BOOK REVIEW Wolfsbane And Mistletoe - Charlaine Harris & Toni LP Kelner


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Festive werewolf collection from True Blood scribe

The horror genre has produced many a superlative writer of short stories, from Poe to MR James to modern masters like Clive Barker. Like poetry, it requires the writer to pick words carefully, choosing ones that add multiple levels to the story. Sadly, the 15 stories in Wolfsbane And Mistletoe don’t even come close to the greats.

Exposition has no place in the short story, and far too many of these stories contain too much waffle on what sort of werewolf a character is, or where a short story dovetails with a sequence of novels. A short story should be a gem, perfectly shaped and complete in itself, not an over-wordy vignette that feels like it’s been edited out of a longer book.

All the stories have two essential elements: Christmas and werewolves. In some, the Christmas feels almost peripheral; the story could be taking place at any time of year, and has just had a few Christmassy bits tacked on. Kat Richardson’s “The Werewolf Before Christmas” and “You’d Better Not Pout” by Nancy Pickard are two of the more truly seasonal entries, and the former is one of the best in the volume – solid, if not brilliant.

The introduction and the overall quality of the stories in the book do make you suspect that the names of the authors (who also include Keri Arthur, Patricia Briggs and Simon R Green) were more important in the compiling of this volume than the quality of the stories. There are some readers who like to have everything by a specific author (fair enough - most of us have an author we collect avidly) and they’ll probably want Wolfsbane And Mistletoe for completeness’ sake. For anyone else, this will probably be a disappointment.

Miriam McDonald

Deputy Editor, SFX

Ian Berriman has been working for SFX – the world's leading sci-fi, fantasy and horror magazine – since March 2002. He also writes for Total Film, Electronic Sound and Retro Pop; other publications he's contributed to include Horrorville, When Saturday Comes and What DVD. A life-long Doctor Who fan, he's also a supporter of Hull City, and live-tweets along to BBC Four's Top Of The Pops repeats from his @TOTPFacts account.