Reviewed by Tori
Villains have all the fun—everyone knows that—and this anthology takes you on a wild ride through the dark side! The top villains from sixteen urban fantasy series get their own stories—including the baddies of New York Times bestselling authors Jim Butcher, Kevin Hearne, Kelley Armstrong, Seanan McGuire, and Jonathan Maberry.
For every hero trying to save the world, there’s a villain trying to tear it all down.
In this can’t-miss anthology edited by Joseph Nassise (The Templar Chronicles), you get to plot world domination with the best of the evildoers we love to hate! This outstanding collection brings you stories told from the villains’ point of view, imparting a fresh and unique take on the evil masterminds, wicked witches, and infernal personalities that skulk in the pages of today’s most popular series. (Goodreads)
Urban Enemies is a collection of sixteen stories that give readers a chance to hobnob with the villains that inhabit some of urban fantasy’s best selling series. Newcomers and long time fans will appreciate the diversity and change of scenery as we are given the rare chance to experience some favorite (and new to us) worlds from the point of view of those not often seen.
“Even Hand” copyright © 2017 by Jim Butcher and previously published by St. Martin’s Press in the Dark and Stormy Nights collection
“Hounded” copyright © 2017 by Kelley Armstrong
“Nigsu Ga Tesgu” copyright © 2017 by Jeffrey Somers
“Sixty-Six Seconds” copyright © 2017 by Craig Schaefer
“Kiss” copyright © 2017 by Lilith Saintcrow
“The Naughtiest Cherub” copyright © 2017 by Kevin Hearne
“The Resurrectionist” copyright © 2017 by Caitlin Kittredge
Compilation and “Down Where the Darkness Dwells” copyright © 2017 by Joseph Nassise
“Bellum Romanum” copyright ©2017 by Carrie Vaughn
“Altar Boy” copyright © 2017 by Jonathan Maberry
“Make It Snappy” copyright © 2017 by Faith Hunter
“Chase the Fire” copyright © 2017 by Jon F. Merz
“Unexpected Choices” copyright © 2017 by Diana Pharaoh Francis
“Reel Life: A Glass Town Story” copyright © 2017 by Steven Savile
“The Difference Between Deceit and Delusion” copyright © 2017 by Domino Finn
“Balance” copyright © 2017 by Seanan McGuire
“Everywhere” copyright © 2017 by Sam Witt
I have read but opted not write a review for every story in this anthology.
Even Hand by Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files). *Previously published in the Dark and Stormy Nights collection* A businessman and his bodyguards find themselves under attack when a young woman claims sanctuary for herself and her child.
Henry Dresden is one of my favorite male protagonists but it was a treat to see inside the head of one of his many enemies, Gentleman John Marcone. Especially when Marcone is forced to play the hero. Well written with a strong character base, interesting magic, and engaging narrative. Butcher allows his villain more than enough ample room to navigate within his unusual but strict moral code. This story has me pledging to catch up on this series ASAP. Grade: B+
Hounded by Kelley Armstrong (Cainsville). A hunter needs a hound and when the Huntsman’s is stolen, well, he finds another one
I’ve only read the first book in the Cainsville series so I wasn’t quite up to speed on the villain but I loved the dichotomy of this, particularly dark villain. Armstrong gives us an in-depth past as she tries to convince the reader that Cwn Annwn, her Rogue Huntsman, has been wronged by everyone around him. Only, appearances can be deceiving as we all soon learn. Grade: B
Sixty Six Seconds by Craig Schaefer (Harmony Black). A demonic bounty hunter finds himself saddled with a new partner when a large bounty is offered to him.
This is a first-time author for me. I liked overall premise of the story though it is definitely written for those who are well versed on the series. I found the villain more heroic in personality and deed with his dry wit and a strong sense of honor. I do wish the over world building and characters involved has been explained better. Grade: C
The Naughtiest Cherub by Kevin Hearne (The Iron Druid Chronicles). When Loki descends into Hell, the Father of Lies decides to have a little fun at Loki’s expense.
I haven’t read The Iron Druid Chronicles but I’ve heard nothing but praise for it. Hearne intertwines Norse mythology and Christianity when Loki comes to Lucifer to ask whether he will help or at least not hinder Ragnarok. Humorous narrative and strong characterization are well represented as Hearne amuses us with his interpretations of these two baddies. Grade: B
The Resurrectionist by Caitlin Kittredge (Hellhound Chronicles). A bounty hunter turns the table on a client who isn’t honest with him.
A new series to me, Kittredge introduces us to a villain whose morals are severely tested and tried until he once again accepts his destiny. The slow evolution is marked by a series of and conversations and memories when he learns that the young woman he’s been tasked to find is who she seems and doesn’t want to be found. The ending is quite the hook that leaves you wanting more. Grade: B
Bellum Romanum by Carrie Vaughn (Kitty Norville). A vampire whose need for revenge leads to disaster.
This particular niblet revolves around Gauis Albinus, a former Roman Centenarian whose anger at being made immortal places him on a path of death and destruction. This story was rather tame and bland compared to the others. It is literally a vampire having a tantrum with it’s unsympathetic character, vague backstory, and abrupt ending. Grade: D
Make It Snappy by Faith Hunter (Jane Yellowrock). The Master of New Orleans Leo Pellister finds himself on the defensive when an old enemy strikes at him from the grave.
I jumped at the chance to read this story as it shows us how Leo Pellister was before he met Jane Yellowrock. When Leo is asked to locate a young woman who is missing, he soon finds himself at the mercy of a witch who has been sent to kill him. Leo’s arrogance is forever amusing and I enjoyed seeing a younger (so to speak ) George and Katie. Hunter reveals some things that answer questions seen later in the series. Grade: B+
Altar Boy by Jonathan Maberry (Joe Ledger). One man discovers that redemption comes to us when we least expect it.
This story is another new series to me and again reveals a villain with a strong heroic streak. “Toys” pays penance every day for his past crimes but is given a chance to redeem himself when a young woman kidnaps him; determined to destroy the world. An interestingly layered conflict and the main character who did not reveal themselves in the way I expected. Grade C+
Unexpected Choices by Diana Pharaoh Francis (Horngate Witches). A witch must make nice with her greatest enemy is she is to save her world and those she loves.
This was one of my most anticipated stories because I got to see more of Max who is one of my favorite female protagonists. And Francis gives us two villains for the price of one. While Shoftiel is the acknowledged villain, those who have read the series must agree that Giselle is no better. In this short, Giselle needs Shoftiel’s help. She offers him complete freedom from his prison for one week of bondgae to which he agrees. I enjoyed watching two enemies learn to work together and see beyond their differences. Grade: B
Balance by Seanan McGuire (InCryptid Universe) An alien learns that no one lives forever.
McGuire’s story is an interesting and unique one. An alien species called Cuckoos lives among humans and are able to alter their minds; resulting in them eventually taking over their lives. One such Cuckoo finds themselves having to defend their actions and species to a human who sees what they do and is determined to stop them. I enjoyed the worldbuilding and narrative. The twist at the end sealed the deal. Grade: B
Urban Enemies is an interesting concept that will delight all Urban Fantasy aficionados. Though some stories are stronger than others, the collection as a whole is a solid read that has something for everyone.