This anthology started out so promising. I enjoyed the first few stories, they were punchy and fun, but then I got increasingly frustrated with how many of these seemed to be just the beginning of a bigger story, like a prequel or an excerpt from the first chapter of a book. Some definitely were, some I’m not actually sure, but they opened up a bunch of threads and closed none of them. And that’s not what I bought this for. I was expecting short stories that would feel complete and be enjoyable on their own.
That issue aside… I loved the idea for this book—fantasy bar brawls is a fun theme. I appreciated that, for the most part, these stories were fun/interesting/entertaining on the surface rather than requiring the reader to find deeper, hidden themes and meanings. And of course I loved all the supernatural creatures.
“Limbus Lounge” by A.R. Wise really left an impression on me. I wasn’t expecting a short story about a fantasy bar brawl to be such a mindfuck! The story was entertaining with a very unsettling undertone.
“The Tipsy Toadstool” by Jasie Gale was about pixies, and it was so cute! Everything was pixie-fied, like how their bar was a tree and their drinks were sap and honey. It also had an otherwordly faerie circle and a sweet ending.
Those were the two that stood out to me the most. The rest of the stories I had varying opinions of. Some I enjoyed or thought had some interesting elements (like the demons in “Meet Me at the Crossroads” by Kory M. Shrum and the fire/water fae powers in “Rennard’s Tavern of Turmoil” by Kathrine Pendleton). Others weren’t for me, or the feeling that the story was just an excerpt left me frustrated and dissatisfied.
Also, just a note, according to Amazon at the time of this review, this book is 467 pages long, but I think that’s incorrect. It didn’t feel long.
Some readers may enjoy getting a little taste of different books/series in addition to different authors, in which case I think this would be a great read. And some readers may simply have different taste and love all these stories. But, although there are a few standout stories here, overall this anthology did not live up to its potential for me.
Anyone who likes supernatural creatures and alcohol-infused urban fantasy and who wants to sample different books/series in addition to different authors.