Friday, August 2, 2013

Review: CarniePunk

CarniePunk by Rachel Caine, Jennifer Estep, Kevin Hearne, Seanan McGuire, Rob Thurman, Delilah S. Dawson, Mark Henry, Jaye Wells, Allison Pang, Hillary Jacques, Kelly Meding, Nicole Peeler, Jackie Kessler, and Kelly Gay

Publication Date: July 23, 2013
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Imprint: Gallery Books
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Anthology
Pages: 448
ISBN-10: 1476714150
ISBN-13: 978-1476714158

(Received for an honest review from Gallery Books)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound

The authors on the WEB

Rachel Caine: Website, Twitter, Facebook
Jennifer EstepWebsite, Twitter, Facebook
Kevin HearneWebsite, Twitter, Facebook 
Seanan McGuireWebsite, Twitter, Facebook 
Rob ThurmanWebsite, Twitter, Facebook
Delilah S. Dawson:  Website, Twitter, Facebook
Mark HenryWebsite, Twitter, Facebook
Jaye WellsWebsite, Twitter, Facebook 
Allison Pang:  Website, Twitter, Facebook
Hillary JacquesWebsite, Twitter
Kelly Meding: Website, Twitter, Facebook
Nicole PeelerWebsite, Twitter, Facebook
Jackie Kessler: Website, Twitter, Facebook
Kelly GayWebsite, Twitter, Facebook

Excerpt from CarniePunk, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.


Come one, come all! The Carniepunk Midway promises you every thrill and chill a traveling carnival can provide. But fear not! Urban fantasy’s biggest stars are here to guide you through this strange and dangerous world. . . .

RACHEL CAINE’s vampires aren’t child’s play, as a naïve teen discovers when her heart leads her far, far astray in “The Cold Girl.” With “Parlor Tricks,” JENNIFER ESTEP pits Gin Blanco, the Elemental Assassin, against the Wheel of Death and some dangerously creepy clowns. SEANAN McGUIRE narrates a poignant, ethereal tale of a mysterious carnival that returns to a dangerous town after twenty years in “Daughter of the Midway, the Mermaid, and the Open, Lonely Sea.” KEVIN HEARNE’s Iron Druid and his wisecracking Irish wolfhound discover in “The Demon Barker of Wheat Street” that the impossibly wholesome sounding Kansas Wheat Festival is actually not a healthy place to hang out. With an eerie, unpredictable twist, ROB THURMAN reveals the fate of a psychopath stalking two young carnies in “Painted Love.”  


Anthologies are often the hardest reviews to write. In most cases you have some wildly popular authors, along with some lesser known names. Each book generally focuses on a theme and each author writes a specific story sometimes with characters from their own series and sometimes something original based on that theme. CarniePunk is a new anthology from Gallery Books that delves into the often creepy underside to the traveling midway shows. With short fiction from authors like Rachel Caine, Rob Thurman and Jennifer Estep. Readers enjoying many different genres will all find something here. It is an eclectic mix of urban fantasy and horror that will give you the heebie geebies. You might think differently about going to the county fair this year after reading this one!

The entire CarniePunk anthology gives off a horror vibe from the titles of the stories to the cover, where the leaves on the trees look like blood. But as I started reading I quickly found both horror and urban fantasy represented here. Some of the authors are well known urban fantasy authors, who have used characters readers will already know and love in their short fiction for this piece. I want to take each story and break it down with a rating for each and overall rating for the whole book. That will make this one kind of long, but I think you will enjoy knowing a little bit of what I liked and didn't like from each story.

