In this thrilling collection of original stories some of today's hottest paranormal authors delight, thrill, and captivate readers with otherworldly tales of magic and mischief. In Jim Butcher's "Curses" Harry Dresden investigates how to lift a curse laid by the Fair Folk on the Chicago Cubs. In Patricia Briggs' "Fairy Gifts," a vampire is called home by magic to save the Fae who freed him from a dark curse. In Melissa Marr's "Guns for the Dead," the newly dead Frankie Lee seeks a job in the afterlife on the wrong side of the law. In Holly Black's "Noble Rot," a dying rock star discovers that the young woman who brings him food every day has some strange appetites of her own.
Featuring original stories from 20 authors, this dark, captivating, fabulous and fantastical collection, Naked City, is not to be missed! Edited by award-winning editor Ellen Datlow.
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|Edition description:||First Edition|
|Product dimensions:||8.06(w) x 5.56(h) x 0.98(d)|
About the Author
Multiple award-winning editor Ellen Datlow has been editing science fiction, fantasy, and horror short fiction for almost thirty years. She was fiction editor of OMNI Magazine and SCIFICTION and has edited more than fifty anthologies, including the horror half of the long-running The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. She lives in New York. Visit her on the web at www.datlow.com.
Read an Excerpt
An Excerpt from
a Dresden Files short story
by Jim Butcher
Most of my cases are pretty tame. Someone loses a piece of jewelry with a lot of sentimental value, or someone comes to me because they’ve just moved into a new house and it’s a little more haunted than the seller’s disclosure indicated. Nothing Chicago’s only professional wizard can’t handlebut they don’t usually rake in much money, either.
So when a man in a two-thousand dollar suit opened my office door and came inside, he had my complete attention.
I mean, I didn’t take my feet down off my desk or anything. But I paid attention.
He looked my office up and down, and frowned, as though he didn’t much approve of what he saw. Then he looked at me and said, “Excuse me, is this the office of”
“Dolce,” I said.
He blinked. “Excuse me.”
“Your suit,” I said. “Dolce and Gabbana. Silk. Very nice. You might want to consider an overcoat, though, now that it’s cooling off. Paper says we’re in for some rain.”
He studied me intently for a moment. He was a man in his late prime. His hair was dyed too dark and the suit looked like it probably hid a few pounds. “You must be Harry Dresden.”
I inclined my head toward him. “Agent or attorney?”
“A little of both,” he said, looking around my office again. “I represent a professional entertainment corporation which wishes to remain anonymous for the time being. My name is Donovan. My sources tell me that you’re the man who might be able to help us.”
My office isn’t anything to write home about. It’s on a corner, with windows on two walls, but it’s furnished for function, not stylescuffed-up wooden desks, a couple of comfortable chairs, some old metal filing cabinets, a used wooden table, and a coffee pot that was old enough to have belonged to Neanderthals. I figured Donovan was worried that he’d exposed his suit to unsavory elements, and resisted an irrational impulse to spill my half-cup of cooling coffee on it.
“What you need, and whether you can afford me.”
Donovan fixed me with a stern look. I bore up under it as best I could. “Do you intend to gouge me for a fee, Mister Dresden?”
“For every penny I reasonably can,” I told him.
He blinked at me. “You… you’re quite up front about it, aren’t you?”
“Saves time,” I said.
“What makes you think I would tolerate such a thing?”
“People don’t come to me until they’re pretty desperate, Mr. Donovan,” I said, “especially rich people and hardly ever corporations. Besides, you come in here all intriguey and coy, not wanting to reveal who your employer is. That means that in addition to whatever else you want from me, you want my discretion, too.”
“So your increased fee is a polite form of blackmail?”
“Cost of doing business. If you want this done on the downlow, you make my job more difficult. You should expect to pay a little more than a conventional customer when you’re asking for more than they are.”
He narrowed his eyes at me. “How much are you going to cost me?”
I shrugged a shoulder. “Let’s find out. What do you want me to do?”
He stood up and turned to walk to the door. He stopped before he reached it, read the words HARRY DRESDEN, WIZARD backwards in the frosted glass, and eyed me over his shoulder. “I assume that you have heard of any number of curses in local folklore.”
“Sure,” I said.
“I suppose you’ll expect me to believe in their existence.”
I shrugged. “They’ll exist or not exist regardless of what you believe, Mr. Donovan.” I paused. “Well. Except for the ones that don’t exist except in someone’s mind. They’re only real because somebody believes. But that edges from the paranormal over toward psychology. I’m not licensed for that.”
He grimaced and nodded. “In that case“
I felt a little slow off the mark as I realized what we were talking about. “A cursed local entertainment corporation,” I said. “Like maybe a sports team.”
He kept a poker face on, and it was a pretty good one.
“You’re talking about the Billy Goat Curse,” I said.
Donovan arched an eyebrow and then gave me an almost imperceptible nod as he turned around to face me again. “What do you know about it?”
