Title: Devil Take Me (Anthology)
Author: Jordan L. Hawk; T.A. Moore; Ginn Hale; C.S. Poe; Rhys Ford; Jordan Castillo Price
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: October 16, 2018
Genre(s): Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Page Count: 450 Pages
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Temptation lurks around every corner in worlds sometimes dark, sometimes lurid. Giving in is both dangerous and satisfying, though never in the ways one expects. While these enticements offer a vast range of benefits and boons, the cost is a soul and the devil expects his due. Sometimes suave and charming or calculating and cruel, these devils have schemes and desires of their own. They can be creatures to run away from… or toward.
Join the most unique and celebrated authors of LGBT urban fantasy and paranormal fiction for a fast-paced and unpredictable ride, from a city on the other side of reality, to a world suspended in dusk, to a twisted version of the 1960s and 70s.
Meet devils in top hats and waistcoats, a defrocked motorcycle-riding priest, and a genderfluid antihero—among many more. Full of humor, romance, horror, action, intrigue, and magic, these stories have one common element….
They’re one hell of a good time.
Full blurbs included with excerpts from each of the stories!
Jordan L. Hawk – Infernal Affairs
This is pretty standard fare and quite lightweight. Characterisation is good, but not up to the richness of the author’s novels. There are clear distinctions between the two lead characters, which allows for misunderstandings and he opportunity to relate their backstories. Where conflict occurs between them, it is readily resolved without lasting recrimination. The most frustrating thing is the author’s use of plural tense to refer to one of the characters. Whilst it is accepted that there is no tense for gender fluid, it does not make the individual multiple. There is romance, but all the passion is off-stage. There is a reasonably rich and varied plot, which gives the story momentum. The story is concluded with the principle plot theme resolved positively.
T.A. Moore – Collared
This was a hard read, for the first half of the story it required a number of re-reads particularly if the story was left for any length of time. The reason for this is the richness of the writing. There is so much detail, both in terms of character development as well as context, that it is very hard to understand the nature of the characters as well as what is happening. This is aggravated by the fact that the backstory is revealed little by little as the plot unfolds. Consequently it is often unclear what is happening or why. I would certainly recommend sticking with this dark tale, as there is an interesting story at the heart of all those words. There is not a lot of sex, and what there is is quite speedily done. However, there is a thread of passion throughout that is as tainted as the characters involved. Given the richness of the writing, the pace lacks inertia until the second half. The ending is as positive as can be expected given the doomed characters that make up the tale.
Ginn Hale – Counterfeit Viscount
This is a rich, well-structured and interesting story that could readily have been topped and tailed to become a full novel. Both characterisation and world building are well done with some clever ideas. The concept of above and below regions would have benefitted from more detailed explanation, as the distinction adds nothing to the plot that couldn’t have been achieved with separate above ground regions. There is good contextual background that is developed throughout the story but once again this is an area that would have benefited from more development.
The two central characters are interesting and clearly have feelings for one another. That they are apparently from very different and antagonistic social groups is a common trope, but it is clear that their background is far from dissimilar. The revelation of how historical actions fit and have influenced not only their personalities but also how they came together is an interesting mechanism that enriches what could have been quite a staid relationship. That there are misunderstandings is also a common mechanism, but there are some effective twists. There is some sex that is described with some limited detail, but that is sufficient to fit the context.
This is not he fastest paced story but there is enough momentum to the plot to keep the reader engaged. There is some limited tension, which could have been developed more fully.
There is a neat ending to the story that resolves the key themes, but this felt somewhat rushed. That does not undermine what was a good and enjoyable story that offered something just a little bit different from the norm and provided quite a rich reading experience for a short story.
C.S. Poe – 11:59
This story is based on an interesting concept that brings together classical Greek mythology and the Devil. Based around the idea that nightmares are reified and require a soulless hunter. This is another story that has a lot of potential to be developed into something more substantial. What is provided has sufficient depth to hold the attention but there is always the feeling that details are skipped over. Characterisation suffers as a result, since much time is spent detailing the world through plot features. The characters are satisfactory to the story but there is not enough to provide any affinity to them. The plot holds together quite well and the mix of reality and mythology is well done. There is a relationship and some intimacy but these are not central to the plot. Clearly there is the intent that the relationship provides an emotional grounding to the central character as well as purpose to the plot, however this is a light touch at best. The plot moves at a steady pace and there are no real moments of tension to change this. The story is concluded without drama.
Rhys Ford – Devil Take Me
The writing of this author is always rich and detailed. Characterisation and world building are both very strong. The difficulty is always in the storytelling. The author works best with novels, where there is the opportunity to fully develop a story to support the concepts and personalities developed. Sadly what happens in this story is that in order to fully develop one scene, transitions suffer, as does context. It’s as though idea fragments are missing and there are small jumps in the flow of the story. Conceptually this is an interesting take on the Through the Looking Glass story. Realistically the Devil in this tale does little more than top and tail a plot that could largely stand on its own. The relationship between the lead character and his object of passion is also an area of the story that doesn’t quite fit. The reason for this is that all the intimacy is historical and implicit. There is clearly affection between the two but there are apparently good reasons why they can’t be together; sadly these are not explained. Due to the richness of the language and involved descriptions, the pace is steady even when there are moments of tension. The ending is quite predictable and on reflection this seems like a scene from a much larger work in progress.
Jordan Castillo Price – Dark Favors
Enjoyment of this story was impaired by a failure to understand the fundamental concepts on which it was based. The idea of favors is present from the start and any explanation of the concept did not occur until well into the story. Sadly even this failed to make it clear. Characterisation was well structured and there is clear differentiation between the characters although the ‘Chosen’ gain far more detail in their description. Similarly descriptions of place and environmental factors were effective. Plot features were well described but made little sense. The relationship between the lead characters was heated in places and this was marked by dominance and control. There was indication of mutual attraction to complement this, which was refreshing. The pace was steady with little that could be described as tense. Ultimately the story resolves itself with what seems to be a twist at the end.