Story Rating: 4 stars
Audio Rating: 5 stars
Narrator: Greg Tremblay
Length: 18 hours, 21 minutes
Six incredible writers all offer up their take on what happens when you sell your soul to the devil. Here’s a glimpse of how I felt about each individual story and the real star of the show—the narrator, Greg Tremblay.
Infernal Affairs – Jordan L. Hawk
I felt Internal Affairs was the lightest story of the collection. It’s no secret that Jordan L. Hawk knows how to create characters that are realistic and believable. Ralgath and Chess are not your run of the mill men and because their voices were so distinct and developed, it made the dialogue between them really fun to read. For instance, when Ralgath gets down to the “customer service” department in the underworld, the inventive way Hawk chose to describe his workplace experiences was just spot on and made me laugh right out loud. Chess is a treat, they are badass and sentimental at the same time. Chess is one of those characters that is both in your face and yet really overly sentimental at the same time, but I have to say that Fluffpaw (such a great name for a hellhound) stole the show for me multiple times—what a great addition to an already fascinating story.
Collared – T.A. Moore
While I kind of figured out fairly early on that Collared was not going to have a traditional HEA, I still found it really intriguing. It was pretty dark, but I really liked the format with the backstory of Jack, who was an ex-priest, and Math, his personal demon being offered up in small increments throughout the story. That meant that I really had to pay attention and listen to this one in one go or possibly get lost, primarily due to how the story was set up and the language used. I have to say that the world building was really excellent—everything about the town was just a little sideways and the evil lurking here is very good at masking itself. For poor Jack that meant he was the one to take on the burden of the cases the other officers couldn’t solve—and asking questions in this town takes its toll.&tag=joyfu0f-20
Counterfeit Viscount – Ginn Hale
I think of all the stories in this collection, I could see this one becoming a series. It is definitely a character driven short with Nimble and Archie just being so incredibly well written that they felt so real. The story is told from Archie’s point of view, but Ginn Hale did such a great job showing us Nimble through Archie’s eyes that I felt I knew Nimble just as well as Archie by the end of the story. It was obvious how much Nimble liked Archie—even when Archie, himself, couldn’t see it. Of all of the selections, I think this one had the most traditional romance feel to it—which I appreciated since so many didn’t.
11:59 – C.S. Poe
Once again, as with most, if not all, of these stories, the world building here is excellent. I think that is the biggest strength of this entire collection—the fact that every author featured here is able to create such fascinating and realistic world. 11:59 actually sets up the city itself as a character by mixing a bit of Greek mythology into the story. Dreams are not the stuff to be taken lightly –in fact, they can be downright deadly because they actually follow the dreamer into his waking world and makes them a horrifying and violent monster, a killing machine, of sorts.
Asuka is an ex-cop who sold his soul years ago to save his life so that he could continue to help others. Selling his soul had more consequences than he realized though; he literally can’t dream, so he goes out every night to fight the monsters, but he never really stems the flow of violence. I felt so badly for Asuka; he has become this shell of a person, so desperate and yet with no hope of any real future. When he meets Merrick, he feels some glimmer of hope for the first time.
Wonderland City – Rhys Ford
Wonderland City is an interesting retelling of Alice in Wonderland. Xander Spade, the Ace of Hearts, is a burnt out bounty hunter with a blue dog chasing him—unless it disappears, which it sometime does. The arrival of a small girl in Wonderland City does not bode well for the other residents of the city and unless she’s sent back, it could mean disaster for everyone. The battle that ensues went a bit long in my opinion, but still Ford does give a fresh take on an old story and some really fascinating characters to boot..
Jordan Castillo Price – Dark Favors
When Johnny was young, he sold his soul for power and influence, but as time moved on, he found he wasn’t really happy with what he’d gotten in return. So he lives a pretty simple life and refuses to cash in all the favors he’s been given until the devil shows up with one he might not be able to refuse. Once again, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, the world building here was superior. Along with some fascinating characters and a kind of happy for now ending, this one was a really nice addition to the anthology.
Finally, I need to say a few words about Greg Tremblay and his narration. Giving voice and emotion to one story is hard enough, but taking on this entire anthology was a staggering job and Tremblay did it with finesse and incredible versatility. From the way in which he would heighten the suspense by effective use of pausing and pacing, to the myriad of characters this narrator voiced, once again I can honestly say this man is in a field all his own. He is brilliant at giving just the right amount of emotion and nuance to reading a story aloud to make it leap off the page at you and capture your interest immediately. While the anthology itself deserves a four-star rating, Greg Tremblay’s handling of the narration is a five-star experience all the way.
A review copy of this book was provided by DSP Publications.