Glass Town, readers are given a glimpse into the mind and motivations of the villain Seth Lockwood as he alters reality for himself and his victim. Not everything is as he would have it and the realization of this twists him in ways you can only read about here. Emotion and fear run deep as we see what can drive an ordinary man to do extraordinarily evil things.
If I had to pick one story in Urban Enemies that I think could be the catalyst for my finding a new favorite series, it would have to be Seanan McGuire‘s “Balance.” A classic story of the hunter becoming the hunted, this wondrous little piece of literature delves deeply into the concept that man is not as high up the food chain as he thinks. Other creatures that appear as we do have abilities that compromise our thoughts, our feelings, our sense of self. Exploiting this is second nature to these creatures that call themselves cuckoos. They are not infallible but they are beyond dangerous.
In “Bellum Romanium,” we get a glimpse into Carrie Vaughn‘s Kitty Norville series. This particular tidbit is focused on an ancient vampire called Roman, though he is far more than a simple blood drinker. His schemes of world domination notwithstanding, he is a consummate planner. If anyone ever understood the true concept of the long game, it is he. His adversaries arrive to thwart his plans but he shoulders that burden with grace and elegance for he will not be deterred. I haven’t read any of the full length novels in this series but this one was entertaining and historically oriented so it resounded well with me.
Probably the least evil of these tales was “The Resurrectionist” by Caitlin Kittredge. Revolving around a dead, or maybe undead, monster hunter, this one speaks to redemption and betrayal. Though probably not in the way you might think. People will let you down but sometimes it is family that causes you the most pain. Included in the story is a bit of detective work, some straight up homicide, and not a little camaraderie. In other words, it was a bit of fun from start to finish.
Highlights from a few of the others include “The Naughtiest Cherub” where Loki tries to strike a bargain with Lucifer but things do not quite go the way they were planned. In “Sixty-Six Seconds” we witness some possessions and repossessions, with a tinge of love to make it all go down easier. Evil magicians abound in “Nigsu Ga Tesgu,” proving it is quite a dangerous world out there. And last but not least, in “Even Hand” we see some of the plans that Marcone has for Harry Dresden if he comes looking for trouble.
Lots of new authors for me, several old hands to go back and explore again. This is a world from the flip side and it is interesting to see what makes the dark ones tick. Any fan of fantasy books will enjoy Urban Enemies and probably do what I did: make a list of new authors to seek out. Several formats are available and all of them will deliver the same result of a fun but twisted time. Who wouldn’t want that, right? Enjoy it, friends. I certainly did!