Saturday, August 31, 2013

Manifesto UF - Edited by Tim Marquitz & Tyson Mauermann - An anthology of Urban Fantasy stories

4 of 5 Stars    Review copy

One year and one day ago I posted a review of Fading Light: An Anthology of the Monstrous, by far my favorite anthology of 2012 and one of the best books I read last year.

Here we are, a year later and Tim is back.  This time enlisting the help of Tyson Mauermann. The two have assembled 23 stories they hope will entertain and at the same time provide a message of what Urban Fantasy should be.

Although, I'm not a fan of Fantasy (Sword and Sorcery), Urban Fantasy is another story entirely.  I'm always up for a new Dresden Files novel and I've been a Richard Kadrey fan for years.  Vampires (the non-sparkly kind), werewolves, fairies, fae, angels and demons, plus a little snarky dialog, sign me up.

As is the case with many anthologies I read,  Manifesto UF, has a lot of really good stories, but there are a few that just don't quite measure up to the rest.

Manifesto UF starts on a strong note with "Rev" and the killer opening line, "I remember the first time I died."  The author, Kirk Dougal, delivers a well written story of a revenant (someone who died, but wasn't wanted by either side so they sent him back to Earth). When in the hands of a writer who "gets it" Urban Fantasy, it can be a lot of fun and Dougal definitely "gets it'."  "Dump me in a vat of blood, blow brains all over my face or let me smell a three-week old corpse sitting in the trunk of a car in August and I was fine.  Let a rat run across my foot and I'd scream like your little sister."

A great start, but then it's a while before we get to another good one.  I just couldn't enjoy a story with a talking dragon working as a private investigator.  There's suspending your disbelief and then there just plain silly.

Another gem of a story came from Adam Millard and "Savage Rise."  A truly disturbing story with an unknown horror which killed all the residents in a high rise exactly one year ago, and now it's happening again in another high rise across town.

Timothy Baker has what is one of the best stories in the collection,  "Front Lines, Big City." His protagonist is a Mage.  If you're familiar with World of Warcraft, you'll know what a Mage is. Simply put, a spellcaster.  This one living as a self-made prisoner in downtown New Kansas City.  A former soldier in the Magical Marine Corps.  When the Second Civil War ended he became a fugitive on the run after an act of congress turned him and his comrades into criminals.

The award for best title in the anthology goes to Nikolas Sharps and his story "Toejam and Shrapnel." Turned out to be a fun story as well.

Lincoln Crisler has a very good story in here called, "Queen's Blood" and Jeff Salyard's "Beneath a Scalding Moon" delivers with a story of an older woman dating a younger man. This after having been bitten by a mountain lion.  This leads to one of the best lines in the book.  No spoiler from me, but it's worth it.

I'm not going to go into a lot of detail about every story here, but I will say there were enough good ones to make this a worth while read.  Not as good as last years' Fading Light: An Anthology of the Monstrous,  but much better than some I've read in 2013.

With that said, I can definitely recommend Manifesto UF  which is available now at

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