This is an anthology of short stories from four popular women authors who write fantasy or romantic fantasy novels. The main characters are females set in a fantasy world who must try to save themselves or someone else in their story. They are suppose to be strong female characters, with a little bit of romance thrown in.
The first story: A Whisper Of Spring by: Lynn Kurland
Iolaire is an elven princess who has been kidnapped by a mage prince who hopes to marry an elf of royal blood. He has already captured Iolaire's cousin, and killed her when she refused to marry him. Iolaire despairs of being rescued by her people, yet is uncertain if she can escape her magical imprisonment.
I felt mostly indifferent to this tale. I found myself not caring if the characters lived or died. It could have been a short version of almost any fantasy world and characters. I was hoping for something that would draw me in, and did not find it. I have heard that this is a short story from The Nine Kingdoms trilogy, and perhaps reading that trilogy first would have helped me appreciate this story more. I might have understood the world better, and it would have given the story more depth if I could connect it to a larger story.
The second story: When Winter Comes by: Sharon Shinn
This is the story of Sosie and her sister Annie. Annie has just given birth to a mystic baby, and is forced to leave home. Sosie must try to get her unwell sister somewhere safe, which is difficult with armed forces patrolling for mystics.
I was pleased to discover that this is a story set in The Twelve Houses series. It is the tale of mystics that are being persecuted in Gillengaria. I liked that side characters from the series were used in this short story, although they are characters we have met several times in the books. It was nice to read what happens to them in between their appearances in the series. Readers unfamiliar with the series will still be able to understand what is going on, but they will miss how this story connects to other plots, and has more depth as it fits into something greater.
It is always a pleasure to return to this world.
The third story: The Kiss Of The Snow Queen by: Claire Delacroix
I loved the opening lines of this one. A magic mirror that is capricious and vengeful. What an awesome beginning! Unfortunately, the story went downhill from there. I found this tragic after such a promising start. Normally I enjoy retellings of mythology, but this version did not appeal to me.
The language did not seem consistent with the world or characters, and when you are in a short story you do not want to be jarred out of it. I also did not care for same stereotypical characters and issues. The main problem seemed to be trying to mesh to many different mythologies into one short tale. It made the story very confused. I did not care for this retelling at all.
The fourth story: A Gift Of Wings by: Sarah Monette
A wounded man and his body guard(who is also his former lover) are trapped in a remote inn during a really bad snowstorm. A murder occurs, and they discover that they are everyone's main suspects. They must work to find the real killer before the storm ends, or anyone else is killed.
It was an okay mystery, but not great. There was a lot going on for a short story. A lot of people, and a lot of past events to try to fit in while keeping the mystery moving forward.
I did not think this was the best anthology. The stories were not attention grabbing, nor did they make me want to read more by the authors. I chose this one because Sharon Shinn wrote her story in The Twelve Houses series, which I enjoy. The only thing these stories really had in common was some magic. The main characters were females, which is great except they did not seem that strong, powerful, or exciting.
I would only recommend this book to people who are already fans of one or more of these authors.