I blew out my breath and ran my fingers back through my hair. “Uh, back in 1945 or so, a tavern owner named Sianis was asked to leave a World Series game at Wrigley. Seems his pet goat was getting rained on and it smelled bad. Some of the fans were complaining. Outraged at their lack of social élan, Sianis pronounced a curse on the stadium, stating that never again would a World Series game be played therewell, actually he said something like, ‘Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more,’ but the World Series thing is the general interpretation.”
“And?” Donovan asked.
“And I think if I’d gotten kicked out of a series game I’d been looking forward to, I might do the same thing.”
“You have a goat?”
“I have a moose,” I said.
He blinked at that for a second, didn’t understand it, and decided to ignore it. “If you know that, then you know that many people believe that the curse has held.”
“Where the Series is concerned, the Cubbies have been filled with fail and dipped in suck sauce since 1945,” I acknowledged. “No matter how hard they try, just when things are looking up, something seems to go bad at the worst possible time.” I paused to consider. “I can relate.”
“You’re a fan, then?”
“More of a kindred spirit.”
He looked around my office again and gave me a small smile. “But you follow the team.”
“I go to games when I can.”
“That being the case,” Donovan said, “you know that the team has been playing well this year.”
“And the Cubs want to hire yours truly to prevent the curse from screwing things up.”
Donovan shook his head. “I never said that the Cubs organization was involved.”
“Hell of a story, though, if they were.”
Donovan frowned severely.
“The Tribune would run it on the front page. Cubs Hire Professional Wizard to Break Curse, maybe. Rick Morrissey would have a ball with that story.”
“My clients,” Donovan said firmly, “have authorized me to commission your services on this matter, if it can be done quicklyand with the utmost discretion.”
I swung my feet down from my desk. “Mr. Donovan,” I said. “No one does discretion like me.”
Two hours after I had begun my calculations, I dropped my pencil on the laboratory table and stretched my back. “Well. You’re right.”
“Of course I’m right,” said Bob the Skull. “I’m always right.”
I gave the dried, bleached human skull sitting on a shelf amidst a stack of paperback romance novels a gimlet eye.
“For some values of right,” he amended hastily. The words were conciliatory, but the flickering flames in the skull’s eye sockets danced merrily.
My laboratory is in the sub-basement under my basement apartment. It’s dark, cool, and dank, essentially a concrete box that I have to enter by means of a folding staircase. It isn’t a big room, but it’s packed with the furnishings of one. Lots of shelves groan under the weight of books, scrolls, papers, alchemical tools, and containers filled with all manner of magical whatnot.
There’s a silver summoning circle on the floor, and a tiny scale-model of the city of Chicago on a long table running down the middle of the room. The only shelf not crammed full is Bob’s, and even it gets a little crowded sometimes. Bob is my more-or-less faithful, not-so-trusty assistant, a spirit of intellect that dwells within a specially enchanted skull. I might be a wizard, but Bob’s knowledge of magic makes me look like an engineering professor.
“Are you sure there’s nothing you missed?” I asked.
“Nothing’s certain, boss,” the skull said philosophically. “But you did the equations. You know the power requirements for a spell to continue running through all those sunrises.”
I grunted sourly. The cycles of time in the world degrade ongoing magic, and your average enchantment doesn’t last for more than a few days. For a curse to be up and running since 1945, it would have had to begin as a malevolent enchantment powerful enough to rip a hole through the crust of the planet. Given the lack of lava in the area, it would seem that whatever the Billy Goat Curse might be, I could be confident that it wasn’t a simple magical working.
“Nothing’s ever simple,” I complained.
“What did you expect, boss?” Bob said.
I growled. “So the single-spell theory is out.”
“Yep,” Bob said.
“Which means that either the curse is being powered by something that renews its energyor else someone is refreshing the thing all the time.”
“What about this Sianis guy’s family?” Bob said. “Maybe they’re putting out a fresh whammy every few days or something.”
I shook my head. “I called records in Edinburgh. The Wardens checked them out years ago when all of this first happened, and they aren’t practitioners. Besides, they’re Cub-friendly.”
“The Wardens investigated the Greek guy but not the curse?” Bob asked curiously.
“In 1945 the White Council had enough to do trying to mitigate the bad mojo from all those artifacts the Nazis stockpiled,” I said. “Once they established that no one’s life was in danger, they didn’t really care if a bunch of guys playing a game got cursed to lose it.”
“So what’s your next move?”
I tapped my chin thoughtfully with one finger. “Let’s go look at the stadium.”
I put Bob in the mesh sack I sometimes tote him around in and, at his petulant insistence, hung it from the rear-view mirror of my car, a battered old Volkswagen Beetle. He hung there, swinging back and forth and occasionally spinning one way or the other when something caught his eye.
“Look at the legs on that one!” Bob said. “And whew, check her out! It must be chilly tonight!”
“There’s a reason we don’t get out more often, Bob,” I sighed. I should have known better than to drive through the club district on my way to Wrigley.
