Brian M. Thomsen &
Martin H. Greenberg, editors,
The Repentant
(DAW, 2003)

Monsters don't have to be evil.

While a lifetime of horror stories and movies might convince you otherwise, Brian M. Thomsen and Martin H. Greenberg make a persuasive argument to the contrary in The Repentant, a short-story anthology in which the monsters are the good guys.

As Thomsen notes in his introduction, the concept is not without precedent. From Samantha on Bewitched to Willow on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the three buxom sisters on Charmed, witches have increasingly been portrayed as heroes. So, too, have a variety of vampires, werewolves, demons and other creatures once reserved solely for purposes of terror, bloodshed and unspeakable evil.

The 13 stories collected here are fun, creative and enjoyable through and through.

Jody Lynn Nye takes a look at modern witches in "The Salem Trial," a modern story featuring a litiginous lawyer with a conscience. Werewolves get a new skin in Jeff Grubb's "Lycanthrope Summer," in which different breeds of shapeshifters battle for control of a monster, and Edo van Belkom's "The Den Mother," where a werewolf does its bit for social services.

In Fiona Patton's "Brothers in the Flesh," dealers in dead flesh clash over a living zombie. "Heat," by Jean Rabe, finds two petty thieves finding unexpected security at work in the Egyptian wing of a museum. James Lowder explores life, death and the lunar cycle in "She Dwelleth in the Cold of the Moon."

Tanya Huff revisits Henry Fitzroy, protagonist of her popular Blood series, for a flashback story of unholy vengeance. In "Slaughter," P.N. Elrod mixes vampires and gangsters. Brian M. Thomsen takes an undead view of Tinseltown scandals in "A Hollywood Tradition." And Chelsea Quinn Yarbro shares a series of letters written by the endlessly patient manservant Rogerio on behalf of his incarcerated master, St. Germaine, in "Intercession."

Turning to demonology, Nina Kiriki Hoffman explores a lifetime of servitude in "The Devil You Know." A descendent of ultimate evil just wants to be loved in Tom Dupree's "The Recall of Cthulhu." And in Allen C. Kupfer's "Redeemed," a demon questions its role in the cosmos.

The Repentant collects clever horror stories -- with a twist. Kudos to these authors and editors for taking a new look at hackneyed creatures of evil!

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 8 November 2003

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