Anthology-Something Wicked

By the pricking of my thumbs, Something Wicked this way comes. -Second witch Macbeth, Act 4 , scene 1

This anthology is made up of 14 stories by 14 authors, some new to me, some not. They are all a version of a fairy tale, but definitely not the ones that you know. They aren’t friendly. They aren’t happy. If there is whistling and singing going on in these stories, be sure that it’s not the good guy doing it. I will say that most of the stories have an ending that could be considered happy, for a given definition of happy, and for some particular people, but I’m not really sure that I would call them HEAs.

Usually, when I get an anthology that’s more than 8 or so stories, I only mention my faves, just because it can get long, and ain’t no one got time to read a super long review, let alone write one. However, I feel the urge to give you my reactions on all of them. I don’t think it will add too many words to do that.

Missy Ann-Forbidden Queen

New to me author. Wow. I honestly didn’t expect the direction the story went. I mean, I figured for a twist, but this was a whole Mobius strip of a twist.

B. Celeste-Within These Shadows

Another new to me author. This was… disturbing in really disturbing ways. Good ways, but yeah. I would love to find out more of this world. I love the protagonist and the way that their POV was done.

Elizabeth Cash-Bittersweet Beauty

This is a prequel or intro or something like that. There is going to be more to this story, which makes me happy, because I need more of Beck, Bishop, and Jax.

A. A. Davies-Dama de Diablo

New author to me. Appropriate title. ‘Nuff said.

Anna Edwards-The Toy

Damn you, Anna. Just damn you. I really think that I want to hate you, but I’m pretty sure that I can’t because it was too good! That end, though.

Emery Leeann-Bite Me: The Cursed Evil Queen

Another new to me author. With some of the stories, it was easy to tell what the story was. It wasn’t in this one. When I found out who the person was before they are the person that they are now? Blew me away.

K. S. Marshall-The Deadly Hunt

Lots of new to me authors in this one. I honestly thought that this was going to go another way. It’s still living in my head and I’m trying to figure out some of it in my head.

Claire Marta-The Wish

I wish that Claire would write faster. I’m not sure who I trust in this story, but I can’t wait to find out what’s going on.

C.L. Matthews-The Underneath

This might be the least dark story in the entire anthology. I loved it.

TL Mayhew-Wicked Lady T

I think that I may have read some of Mayhew’s other stuff, but the consequence of reading so many books is that I sometimes forget who and what I’ve read. This might be the second least dark story. I’m really looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

Michelle Pace-Nights on the Round Table

I love the Arthurian tales. I can tell you most of them backwards and forwards and I know all about the various knights. This is not the Arthurian tale that you expect.

Michelle Brown-Unfortunate Souls

I was lucky enough to be one of the people who got an ARC of Michelle’s first book, and I’ve enjoyed watching her grow. Her short stories are wicked AF, and this one is no different. Amazing spin on her tale.

Ally Vance-Hellfire

I had a Disney song running through my head the entire time I read this, which is kinda weird, considering the tone of the story, but what can I say? I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens with the rest of the story.

Murphy Wallace-Prick

I love the whole Sleeping Beauty/Maleficient theme in general, and the take on the story in this one is fabulous.

I can normally pick which ones are my favorite, but I think that with each of these stories I found a new favorite. They are all twisted and dark and disturbing and wonderful and all the things that I happen to like when I’m reading. The anthology is really short for an anthology. Some of the stories are really short, and they are all pretty quick to read. That’s one of my favorite things about anthologies, the fact that many of the stories are pretty quick to read and that I can pick them up and put them down without losing the thread.

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Alta Hensley-Fallen Daughters

 

Alta Hensley has an interesting writing technique. She writes short stories that show up in various box sets, and then she either expands them or puts them in other books, using the box set as a kind of testing laboratory. There are others that she has written that have just sat on her desk. If you are like me and have read most of what Alta has written, then you will recognize most of her Fallen Daughters, either in their original form or in the form they showed up in other books. I recognized all of them, except for Fallen Daughter 3. Did that stop me from rereading all the stories? No way. I love to reread, so this was awesome for me.

Fallen Daughter #1

This one got tested out in Daddy’s Demands, and then found its way into one of the Top Shelf books, the one with Roman and Cheri, to be precise. I loved it in both its forms, and it’s still as fucking hot the second time around. Or third time. However many, it’s still ridiculously hot.