“I love the girls’ pants in this century,” Bob said. “I mean look at those jeans. One little tug and off they come.”
I wasn’t touching that one.
I parked the car a couple of blocks from the stadium, stuck Bob in a pocket of my black leather duster, and walked in. The Cubs were on the road, and Wrigley was closed. It was a good time to knock around inside. But since Donovan was evidently prepared to deny and disavow all knowledge, I wasn’t going to be able to simply knock on the door and wander in.
So I picked a couple of locks at a delivery entrance and went inside. I didn’t hit it at professional burglar speed or anythingI knew a couple of guys who could open a lock with tools as fast as they could with a keybut I wasn’t in any danger of getting a ticket for loitering, either. Once I was inside, I headed straight for the concourses. If I mucked around in the stadiums administrative areas, I would probably run afoul of a full-blown security system, and the only thing I could reliably do to that would be to shut it down completelyand most systems are smart enough to tip off their home security company when that happens.
Besides. What I was looking for wouldn’t be in any office.
I took Bob out of my pocket, so that the flickering golden-orange lights of his eyes illuminated the area in front of me. “All right,” I murmured. I kept my voice down, on the off chance that a night watchman might be on duty and nearby. “I’m angry at the Cubbies and I’m pitching my curse at them. Where’s it going to stick?”
“There’s really no question about that, is there?” Bob asked me.
“Home plate,” we said together.
I started forward, walking silently. Being quiet when you sneak around isn’t difficult, as long as you aren’t in any rush. The serious professionals can all but sprint in perfect silence, but the main thing you need isn’t agility— patience and calm. So I moved out slowly and calmly, and it must have worked, because nobody raised a hue or a cry.
The empty, unlit stadium was… just wrong. I was used to seeing Wrigley blazing with sunlight or its lights, filled with fans and music and the smell of overpriced, fattening, and inexplicably gratifying food. I was used to vendors shouting, the constant sea-surge of crowd noise, and the buzz of planes passing overhead trailing banners behind them.
Now, Wrigley Field was vast and dark and empty. There was something silently sad about itacres of seats with no one sitting, a green and beautiful field that no one was playing on, a scoreboard that didn’t have anything on it to read or anyone to read it. If the gods and muses were to come down from Olympus and sculpt unfulfilled potential as a physical form, they wouldn’t get any closer than that hollow house did.
I walked down the concrete steps and circled the infield until I could make my way to the seats behind home plate. Once there, I held Bob up and said, “What have we got?”
The skull’s eyelights flared brighter for a second, and he snorted. “Oh, yeah. Definitely tied the curse together right there.”
“What’s keeping it going?” I asked. “Is there a ley line passing underneath or something?”
“That’s a negative, boss,” Bob said.
“How fresh is it?”
“Maybe a couple of days,” the skull replied. “Maybe more. It’s an awfully tight weave.”
“This spell resists deterioration better than most mortal magic. It’s efficient and solidway niftier than you could manage.”
“I call ‘em like I see ‘em,” Bob said cheerfully. “So, either a more experienced member of the White Council is sponsoring this curse, and refreshing it every so often, or else…”
I caught on. “Or else the curse was placed here by a non-mortal being.”
“Yeah,” Bob said. “But that could be almost anything.”
I shook my head. “Not necessarily. Remember that the curse was laid upon the stadium during a game in the 1945 World Series.”
“Ah, yes,” Bob said. “It would have been packed. Which means that whatever the being was, it could blend in. Either a really great veil, or maybe a shapeshifter.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Why?” I repeated. “Why would this theoretical being have put out the curse on the Cubs?”
“Plenty of beings from the Nevernever really don’t need a motivation.”
“Sure they do,” I said. “The logic behind what they do might be alien or twisted beyond belief, but it makes sense to them.” I waved my hand at the stadium. “This being not only laid a curse on a nexus of human emotional power, it kept coming back week after week, year after year.”
“I don’t see what you’re driving at, boss.”
“Whoever’s doing this is holding a grudge,” I said thoughtfully. “This is vengeance for a genuine insult. It’s personal.”
“Maybe,” Bob said. “But maybe the emotional state of the stadium supercharged Sianis’ curse. Or maybe after the stadium evicted Sianis, who didn’t have enough power to curse anybody anyhow, someone decided to make it stick.”
“Or maybe…” My voice trailed off, and then I barked out a short bite of laughter. “Oh. Oh, that’s funny.”
Bob spun in my hand to look up at me.
“It wasn’t Sianis who put the whammy on the Cubs,” I said, grinning. “It was the goat.”
The Llyn y Fan Fach Tavern and Inn was located down at the lakeside at the northern edge of the city. The place’s exterior screamed “PUB” as if it was trying to make itself heard over the roar of brawling football hooligans. It was all whitewashed walls and heavy timbers stained dark. The wooden sign hanging from a post above the door bore the tavern’s name, and a painted picture of a leek and a daffodil crossed like swords.
