|Mysteria would be just another small town nestled in the Colorado mountains were it not for magical creatures and humans happily
coexisting. Demons, witches, werewolves, fairies, vampires, naiads,
and non-magical beings galore live, work, and love in this paranormal
melting pot. Some of their stories are told in this light-hearted and
Susan Grant opens the collection with "Mortal in Mysteria," which
relates the fall and rise of the town's founding demon. Because the
Demon High Lord of Self-Doubt and Second Thoughts once gave into his
merciful instincts and helped a band of lost settlers, he has been
exiled from hell. He lands in the garden of woefully single and
sorrowfully insecure Harmony Faithful. Pastor of Mysteria's church
and daughter of a minister of some renown, she is having a hard time
following in her father's footstep. Sunday after Sunday, her church
remains empty, until Damon decides to help her in more ways than one.
But Satan isn't ready to give up his minion, and when Harmony's
family unexpectedly shows up, things really start to explode.
Mary Janice Davidson's "Alone Wolf" features a bewildered werewolf
and an alien with a very short lifespan. The love story, or what
passes for it, didn't do much for me. Call me self-righteous, but I
don't think seducing a man to get pregnant is very romantic. On the
other hand, Cole Jones's search for his identity and his people is
touching, and a wonderfully smart-mouthed ghost made this otherwise
disappointing story enjoyable.
My least favorite story is Gena Showalter's "The Witches of Mysteria
and the Dead Who Love Them." Genevieve Tawdry has been chasing after
Hunter Knight forever. He reciprocates the attraction. But since his
psychic abilities tell him it could only lead to his death, he won't
let her get near him. Even he can't resist her sister's latest spell.
Inevitably, his worries come true, and they have a few more hurdles
to jump over.
If you like heroines who cause traffic jams to capture the interest
of their love object, Genevieve is your gal, not mine. As for her two
sisters, one is paired up with a werewolf, the other with some
unknown creature. "There was an unspoken rule in Mysteria: if you
can't tell, don't ask," says Hunter about his mysterious best buddy.
Which is well and good for them, but a little frustrating for the
reader. Neither sister shares much more than the title and a few
bumbling spells with Genevieve.
A forty-year-old non-magic high school English teacher and her twenty-
something former student get the billing in P. C. Cast's "Candy Cox
and the Big Bad (Were)Wolf." Candy is as dissatisfied with her job as
with her many failed marriages. Then, a meeting with a gorgeous amber-
eyed male promises to bring a new, shall we say, bite to her life.
Still, she is reluctant to pursue something with a younger man,
especially once she learns of Jason's reputation as the sluttiest
werewolf in town. The Big Misunderstanding threatens their
relationship, and its predictable path diminished my enjoyment of the
story but, in the end, magic, romance and love triumph in a charmingly
poetic and picturesque way.
Some stories may be less appealing, but all four display sparkling
writing, witty banter and quirky (but not forced) humor. The
uniformly engaging style and bubbly tone carry this anthology, making
it a pleasure to recommend.