Published: June 2013
Source: I purchased this book on Amazon.
Defy the Dark, an all-new anthology edited by Saundra Mitchell. Coming Summer 2013 from HarperTeen!
It features 16 stories by critically-acclaimed and bestselling YA authors as they explore things that can only happen in the dark. Authors include Sarah Rees Brennan, Rachel Hawkins, Carrie Ryan, Aprilynne Pike, Malinda Lo, Courtney Summers, Beth Revis, Sarah Ockler, and more.
Contemporary, genre, these stories will explore every corner of our world- and so many others. What will be the final story that defies the dark? Who will the author be?
I was a big fan of this collection of short stories. There were several "new to me" authors whose other work I'm now determined to track down. In the interest of not spoiling any of stories, I'm not going to provide summaries of each one, just my own overall impressions.
Sleepstalk by Courtney Summers
This was seriously creepy and a great start to an anthology about darkness. I love everything Courtney Summers writes, so I wasn't surprised that I enjoyed this.
Nature by Aprilynne Pike
This was my first experience with Aprilynne Pike, and I loved it. I desperately wish she would turn this short story into a full length novel. I loved the dystopian concept and I was so bummed when this story ended. (This is my only complaint with short stories... when I find one I really love, I always wish for it to be developed into a full novel and sadly, that never seems to happen. Sadface.)
The Dark Side of the Moon by Dia Reeves
This story was so, so weird, and I started out having a hard time connecting to it because of that weirdness. By the end of the story I found myself disappointed that it was over, so I guess the weirdness won me over! Days after reading, I was still thinking about this story - definitely a good sign. I was intrigued by the idea of this Texas town with kind of tears in reality where darkness could slip through. Chilling.
Ghost Town by Malinda Lo
This was great. I liked the backwards timeline, I loved that it was about a haunted house, and I liked the inclusion of a lesbian as the main character. Everything moved really quickly; it was very plot-driven.
Eyes in the Dark by Rachel Hawkins
This one was kind of your basic teen slasher flick with a twist... but I enjoyed it, and it definitely gave me a building feeling of dread as I was reading it. It ended before *I* wanted it to, but that worked for the story so I'm okay with it.
Stillwater by Valerie Kemp
This might have been my favorite story in the collection. I really, really wish this was a full novel. I had so many questions when it ended and I think there's more than enough material here for a full length novel. I need to know what happens to Delilah and Pruitt! I want to meet Matt! Augh, don't leave me hanging!
I Gave You My Love by the Light of the Moon by Sarah Rees Brennan
For me, this one was a good read, if not super original. That said, I know a lot of people are kind of "over" vampires and werewolves, but there were a few aspects of this story that I thought were different and nicely done. I liked the shy, nerdy vampire and his "unsexy" age (62). I liked the way the romantic relationship developed over time, too.
Night Swimming by Beth Revis
This was a great story, and I liked seeing another little slice of the Across the Universe series. That said, I would kind of like to see Beth Revis write something completely apart from that series.
The Sunflower Murders by Kate Espey
I didn't love this one, but I feel sort of weird saying that because I did love its potential, I just feel like it ended way too quickly. What I read felt like the beginning of a really compelling novel, but I didn't feel like it really worked on its own as a short story. It's frustrating, because I feel like it could be great if fleshed out into a full length novel, and I wish that would happen.
Almost Normal by Carrie Ryan
Loved this, love zombies, love everything Carrie Ryan writes, basically. I've read several short stories that are set in the time period before the events of The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and I feel like I could happily read dozens more. This setting just doesn't seem to get old for me. I;m always so bummed when one of her short stories is over. Moar please!!
There's Nowhere Else by Jon Skovron
This story frustated me because I liked it a lot in the beginning, but toward the end it abruptly got kind of cheesey and I wasn't as into it. It also ended sort of abruptly and way before I wanted it to, which was disappointing.
Naughty or Nice by Myra McEntire
I completely adored this story. I need more Krampus stories!! This was the perfect mix of creepiness, romance and thrill. I loved the foreign setting and the foreign holiday and the best friends doing the awkward "is this something more or isn't it" dance with each other. I pretty much loved every word of this one. Please tell me she has written dozens of books for me to obsessively devour.
Shadowed by Christine Johnson
I enjoyed this story, but I didn't feel like it totally "fit" within this anthology, really only because it was the only midieval setting and that felt a bit jarring. (To be fair though, the author took a really creative angle on the "darkness" theme.) Without getting specific, there was one moment when this story made me want to throw this book violently across the room, but on further reflection that ended up being my favorite element of the story!
Now Bid Time Return by Saundra Mitchell
I loved this story, and I was sad when it ended. It was super creative, and again, the foreign setting really added to the mood and the creepiness. I sometimes struggle with insomnia, and it was kind of cool to see a protagonist with this issue. I haven't read many time travel stories before, but this story made me think that might need to change.
The Moth and the Spider by Sarah Ockler
I go back and forth on this one, which I guess ultimately means I didn't love it. I liked it at first, and I was into the topic of suicide being included in an anthology about darkness. I think my biggest issue with this one was that I didn't really "get" how the phone calls played into the rest of the story, and why or even if they contributed to how the story ended. Not bad, but not a favorite.
Where the Light Is by Jackson Pearce
This one was great. I totally did not expect to love a story about a coal miner, but it snuck up on me and ended up being one of the highlights of the anthology. I've never read anything about the type of fae featured in this story, but it was very compelling. Lots of great imagery in this one.
This Was Ophelia by Tessa Gratton
I have a soft spot for Ophelia, always have, and I've read and loved Tessa Gratton's stories before, so I went into this story expecting to love it. I wasn't disappointed, this was great. I loved Gratton's portrayal of Ophelia, and the chosen setting was perfect for the story. Much love to this one.
Overall I would rate this collection a solid 4 stars. There were some pieces that I adored, quite a few that were solidly good, and not a single one that I disliked outright. Win!
Do you like short story collections?
I used to shy away from them, but in the last couple of years that has really changed. Occasionally I get frustrated wishing for certain stories to reappear as full length novels, but I try to manage my expectations going in and that has helped. I like that this type of anthology gives me a quick glimpse of many different authors. It's a great way to find new authors to love!