I sidled up to the tavern and went in. The inside matched the outside, continuing the dark-stained theme on its wooden floors, walls, and furnishings. It just after midnight, which wasn’t really all that late, as bar scenes went—but the Llyn y Fan Fach Tavern was all but empty.
A big red-haired guy sitting in a chair by the door scowled at me. His biceps were thick enough to use steel belted radials as armbands. He gave me the fisheye, which I ignored as I ambled on up to the bar.
I took a seat on a stool and nodded to the bartender. She was a pretty woman with jet-black hair and an obvious pride in her torso. Her white renaissance shirt had slipped entirely off both of her shapely shoulders and was only being held up by her dark leather bustier. She was busy wiping down the bar. The bustier was busy lifting and separating.
She glanced up at me and smiled. Her pale green eyes flicked over me, and the smile deepened. “Ah,” she said, her British accent thick and from somewhere closer to Cardiff than London. “You’re a tall one, aren’t you?”
“Only when I’m standing up.”
Her eyes twinkled with merry wickedness. “Such a crime. What are you drinking, love?”
“Do you have any cold beer?” I asked.
“None of that colonial piss here,” she replied.
“Snob,” I said, smiling. “Do you have any of McAnally’s dark? McAnally’s anything, really.”
Her eyebrows went up. “Whew. For a moment, there, I thought a heathen walked amongst us.” She gave me a full smile, her teeth very square and straight and white, and walked over to me before bending over and drawing a dark bottle from beneath the bar.
I appreciated her, in a polite and politically correct fashion. “Is the show included in the price of the drink?”
She opened the bottle with an expert twist of her wrist, and set it down in front of me with a clean mug. “I’m a generous soul, love,” she said, winking. “Why charge when I can engage in selfless charity?”
She poured the beer into the mug and set it on a napkin in front of me. She slid a bowl of bar nuts down my way. “Drinking alone?”
“That depends on whether or not you’ll let me buy one for you.”
She laughed. “A gentleman, is it? Sir, you must think me all manner of tart if you think I’d accept a drink from a stranger.”
“I’m Harry,” I said.
“And so we are strangers no longer,” she replied, and got out another bottle of ale. She took her time about it, and she watched me as she did it. She straightened, also slowly, and opened her bottle before putting it gently to her lips and taking a slow pull. Then she arched an eyebrow at me and said, “See anything else you like? Something tasty, perhaps?”
“I suppose I am kind of an aural guy at the moment,” I said. “Got a minute to talk to me, Jill?”
Her smile faded swiftly. “I’ve never seen you in here before. How is it you know my name?”
I reached into my shirt and tugged out my pentacle, letting it fall down against my T-shirt. Jill studied that for a few seconds, then took a second look at me. Her mouth opened in a silent “ah” of understanding. “The wizard. Dresden, isn’t it?”
“Harry,” I said.
She nodded and took another, warier sip of her beer.
“Relax,” I said. “I’m not here on Council business. But a friend of mine among the Fair Folk told me that you were the person to talk to about the Tylwyth Teg.”
She tilted her head to one side, and smiled slightly. “I’m not sure how I could help you, Harry. I’m just a storyteller.”
“But you know about the Tylwyth Teg.”
“I know stories of them,” she countered. “That’s not the same as knowing them. Not in the way that your folk care about.”
“I’m not doing politics between members of the Unseelie Accords right now,” I said.
“But you’re one of the magi,” she said. “Surely you know what I do.”
“I’m still pretty young, for a wiseguy. And nobody can know everything,” I said. “My knowledge of the Fair Folk pretty much begins and ends with the Winter and Summer Courts. I know that the Tylwyth Teg are an independent kingdom of the Wyld. Stories might give me what I need.”
The sparkle returned to her eyes for a moment. “This is the first time a man I’ve flirted with told me that stories were what he needed.”
“I could gaze longingly at your décolletage while you talk, if you like.”
“Given how much trouble I go to in order to show it off, it would seem polite.”
I lowered my eyes demurely to her chest for a moment. “Well. If I must.”
She let out a full-bodied laugh, which made attractive things happen to her upper body. “What stories are you interested in, specifically?”
I grinned at her. “Tell me about the Tylwyth Teg and goats.”
Jill nodded thoughtfully and took another sip of beer. “Well,” she said. “Goats were a favored creature among them. The Tylwyth Teg, if treated with respect by a household of mortals, would often perform tasks for them. One of the most common tasks was the grooming of goatscleaning out their fur and brushing their beards for Sunday morning.”
I took a notebook from my duster’s pocket and started making notes. “Uh huh.”
“The Tylwyth Teg were shapeshifters,” Jill continued. “They’re a small folk, only a couple of feet tall, and though they could take what form they wished, they usually changed into fairly small animalsfoxes, cats, dogs, owls, hares and…”
She lifted her eyebrows. “And goats, aye. Though the stories can become very odd at times. More than one Welsh farmer who managed to capture a bride of the Tylwyth Teg found himself waking up to a goat beside him in his bed, or took his wife’s hand only to feel the shape of a cloven hoof beneath his fingertips.”