Fallen Daughter #2

This one first showed up in an anthology called The Dark Forest, which is a collection of adult fairy tales. Alta’s was a take on Sleeping Beauty. A very, very dirty version of Sleeping Beauty. I know that it showed up in another book, in parts at least, but my brain fails me right now, so I don’t remember which one it was. I loved the way that our heroine was given her gifts, and how they really did help her in her captivity.

Fallen Daughter #3

This was the only one of the stories that I haven’t read before. I will say that I haven’t read every single thing that Alta has written, so it may be in one of the books that I haven’t read yet. I really liked it though. It was a pretty sweet little story, which kind of makes it not Alta’s usual fare, but it is just a lovely little story, and left me very happy.

Fallen Daughters #4 & #5

There is a reason that I am combining these two. It’s because they were together in a book called No White Knight, and it was one of the first things that I read by Alta. #4 was known as Pallid Slave, and it disturbed me on a couple of levels. Disturbing good, though. OK, I have to get a smidge personal here. I have lost 2 brothers, one 31 years ago, one 16 years ago. There really isn’t a mark of that loss that shows everyone that you have lost someone you loved so much. That can be both a blessing and a curse. You don’t have to worry about anyone giving you sympathy when it’s overwhelming. Then again, you have to tell them that you are grieving when it gets too much, and that can be really hard to do. In Pallid Slave, there really is a very visible outward sign of mourning, which I think is more of a curse than a blessing in this case, but I found it to be a really interesting way to handle it. #5 was called a Hero in Disguise, and frankly, it could be ripped right out of today’s headlines, and that’s what makes it so fucking disturbing to me.

Fallen Daughter #6

This one first showed up in Twisted Sacraments. If you read those stories, you know that there is no happy in any of them, and it’s no different with Alta’s story. Frankly, I’m pretty sure that the world is going to end in a plague, and so any stories that have some kind of plague in them play right into that fear. And then you put the coocoo for cocoa puffs bits in there, and yup. I’m properly worried.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve read these stories in any form before, they are definitely worth a reread.

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Alta Hensley & Zoe Blake-Queen and the Kingsmen

Alta and Zoe have given us their third filthy fairy tale. And oh, my kittens, when I say filthy, I mean fillllllttthhhhy. Forget having to be over 18 to read this, you may have to be over 25 to read this one. It was definitely the dirtiest of the group. I think it was also the most playful.  So, on to Queen and the Kingsmen.

Alright, so this is somewhat based around the evil fairy from Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent. Not enough that you can point and say oh, that’s straight from X, but enough that it gives you the flavor. And that’s perfectly fine with me. I think it’s awesome, and it’s nice to see newer fairy tales being used.

So, our evil Queen Zelladine is taunting the piddling little mortal king and tells him that she’s never going to give him back the body of his dead daughter, Briar, and oh yeah, she curses the hell out of him. Well, King Dickbag isn’t about to let that stand, he’s going to do something about it. While Zelladine has gone home to make sure that all her people are safe, mostly done by sending them away to safety, he decides he’s going to put out his big guns, the Kingsmen. No one really knows who they are or much about them. Zelladine isn’t all that worried, she’s never met an impressive mortal man. Then again, she’d never met the Kingsmen.

The Kingsmen, Gripir, Sigmun, Troylus, and Regin, are tasked with finding Queen Zelladine and making her give Briar’s body back so her father can bury her. The thing is, that Zelladine is just as determined to not give them that information. She’s going to keep her mouth shut on that matter for as long as possible. The Kingsmen capture her and keep her in a tower where her magic was neutralized. They punish her in several different ways, but they still can’t break her. In fact, she likes what they are doing, and sees it as a game.

OK, the interactions between the Kingsmen and Zelladine are awesome. She is strong and stubborn and isn’t about to let the guys roll over her. She enjoys all the sex, she enjoys exasperating them, and she enjoys what they are doing to her. The guys get rather frustrated with her, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t enjoying themselves as well. This is an awesome story and it does have appearances of characters from the other stories. It’s a short, hot, filthy read, and fabulous.

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Oh, I love the game of hide and seek at the end of the book. I also like how many times Zella manages to trick the guys. She was really three or four steps ahead of him most of the time, wasn’t she? It was lovely.

OK, that’s all I have to say for this one, so go read it. You’ll love it.