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Strange Candy by Laurell K. Hamilton
Cover Artist: Craig White
Review by Drew Bittner
Berkley Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 0425212017
Date: 03 October, 2006 List Price $23.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK /

Laurell K. Hamilton almost single-handedly invented the hybrid genre of paranormal mystery romance. With Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, she blazed a trail that many have profitably followed... but this is not the sum total of her writing career.

Before she was a "name," she wrote a considerable body of short fiction, including a short story ("Those Who Seek Forgiveness") featuring a somewhat different and more basic Anita--interestingly, this story had never seen print prior to this collection, even though it was written before her first Anita Blake novel. Her tales include:
    A plague of pint-sized matchmakers on the trail of a young pair of singles in "A Lust of Cupids";

    A warrior woman and her wizard ally go up against a powerful nobleman (who is also a black magician) in "The Curse-Maker";

    A pair of ecologists discover why lake monsters aren't found in groups, when their pet monster is attacked by reckless boaters in "A Scarcity of Sea Monsters";

    An unappreciated superhero is relegated to a future of hopeless drudgery, unless he finds a way to rebel in "A Clean Sweep";

    Sturdy and implacable Rudelle uses common sense instead of magic to bring order to "A House of Wizards"; and

    The modern Anita makes one more appearance in "The Girl Who Was Infatuated With Death", which originally appeared in the anthology Bite in 2005. A teenage girl may have been vamped against her will, so now it's up to Anita to find the runaway, discover what really happened and enforce justice, even if it pits her against Jean-Claude himself.

These are only some of the fourteen stories in this collection. Hamilton has a strong authorial voice and shows a fondness for sword-and-sorcery storytelling; two of her stories involve the warrior Sidra and her magical sword Leech (for which she expresses an uncommon fondness), while others return to the fantasy world of her early novel Nightseer.

Together, these tales suggest that Hamilton's interests as a writer have been widespread, even if she sensibly devotes the lion's share of her time to the novels that have brought her legions of fans. Her lead characters tend to be tough and uncompromising figures, ready and almost eager to fight authority to achieve justice; her support for underdogs is clear in almost every story.

Fans of Hamilton's work will not find a short Merry Gentry story, but with two Anita Blake tales, how can you go wrong?

Recommended.

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