Edited by Jim Butcher and Kerrie L. Hughes
Cover Artist: Chris McGrath
Review by Wes Breazeale
Roc Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451474995
Date: 01 November 2016 List Price $17.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Genre-specific anthologies can be a very mixed bag. Poorly executed ones may provide one or two big-name authors and then a significant amount of filler from lesser-knowns. But a good collection gives you those big-name authors and supplements it with other established writers who have a deep set of works that you might explore later. Fortunately, Shadowed Souls falls into the latter category. In fact, it may be one of the best urban fantasy compilations to come around in a long time.
Co-edited by Kerrie L. Hughes and Jim Butcher, the collection focuses on the idea that "good and evil are just two aspects of a complicated and very human story", as Hughes notes in her introduction. The stories and characters focus on the fact that sometimes good people do bad things, and that evil isn't always dark.
Butcher's story leads off, a treat for any Harry Dresden fans. Except for the fact that though it is in the Dresden Files universe, it doesn't feature Harry! Instead, it is a stand-alone tale featuring Molly Carpenter, the new Winter Lady. It is an excellent story, showcasing everything we know and love about the Dresden books, but with a little twist.
There's a Vicki Nelson story from Tanya Huff, a Cal Leandros story from Rob Thruman, a Dan Shamble story from Kevin J. Anderson, and stories from urban fantasy stalwarts Seannan McGuire, Kat Richardson, and Jim C. Hines.
Virtually every story in this collection is a hit. And depending on your tolerance for "silly" stories, if you can tolerate the Dan Shamble nonsense, then every story is a hit. Personally, I found it to be the only one that was unenjoyable. It's simply not my preferred style of urban fantasy story, but certainly fits conceptually within the context of this collection.
The highlight discovery, for me, was the story "Sales. Force." by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. This was a powerful, moving, heartstring tugging story of loss and vengeance, and was a wonderful read. Despite doing a bit of quick digging online, as far as I can tell it may be a stand-alone story. Also of note, in terms of discoveries, was "Baggage" from Eric Scott de Bie. This is part of a multimedia superhero project from de Bie called Justice/Vengeance which includes stories, spoken word, and comics. It was a thoroughly enjoyable tale.
All in all, if you are even somewhat of a fan of urban fantasy, you should add this collection to your must read list.