Saturday, March 8, 2008

An Anthology of Dark Fantasy

On the make. On the scent. On the edge.
On the prowl…

Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs
The werewolf Anna finds a new sense of self when the son of the werewolf king comes to town to quell unrest in the Chicago pack-and inspires a power in Anna she’s never felt before.

Inhuman by Eileen Wilks
Kai has a secret gift of sensing thoughts and desires. What she senses in her neighbor Nathan could be dangerous. Because he has a secret gift too, and it’s about to be let loose…

Buying Trouble by Karen Chance
A Lord of the Fey crosses paths with a fiery red-headed mage named Claire in a New York auction house. But in this strange underground society, the rarity up for sale is Claire herself.

Mona Lisa Betwining by Sunny
Among the children of the moon, Mona Lisa is of mixed blood-part Monère, part human, and destined to be alone. Until she meets a man who could be her salvation-or her downfall.

Title: On the Prowl (anthology)
Author: Patricia Briggs, Eileen Wilks, Karen Chance, Sunny
Published: 2007
Publisher: Berkley Publishing
Pages: 341
Genre: Anthology-Paranormal Romance-Urban Fantasy, Adventure

The anthology On the Prowl includes a story from the best-selling author of the Mercedes Thompson series, Patricia Briggs as well as stories by Eileen Wilks, Karen Chance, and Sunny all whose characters dwell in paranormal/fantasy worlds where dragons, werewolves, or even Fey could very well be your neighbors.

Alpha and Omega is a short story that takes place in the world of
Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series during or soon after the first book, Moon Called but Mercy herself is never mentioned. This is the story of the Morok’s (leader of the werewolves) son and “hitman” Charles and how he meets Anna while investigating the Chicago pack.

The whole reason I picked up this anthology in the first place was because of how much I liked Briggs’ writing style and Charles’ half-brother Samuel is a recurring character in the Mercy series but little is mentioned of Charles himself so I was interested in finding out more about him. I also really liked Anna because she was such a strong character and refused to be continue being a victim.

There are a few references to things that happened in the original series but there aren’t any big spoilers and I believe that this story could be read on its own. Charles and Anna’s first complete book , called Cry Wolf will be out this August, hopefully it will continue into a series as well.

Eileen Wilks is the author of the second short story called Inhuman and it is the sixth story in her World of the Lupi series, most of which are available in other anthologies. The WotL takes place in an earth very similar to ours except it’s populated with people who are “Gifted” because of the “power winds” and “nodes”. Of course there are regular people too and people who aren’t even from this world!

I have never read anything by Ms. Wilks before but I found the story itself very intriguing. There was a lot of interesting world-building but unfortunately, it was also way too complex for a short story. You’re left with a bit of a cliffhanger and it also doesn’t really explain some things either. More like the author realized that her story was the longest in the book and tried to wrap it up as quickly as possible. I was left with the feeling that she decided to just set up for the next story with Kia and Nathan in it called Night Season and ultimately let this one become unraveled in places.

The third story in the book is called Buying Trouble by Karen Chance. Magic null Claire knows her life sucks, her whole family (what’s left of it) wants her dead or sold (nulls can be killed and harvested) but she soon finds out that there is more to herself than she originally thought when she and a Fey named Heider are accidentally transported into a hostile part of Faerie.

Karen Chance seems like she’s a fairly new author whose Cassandra Palmer series have recently become best-sellers but I’ve actually never heard of her before now. However, her story was the second best story in the anthology. The characters had so much personality (especially Claire!) and the worlds that the story is set in are full of Sidhe, dragons, werewolves, mages, etc. I wouldn’t mind visiting again if Ms. Chance decided to set another novel in those worlds... I just wouldn’t want to live there!

Author Sunny’s (no last name) Mona Lisa Betwining is a dark fantasy, erotic romance and it’s the last short story in On the Prowl. It’s also the fourth story in her Monére, Children of the Moon series. The Monére are supernatural creatures, mostly shapeshifters who are “descended from the moon” and take power from it as well. Mona Lisa is a Queen (there seem to be many of them) who is a half Monére, half human and she has to go to the High Court with her men about things that happened in previous novels.

Being the last story in the anthology, you would expect that it would be really good (most authors and publishers like to leave you with a high note) but you cannot really understand too much of Mona Lisa Betwining unless you’ve read the other books in the series. Not only do they constantly refer back to things that happened previous to this story but also it seems like you’re expected to know about them (the Monére themselves aren’t even explained very well). Not very friendly to a first-time reader of Sunny’s work like myself. I did like what I understood though and I’m considering trying to get the first couple of books in the series.

For an anthology, On the Prowl has a surprising amount of information available online! The first author
Patricia Briggs comments on her story Alpha and Omega here on her website. To view a complete list of her works, check out the Wikipedia article. Eileen Wilks talks more about her World of the Lupi series in this interview, she has a Wikipedia article with her complete bibliography too. The third author, Karen Chance has an excerpt of her story on her website and this interview explains what her other series is about. This interview with Sunny helped me understand the background of her Mona Lisa series better.


  1. The story "Inhuman" is actually a lead-in to Wilk's fourth novel "Night Season". Nathan and Kai don't really have huge parts in it, but it explains the cliffhanger.

    Tempting Danger is the first novel in the WotL series and it's really good. The second novel wasn't my favorite, but as long as you don't get hung up on it, the rest are awesome.

    Sunny is one of those new authors of mine that I love. I can't wait to get my hands on Mona Lisa Craving, her third novel.

  2. I really want to read this collection but I want to read the earlier Sunny books first. I loved her Lucinda, Darkly novel which is a spin off from the Mona Lisa series and of course I love Patricia Briggs. I have the first two Karen Chance books to read as well.

  3. Jackie- I liked the world of WotL but I was just really disappointed with the ending. Inhuman should have been a novella and not a "short" story. I might try her books sometime in the future. Sunny's world seems really interesting. I would have liked it more if I had read the previous stories first.

    Rhinoa- I do recommend reading Sunny's other stories first. I can't wait till Briggs' book Cry Wolf comes out later this year!



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