BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Review of Happily Ever Afterlife by J.A. Campbell, et al

Publisher: Untold Press
Format Read: Kindle book
Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: October 2013
Buying Links: Amazon* | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository* * affiliate links; the blog receives a small commission for purchases made through these links.

Blurb from goodreads:

Revisit your favorite childhood fairy tales…with a paranormal twist. Eight classic stories rewritten by eight talented authors with one common theme, they all feature the undead. From angels to vampires and ghosts to zombies, you'll be sure to fall in love with the classics all over again and quickly learn that even the undead can have a happily ever after.

In the Belly of the Wolf by Amanda Carman
Don't talk to strangers. Don't stray from the path. If you do, the wolf will eat you. Once swallowed, you will be trapped forever in the dark and musty limbo of the belly of the wolf, a larger and more crowded world than you ever suspected. You can't blame him, though. After all, wolves will be wolves.

The Glass Coffin by Emmalyn Greyson
When Marianna's stepmother betrays her by having her turned into a vampire, she must flee home and the love of her life. Darren, her werewolf lover, believes he's found a cure. Will it lead to heartache or happily ever after?

Hans and the Best Day Ever by G.L. Jackson
After a seven-year apprenticeship with the Boss Lady, Hans decides it’s time to go home. Accompanied by Gabe, the two boys make their way back to the house in the woods where they hope to find Hans’ mother. Gabe is never at a loss for words but Hans is always quick to act on what might either be a fantastic idea…or the worst idea ever.

The Baron and the Firebird by J.A. Campbell
In the depths of the Russian wilderness, Baron Pyotr Vasilyev does his best to care for his people but his long years weigh heavily and he’s beginning to lose his taste for life. The only things that keep him going are his devotion to duty and his magical cherries. When his cherries go missing the thief turns out to be the Firebird. The desire to hear her sing one last time drives him through the centuries.

Clara and the Coon by M.K. Boise
Clara is born the height of a quarter–an abomination to the village of Fankfret. Left to die in a teapot on the outskirts of town, she learns that her story is far from over. Getting eaten by a raccoon is just the beginning.

Blood Borne Pathogen by Shoshanah Holl
Javier is too young to be waiting for death, but in the hospital battling late-stage AIDs there isn't room for much else in his mind. A mysterious woman begins visiting him and they form a strange friendship. Aurora only comes to visit after the sun goes down, leaving long before dawn. On the Day of the Dead, they both face the choice between life, death...and what comes after.

In Spite of Fire by Tilly Boscott
Alice's husband, Henry, died, leaving her to wander the world alone, searching for a way to bring him back. When she stumbles upon village gossip describing a place where ghosts dwell, she sets off to find her lost love. Instead of her husband, she discovers a ghost with eyes of fire, keen on the contents of a ragged tree. Alice clambers into an adventure of fear, darkness and true love.

The Angel by Troy Lambert
Abel is a poor urchin, trying to survive on the streets with only his wits to protect him and a tiny garden of struggling flowers to bring him pleasure. Zach is a young boy struggling in the fight of his life against the blight of cancer who wants to see the flowers of spring one last time. It seems inevitable that these young souls will soon leave the earth. But what awaits them in the beyond?

Bea's Thoughts:

Did someone say fairy tales? I do love fairy tales especially when they're updated, add in the undead,  and the fact that one of the authors, J.A. Campbell, is a favorite of mine, and I was sold on this anthology as soon as I heard about it. The stories range from almost joyful to dark and a few where I wondered as I read how a happy ending was going to happen. Several of the source fairy tales were new to me or I read once many, many years ago. I liked seeing some new blood for source material and now I need to go back and re-read the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen. At the end of each story the author talks about the fairy tale they used and the choices they made while writing their story so if you don't recognize the story, don't worry, info is coming.

My favorite stories were "The Baron and The Firebird" by J.A. Campbell, "Blood Borne Pathogen" by Shoshanah Holl, and "The Glass Coffin" by Emmalyn Greyson. "The Baron and The Firebird" was possibly the lightest and sweetest of the stories and firebirds are one of my favorite mythical beings. At the end of the story I was still confused as to how Zach knew Peter's secret but the story worked and was a sweet love story. "Blood Borne Pathogen" was also sweet and like Campbell's story, the vampires were bored and full of ennui; immortality has its drawbacks. BBP was a nice update on the Sleeping Beauty story and made good use of AIDS. "The Glass Coffin" had some twists and turns, and was emotional but not sappy.

"In the Belly of the Wolf" and "Clara and the Coon" were also good but very dark. "Clara and the Coon was a little dry, and dragged a bit, it was too long, but it had lots of twists and turns and kept me guessing. "In the Belly of the Wolf" has introspection and more depth than I expected: was my fault. It was because I didn't listen to my mother, because I talked to a stranger. It was because I strayed from the path. A wolf is a wolf, they say. It's not his fault. You should have been more careful.

It's much easier to believe that you deserve a terrible fate than to know that, somewhere, awful things happen and there is no reason for them. 

Sometimes it just feels good to hate someone else, as respite from your own self-loathing.

 "The Angel" by Troy Lambert, gah. Dying children and cancer, two topics I try to avoid normally. I only read it in order to read the whole anthology. It wasn't a bad story but it pushed way too many buttons for me. I won't be re-reading it.

"In Spite of Fire" Tilly Boscott was based on a story that I haven't read in decades so I can't say how it was changed but it evokes the power of love quite well, if a bit drily. I didn't really feel Alice's grief or love.

"Hans and the Best Day Ever" by G.L. Jackson was based on a story that I don't think I ever read but it was cute and was a nice twist on Christian mythology.

Overall, this was a good anthology, with some strong stories and creative story telling.

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  1. I've been wondering about this one. It sounds pretty interesting. I"ve really been enjoying the twists on fairy tales and love that they talked a little about the original after it was over. Will have to try it out.

  2. I'm not a big anthology fan but I love fairy tales especially retellings. I just might have to check this one out :)
    -Kimberly @ Turning the Pages


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