This book contains three novellas; they are each very different from the others.
The first is Mercedes Lackey’s A Tangled Web, which is a retelling of the Greek myth of Persephone. It’s an amusingly writting light fantasy tale, following on from her 500 Kingdoms novel The Sleeping Beauty. It’s best, although not essential, to have read Sleeping Beauty so that you understand where two of the main characters arrived where they are. Knowing your Greek myths also helps. Although I do like Lackey’s books, hers was actually my least favourite of the three, because for me it lacked depth. It was a pleasant enough way to pass an hour, but not a story I’d set aside time to read again. Although I might read it again if I had time and nothing else with which to fill it.
The second is Michelle Sagara’s Cast in Moonlight. It’s the prequel to her ‘Cast’ series and tells the story of how Kaylin Neya joined the Hawks (police force) at the age of thirteen. Like the series that spawned it, it’s a relatively dark tale – this one dealing with the kidnapping torture, and murder of children. Hard for it to be light with that subject matter. But the characters are lively and engaging, and there is enough humour to offset the grim plot. For this reason, the story works well, and it’s definitely one to re-read, especially if you have also read, or are planning to read, Sagara’s ‘Cast’ books. Which I highly recommend.
The third story was by Cameron Haley, who was an author new to me. ‘Retribution’ is the story of a gangster sorceress who executes someone who attempted to kill her – just doing business – and ends up trying to avoid his death curse. As a gangster, the main character, Domino Riley, is hardly whiter-than-white. In fact, of the three stories, this is the one with the grubbiest protagonist by a long way. But she’s interesting, because it’s clear that she has her own morality that she sticks to and she’s willing to take risks to uphold. There’s a little too much gangster-speak (do they really talk like that? I doubt it, but hey, presumably the author’s having fun and in a short story it didn’t have time to get too irritating) but for all that, I enjoyed the story, and might well go and find something else by this author.
All in all, worth reading, although the final two stories make up most of the ‘weight’ and hence the satisfaction.