Title: Samhain Secrets: World Premiere
Authors: David DeMar, Chris Shaffer, Vaughn R. Demont, and Sierra Dean
Length: 325 Pages
Category: Urban Fantasy
Rating: 5 Stars
At a Glance: The diversity of stories and voices and characters in Samhain Secrets: World Premier is significant. Anthologies can be a delicate balance—if there’s a single weak link in the chain, that story can diminish the overall results of the reading. Thankfully, all four of these authors brought their A-game to this project.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: In the Argent City, where supernatural creatures like dragons, fae, and tricksters live alongside blissfully unaware humanity, Halloween Night remains the craziest night of the year. A dragon who would be king struggles to establish his identity and find his passion in hosting a popular radio show, while the wily Kitsune seek to unmask a conspiracy against the feuding Tricksters of the City, where anyone could be the culprit.
Across the City, a pair of Fae entrepreneurs stake their future on cleansing a murder site for the police, but a nosy Brownie can’t accept the given cause of death and suspects murder. And finally, a hopeful actress takes a chance at scoring the lead in the reboot of a much-beloved vampire action series, only to find the audition process far more bizarre, and deadly, than even the most committed actor would expect.
Featuring contributions from Chris Shaffer, David DeMar, Vaughn R. Demont, and special guest Sierra Dean, the Argent City is explored through the eyes of the different denizens that call it home, and the one night a year where the brave and curious can discover the secrets lying just beyond the human eye.
Review: Dragons, Kitsune, Brownies, Tricksters, Goblins, Trolls, Phouka, the Fae . . . There are six million stories in the Argent City, or so it’s proclaimed, tales of tenacity and murder and a little mayhem too. Samhain Secrets: World Premiere delivers four stories of those millions, and each contributor to this collection not only understood the assignment but executed it in enticingly entertaining and distinctive ways.
Kicking things off is David DeMar with his thoroughly charming Climbing the Charts, a story that introduces the mysterious Secret McQueen (Sierra Dean clears that up in The Audition) and offers up a fresh take on this -verse, which I first became familiar with in Vaughn R. Demont’s Broken Mirrors series.
Ricky Konacsz is a college freshman with an immense responsibility awaiting him in the not so distant future. The problem right now is that he doesn’t know who he is or where he fits in. Finding himself is going to mean stepping out of his comfort zone, which he does, though I don’t think he meant to step quite so far. All’s well that ends well, as the saying goes, and I was rooting for Ricky all the way.
Chris Shaffer keeps the fun rolling and brings the Kitsune into the fold when an attack indicates someone may be interested in kicking the Feud between the Tricksters up a notch—in deadly ways. This story effortlessly drew me back into the City as well as into the mystery of who the culprit is. There’s no talent like a Kitsune’s talent for getting to the bottom of things, and this author’s voice was the perfect one to tell this story.
Brownies are one of the bottom rungs on the social ladder in the Argent City, right down there with the Sluagh, but Vaughn R. Demont gives them a chance to be the heroes in his story, Done and Dusted, when Claire and Gunny, partners in the business of crime scene cleanup, are hired for what should have been a simple job. Gunny cleanses the bad energy left behind by the recently deceased while Claire takes care of the physical tidying, which is how and why she becomes suspicious that Lady Thackery’s death may not have occurred from natural causes. Something isn’t adding up, and Claire takes more than a little risk to get to the bottom of her suspicions.
I loved Claire and her tenacious spirit a lot, and loved her friendship with the sensitive cinnamon roll Gunny. It turns out Claire is a great detective, and I’d happily read more about her and Gunny in action.
Closing out the collection is Sierra Dean’s The Audition, which, as I already said, clears up exactly what Secret McQueen is and how this was carried throughout the book as a Big Deal in the City. This is the shortest story of the bunch, but that in no way was a deterrent. It’s pure fun, with some Buffy vibes, and like the aspiring actress Monique is, she nailed her “audition” and ad-libbed her lines like a pro. Let’s just say she got way more than she’d bargained for, though, and maybe learned a lesson or two about not believing everything she reads in the trades.
The diversity of stories and voices and characters in Samhain Secrets: World Premier is significant. Anthologies can be a delicate balance—if there’s a single weak link in the chain, that story can diminish the overall results of the reading. Thankfully, all four of these authors brought their A-game to this project. Once again, being familiar with the Broken Mirrors -verse may increase the pleasure of getting to know these characters and the authors who delivered them, but this collection is wonderfully engaging in its own right.
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