London Calling: A Quill & Ink Anthology by Sarah Buhrman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I voluntarily read an advanced reader copy of this book.
This is a nIfty collection of novellas set in London and covering a range of genres. Because of this, how much any reader will enjoy any given story will depend on how well the reader likes that particular genre. Personally, I tend to like Urban Fantasy and Paranormal stories best, so I was impressed with how much I liked some of the others
My favorite novella was the first one – “Sticks and Stones” by Sarah Buhrman, which happens to be set in the same world as a series of hers I’ve been reading called “The Runespells” – and which I whole-heartedly recommend if you enjoy urban fantasy. (The first book is “Too Wyrd” if you’re interested.) While the story in this collection is set in that world, however, the urban fantasy elements are almost negligible and you don’t really need to know anything from the other books to understand and enjoy what’s happening here. The characters are well developed and the heroes are relatable. The action is tense and written clearly enough to follow what’s happening.
I also really liked the sweet BBW romance, “Postcards From London” which is the next story. It’s short, but I liked the characters and how well we got to know them and see them grow even in such a compact tale.
“Rippling the Sheets” is a bit of a thriller. I found the story interesting, but a bit confusing at times. Because all of the stories are set in London, there are a lot of “Britishisms” in the writing, so I’m not sure if the mild confusion was from the use of unfamiliar idioms or if the writer just writes oddly, but I still enjoyed reading it.
In all honesty, I’m not really sure what I thought of the next story, “Mistaken Identity.” It’s hard to explain my ambivalence towards it without spoiling it, but the interaction between some of the characters under the given circumstances was rather uncomfortable to me. That said, it’s well written, and the author managed to surprise me by taking the story in a different direction than I’d expected.
The only real clunker I found in the collection was “The Life and Death of George Weeks” which, while certainty topical, was heavy-handed and obvious. It is also the shortest offering in the collection so I don’t feel it diminishes the overall value of quality of the book.
I’m not a fan of explicit sex scenes, so I ended up skipping both the next story “My Partner, The Brit” and the last one, “Destination Wedding.”
The remaining tale, “The Cave” also has some sexually explicit scenes, but I was far enough into the story and so captivated by what I was reading that I just skimmed over them so I could enjoy the rest of it – and enjoy it I did. It’s a sweet paranormal romance and full of feels. Interestingly, the author chose to include an alternate ending which I personally liked much better, though the actual ending she used is quite touching.
Taken as a whole, I found a lot to like in the anthology and a couple new authors to check out. I recommend checking it out.
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