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Many Bloody Returns edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner

01/07/2012. Contributed by Sarah Bruch

Buy Many Bloody Returns edited in the USA - or Buy Many Bloody Returns edited in the UK

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pub: Gollancz. 370 page small hardback. Price: 14.99 (UK only). ISBN: 978-0-575-09781-0.

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This is an anthology with the premise that all the stories have to have a birthday and a vampire in them. The thinking behind this being that vampires are dead, do they have birthdays, if so what day do they celebrate, the day they were actually born or the day they were reborn, etc? It contains 13 stories (obviously it being a paranormal book) by well-known vampire authors such as Charlaine Harris and Kelley Armstrong. It also has some vampire tales by authors for whom this is their first foray into the world of vampires such as Toni L. P. Kelner and Elaine Viets.

I do enjoy a good anthology every now and then, lots of interesting short stories that give you insights into new authors to try without having to buy a whole book by them. Personally, I prefer the type where there are three or four larger novellas rather than really short stories I feel it gives you a better picture of whether or not you like the author. However, this book wasn't a bad little collection of shorter stories with most of them being under 20 pages and the odd longer story of 50 pages or so.

I'm not going to go into each and every one of the short stories that would take far too long. Here are my favourites and the ones that I felt were a little weak.

The one story I really didn't get on with was number 10, 'The Wish' by Carolyn Haines, about a woman trying to escape her destiny. Basically, I didn't get on with her characters, they didn't seem to get a great deal of depth to them, everything happened way too fast with little explanation. Plus it all seemed a little too wishy-washy and poetic for me and not my cup of tea.

I also didn't enjoy 'The Mournful Cry Of Owls' by Christopher Golden, the tale of a young girl growing up and realising life is not quite what it seems. The reason was I found it to be an odd combination of different myths to do with vampires from different countries. It was an interesting premise but I didn't get on with the writing style.

I obviously enjoyed the first story 'Dracula Night' in this anthology as it was by Charlaine Harris so knew the characters and her writing style is right up my street. Hers was a story based on the Sookie Stackhouse series of books, I'm not sure if this has been published in a previous anthology but it's about Eric's odd obsession with celebrating Dracula's birthday...hilarious mixing of vampirism and Charlie Brown!

I came away with some new authors I'd really like to try, most notably Jim Butcher, and Rachel Caine. I enjoyed both their stories and I especially want to find out if Rachel Caine's story carried on in her other books, I want to know what happens next.

Overall, I liked the idea of giving the book a theme to tie it all together and it was interesting to see how everyone interpreted this theme. I also enjoyed the different visions of how the vampire myth works for each author for example, how vampires first came to exist, their various abilities and the methods of killing them. However, I did start to get a little bit bored towards the end as I was all vampired out and would have given anything for a story about almost anything else. Maybe for this reason I felt that the theme was a little too limiting and I would suggest that you don't sit down and read the entire thing from start to finish, maybe read something less vampiric in between.

Sarah Bruch

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