"Painted Love" by Rob Thurman. I really enjoyed the POV on this one. It was told from the perspective of a supernatural hitchhiker. Doodle was quite the character and typical of Thurman's dark sense of humor and sarcastic wit. Definitely a creepy one! 4/5

"The Three Lives of Lydia" by Delilah S. Dawson. If you are fan of Delilah's Blud series you will love this story. It involves Blud heroes Criminy and Casper before the Blud series actually begins. So it is a short prequel. If you haven't read the series, the ending may seem a little stiff, because I think it leads you into the series, but if you didn't know a series existed, it can't quite stand on it's own. But it is a great story for those who are familiar with the Blud world. 3/5

"The Demon Barker of Wheat Street" by Kevin Hearne. This story is taken from Kevin's world of the Iron Druids. If you are not caught up with the series yet, there may be a spoiler or two. I liked the whole idea of the Kansas Wheat festival and all the dark and creepy things that were going on the side. This was one of my favorites of the anthology. 5/5

"The Sweeter the Juice" by Mark Henry. I'll have to say this story was disgusting. Fantastically, disgusting. If you like a good horror book with lots of gore and gruesomeness this one will be right up your alley. It was a little much for me. I don't like all that stuff. Definitely more on the horror side than the urban fantasy side. But if you like that stuff, this one is good. 3/5

"The Werewife" by Jaye Wells. I have been a fan of Wells for a long time and this was an interesting take on the werewolf idea. I thought it was well written and had some moments of simple clarity. I liked this one a lot and wanted to read more about the characters and what happened to them. I think it will encourage readers who have never read this author to pick up some of her books. Very well done! 4/5

"The Cold Girl" by Rachel Caine. What can I say, Rachel Caine was a real draw for this book. Her urban fantasy writing is among the best in the genre in my opinion and this story certainly did not disappoint. I loved the whole revenge theme and how the protagonist went about carrying it out. Caine is one of the best and this story goes to show that she can pull it off in short fiction as well as a series. 5/5

"A Duet With Darkness" by Allison Pang. This one might be a little hard to understand for readers who haven't read Pang's Abby Sinclair series. The ending was more of a lead in to the books than it was a resolution to the story itself. It fell a little flat for me even though I am an Allison Pang fan. I think she does a bit better with a longer time frame. 3/5

"Recession of the Divine" by Hillary Jacques. I liked Hillary's quirky writing style. It made me really concentrate of the story. Had it not been for that I know I would have missed something good. I liked the story. It was the first I had actually read from this author, but I look forward to seeing what she has out there. 4/5

"Parlor Tricks" by Jennifer Estep. This was the main reason I wanted to read this anthology. I love Jennifer Esteps writing whether it's her Elemental Assassins series or the Mythos Academy she knows how to write. This was a great story based on Esteps favorite assassin Gin Blanco. These kidnappers had no idea what they were getting into kidnapping her, that's for sure. 5/5

"Freak House" by Kelly Meding. Meding is another favorite of mine. I enjoyed this one a lot. The djinn always make for some interesting characters. If you had never read this author before and stumbled on to this story, you would definitely try to find more. That's one of the reasons I like anthologies, they introduce new readers to authors they may not normally be exposed to. 4/5

"The Inside Man" by Nicole Peeler. Fans of the Jane True series will love this one. I always enjoy Peeler sense of comedy in the face of danger and death. She knows how to lighten the mood, while still giving you the creeps. A clown demon who turns humans into husks and takes the memories of entire towns does not go a long way toward making me less afraid of clowns. 4/5

"A Chance in Hell" by Jackie Kessler. Having just recently finished Richelle Meads, Succubus Blues. This one struck a cord with me. I like the variation in how Kessler approached the succubi and the carnival twist was very engaging. This was my first experience with Kessler and I found it interesting a definitely a lead in to her own series. I am now interested in picking that up. 4/5

"Hell's Menagerie" by Kelly Gay. If you love the Charlie Madigan series you'll love this story. Young Emma sets loose some supernatural creatures that don't normally exist on Earth and the consequences are full of gloom and doom. I was less than enthralled with this one. It was good. But it did't pack the normal punch Gay's work usually elicits in me. It was a little too far fetched. That's saying a lot in urban fantasy. 3/5

