Blue! Blue! Blue! – Amamiya
When Takiya Kippei, the brother of two older sisters, realises that he desperately needs money to buy a birthday present for his lover, he decides to live and work onsite at a ryokan (a traditional japanese inn). There, he meets the well-educated Honjou Masumi, a man who is neither too strict nor too lenient, and who has a charm which embodies the word “mature”. “This is the first time I’ve met someone like Honjou-san” – as Takiya continues working at the ryokan, he starts to become interested in Honjou!
OMG! Beautiful art, beautiful story. So soft and subtle.
Devil Take Me by Rhys Ford, Ginn Hale, Jordan L. Hawk, T.A. Moore, C.S. Poe & Jordan Castillo Price
Temptation lurks around every corner in worlds sometimes dark, sometimes lurid. Giving in is both dangerous and satisfying, though never in the ways one expects. While these enticements offer a vast range of benefits and boons, the cost is a soul and the devil expects his due. Sometimes suave and charming or calculating and cruel, these devils have schemes and desires of their own. They can be creatures to run away from… or toward.
Join the most unique and celebrated authors of LGBT urban fantasy and paranormal fiction for a fast-paced and unpredictable ride, from a city on the other side of reality, to a world suspended in dusk, to a twisted version of the 1960s and 70s.
Meet devils in top hats and waistcoats, a defrocked motorcycle-riding priest, and a genderfluid antihero—among many more. Full of humor, romance, horror, action, intrigue, and magic, these stories have one common element….
They’re one hell of a good time.
I am the type of reader who, when I see the words raven king, dark duke or devil in winter in the title expects some being who can magically control ravens or actually came from hell only to be let down when they invariable turn out to be just some bastard with poor manners. So I was delighted to know that Devil Take Me was quite literal.
This anthology features a stellar list of authors, among them my favorites Jordan L. Hawk and Jordan Castillo Price, giving their own take on the theme of selling the soul to the devil and trying to get it back.
Infernal Affairs by Jordan L. Hawk: Fluffpaw’s crossroads demon Ralgath, first day on the job, answered a summoning from Chess, a non-binary who wanted to be a hero. Turns out Chess was more than he bargained for. Outwitted by a human, he was demoted to customer service but was later given a chance to redeem himself. Luckily for the demon, Fluffpaw was there to help him.
The lightest and fluffiest story of the anthology. Written in an ironic tone and about as serious as Greg Trembley’s demon voice for Ralgath. Ralgath and Chess were so cute, I’d hurl my tablet if they don’t end up together!
Collared by T.A. Moore: Ex-priest, Jack, was commanded by his personal demon Math to find what was stolen from him…
which took forever to find that I didn’t care anymore. However, I did enjoyed the gruesome horror and Math and Jack’s twisted relationship.
Counterfeit Viscount by Ginn Hale: Archie sold his soul to Nimble, a prodigal conjurer and he was given the chance to get it back by helping Nimble solve a case.
Set in the same world as Wicked Gentlemen, which I haven’t read yet, but now I’m curious. Loved the camaraderie and banter between Archie and Nimble and that twist that I didn’t see coming. Very satisfying epilogue too.
11:59 by C.S. Poe: Death-defy battles against nightmares is the order of the day everyday for Asuka. The monster slayer, tired and merely a shell of his former self, meets the bookworm Merrick, cheerful and full of life. Merrick persistently pursues Asuka and through his knowledge of mythology, helps him defeat the source of nightmares.
This I would love to see as an anime! The freeze frame scene of Asuka falling off a building in a rain of glass is classic. Merrick believing Asuka is a real hero is adorbs! Merrick is cute as a button but really, I was shipping Asuka with the Devil himself.
Wonderland City by Rhys Ford: Wonderland is in trouble as another little girl came through the mirror. Every citizen of Wonderland knows there’s nothing as dangerous as a human child. Xander Spade, with the help of deposed prince, Jean Michel and brave dog, Blue, was tasked by Oz, the Devil to find the child, Naomi, in exchange for returning his soul and going back home to the other side of the looking glass.
At first, this was as whimsical and topsy turvy as the original which I loved. Then came the confrontation with the Red Queen and everything became bloody, chaotic, painful and downright horrifying which I loved too. I know the queens of Wonderland are crazy but here, they are monstrously psychopathic. The process of letting the beast out was drawn out in every excruciating detail and my heart went out to Xander. The romance was there or it will be there once Xander stops putting Jean Michel at arms length.
Dark Favors by Jordan Castillo Price: When Johnny was young enough to fearless, he unwittingly sold himself to the Old Man. Fast forward to 1979 and the Old Man asks Johnny a big favor: kill somebody.
I hate dub-con situations and here comes the big dub-con scene as the highlight. Great. Would have skipped it but it was crucial to the story. Also, I felt conflicted because Adam harassed Johnny and I should hate him for it but at the same time I was drawn to his affable, confident personality and I think he should have just charmed his way through Johnny’s hardcore shell instead of tying him to a chair. On the upside, JCP‘s world-building was expertly crafted as usual and the idea of favors as currency was executed well.
Infernal Affairs – 4 Stars
Collared – 3 Stars
Counterfeit Viscount – 4 Stars
11:59 – 4 Stars
Wonderland City – 4 Stars
Dark Favors – 3 Stars
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
“Can I get you a drink, sir?” the bartender asks.
Asuka spares the man behind the counter a glance.
He has no face.
Asuka visibly recoils. He checks his watch.
He looks at the woman again, but she’s nowhere to be seen.
The Devil sits in her place. He holds a lit cigarette between two fingers, and a tumbler of whiskey is in front of him. “Hello, little bird. It’s been a while”.