“Weregoats,” I muttered. “Jesus.”
“They’re masters of deceit and trickery,” Jill continued. “And we mortals are well advised to show them the proper respect, if we intrude upon them at all.”
“What happens if we don’t?”
Jill shook her head. “That would depend upon the offense, and which of the Tylwyth Teg were offended. They were capable of almost anything if their pride was wounded.”
“The usual Fair Folk response?” I asked. “Bad fortune, children taken, that sort of thing?”
Jill shook her head. “Harry, love, the Queens of Winter and Summer do not kill mortals, and so frown upon their followers taking such action. But the high folk of the Tylwyth Teg have no such restrictions.”
“They’d kill?” I asked.
“They can, have, and will take life in acts of vengeance,” Jill said seriously. “They always respond in balancebut push them too far and they will.”
“Damn,” I said. “Those are some hardcore faeries.”
Jill sucked in a sharp breath and her eyes glittered brightly. “What did you say?”
I became suddenly aware of the massive redhead by the door rising to his feet.
I swigged a bit of beer and put the notebook back in my pocket. “I called them faeries,” I drawled.
The floorboards creaked under the weight of Big Red, walking toward me.
Jill stared at me with eyes that were hard and brittle like glass. “You of all, wizard, should know that word is an insult to… them.”
“Oh, right,” I said. “They get real upset when you call them that.” A shadow fell across me. I sipped more beer without turning around and said, “Did someone just put up a building?”
A hand the size of a Christmas ham fell onto my shoulder and Big Red growled, “You want me to leave some marks?”
“Come on, Jill,” I said. “Don’t be sore. It’s not as though you’re trying all that hard to hide. You left plenty of clues for the game.”
Jill stared at me with unreadable eyes and said nothing.
I started ticking off points on my fingers. “Llyn y Fan Fach is a lake sacred to the Tylwyth Teg over in the Old World. You don’t get a lot more Welsh than that leek and daffodil emblem. And as for calling yourself ‘Jill,’ that’s a pretty thin mask to go cover the presence of one of the Jili Ffrwtan.” I tilted my head back to indicate Big Red. “Changeling, right?”
Big Red’s fingers tightened enough to hurt. I started to get a little bit concerned.
Jill held up a hand and Big Red let go of me at once. I heard the floor creaking as he retreated. She stared at me for a moment more, then smiled faintly and said, “The mask is more than sufficient when no one is looking for the face behind it. What gave us away?”
I shrugged. “Someone has to be renewing the spell laid on Wrigley Field on a regular basis. It almost had to be someone local. Once I remembered that the Fair Folk of Wales had a rather singular affinity with goats, the rest was just a matter of legwork.”
She finished off the beer in a long pull, her eyes sparkling again. “And my own reaction to the insult was the cherry on top.”
I drained my mug and shrugged modestly. “I apologize for speaking so crudely, lady. It was the only way I could be sure.”
“Powerful, clever and polite,” she murmured. She leaned forward onto the bar and it got really hard not to notice her bosom. “You and I might get along.”
I winked at her and said, “You’re trying to distract me, and doing it well. But I’d like to speak to someone in authority over the enchantment laid on Wrigley.”
“And who says our folk are behind such a thing?”
“Your cleavage,” I replied. “Otherwise, why try to distract me?”
She let out another laugh, though this one was softer and more silvery, a tinkling and unearthly tone that made my ears feel like someone with fantastic lips was blowing gently into them. “Even if they are, what makes you think that we would alter that weaving now?”
I shrugged. “Perhaps you will. Perhaps you won’t. I only request, please, to speak to one with authority over the curse, to discuss what might be done about it.”
She studied me through narrowed eyes for another silent moment.
“I said please,” I pointed out to her. “And I did buy you that beer.”
“True,” she murmured, and then gave me a smile that made my skin feel like I was standing close to a bonfire. She tossed her white cloth to one side and said, toward Big Red, “Mind the store for a bit?”
He nodded at her and settled back down into his chair.
The Jili Ffrwtan came out from behind the bar, hips swaying in deliciously feminine motion. I rose and offered her my arm in my best, old-fashioned courtly style. It made her smile, and she laid her hand on my forearm lightly, barely touching. “This,” she said, “should be interesting.”
I smiled at her again and asked, “Where are we going?”
“Why, to Annwn, my love,” the Jili Ffrwtan said, pronouncing it, ah-noon. “We go to the land of the dead.”
