Updated 10/4/16: I just learned that the review copy I received of this book was different than the book that was sold to readers. The reviewer copies were accidentally a compilation of both Volume 1 and 2 and the order of the stories wasn’t fully chronological. The correct version of Volume 1 actually covers the first half of the stories, which means that while my review below covers both volumes, the actual book does not. I believe that my review still stands so I didn’t change the rating or any of the explanation, but note that some of the stories I mention are actually in Volume 2. So please consider this a review for both Volume 1 and Volume 2 of THIRDS Beyond the Books.
THIRDS Beyond the Books is a compilation of flash fiction stories written by series author Charlie Cochet in response to reader prompts. It covers a wide time frame from before the start of the series, all the way through the timeline of the more recent books). The collection also covers a variety of characters, with everyone from Dex and Sloane, to Cael and Ash, to Hudson and Seb, and even a story featuring Tony and Dex’s dad. The stories are very short, most seeming to be about a handful of pages, so they are much shorter than a typical “short story.” I would say a better way to describe them would be “scenes” as they aren’t set up with any kind of standalone plot, more a peek into a facet of the books we may not have seen, or shown from a different angle. Most of these prompts are outside of what is in the actual books, but there are few scenes (like one where the felids are playing in boxes) that have made it into the books, at least in some modified form.
I loved the array of stories here. We get everything from funny (Tony teaching Dex about sex, OMG!), to romantic (lots of great Seb and Hudson scenes from before their breakup), to poignant (Dex emotional as little Cael is forced to get his Therian marking). We also get insight into things that happened before the series, like Calvin and Hobbs meeting for the first time. I will admit I would have like a little more with some sexy times; the only story that has a lot of steam is the scene where Hobbs and Calvin are making out in the van after Calvin has to seduce Bautista, but this time from Hobbs’ POV. So I did miss the heat a bit.
At first I did have a little trouble settling into this one as the stories are so short that the book doesn’t really flow the way a novel, or even an anthology, might. But once I got used to the rhythm, I could not put it down. The collection is a fabulous chance to take a peek behind the scenes, to learn more about little tidbits that were mentioned but never a full part of the story, and to reconnect with your favorite characters. I will tell you that after reading those scenes with Seb and Hudson, I am DYING for their book. I mean, these guys have chemistry that is burning off the page!
It is probably obvious, but this isn’t a book you are going to get much out of if you haven’t read the THIRDS series as all the stories are moments in time from the series arc. It would be pretty difficult to follow along since understanding the context is assumed. That said, I don’t think you need to remember every bit of the series to love these stories, and I think anyone who is even the slightest bit of a fan of this fabulous series is going to love this one.
So I really loved this book and it was such a fun read. I loved catching up with the characters and I loved the “behind the scenes” feel that comes from getting extra information about things that happened in the books. I love this series, but reading this collection made me even more excited about it and I can’t wait for more. So if you are a THIRDS fan, this is definitely a book you are not going to want to miss.
Note: In case anyone is curious for a bit more background, the stories were all originally published on Cochet’s blog and you can find new stories there too. They were also cross posted to her THIRDS Nerds group on Goodreads so you can also find them there as well. Readers can also submit new prompts by going to her blog or the GR group.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.