It's been several months since we went silent on this blog. We're back and ready to talk about books again! So I'm going to get the ball rolling with a short story collection that I just finished up reading.
The Poison Eaters and Other Stories by Holly Black
I wrote a pretty detailed review on my personal Goodreads page, so I copied most of it for here. (I just don't want you all to think I'm copying somebody else's review!) I'm also removing all the spoilers from that review!
I was reviewing a short story collection right when I started reading this book. I started writing about how much I enjoyed one story in the collection when WHAM! I remembered it was in The Poison Eaters and not the other short story collection. I felt horribly bad for the other book when reading just one of Holly Black's short stories erases all the other short stories in my mind. That's how good she is.
Most of these stories are found in other anthologies, but it doesn't matter because having a whole book of Black's stories makes all the difference. It made me wonder how was she going to make another story as good as the last? The crazy thing is, I don't really like reading short stories all that much. They tend to be forgettable stories to me. When I'm vested in characters already, such as Harry Potter, then I'm happy to have one more story about the characters, but if I'm not already vested I typically wonder why I should care. I didn't feel this way with this collection. So I'll break down some of the stories found in this collection.
The Coldest Girl in Cold Town: I finished this one and I wanted to read a novel set in this world. I wanted to see the fighting between vamps and humans before cold town existed. I wanted to see the 88 days the infected human had to suffer to become human again. I wanted it all. Innovative and gritty. Side note, I started to mention this story in a teen program earlier this month and one of the teens immediately piped up that this was sooooo good! Holly Black, if you're listening--I really really really want a novel about this world you created in this short story!!!
Reversal of Fortune: Selling the soul to the devil and then tricking him in a eating contest. Bizarrely effective. I don't think I would have expected anyone to ever have a supernatural eating contest in a story.
The Night Market: I loved the foreign setting. Different for Black's work to be set in a foreign place and not a city at that, but still had the grittiness expected of Black.
The Dog King: One of the stories that debuts in this collection. I liked where she took the story and the nice twists in it.
In Vodka Veritas: Bizarre. That's all I can say. Just bizarre.
Paper Cut Scissors: I loved this one. Granted it stars a library science student cataloging a library in which the characters come out of their books at night for cocktails. How could I not love it? But it has some fabulous quotes in it too. Justin is the type of reader who reads the last page first to make sure the endings happy. He can't handle bad things happening to the characters. "Books were something that happened to readers. Readers were the victims of books." How could you not like this writing!?
The Land of Heart's Desire: Another new one. This one takes place after Tithe Valiant and Ironside so read with caution if you haven't read those titles. But I will say it made me want to read those books all over again!
The Poison Eaters: Ahh, court corruption and the three sisters who can kill with a kiss. Perfect way to end a great collection of short stories.