Copyright © 2011 by Jim Butcher
Table of Contents
CURSES BY JIM BUTCHER,
HOW THE POOKA CAME TO NEW YORK CITY BY DELIA SHERMAN,
ON THE SLIDE BY RICHARD BOWES,
THE DUKE OF RIVERSIDE BY ELLEN KUSHNER,
OBLIVION BY CALVIN KLEIN BY CHRISTOPHER FOWLER,
FAIRY GIFTS BY PATRICIA BRIGGS,
PICKING UP THE PIECES BY PAT CADIGAN,
UNDERBRIDGE BY PETER S. BEAGLE,
PRICED TO SELL BY NAOMI NOVIK,
THE BRICKS OF GELECEK BY MATTHEW KRESSEL,
WESTON WALKS BY KIT REED,
THE PROJECTED GIRL BY LAVIE TIDHAR,
THE WAY STATION BY NATHAN BALLINGRUD,
GUNS FOR THE DEAD BY MELISSA MARR,
AND GO LIKE THIS BY JOHN CROWLEY,
NOBLE ROT BY HOLLY BLACK,
DADDY LONGLEGS OF THE EVENING BY JEFFREY FORD,
THE SKINNY GIRL BY LUCIUS SHEPARD,
THE COLLIERS' VENUS (1893) BY CAITLÍN R. KIERNAN,
KING POLE, GALLOWS POLE, BOTTLE TREE BY ELIZABETH BEAR,
ABOUT ELLEN DATLOW,
ALSO EDITED BY ELLEN DATLOW,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Starting with Dresden attending a Cub game where he tries to do the impossible by removing "Curses" preventing the team from winning, this twenty tale collection of urban fantasies is a winner for sub-genre fans. Batting second, Delia Sherman tells readers "How the Pooka Came to New York City" with the Irish immigrants in 1855. "Fairy Gifts" by Patricia Briggs stars a vampire in Big Sky Country paying a debt to the Fae who removed a curse haunting him. The Graveminders' entry "Guns for the Dead" by Melissa Marr stars deceased Frankie Lee seeking employment similar to the felonious jobs he had as a mortal. Under a Seattle bridge, bitter children's literature Professor Richardson meets an equally cynical troll in Peter S. Beagle's "Underbridge." The other contributions are excellent while warning readers to watch out for the hand that serves man (see "Noble Rot" by Holly Black) as the price may be more than just your life. These "Tales of Urban Fantasy" make for one of the year's best anthologies regardless of genre. Harriet Klausner
Naked City is one of Ellen Datlow's latest urban fantasy short story collections. As usual, an entertaining read with lots of my faves in the business, including Holly Black, Patricia Briggs, and Kit Reed. This collection breathes new life into the Fair Folk and I discovered some new authors. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves a good fairy story, the urban fantasy genre, or is looking for something new.
Any time you can get a combination of great writers such as Jim Butcher or Patricia Briggs together you know you are in for a treat. You won't be dissapointed with this compilation either. Read it - you'll enjoy.
A very nice anthology, many different types of stories. I have read a number of the stories, but not all of them. I find myself reading them in between longer novels that I read. Of the first 7 stories I read, I enjoyed 4 of them. On the Slide - was reminiscent of the show Sliders but was to disjointed for me. And the story Oblivion by Calvin Klein just left me hollow. The story Duke of Riverside was OK. But also not for me. How the Pooka Came to New York was a well told fairy tale, I liked it. All in all, I will probably read all the stories at some point, and may update my review, but as for now, I will have to leave it at 7 read.
I'm pretty sure at this point I'm giving every single anthology the same review. Some were awesome, some were not. This book was heavily weighted towards the awesome.I reluctantly adored Elizabeth Bear's endcap story. As does pretty much everything Jim Butcher writes, his was a compelling read. I think Holly Black's short was the highlight of the book.The stated intent of this anthology was urban fantasy, and I think it did was it set out to do very, very well. Charles Delint, no matter how much I adore him, is not the only way to do urban fantasy and this book set out to prove that thesis and did.
Given the number of authors involved, I should have anticipated that these would be short stories -- as in actually short. I foolishly didn't, though, and was surprised when I first sat down with this book. I generally don't enjoy short stories, and this isn't something I would have ever purchased on my own. However, it was a nice introduction to authors I've never read before. While I do agree with a previous comment that the stories were "well written if uninteresting," I think a book like this is a good way to explore the genre.
This collection is sure to introduce you to a new author you will love. There is a story here for every fantasy lover . There were a couple of my favorite authors like Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs and Elizabeth Bear. However, there where a few authors I had not read but will be searching out like Delia Sherman, Ellen Kushner, Naomi Novik and Holly Black. I will admit that I did not like some of the stories in the book, but even the ones I did not like were well written and very interesting. The book itself was well edited, they chose a diverse group of stories but it all fits together very well. This is gritty urban fantasy with some horror thrown in. I think one of my favorite things about this anthology is that it is not afraid to cross some boundaries that society has about sexuality and race. ¿The Duke of Riverside¿, and ¿Priced to Sell¿ are not to be missed stories in this collection.
The stories were all high quality, but many of them shaded too much into horror for me. I particularly enjoyed Curses by Jim Butcher, How the Pooka Came to New York City by Delia Sherman, the Duke of Riverside by Ellen Kushner, Priced to Sell by Naomi Novik, and And Go Like This by John Crowley.
