The awesome team of Harris and Kelner are back again with a creative compilation of stories from some of our favorite authors. Home Improvement is the fourth collaboration of this sort from this literary “dynamic duo.”
The basic idea is this. Harris and Kelner contact a bunch of writers and ask them to write a story that combines the characters from their supernatural worlds with an ordinary theme of the mortal world. In the case of Many Bloody Returns it was vampires and birthdays. Wolfsbane and Mistletoe combined the winter holidays and werewolves. In Death’s Excellent Vacation the two wanted to see other worldly creatures out of their element.
In this most recent compilation, Home Improvement: Undead Edition we have vampires, ghosts, fae, and other fantastical creatures entangled in the daunting and often frightening task of home improvement. But each story is vastly different from the others. Although I knew the work of only 2 of the authors, I was able to enjoy each story since they are stand-alone short stories. However, if you’re familiar with those characters, then you’ll be delighted to get a glimpse into the ordinary mundane lives that they lead when they’re not out doing “their thing” that you read in the full-length novels.
In the first story, If I Had a Hammer by Charlaine Harris, we find that Sookie Stackhouse has enlisted the help of Sam and Terry in remodeling Tara and JB’s house to better accommodate their twins. In the process of tearing out a wall, they find a hammer that may have been used in a murder nearly 100 years ago. What follows is nothing short of bizarre! It was fun to see a short story that wasn’t all about Vampire politics, but still gave me my “Sookie fix” while I wait for the next novel.
In Brightest Day by Toni LP Kelner, is about Dodie Kilburn, a houngan (Zombie Raiser) who must raise Gottfried, an award-winning designer, so that he can finish renovating a home that will be auctioned off for charity. However, this zombie keeps re-dying. Dodie begins to suspect that something isn’t quite right and she has to figure out how to get Gottfried to finish his task so he can be properly laid to rest. Being from Atlanta, I loved that this story was set in Dunwoody, a suburb of Atlanta.
I think my favorite story in the entire book was Gray by Patricia Briggs. In this story Elyna Gray returns to the apartment that she shared with her husband until she was turned into a vampire. She was not told what had happened to her, and when she returned home she accidentally killed her husband. For more than 80 years she’s stayed away, but now she has bought her old home and wants to restore it to what it once was. But when she gets there she discovers she’s not alone. Something else wants to live there as well and it’s been frightening off the construction workers. Somehow Elyna must convince this other entity to let her finish her work.
I enjoyed this book so much! I think that because it’s a series of short stories, my attention doesn’t wander. This is one of those “poolside books”. You can finish one story and then go take a quick dip and come back and not have that unfinished feeling.