An interesting concept where 20 urban fantasy writers were paired up and wrote stories with their partner utilizing a main character from their own series. Rather than going into detail about each story, I'm going to focus more on how well I think the concept worked for that pair.
Jaye Welles & Caitlyn Kittridge - I've only read the Prospero Wars books by Jaye Wells and nothing by Caitlyn Kittridge so I had no idea about the characters in this story but it didn't matter. One set was sent on a wild goose chase to hopefully take out the other set but the fur flies and it gets figured out so they team up to find the person who betrayed them both. The story swings back and forth between Sabina and Ava and it mostly works. Even without knowing anything about any of the characters, enough was given so I had a clue (and I'm now very interested in the Sabina books and might check out the Ava books as well) and didn't feel lost but I don't think it was so much that it would annoy someone who was already familiar with those worlds.
Seanan McGuire & Kelley Armstrong - This story right here was the thing that pushed me over the edge into buying this book. I LOVE both of these authors and their worlds and the thought of them being combined might have made me squeee. Unfortunately, the story did anything but. They "paired" up Verity from Seanan's Incryptid series with Elena from Kelley's Otherworld series but only sort of. They were both in the same NY forest and stumbled upon the same poacher but their entire interaction was a brief moment when Elena was kicking the guy's ass and Verity says 'Hi'. Really?! I know both characters are cagey by nature but this story could easily have not had the other character and it would not have changed anything so in terms of being a collaborative effort and putting the characters really together it fell enormously flat and was very disappointing.
Steven Savile & Craig Schaefer - This is the first story that has more of what I was expecting in terms of a collaborative effort. It does swing from what I'm assuming is one author's characters to the others but in a way that was naturally flowing and then flowed back to a cooperative narrative. It blended all the characters well and if I did not know this was a joint effort with characters from two different universes, I would not have guessed it to be the case.
Joseph Nassie & Sam Witt - I knew nothing of either of these writers or their universes before this story. There was enough backstory in there that I didn't feel totally lost although there were definitely pieces of backstory that were hinted at but not explained which for a short story I think is actually good as it works as a hook to get people to go check out their other books which I totally get. The story and characters worked well together on the whole.
Diana Rowland & Carrie Vaughn - Ok, I have to admit that the White Trash Zombie and Kitty Norville books are both ones that I really enjoy so I was pretty happy to see these characters mashed up together. Unfortunately, this one didn't have a whole lot of backstory so I can easily see people not familiar with the worlds not really getting the characters. They felt a bit flat and the story was predictable with little detail in any sense. Why do the ones I'm so looking forward to in this book end up being the more disappointing ones?!
Weston Ochse & David Wellington - I really enjoyed this tale and had I not known it was a collaboration, I never would have guessed it to be one. It flowed very well between the two characters who both seemed at home in the universe. There was enough background for me to not feel completely disorientated but definitely left me knowing there was a lot more and what was it?! I might be looking into these authors a bit more.
Charlaine Harris & Christopher Golden - I didn't know either of these characters although I did recognize the name Niall from the Sookie books so that's the only way I was able to tell whose character was whose. They did a nice job of melding the characters together in a world that neither was wholly familiar with which put them on more even footing and allowed a bit more exposition to sound natural as they are figuring everything out. Well done mashup in my opinion.
C.E. Murphy & Kat Richardson - I've heard of C.E. Murphy but hadn't even added anything to my wishlist. I think it was more a "If you like xxx" kind of thing. I've read most of Kat Richardson's Greywalker series so I knew one of the characters in this. I have to say this was the most interesting way of combining two characters from different universes. Instead of just throwing them in together and calling it the same universe, they end up in a pocket dimension that is bridging the two and Jo Walker and Harper Blaine end up there from their respective sides. The mystery is resolved only when each person takes a spirit into themselves that harnesses the power of the other so Jo and Harper both get to experience the magic of the other. Quite interesting and well done.
Jeff Somers & Stephen Blackmoor - I'd never heard of either of these authors going into. It was pretty easy to differentiate between them (although I couldn't tell you who went with which character) but I felt like Lem's story gave a bit more back story to that world and fleshed things out more which definitely made it more interesting to someone with no idea about the characters or worlds.
Larry Correia & Jonathan Mayberry - I've heard of Jonathan Mayberry (one of my kids reads his zombie books) but otherwise, I came into this cold. There was precious little exposition so I really only figured out that we were dealing with two military people who deal with different types of supernatural. I didn't get a good feel for either of the characters, the story was pretty simple and typical of the other types of stories in the book but it wasn't anything that made me want to go pick up anything else by these authors.
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