Thursday, September 12, 2013


Four Summoner's Tales
Kelley Armstrong, David Liss, Christopher Golden, and Jonathan Maberry

Rating: C
Release Date: 09/17/13
Four terror-inducing novellas from acclaimed bestselling authors Kelley Armstrong, David Liss, Christopher Golden, and Jonathan Maberry beginning with the premise: “A stranger comes to town, offering to raise the townsfolk’s dearly departed from the dead—for a price.”

In Kelley Armstrong’s “Suffer the Children,” an acute diphtheria outbreak kills most of the children in an isolated village in nineteenth-century Ontario. Then a stranger arrives and offers to bring the children back to life. He wants money, of course, an extravagant sum, but more importantly, but for each child resurrected, one villager must voluntarily offer his life... 

In David Liss’s “The Good-Natured Man,” a con man on the margins of eighteenth-century British society discovers a book that reveals the method for bringing the dead back to life. After considering just how far he would go to avoid bringing his violent father back, he realizes the real value of this book. Instead of getting people to pay him to revive their departed, he will get people to pay him not to...

In “Pipers” by Christopher Golden, the Texas Border Volunteers wage a private war against drug smuggling by Mexican cartels in a modern-day South Texas town, complete with an indestructible army of the risen dead...

In “Alive Day” by Jonathan Maberry, a US Army sergeant must dive into the underworld of modern-day Afghanistan to try and barter for the release of his team, never dreaming of the horrors that await him...

My thoughts on the book:
As you guys know, I'm not the hugest fan of anthologies, but I absolutely love Kelley Armstrong's work. Therefore, I decided to give this book a try. Unfortunately, Armstrong wasn't enough to save this collection, and even her story fell flat. This book isn't bad, but it isn't the best set of stories I've ever read either. Furthermore, I thought this was a collection of Dystopian stories, but none of the stories really fit the genre, which left me confused. I say read this only if you adore anthologies. Otherwise, if you want to sample these authors' works, I'd recommend just getting one of their books from the library or book store. 

Armstrong disappointed in this novel, and "Suffer the Children" fell extremely flat for me. Armstrong's voice was off. Yes, the circumstances were horrifying, and hearing the story from a 12 year old girl's perspective was upsetting. However, Armstrong displayed the dangers of writing about indigenous populations from a settler's perspective. The girl came across as so primitive and ignorant that it was extremely insulting to First Nations' peoples. I was terribly disappointed by this. I don't think that was her intent, but I really wish non-native people would leave indigenous peoples alone. Don't write about what you don't understand, and for the love of all that's good in the world, don't think you can possibly understand what being a member of a colonized people entails simply from reading a few books and doing a little research. If you don't live with them for years, then you can't understand, so just leave it alone. All this story did was perpetuate the already inaccurate myth that First Nations peoples are and always have been intellectually inferior to the settler. I don't think Armstrong did this purposefully because in the past she's treated indigenous peoples with the utmost respect, but that doesn't make the repercussions any less real. 

Out of all of the stories, I think that David Liss had the best voice with his story, "A Bad Season for Necromancy." I loved the time period in which this one was written, and the world-building was fantastic, especially since he had such a limited amount of space in which to work. The characterization was also top notch. The characters feel real and fully developed, which again, is difficult to do within the short amount of space allotted each story. Furthermore, Liss was able to make you root for a character of questionable morals. That takes talent. I think I will have to check out Liss' other work. 

The other stories didn't stand out to me that much, but none were as big of a disappointment as Armstrong's story. "Pipers" by Christopher Golden really didn't seem "dystopian." In fact, it seemed to reflect what goes on daily in our society; therefore, it also didn't fit with the supposed theme of the book. The more that I think about it, the more that I think that the theme of the book is that humans are monsters and morality is important. The story, like a couple of the others, has good lessons about morality, though, and it will tug at your heart strings.  

Like the other stories, "Alive Day" by Jonathan Maberry was pretty horrifying. However, I really am not a fan of military-based themes. Therefore, I didn't exactly enjoy this story. His writing was just fine, and the plot would have been intriguing if I enjoyed military fiction. Yes, I enjoyed Band of Brothers, but it was a historic book, not fiction. I never can seem to like military-themed fiction. Either way, this was an issue of personal taste, not anything the writer did wrong. 

Overall, this anthology was okay. As previously stated, this is recommended for people who enjoy anthologies and stories about morality. 

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