" Daughter of the Midway, the Mermaid, and the Open, Lonely Sea" by Seanan McGuire. This was my first experience with this author and to say that I was creeped out a bit was an understatement. This one straddled the horror line and tripped over a bit now and then. I'm not saying I don't read horror or that I don't like it, it's just sometimes a little much for me. I may go on to read other things by McGuire, but I'm not sure I'll ever think of mermaids the same way again. 4/5

I loved the carnival theme and I really enjoyed most of the stories in this anthology. It does border on the horror side of urban fantasy and might cause you leave a light on when you go to bed. But all in all I liked it a lot. I spent a lot of time on information about the authors because I think that's what a good anthology does. It introduces readers to new authors and gives them short fiction from their favorites. It's all about the authors in this kind of book.

CarniePunk is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one an overall rating of 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

About the Authors:

RACHEL CAINE is the New York Times, USA Today, and #1 internationally bestselling author of more than forty novels, including the Morganville Vampires, Weather Warden, Outcast Seasons, and Revivalist series. She has also been featured in many anthologies, including Many Bloody Returns, Hex Appeal, and Shards and Ashes.

JENNIFER ESTEP is a New York Times bestselling author prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea. Spider's Bite, Web of Lies, Venom, Tangled Threads, Spider's Revenge, Thread of Death, By a Thread, Widow's Web, Deadly Sting and Heart of Venom are the other works in her red-hot Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series for Pocket Books. Jennifer also writes the Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series and is the author of the Bigtime paranormal romance series.

KEVIN HEARNE is the New York Times bestselling author of the Iron Druid Chronicles. he's a middle-aged nerd who still enjoys his comic books and old-school heavy metal. He cooks tasty omelets, hugs trees, and paints minature army dudes. He lives with his wife, daughter and doggies in a wee cottage.

SEANAN MCGUIRE comes from good carnival stock and had her first Ferris wheel-related injury when she was seven years old. Both she and the Ferris wheel recovered nicely and are currently in good health. She attended UC Berkley, where she majored in folklore and mythology. These two things go a long way toward explaining why she now writes urban fantasy.
     Seanan is the New York Times bestselling author of two ongoing urban fantasy series, the InCryptid and the October Days series, and she also writes under the name Misa Grant. She is a founding member of the Hugo Award-winning SF Squeecast, her short fiction has appeared all over the place, sometimes including on the floor of her bedroom. She won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2010 and was the first woman to be nominated for four Hugo Awards in a single year.
     It is widely rumored that Seanan doesn't sleep. The rumors are pretty much true. She lives ins in a crumbling farmhouse, which she shares with her collections of books, horror movies, and creepy dolls, as well as her three ridiculously large blue cats. Seanan is happiest when at a carnival or in a cornfield, and she collects machetes. This tells you everything you need to know.

ROB THURMAN lives in Indiana, land of cows, corn, and ravenous wild turkeys - the rural velociraptor at large. Rob is the author of the darkly gritty Cal Leandros urban fantasy series: Nightlife, Moonshine, Madhouse, Death Wish, Roadkill, Blackout, Doubletake, Slashback; the Trickster novels Trick of Light and The Grimrose Path; and the thriller-suspense novels Chimera, Basilisk, and All Seeing Eye
     Besides wild ravenous turkeys Rob has two rescue dogs. (If you don't have a dog, how do you live?) Both were adopted from the pound (one on his last day on death row). They were both fully grown, house-trained and grateful as hell. Think about it the next time you are looking for a Rover or a Fluffy.

DELILIAH S. DAWSON is the author of Wicked as They Come and Wicked as She Wants, the first two Blud novels in her steampunk paranormal romance series with Pocket Books and two e-novellas set in the enchanting land of Sang, The Mysterious Madame Morpho and The Peculiar Pets of Miss Pleasance.  She is at work on a young adult series for Simon Pulse. Delilah lives with her family in Atlanta.

