Reviewed by Melissa Brus
Member of the Paranormal Romance Review Team
This anthology is focused on the idea of what happens when you make a deal with the devil. These six talented authors each take their own twist on that theme to take the reader on a sometimes really dark, always twisting, occasionally sexy, journey to find the answers. This is a truly great anthology with all six stories being 5 star stories, not surprising considering the all-star line-up of authors that participated. With Halloween just around the corner, this anthology is perfectly timed to curl up in a chair and enjoy. This is a fantastic addition to any paranormal library.
TA Moore starts off the adventure with “Collared”. This was the darkest of the stories in my opinion. The interactions between Jack and Math were off the charts hot as well. Facing their history while facing new challenges, the two had to endure some pretty fascinating consequences.
Jordan Hawk’s story “Infernal Affairs” has insight into the bureaucracy of the deals and the ever after. Because what would be more of a hell than dealing with red tape at its finest? Navigating the politics of hell and the nuances of the deals made are the crossroads our “heroes” Ralgath and Chess must face. The influence of the bureaucracy was almost a character itself in this story. It added an element of levity and made it even more fun to read.
Ginn Hale takes her deal to a Viscount and the machinations of society in Victorian England. Where Prodigals are treated as second class citizens, and in some cases more like pets, Archie and his Prodigal friend Nimble must decide whether the trust they have in each other is enough to save themselves and others from a plot to kill them all. This was one of my favorites of the anthology. The world Hale created was very colorful and the storyline was engrossing.
In “11:59”, CS Poe shows us what happens when the deal made with the devil takes away the ability to dream-at all. When nightmares become reality as you sleep, wouldn’t it be better not to dream? Asuka Kawashima thought so. Five years later, he is challenged to take on the god of nightmares himself. Merrick Grace makes him think it might be worth the chance to dream again. I loved the inclusion of the Greek sleep/dream gods in this story. It was done seamlessly and gave it a unique stamp.
Leave it to Rhys Ford to combine “Alice in Wonderland” with a deal with the devil. If you ever wanted to know what happened after Alice left, well Ford answers that question in beautiful and fantastic ways. Xander Spade has to resurrect his former life as the Ace of spades in order to bring an end to the threats to Wonderland. When another young girl crosses in the realm, the chaos that could cause brings to light other dangers and plots to change their reality. Along with Jean Michel, the former Knave of Hearts, the two must make decisions that will have repercussions for their world and their own destinies. Rhys Ford takes on Lewis Carroll’s world and imbues it with her own voice. The combination is fascinating and wonderful.
“Dark Favors” by Jordan Castillo Price looks at the kharmic balance of favors. What if every favor you either gave or received came with power? Would you be strong enough to say no? If you make a deal with the devil in this story, you become a Chosen and this becomes you reality. Johnny Lockheart is asked to do a favor. But there is an obstacle in his way, another Chosen named Adam. When their paths cross, they manage to create a path where the power shifts take a new and unexpected turn. This is a great ending to the anthology.