This a collection of stories from the world of Jane Yellowrock (and a couple from Soulwood), I would not recommend for anyone who hasn’t read those series, but if you have, it is a must read. Although I have read several of these stories, I really enjoyed the ones I hadn’t read before. The stories from Leo’s POV and Occam’s origin story. As always, I enjoyed returning to the world of Jane Yellowrock.
adventurous tense medium-paced
- Plot- or character-driven? Character
- Strong character development? It's complicated
- Loveable characters? Yes
- Diverse cast of characters? Yes
- Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes
This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader.
What’s Of Claws and Fangs About?
What’s Of Claws and Fangs About?
It’s a collection of 18 shorter works in the Jane Yellowrock/Soulwood universe—one novella, a couple of very short vignettes, and several short stories.
This is the second collection of such works (and I really should get that first one, I’m not sure how I’ve managed to miss it), and brings in material from a variety of collections and some things published online and brings them all together in one handy volume—which is great, most readers are like me and we’re not going to be able to get all these various collections, but you put them in a book like this, and we’re going to have a good time.
I briefly considered giving a sentence or two about each piece, instead, I’m going to focus on just a few:
Jane Tracks Down Miz A
This is the sole bit of new material for the book—it’s described as a “short-short story.” It’s a little longer than a vignette, but not quite a short story. It was originally written for someone who won a charity auction, and Hunter re-worked it for this collection. I wasn’t sure what to think of it originally, but by the time it was over I wanted it to keep going.
Bound into Darkness
This novella is the longest piece in the book, and as such, seems like it should get a little more attention than the rest. The story centers on Eli and Molly’s sister Liz Everheart. Several other characters get involved by the end, but it’s primarily about these two and one of the worst dates (that really wasn’t a date) in history. There were plenty of good character moments, a few good supernatural baddies, and a lot of Eli doing his thing.
The nicest touch, if you ask me, was the short story that followed it in this collection. It ties into the novella, talking about something that happens behind the scenes. It doesn’t really alter your understanding of the novella, it just adds a little color. I really liked it—not just because of the added color, but the story was nice, too. I didn’t realize I wanted to know more about Lincoln Shaddock, but I was wrong.
I’m a big Soulwood fan, so I was pleased to run into two stories from that series here. There’s a cute story about Nell’s early days with PsyLED and Black Friday, which is followed by Occam’s origin story.
There’s a great story where Angie Baby gets to shine. I’ve been thinking it for a while, but this story (“My Dark Knight”) confirms it for me—I need a stand-alone novel featuring her, either at her current age or as a young adult. She’s possibly the most interesting character in this series that features several interesting characters.
Of course, there’s plenty of good material featuring Jane and Beast—it’s pretty much a requirement. My one note on “Life’s a Bitch and Then You Die” was that it would justify the book’s purchase price by itself. Then I read “Of Cats and Cars” (I posted an excerpt from that earlier today), “Anzu, Duba, Beast” and “Shiloh and the Brick”—I think I’d have said the same about any of them.
Really, there weren’t any—not many collections like this can say that.
For me, the collection started off rough—but I’m going to be in the distinct minority on this. The first vignette and the story that followed focused on Leo Pellissier, and he’s really never been my cup of tea. I can enjoy him as an antagonist to Jane, and even a benefactor, but that’s it—as a secondary character, basically. But even then, I thought the story, “Make it Snappy,” ended well, with a nice reveal at the end.
So, what did I think about Of Claws and Fangs?
I had more fun with this than I expected. I expected to have a good time with it, don’t get me wrong, but with short story collections, I try to go in with low expectations (and usually have those met). Like I said above, there’s not a bad one in the batch—sure, there were a few I could’ve liked more, but none of the stories were disappointing or dull.
For readers of Jane Yellowrock and Soulwood, this is a must. You’ll enjoy the time with your favorites, get a new perspective on a handful of them, and will be exposed to a variety of adventures that wouldn’t fit into a novel.
There’s nothing to complain about here, and plenty to enjoy—go get your paws on Of Claws and Fangs.