Furry Writers' Guild Forum

Review: Trick or Treat anthology

X-posted from Goodreads:

I’m not quite sure how I feel about this anthology. I guess I would call it middle of the road in terms of quality. There were three or four stories that stood out, all the others weren’t very memorable or I had issues with the plot and/or character decisions.

First, I’ll say I like the premise. Not necessarily the theme of Halloween, but I like that it mixed stories with sexual content and non-sexual content while at the same time keeping them separate. Something I wouldn’t mind seeing more of in the future.

The stories that jumped out at me were “Hellhound” by Renee Carter Hall and “Son of the Blood Moon” by Bill Rogers. The first being a dog conflicted between doing right by his new owner and following the path of his demonic old one, and the second, a nice twist on a transformation story. Both were well written and kept me reading. Another one that stood out was “Phobophilia” by Whyte Yote. Admittedly, I am still trying to process how I felt about this story. It was very odd, with a no name entity as the lead that goes around feeding off the energy of others. At times, I was fascinated and also confused about what was going on, but it kept me engaged. I greatly appreciate an author that takes risks. They don’t always pay off, but at least the experiences are memorable. Not enough authors go outside the box so I applaud this story for that reason alone. It was a shame the bear character was only teased, but you’ll just have to read it to find out.

After that, the stories become less memorable or I grew frustrated with the plot and character decisions. For example, if a male character is calling a female character a bitch and being a rude ass for most of the story, but then ends up having sex with the female character, I just don’t buy it. I wouldn’t want to have sex with someone who has been acting like a jerk for “weeks”, and I don’t know anyone else who would either. Little details like these immediately rip me away from the story and make it difficult for me to continue reading. Character choices are very important. They need to to be believable. An example is a father taking his costumed daughter to a dark, creepy location that even he has bad feelings about just to pick up a cell phone he left. Sorry, but my child’s well being is much more important than a phone. I’ll come back the next day and get it in daylight, unless you make the father a complete thoughtless deadbeat, but when he’s portrayed as caring and worried about his child, again I just don’t by it. Or openly admitting to a spiritual crime that nobody can prove, not to mention said spiritual being were never hinted at before. Twists are nice, but if you don’t create that such things are possible in the story before hand, it can come across as completely out of place and once again, remind you that you’re reading. I’ll use the Sixth Sense example. We knew there were ghosts all along, we just didn’t know Bruce Willis was one. Set us up for the possibility, hit us over the head with it later.

There were several other odd plot points and character decisions, and some might say I’m nitpicking, but if I’m paying for something, I feel like I have the right to be. And please, no more furry stereotypes. Also, I’d still like to see the furry attributes of the characters have more bearing on the story. A furry animal wearing something skin tight. Boy, that’d be awkward to put on, not to mention uncomfortable and hot. So make it an animal with not much fur, like a hairless cat or a hippo.

I imagine others won’t have the issues I had, which is why I consider this anthology just okay.

Reminds me a bit of the Bewere the Night collection, or at least my reaction to it. At least PT is always there to add a little sunshine into the mediocrity.

Admittedly, I enjoyed Bewere the Night more simply because the authors took risks and went outside the typical werewolf concept. I’ll gladly take a story that steps outside the boundaries. I like fresh and new.

blushes Well, I try my best, anyway. Whether I’m always successful is a matter of opinion. :smiley:

My contributor copy arrived last week, so I can play now :slight_smile:

I love the idea for this anthology - half horror, half erotica - and I’m glad there’s going to be a second volume with a more specific theme. The book itself is satisfyingly thick and nicely printed, with a great cover image, although the text on the right-hand pages sometimes ends at a higher point than that on the left.

I admired the Tricks section greatly, since horror and supernatural are genres I find it very difficult to write in. There’s a lot of variety here, too.

I knew as soon as I read the blurbs that I was going to enjoy Renee Carter Hall’s Hellhound, in which a strange-looking rescue dog finds a loving new home, and I was not disappointed. A sort of supernatural White Fang, if you will. Hafoc’s Son of the Blood Moon is a very well-written transformation story, while Slough gets points for sheer strangeness and for having a snake protagonist. I also can’t go without mentioning Rechan’s Unrealty, because it’s such a damn good title.

Over in Treats, most of the stories have a supernatural element rather than just being set at Halloween. My favourite was probably Whyte Yote’s Phobophilia (great title!), which was both genuinely creepy and very funny. I also liked Once a Year by Ianus J. Wolf for its portrayal of sex within a loving marriage and family.

Cultural note: Halloween really is a much bigger deal in the US than it is in the UK, and so is Samhain, which I’ve never heard anyone in this country mention!

Here is my two bits’ worth: