Review: Teeth, editors Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

Editors: Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling
Publisher: HarperCollins
Print Date: April 5, 2011
ISBN-13: 978-0061935145
Details: 480 pages | paperback | $9.99

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The new anthology TEETH, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, includes a delectable assortment of bite sized vampire stories that should be tasted and savored. Yes, all of the stories are that good. One of the best things about TEETH is that the stories consistently establish strong, unique worlds filled with characters who are compelling and interesting. Plus, you’re sure to find a few new vampiric details and treasures that are not part of the standard mythology in today’s vampire literature.

While the stories differ in voice, tone, and style, they each offer something significant and unique for readers to  enjoy. Tender friendships, lost potential, arranged marriages, fights for survival, and coming of age stories are just a few of the themes within this anthology. Some stories will stick with you well beyond “The End,” especially the stories that should only be read in full daylight. While all of the stories are good reads, there are several stand outs. A few of those standouts include, but are not limited to:

Things to Know About Being Dead by Genevieve Valentine is a touching story about a newly undead girl who is learning the ropes of her new undead existence with the help of a ghost and her aging grandmother. This is one of two stories that are available online as a free preview.

All Smiles by Steve Berman is also available online as a free sample. After reading All Smiles, you will think twice about hitching a ride from someone with a perfect pearly white smile. This fight for survival story will have you cringing and running for the door.

Vampire Weather by Garth Nix brings an interesting spin on the world after vampires make themselves known. When the fog comes rolling into one of the remaining pockets of pure human societies, a young man learns the truth about vampires and the world that could either kill him, set him free, or both.

Sit the Dead by Jeffrey Ford is an inventive story with a new twist the blends old cursed bloodlines, modern day family responsibilities, and ultra creepy vampires. Long after the story is over, the ending will stick with you as you wonder whether or not the story ended “right,” and you will inevitably keep coming back to the same conclusion. It couldn’t have ended any other way. The real question is what happens next.

Sunbleached by Nathan Ballingrud brings the vampire back to bad. Dark and dangerous, the beautiful imagery used to compare the hideously burned vampire is reminiscent of a  graceful caged spider ready to pounce.

The Perfect Dinner Party by Cassandra Clare & Holly Black is a superbly written story about a brother and sister pair of vampires who struggle to find how they fit into the world and with each other – all told against a backdrop that reads like a clever Miss Manners guide. It’s rare to find such an exquisitely told story written in second person. It’s a must read.

Why Light? by Tanith Lee is a lovely story about two young vampires from vastly different families who are forced into an arranged marriage. There is a strong sense of new and old world coming together in Why Light. This convergence of old and new, light and dark, evil and good plays with parallels inherent in both historical and contemporary vampire fiction in an interesting way.

All in all, Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow built a wonderful collection of stories that is a true pleasure to read. As sweet and tender as some of the stories are within TEETH, you may need to keep the light on for a few of the darker pieces. TEETH is an anthology that will keep you coming back for more, story after story until the last page is turned.

THE END

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