Edited by: Charlaine Harris & Toni L.P. Kelner
Someone heeded my call, heard my wishes and in my to read pile appeared Home Improvement: Undead Edition, it really was like a dream come true. I have enjoyed everything I’ve read of late but at heart I will always be a horror girl and I was beginning to feel an undeniable craving for some fangs or some creatures.
Home Improvement: Undead Edition has them all! Zombies, revenants, ghosts, vampires, werewolves, faeries and even a Sookie story. There was going to be no getting on top of that one in the pile. So THANK YOU very much to the kind people who sent this over for me.
Short stories aren’t always my cup of blood because I just get enthralled and then it’s time to move on, and in an anthology that moving on means to a whole new author and a whole new writing style. Having said that, there is always an exception! I do have to say that there is a wonderful benefit to anthologies in that you will be exposed to authors of a genre you are interested in that you wouldn’t necessarily pick up.
The anthology is edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner, that was a great hook for me right there. Add to that the never-before published Sookie Stackhouse story and I’m in love. I came for Sookie but I’m glad I stayed to read an introduction to some other very talented writers whose work I may not have read otherwise.
Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner have brought together 14 stories about home improvements, compiling an impressive author list and having a lot of fun doing so. This is their fourth anthology together and was inspired by their own home repair experiences, because who wouldn’t begin to wonder, as they tear their hair out over how to get something done around the house, how supernatural beings might deal with being in a similar situation?
Freaky, fantastical and funny are all words to describe the experience I had with this anthology that brings together mystery and urban fantasy writers in a dark stroll through home improvement nightmares.
After a short and witty introduction from the illustrious editors we head straight into Harris’s If I Had a Hammer which is a snack sized Sookie centred around the house Tara and JB are raising their twins in. To create space in their cozy little house they need to remove a wall and uncover an old hammer. Any hammer sealed up in a wall has got to have a story, and that’s exactly what we’re given. This is a short story which served only to tease and whet my appetite for the full length Sookie novel due in May, and the start of True Blood Season 5.
Victor Gischler tells us a tale of Wizard Home Security that serves to remind us that no matter who you are and what skills you possess there is going to be a conman out there to try and take advantage of you. But be careful who you try to fool because sometimes you will get caught out and the traps you lay will catch you out.
Gray is a sensational tale by Patricia Briggs that is more mystery than horror and kept me guessing until the very end. It was well written and intriguing, and it had my fave supes in it. Even vampires get attached to the houses they were happiest in, and this looks at what can happen when you try to go back.
Rochelle Krich tackles the anthology from a different perspective in Squatter’s Rights where it’s more about a psychological attack, but is it coming from a haunting or not?
Blood on the Wall looks at a cult started by a geeky boy who is sick of never getting the girl – because what other reason is there? This is one I really enjoyed! There are hints throughout that suggest someone may not be quite human, otherwise it’s the satanic cult getting in focus and the twist is a killer.
James Grady’s The Mansion of Imperatives was one I found difficult to follow. This one was all about the haunted house and the way it affected people in the house.
The Strength Inside is Melissa Marr‘s offering and it definitely gives a folklore feeling. Members of an ancient race move to a populated region because the young ones need to learn to exist with humans, but they do need to be properly fenced. Marr explores what would happen if Bori move to a community with an anal power-crazed community chairperson who refuses to let anything be changed without approval – which she is unlikely to give.
I could go on all day but am trying not to get too wordy here. Rounding out the anthology are stories by E.E. Knight, Seanan McGuire, S.J. Rozan, Stacia Kane, Suzanne McLeod, Simon R. Green and Toni L.P. Kelner that cover all manner of supernatural beings and home improvement issues.
These aren’t all haunted house stories, there are some very inventive housing issues addressed and some interesting supernatural creatures. The Home in Home Improvement is also open to interpretation it sometimes seems.
A fun and fiesty journey through the fantastical and sometimes freaky imaginations of fourteen fabulous authors, many of whom I have never read but will certainly be looking out for from here on in.