The Stroke of Midnight: A Supernatural New Year’s Anthology
By J.M. Gregoire, Amy Miles, Bella Roccaforte, Beth Dolgner, Brandy Dorsch, Connie Suttle, Danielle Bannister, Lola Rayne, Faith McKay, K.L. Brown, Kyra Dunst, F.F. McCulligan, Susan Illene and Michael Siemsen.
…So what’s this book about?
This book is a collection of fourteen urban fantasy and paranormal short stories/novellas with the common theme of the stories being set around “New Year’s Eve/Day”. I downloaded this Kindle version for free from Amazon UK.
Chapter 1“A stray in the night” by Lola Rayne
I enjoyed this short story. Strong but funny handsome lead character, strong female love interest, fast paced story, bit of mystery, hot lust/romance scenes left me wanting the story to go on…
Chapter 2 “Obsidian Flames” by Amy Miles.
Salem, evil witch, innocent girl sent to the stake – a well written story that had my 21st century values/characteristics forgotten & immersed in Mary Albright’s world.
Chapter 3 “Suffering – A Demon Legacy Short Story” by J.M. Gregoire. Cleverly setting up a background story spanning hundreds of years without slowing the pace of this very short story takes a skilled author – I am duly impressed & will hunt out more stories about Vegas & Dez’s saga…
Chapter 4 “Eternal Beginnings – A Hunger Mate Novella” by Brandy Dorsch.
I found this a bit of a struggle. The writing style isn’t as smooth as the other stories so far (although new authors often have to find their feet as their experience grows) but I felt lost with the story too. I’m assuming that the timeframe of this Novella is well into an established series that has seen major storylines.
Chapter 5 “The Lurkers” by Danielle Bannister
This is a very short ghost story that plunges you right in the middle of the action; a team of U.S. Federal “Retrieval” Agents undercover in a house to remove the rebel ghosts. I found it easy to read and understand the concept behind the plot. Great story with an unexpected twist that left me thinking and coming up with my own “what happened next” scenarios.
Chapter 6 “Ghost of a Girl – A Betty Boo, Ghost Hunter Story by Beth Dolgner
This short ghost story is set at a séance in an old haunted house. The writing style was easy to read and I enjoyed the building tension of waiting for the ghost to appear but I didn’t feel engaged with the characters enough to want to find out what happens in their lives next after this story. I am happy & satisfied leaving this as a quick standalone ghost story.
Chapter 7 – “GSW, or How I Met My Mother” by Connie Suttle
Not what I was expecting, in a good way! I completely fell in love with Conner Francis and think Shane Taylor is a great supporting character. I loved the story and would definitely buy a paranormal series if they were the main characters! It made me laugh and I actually shed a tear at the end which I think is impressive for a short story!
Chapter 8 – “More Glitter” by Faith McKay
This is a Teen/YA short story, relationship/life angst is not my choice of reading even in a paranormal setting, however the writing style is good and it was a nice change to read this very short story about magical adolescents
Chapter 9 – “The Smiths” by Michael Siemsen
I really loved this story. The writing style was easy to read and the world building was believable. I felt a connection to the main character, Kyle Smith and enjoyed being plunged feet first into his life. Although this story is in the paranormal genre, the dynamics and complexities of living as part of a huge family are brilliant captured and will resonate with many readers and could have easily taken place in many a family home at Christmas (or Thanksgiving). Lol! I loved the ending, it left me wanting find other stories about Kyle Smith and his usually talented family 😉
Chapter 10 – “’Til Death Do Us Part” by K.L. Brown
I didn’t get involved in this story. It left me feeling “meh”. The writing style didn’t flow for me, the build-up felt complicated & I couldn’t connect to the characters. It’s a shame really because the concept was good. I suppose sometimes as a reader you click with a story and sometimes you don’t.
Chapter 11 – “What Lurks Within” by Bella Roccaforte
Absolutely brilliant!! I loved this story with a passion. Very easy to read writing style, believable characters with depth & great plot twists! The creative world building had me right there in Mortimer & Heidi’s life, they quickly became characters that I cared about. This story made me laugh and cry. Perfect!
Chapter 12 – “Fifteen Minutes until Midnight – An Annwn Unveiled Short Story” by Kyra Dunst
Although, this tale is obviously a short story centred on a supporting character from within a well established series, the character building and “Annwn Unveiled” background story was interweaved beautifully within this story. I found the writing style easy to read and quickly found myself engaging with Teagan’s tale. I loved her rather unique quandary; I haven’t read about a newly turned vampire who was vegan in human life before! What a conundrum!
Chapter 13 – “Maltese Cross My Heart” by F.F. McCulligan
I feel that this short tale is more sci-fi or urban fantasy than paranormal but I enjoyed reading it. I did find the story a bit confusing at the beginning; who was this main character, what was he – is he a schizophrenic, is the story set in a future time or a different planet? But once I stopped trying to work it out and let it wash over me, I felt captivated by Glen’s journey of self discovery; it became one of those stories that gets you thinking… wow – what if? I love it when I’m still thinking about a short story days after reading it, don’t you?!
Chapter 14 – “Tempting the Moon” by Susan Illene
I loved this short story; the writing style was easy to read, the pace was good, I engaged with the main character, Mel, and I loved the complexities of her relationships with the supporting. I have since found out that this tale is from a series called “The Sensor”, I haven’t read any of the 6 books in the series and can say that you don’t need to to enjoy this story; it works well as a stand-alone story, the character building is great and we’re given all the background story we need to be able to follow what’s happening. I loved this short story so much that I think I’ve found myself a new paranormal series to read!
…So, basically what I’m saying is…
I have enjoyed having this book as an ongoing back-up, to be able to pick up and read when I’ve had a bit of free time. I’ve enjoyed reading 11 out of the 14 tales; I think it’s got a nice collection of different paranormal creatures, settings and sub-genres under the paranormal umbrella to suit most tastes.