Chicks Kick Butt
Rachel Caine and Kerrie L. Hughes, eds.
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Buy *Chicks Kick Butt* by Rachel Caine and Kerrie L. Hughes

Chicks Kick Butt
Rachel Caine and Kerrie L. Hughes, editors
Tor Books
352 pages
June 2011
rated 3 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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This collection of thirteen short stories concentrates on tough urban fantasy heroines. Almost all of the stories are set in the modern United States, with a variety of supernatural creatures such as vampires and werewolves either out in the open or hiding among humans. Ten of the stories are told in first person; almost all of the heroines have some sort of romantic entanglements, and they all have allies and friends who help them, so the heroines are not loners.

One story is set in a pseudo-medieval setting and told in the third person. The protagonist of Elizabeth A. Vaughn's “A Rose By Any Other Name Would Still be Red” is a young woman called Red who is on a mission from her master, the High Baron of Athelbryght. She is itching to kill some slavers but gets more than she bargained for. The story is set in Vaughn's Epic of Palins series.

The collection actually kicks off with Rachel Caine's “Shiny,” which is set in her Weather Warden series. Joanna Baldwin and her djinn lover, David, encounter a new djinn determined to get what she wants, and she's willing to steal and swindle to get it--hardly good for the low profile that the other Djinns want to keep.

“In Vino Veritas” by Karen Chance focuses on dhampir Dorina Basarab from her Midnight Daughter series. Vampire lord Cheung sends an assassin after Dorina, and of course she has to find out what is going on. One of the funniest stories in the collection.

Rachel Vincent's “Hunt” focuses on a secondary character in her Shifters series. Abby is camping with her friends and goes for a hunt in her cat form only to find that this time she is being hunted. She has to struggle with her upbringing while fighting with the hunters.

Lilith Saintcrow's “Monsters” stands outside the author's series. A vampire woman out to avenge her vampire family, she does not consider herself a hero. If the story had been written from the point-of-view of a group of vampire hunters, she would have most likely been the main villain. This makes an interesting contrast to the other stories.

“Vampires Prefer Blondes” by P. N. Elrod is connected to the Vampire Files series. Bobbie Smythe is a human, but she knows a lot about vampires: her boyfriend is one. She uses her wits and knowledge to help a woman who is being hounded by a vampire.

In Jenna Black's “Ninth Tenths of the Law,” concerned parents contact exorcist Morgan Kingsley because they think that their daughter has been illegally possessed by a demon. However, it appears that the parents belong to a fanatical cult, and Morgan has to decide just who needs to be protected against whom.

“Double Dead” by Cheyenne McCray is set in her Night Tracker world. The evil and slimy shape shifters called Metamorphs have decided to make their move against the Paranorm Council. To that end, they have imprisoned Nyx, one of the Council's guards, and are trying to extract information from her. They have even kidnapped her human boyfriend to further persuade Nyx.

“Superman” by Jeanne C. Stein stars her Anna Strong character. This time Anna has to work with a former lover, Max, who asks for her help. He thinks that a vampire is killing Mexicans who are coming illegally to US. Anna doesn't like working with Max but has to help innocent people.

In “Monster Mash” by Carole Nelson Douglas, Cicereau, the chief of the Las Vegas werewolf pack, hires private detective Delilah Street to get rid of the ghostly singer in Cicereau's hotel. The singer's voice is driving the werewolves mad, so Delilah doesn't have much time. The hotel is filled with Cinema Simulacrums, or "CinSims"--old black-and-white movie characters that behave like the monsters or characters they are simulating, no matter if they are damsels in distress or Dracula or the hunchback of Notre Dame. One of the funniest stories in the collection.

In L. A. Banks' “Wanted Dead or Alive,” bounty hunter Tanya went after the wrong target. Powerful master vampire Dimitri tried to kill her, but instead she killed him and inherited his powers. Now she has to deal with her new life as a vampire and dodge or destroy many new enemies. However, she might have an ally.

In “Mist” by Susan Krinard, main character Mist was one of Odhinn's handmaidens before Ragnarök destroyed all worlds except for Midgard, Earth. For centuries Mist has protected Gungnir, the weapon Odhinn charged her to guard. Now Mist works in San Francisco as a weaponsmith and has found a man to love. She has started to think that she should leave the past in the past and start a new life. Unfortunately, old enemies are coming back. Not part of a series.

In Nancy Holder's “Beyond the Pale,” Meg Zecherle is the newest recruit into the Haus Ritter, the German House of the Knights who protect the normal world against the Wild Hunt and the Hunt's leader, the Erl King. The Erl King steals children and leaves evil changelings in their place. Meg has had enough loss in her life and is determined to protect the children from the supernatural threat. Also not part of a series.

Most of the stories are set in the respective authors' ongoing series and are likely to spoil some plot or romance points at the start of the respective series. However, they are representative of the various authors' styles, so this is a good place to sample them. Unfortunately, with only a few exceptions, most of the stories illustrate how similar modern heroines and modern-day settings are. Still, the stories are likely to satisfy fans of the subgenre and of the authors.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Mervi Hamalainen, 2012

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