There is often quite a bit of variability in anthologies and this one is a not an exception. I was left unimpressed with many of the stories, most surprisingly Jim Butcher's and Naomi Novik's - baseball and real estate were just boring to me. My favorites included Fairy Gifts by Patricia Briggs, Underbridge by Peter S. Beagle, Guns for the Dead by Melissa Marr, Nobel Rot by Holly Black and The Skinny Girl by Lucius Shepard. The rest were reasonably well written if uninteresting.
I found I enjoyed most of these stories at varying degrees. Each story was very short, no more than 40 pages, and most shorter than that. It was more like a sampling of authors. But it made me interested in some new ones. Stories I especially liked:How the Pooka Came to New York City by Delia ShermanThe Duke of Riverside by Ellen KushnerFairy Gifts by Patricia BriggsUnderbridge by Peter S. BeagleThe Bricks of Gelecek by Matthew Kressel (though I do not know if I would actually label this one urban fantasy)Guns for the Dead by Melissa MarrNoble Rot by Holly Black
This anthology has something for everyone that likes urban fantasy. I greatly liked most of the stories, some a lot and others I didn't like so well. A few I didn't think fit this genre, but then again I'm sure others would disagree with me on that point. Some of my favorites were the stories by Jim Butcher, & Patricia Briggs to name a couple. I think Priced to Sell by Naomi Novik was probably my favorite story in the anthology. If you are into Urban Fantasy you are sure to find at least one story here to suit your taste and may find a new author or 2 you will have to track down.
I received my copy of Naked City from Librarything's Early review program. I have not read anything from some of the authors included in NAKED CITY the stories were kinda short and I liked some more then others but found overall that it was a good variety. I think any Urban Fantasy fan will find something in NAKED CITY that they will enjoy.
Right away, I read the stories by my favorite authors and I was very underwhelmed. Jim Butcher's Dresden story revolved around baseball, of which I am not a fan. I get the moral of the story, but wrapped in baseball history, memorabilia and fannishness, it fell flat with me. Patricia Briggs' story was a stand-alone set in the same world as her Mercy series but offered no compelling characters or moving tale.As with any anthology, the stories will be hit or miss. As disappointing as I found the aforementioned pieces, others (like Novik's very amusing "Priced to Sell") were a definite hit. With over 500 pages, if you like this genre, you're sure to find something that you enjoy too.
I was excited to get the ARC of a book that's headlined by both Jim Butcher and Patricia Briggs. I've got to say that I wasn't really impressed with either story. Jim's Harry Dresden story tackles the Cub's Billy Goat Curse, so being a Cubs fan, I was really forward to it. There's absolutely no action and the only magic is along the lines of a tracking spell. Patricia's story of a vampire rescuing a sidhe in mining tunnels was rather cold. I had no feelings or empathy for any of the characters.There are a few good stories in this anthology, but the stories are too short to do much in the way of character development. I had a difficult time getting through the book.
This is an urban fantasy anthology anchored by some of the genres most notable authors. Fans of urban fantasy will enjoy these reads that range in humor and intensity. This is a great read for those who love the genre and want a break from the length of a longer novel. Similarly, those new readers new to urban fantasy can sample some of these authors and decide if they want to pursue some of their larger works. Highlights include stories by Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, and Holly Black. I give it three stars
Naked City by Various AuthorsThis is a book chock filled with the stories of today¿s best and brightest speculative fiction authors. Since it would probably be unproductive for me to synopsize each story, I will say that there are several that I enjoyed very much. ¿Priced to Sell¿ by Naomi Novik a hilarious light story which deals with the harshness of selling real estate in New York to Vampires, Pookas and various other things that go bump in the night. ¿Noble Rot¿ by Holly Black was another of my favorites; a story dealing in Ghouls and the choice one Ghoul makes for someone.. ¿And Go Like This¿ was a fun somewhat confusing read with a surprise ending.Patricia Briggs story was a surprise for me since I didn¿t enjoy it as much as I thought I would and Jim Butchers story will hold interest for those who enjoy the Chicago Cubs.While this was an enjoyable read for the most part-it is not a necessary book for those following any of the author¿s series,
This collection is put together nicely. The stories are well written, though most of them are not to my taste. I've never been a Twilight Zone fan and this collection is in that flavor, but without the explanation at the end. Many are dreary and hopeless, some are profane and some just don't make any sense to me. However, there are treasures in it as well. I always enjoy Jim Butcher's stories and this one doesn't disappoint, especially if you like baseball. An author new to me, Patricia Briggs, will be receiving more of my attention. Her story, "Fairy Gifts" is about as perfect a modern fairy tale as I've read, also a pretty good mystery. Another author, John Crowley, wins my vote for best short story in the collection. It is perfectly timed, imaginative and fun.
This paperback has over 20 stories. The ones by Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, and a few others were enjoyable additions to their respective canons. But a lot of the stories are little more than extended scenes, or meditations. Rather than building worlds, they show it through a glass darkly, with a lot of questions unanswered. I enjoyed many of the stories. But after several in a row that I really did not like, I stopped reading.
Somewhat mixed batch of urban fantasy. The stories I liked I really liked. The stories I didn't take to were still well written, just not necessarily my cup of tea. Particularly enjoyable (and why I purchased to begin with) were Patricial Brigg's "Fairy Gifts", and Jim Butcher's "Curses". "Priced to Sell" by Naomi Novik made me smile - who hasn't tuned in to one of those high dollar real estate shows on occasion? And I wouldn't have minded reading more about Stewart and Jackie in the closing entry, "King Pole, Gallows Pole, Bottle Tree", by Elizabeth Bear.Other entries were on the noirier side of the urban fantasy street, and as I prefer my fantasy slightly cheerier... they weren't bad, just creepy. On the whole, a worthwhile purchase.
I can¿t tell you how excited I was to get Naked City: Tales of Urban Fantasy. It sat on my To Be Read shelf for a while, as I finished up other commitments, and it taunted me, whispered to me, enticed me the whole time. There are some great authors included in this collection and I couldn¿t wait to dig in.It certainly gets off to a good start! In ¿Curses¿ by Jim Butcher, Harry Dresden ¿ the only Wizard listed in the Chicago Yellow Pages ¿ is approached about removing a very old curse from a local sports team. I have a tremendous crush on Harry Dresden and I enjoyed the story immensely ¿ it¿s exactly the sort of local flavor I love in the Dresden Files stories.My favorite story of the bunch was ¿Priced to Sell¿ by Naomi Novik, author of the Temeraire series. I was completely unfamiliar with Novik¿s work, although I will certainly be adding it to my watch list. This is a story of the cut-throat Manhattan real estate market. Tough enough, in this economy, but even tougher when your clients are vampires, goblins and other magical creatures. You know it¿s going to be trouble when the condo board isn¿t concerned that your client¿s a vampire, they¿re just worried that he¿s less than 100 years old.Another favorite was ¿The Projected Girl¿ by Lavie Tidhar, an Israeli writer. In this story, Danny becomes fascinated with an old magician¿s journal and seeks to solve the mystery of his vanished assistant. It¿s an interesting story and Danny, just thirteen years old, is still young enough to get caught up in magic tricks.Finally, ¿Noble Rot¿ by Holly Black, author of The Spiderwick Chronicles, was the special surprise waiting near the back of the book. Agatha is a girl with a secret, taking care of a dying rock star. I loved this story, even if it made me a little queasy.There are other stories ¿ good, great and fair-to-middling ¿ and in general I really enjoyed the book. I love the way it shows a broad range of urban fantasy; there¿s a huge variety of settings and fantasy figures. Editor Ellen Datlow does a great job of giving the reader just the right mix, so that no matter what you favor, there is bound to be a story that appeals to you. Even the stories I really didn¿t care for (¿The Way Station¿, ¿Fairy Gifts¿) were good quality, if not my particular cup of tea.All in all, this is a great collection of stories that will be popular with any urban fantasy fan ¿ it really lived up to my initial excitement.
Okay, I read 6 of the 20 stories and I'm not really feeling inclined to read anymore of it at this point. I'm considering this one "read but dnf", but I will update if I decide to dig into any of the other stories. This collection of 20 Urban Fantasy short stories is described on the back of the ARC as "A spine-tingling collection..." I hope they changed that in the published version as this is urban fantasy, not horror. It was also frustrating that there was absolutely no description of what each story was about. The reader just went into each story blind. Personally, I like knowing what the story is about before I start reading. My copy was an ARC so I hope that was added before it was published. I don't usually read anthologies unless they contain stories related to the series I read or intend to read. There was only one story (Jim Butcher's story) in this book that related to a series that I am aware of and the headline authors on the cover are really the only ones that interested me. There were no other authors that I currently read or am that interested in reading in this collection. I was expecting to see more well-known authors in urban fantasy represented, but the authors listed on the cover were the only ones I really recognized as being urban fantasy. I'm sure other people may recognize the other authors, but for me it was a little misleading. Of the stories I read, the Patricia Briggs story was my favorite. Jim Butcher fans will probably appreciate the Dresden Files story. Here are the ratings for each of the stories I read and I will update if I read any others.Cursed by Jim Butcher - 3 stars - Related to the Dresden Files series.How the Pooka Came to New York City by Delia Sherman - 3 starsOn the Slide by Richard Bowes - 1 star (did not finish - something about time travel - it lost me after about 9 pages)The Duke of Riverside by Ellen Kushner - 3.5 stars - An interesting story, but I didn't really see much "fantasy" in this one.Oblivion by Calvin Klein by Christopher Fowler - 2.5 stars - meh.Fairy Gifts by Patricia Briggs - 4 stars - I don't know if this story relates to any of her books, but iron-kissed fae are mentioned and I think Iron Kissed is the title of one of her books. Possibly a loose connection? Not sure, but I like the story and plan to read more of this author.