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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Carrie Vaughn: "Kitty's Greatest Hits" (short stories)

Author:  Carrie Vaughn
Title:  Kitty's Greatest Hits 
Plot Type:  Urban Fantasy (UF) short stories
Publisher:  Tor (2011)

     All but two of the stories in this anthology are part of the KITTY NORVILLE world. Seven of the stories have appeared in other anthologies, and five were included in magazines. Two stories are brand new. I'm not a huge fan of anthologies, but I have to admit that I enjoyed getting some background on some of the KITTY characters, particularly Rick, T. J., and Cormac. It's nice for a change to view the KITTY universe through eyes other than Kitty's. The two non-KITTY stories were well written, but seemed out of place in KITTY-land.

     Click HERE to go to my review of Vaughn's KITTY NORVILLE Series, which lists all of the book titles in reading order.

"Il Est Ne" (Originally appeared in Wolfsbane and Mistletoe)
     This KITTY story fits into the series just before Kitty Takes a Holiday. It's Christmas, and Kitty is having a lonely meal at a roadside diner when she meets a troubled, newly-turned werewolf in need of guidance. Together, they solve a murderous mystery.

"A Princess of Spain" (Originally appeared in The Secret History of Vampires)
     We now jump to Tudor England (early 1500s), where Catherine of Aragon discovers why her new husband (Arthur, Prince of Wales) is so pale and wan.

"Conquistador de la Noche" (Originally appeared in Subterranean Online)
     This is the first of two stories that take us into previously unexplored chapters in the life of Rick, Kitty's vampire friend. This is his origin story, and it takes place just a few decades after the previous storyin the mid-1500s. Rick, who was one of Coronado's soldiers, attempts to make a new life in the Americas but is waylaid by demonic vampires.

"The Book of Daniel" (Originally appeared in Talebones #39)
     In this supernatural take on the story of Daniel in the lion's den, Vaughn provides a surprising answer to the age-old question: Why didn't those ferocious beasts devour Daniel?

"The Temptation of Robin Green" (Originally appeared in The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance)
     In this story, a young woman falls in love with a sexy selkie who is imprisoned in the secret military laboratory where she works. This is the second "Rick" story; he is also a prisoner in the lab.

"Looking After Family" (Originally appeared in Realms of Fantasy)
     In her "Author's Notes," Vaughn calls this "Cormac and Ben's origin story." We see Cormac and Ben in their teen years, soon after Cormac moves in with Ben's family following the murder of his father by a werewolf.

"God's Creatures" (Originally appeared in Dark and Stormy Knights)
     This story follows Cormac as he hunts down a werewolf in the American Westjust a typical day for Cormac.

"Wild Ride" (Originally appeared in Running with the Pack)
     Do you remember T. J.the werewolf who befriended Kitty back at the beginning of the series and actually gave his life for her? This is his origin storyhow and why he became a werewolf.

"Winnowing the Herd" (Originally appeared in Strange Horizons)
     This story takes place before The Midnight Hour and before Kitty was outed as a werewolf. Kitty has a lengthy interior monologue about prey as she socializes with her colleagues at a KNOB staff party.

"Kitty and the Mosh Pit of the Damned" (Originally appeared in Weird Tales #338)
     Taking place soon after Kitty was outed, this story finds Kitty at a hard-rock concert where a demon shows up to complicate matters for the band. I'd love to see Jax, the magical bartender, show up in a future KITTY novel.

"Kitty's Zombie New Year" (Originally appeared in Weird Tales #345)
     It was inevitable that zombies would appear somewhere in the KITTY world, and here we have one knocking on the door of a New Year's Eve party that Kitty is attending. But this zombie is not the plague-stricken zombie of familiar myth. Instead, she is the victim of mind control and drugs used to create zombie slaves. Be glad you don't have a boyfriend like she had.   

"Life Is the Teacher" (Originally appeared in Hotter Than Hell)
     This story takes place after the events in Kitty Goes to Washington and describes what happens to Emma (Alette's living descendant) in the months following her unwilling changeover into a vampire. Of all the stories in the book, this one has the highest sensuality ratinga 4 for one relatively graphic sex scene.

 "You're on the Air" (new story) 
     The star of this story is a vampire who calls in to Kitty's radio show in Kitty and the Silver Bullet. Jake is not the suave, sophisticated, wealthy vampire of paranormal fiction. He works for minimum wage on the night shift at Speedy Mart, and he's not happy about his life. A random street-crime incident gives him a chance to step up and be a real vampire.

"Long Time Waiting" (new story)
     This is the key story in the book: the details about Cormac's relationship with a century-old female ghost/witch. Cormac is in prison, trying to keep it together until his release, when a demon begins murdering the inmates. Amelia (the ghost) begs Cormac to let her into his mind and body so that together they can defeat the demon, but Cormac is afraid that if he does, he'll lose his fragile hold on his sanity.

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