ed. by Trisha Telep - The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance

The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance - Holly Lisle, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Kelley Armstrong, Carrie Vaughn, Ilona Andrews, Maria V. Snyder, Cheyenne McCray, Mary Jo Putney, Alyssa Day, Michelle Rowen, Jean Johnson, Sara Mackenzie, Anya Bast, Allyson James, Trisha Telep, C.T. Adams, Cathy Clamp, Catherine Mulvany, Ev

I bought this book because it was on offer for 99p and I was under the impression I would like it. When I think of paranormal romance I think Margit Sandemo and that one summer where I had nothing else to do so I read all 47 volumes of her Legend of the Ice People. It was one hell of a summer.
Then I realized paranormal was big these days and there was pretty much an unlimited supply of Sandemo-like things. I was very excited, until, of course, I started reading those books.

Sandemo wrote more than just erotic fantasies about getting it off with demons, devils and all sort of murky beings. All I know about Scandinavian history I know from her books and that seems to be weirdly a lot. Those 47 volumes, going from the year 1581 to modern times, were like a crash course in in the history of Northern Europe. So where Sandemo had her historical research, the contemporary paranormal ‘writers’ have “I will just make shit up as I go”. The worlds they create are inconsistent, full of contradictions and just have a general haphazard air about them.

The writing is quite often atrocious and makes it seem like the authors have never read a serious book in their lives. And of course, I am not saying Sandemo should be awarded a Nobel Prize – her novels stick clearly to the rules and conventions of writing romance but they are very readable and not really cringe-worthy. Her writing is good enough not to distract you from the story. 

So here are the flaws of this book in a list form:
1) Poor world building skills

2) No research into anything whatsoever, it’s all fantasy so just make shit up

3) Bad, bad, bad writing, some of those authors have a vocabulary of 500 words

4) Replace developing the characters and creating a believable connection between them with some dogmatic, nonnegotiable, magic “they were meant to be together” that just leaves me cold because it is a very lazy way to write a romance

5) Short stories are a very difficult form. Short stories are not mini-novels with all the descriptions of the weather cut out. Most of the authors completely failed to understand what a short story should be and how you go about writing one.

And what’s up with all those fantasy males smelling of cinnamon and cloves?

Having said all that, there were a few stories in this collection that weren’t altogether bad and I will keep those authors on my radar for when I need my paranormal fix.

They are:

Carrie Vaughn (because of good sexual tension)

Ilona Andrews (interesting world, and a gripping story for once)

Dina James (for giving some dimension to her characters)

Kelley Armstrong (for a tongue-in-cheek look at the whole paranormal craze, I liked the certain irony in it)

Anya Bast (I think mostly because I like when characters walk through snow)

Mary Jo Putney (for the male POV, and a male that is not some hunky, sexy, brooding thing but more 
of a Spiderman kind of guy)

Eve Silver (there was some potential here but wasn’t fully realised, but might be interesting to see what she can do in a full novel)

Sherrilyn Kenyon writing as Kinley MacGregor (the writing was really good in this one)