Synopsis: This holiday, spend quality time with family and loved ones—living and dead... There's no place like home for the horrordays—unless you'd prefer a romantic midnight walk through a ghost-infested graveyard... or a haunted house candlelight dinner with the sexy vampire of your dreams. The (black) magical season is here—and whether it's a solstice séance gone demonically wrong with the incomparable Kim Harrison, a grossly misshapen Christmas with the remarkable Lynsay Sands, a blood-chilling-and-spilling New Year's with the wonderful Marjorie M. Liu, or a super-powered Thanksgiving with the phenomenal Vicki Pettersson, one thing is for certain: in the able hands of these exceptional dark side explorers, the holidays are going to be deliciously hellish! (Goodreads)
Initial Thoughts: I started a similiar anthology, Never After a while ago and couldn't finish it, so I was a bit wary of Holidays are Hell, but I like Kim Harrison, so I figured I'd at least enjoy one of the stories.
Review: It was much better than the other anthology, but not great. I wouldn't say that I wasted my time reading it, but I won't be rushing out to recommend it to anyone. Since each author was different, I'll do it by story.
"Two Ghosts For Sister Rachel" by Kim Harrison was my second-favorite. A young witch wants to join the IS (like a supernatural FBI) but her brother/guardian thinks it's a bad idea due to the lasting effects of a childhood illness. They decide to summon the ghost of her father and let him decide whether or not she can join. Fans of Kim Harrison's Hollows series will enjoy this prequel. It's interesting to see what Rachel was like before she became- well, I won't spoil it. Harrison's writing is very readable and her characters are always a lot of fun. I loved the romantic part of this one, even though it was doomed from the start. A solid 4/5
"Run, Rudolph, Run" by Lynsay Sands wasn't really supernatural romance so much as it was just romance. The characters were typical romance novel characters and the plot didn't make a lot of sense. A mad scientist uses a weapon on his ex-partner's sister in order to kidnap her and study the effects. First of all, I'd like to know why he didn't kidnap a homeless person or a runaway to experiment on? It would make more sense to find someone who wouldn't be missed. What really bothered me was the conclusion. Their solution could have been used at any point in the story, but they waited until the very last second. A fun story for fans of fluff romance, but it hit the mark for me. 2/5
"Six" by Marjorie M. Liu was by far my favorite story. A woman who has been trained/brainwashed since the age of five to be a 'counterterrorism agent' in China runs into something that she can't explain and gets pulled along on a crazy adventure. This story was darker in tone, with characters that were more kick-ass than adorable klutz, but it was still very much a romance. My favorite thing about this one was the setting, I haven't read much set in modern China, so I found it very interesting. I'd love to see this become a series. 5/6
"The Harvest" by Vicki Pettersson is a prequel to her Zodiac series, which I have not read. A woman tries to rescue her grandchild from a man that she once betrayed. The twist is that he's an evil shadow-thing and she's a superhero who recently gave up her abilities. I think I probably would have enjoyed this more if I'd read some of the other books set in this world. There was way too much background to fit into this story and it just confused the heck out of me. I like the idea of the story and the world it's set in seems interesting, but it was just a bit too much at once. I had trouble finishing it. 2/5
Quick Review: "Two Ghosts" by Kim Harrison, a prequel to her Hollows series, was fun, with a romantic side that was sweet. "Run, Rudolph" by Lynsay Sands was a light romance with some holes, but good for a quick romantic read. "Six" by Marjorie M. Liu was an exciting sci-fi romance set in modern china with strong characters and a satisfying ending. "The Harvest" by Vicki Pettersson, prequel to her Zodiac series, had an interesting premise, but the story got too muddled with all of the explanations and backstory (at least for someone new to her world). I'll have to give it 2.5/5, but it would be better if I'd understood half of what was going on. This anthology is worth a read, but I'd pick it up at the library over buying it (at least for full price).