MARK HENRY gleefully twists urban fantasy into extremes of comedy, filth, and horror. He also writes young adult horror and fantasy (as Daniel Marks), spends way too much time glued to the internet, and collects books obsessively (occasionally reading them). He's been a psychotherapist for children and adolescents, a Halloween-store manager and a cafeteria janitor (gag). and has survived earthquakes, volcanoes, and typhoons to get where he is today, which is to say, in his messy office surrounded by half-empty coffee cups. He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife, Caroline, and three furry monsters with no regard for quality carpeting. None. 

USA Today bestselling author JAYE WELLS writes urban fantasy novels with grave stakes and wicked humor. Raised in bookstores, she loved reading from a very young age. That gateway drug eventually led to a full-blown writing addiction. When she's not chasing the word dragon, she loves to travel, drink good bourbon, and do things that scare her so she put them in her books. Jaye lives in Texas with her husband and son. 

ALLISON PANG is the author of the Abby Sinclair urban fantasy series from Pocket Books as well as the online graphic novel Fox & Willow. She spends her days in northern Virginia working as a cube grunt and her nights waiting on her kids and cats, punctuated by an occasional husbandly serenade. Sometimes she even manages to write. Mostly she just makes it up as she goes. She loves Hello Kitty, sparkly shoes, and gorgeous violinists.

HILLARY JACQUES is an up-late, Alaska-based author of speculative fiction. She has a love of words, travel, small-plate dining, and action movies. Sometimes her husband and son allow her to play grown-up. she has worked jobs as diverse as carnival vendor and federal contractor. She is drawn to risk management occupations because she wants to make the world a safer place. Also, because she gets paid to figure out how things can be blown up. Her urban fantasy Night Runner series is published under the pen name Regan Summers.

Born and raised in southern Delaware,KELLY MEDING survived five years in the hustle and bustle of Northern Virginia, only to retreat back to the peace and sanity of the Eastern Shore. An avid reader and film buff, she discovered Freddy Kruegar at a very young age and has since had a lifelong obsession with horror, science fiction, and fantasy, for which she blames her interest in vampires, psychic powers, superheroes, and all things paranormal.
     Three Days to Dead, the first book in her Dreg City urban fantasy series, follows Evangeline Stone, a paranormal hunter who is resurrected into the body of a stranger and has only three days to solve her own murder and stop a war between the city's goblins and vampires. Additional books in the series include: As Lie the Dead, Another Kind of Dead, and Wrong Side of Dead.
     Beginning with Trance, Kelly's MetaWars series tells the story of the grown-up children of the world's slaughtered superheroes who receive their superpowers back after a mysterious fifteen-year absence, and who now face not only a fearful public but also a vengeful villain who wants all fo them dead. Other books in the series include Changeling, Tempest, and Chimera.

NICOLE PEELER received an undergraduate degree in English literature from Boston University and a PhD inEnglish literature from the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland. She's lived abroad in both Spain and the UK, and all over the United States. Currently she resides outside Pittsburgh, teaching in Seron Hill University's MFA in Writing Popular Fiction program. When she's not in the classroom infecting young minds with her madness, she's writing the Jane True series for Orbit Books and manga for Yen Press, and taking pleasure in what means most to her: family, friends, food, and travel.

JACKIE KESSLER writes about demons, angels, and the hapless humans caught between them; superheroes and the supervillains who pound those heroes into pudding; ghosts; and, in her pseudo- secret identity as YA author Jackie Morse Kessler, witches and the occasional Rider of the Apocalypse. She also had a stint in the Buffyverse, writing a short comic for Dark Horse. She lives near Albany, New York, with her Loving Husband, Precious Little Tax Deductions, and a sweetly psychotic cat.

KELLY GAY is the author of the Pocket Books urban fantasy series featuring Charlie Madigan, which includes The Better Part of Darkness, The Darkest Edge of Dawn, The Hour of Dust and Ashes, and Shadows Before the Sun. She is a two-time RITA Award finalist, a 2010 finalist for Best First Book from the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, and a recipient of a North Carolina Arts Council fellowship grant in literature. She also writes as Kelly Keaton.

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