Bitten by some stories, untouched by others
In IMMORTAL: LOVE STORIES WITH BITE, editor P. C. Cast brings together eight short stories about the everlasting kiss, the bite of a vampire, from some of the most popular young adult paranormal authors today, including Kristin Cast, Richelle Mead, and Rachel Vincent, among others.
Similar to other anthologies, IMMORTAL was a great way to experience the style and writing of multiple different authors in only one book, and it was easy to pick up and read a single story at a time. With each story running only 30 - 35 pages, it was perfect for lunch breaks or right before bed. Among the stories, there was some strong contributions, most notably Rachel Vincent's "Binge" about a siren and leenan sidhe fairy and Claudia Gray's "Free" about vampires and race in pre-Civil War New Orleans. Both stories were linked to the authors' existing series, SOUL SCREAMERS and EVERNIGHT respectively, and I liked both enough to want to seek out the authors' other books. Other well-done stories included Richelle Mead's "Blue Moon" about a vampire on the run, which had a tone and style similar to her VAMPIRE ACADEMY series, and Rachel Caine's "Dead Man Stalking" that provided a glimpse into the dysfunctional families of Morganville from her ongoing series.
Unfortunately, I found only half of the stories in this collection to be enjoyable or memorable. The stories by Kristin Cast ("Amber Smoke") and Tanith Lee ("Table Manners") were particularly weak, and those by Cynthia Leitich Smith ("Haunted Love") and Nancy Holder ("Changed") were just unmemorable. Many of the stories concluded with unhappy or unfinished endings, and very few of the entries were love stories in the traditional sense, which may be misleading to some readers based on the subtitle of the book. The lengthy introduction by P. C. Cast was also rambling and patronizing.
Even with this lack of balance in story quality, IMMORTAL proved to be a quick and inexpensive way to sample the work of multiple authors, and it provided me with some new authors to check out. I'm looking forward to the sequel, ETERNAL: MORE LOVE STORIES WITH BITE, which comes out later this year. If you're looking for something similar in the meantime, consider THE ETERNAL KISS: 13 VAMPIRE TALES OF BLOOD AND DESIRE.
(NOTE: Be sure to buy this edition of the book. An earlier, limited edition of the novel was available exclusively from BORDERS, but it did not include the story by Vincent and it cost six dollars more.)