Saturday, January 16, 2010

Short Story Saturday: A Two-Fer on Erin McCarthy

So I read McCarthy's story in the The Magical Christmas Hairball anthology, and I was pretty unimpressed. The basic gist of it was that this witchy girl and uptight banker boy crossed paths the previous year (I'm guessing it was in a 2007 Christmas anthology, cuz I have deductive skilz like that) and ever since have been dreaming about each other. Not that they like each other. No, of course they don't, they're Too Different and plus there's a Big Mis. (More of fair-to-middlin' Mis, really, but-- allowances for page count and all that). However, obstacles not withstanding, these are particular, special, paranormal wet dreams Against Which our Intrepid Protagonists are Helpless. Once real life starts to imitate the dream, they realize they've been having the same dream.

So they finish out the smexy reenactment and decide to live happily ever after. And there's a cat in there somewhere. Um, OK.

When I started "Russian Roulette" in the First Blood antho, I wondered briefly if it was the same author, but didn't think so because this story was so much better. A vampire hero that I liked right away; interesting background color about vigilante slayers, and a pretty good heroine. They had great chemistry together. The story starts off with Alistair rescuing Sasha from the clutches of his ex-wife, a powerful badass female vampire. She has people everywhere. She's dangerous. Alistair does this mostly because of how much he dislikes his ex, and relatedly, because he knows her capacity for cruelty. (She's a badass. Don't forget that.) He's a good guy. Rips the manacles out of the wall, etc. It works.

I won't give away the side plot about the slayers, but I will spoil the ending, because it was so completely awful and disappointing that I wanted to cry. I would really, really like to read the other half of this book that was apparently thrown out in favor of this paragraph-- now remember: Cassandra = the baddest of badass vampire badasses-- to wit:

< Cassandra walks into the bar where Sasha is being held by evil henchmen >

They stared each other down, and Cassandra looked away first.

"[Henchman], let her go. This was a mistake, it was all a mistake." Cassandra swiped at her moist eyes, clearly agitated by her emotions. "And to think that I loved's all so damn stupid."

Then Cassandra leaves.

That's it. *poof* Conflict all gone. HEA. Done.

I mean....seriously? ... SERIOUSLY??!? ...ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? I read 70 whole pages that led up to THAT?? I read fast, but still, Erin McCarthy, I want my half hour back. God.

It wouldn't be so horrible if the story hadn't been kind of good up 'til then. I expected better. I don't even know what to think about her full length stories -- I feel like this was supposed to be a whole book but got accidently whacked at the end and sent in to the anthology editor by mistake. Maybe it would be good if it were full length! I liked those characters! I liked the secondary characters and world-building! But what if I read 300 pages and then it ended like that? I don't know if I can take that risk.

Check out Literary Escapism for more short story goodness today -- and hop on the link if you've got some thoughts to share.

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