Friday, October 14, 2011

REVIEW: Daughters of Artemis edited by S.L. Armstrong

On the one hand, it’s a shame werewolves haven’t had quite the same level of literary exposure as vampires, because they have so much more potential. The act of transformation, the duality of spirit, and the tense dichotomy between domesticated human and wild animal make them so exciting to explore. Unlike vampires, there’s never an end to the seduction or to the transformation, which means there’s far less risk of the story growing stale.

On the other hand, that lack of exposure is also a relief, in that werewolves haven’t been de-clawed to the same extent that vampires had been de-fanged.

Daughters of Artemis is a really fascinating collection, with its own duality of spirit and tense dichotomy between horror and eroticism. Given the pack mentality of werewolves, and the traditional focus on the alpha male leader, it’s really exciting to read a collection of stories about female werewolves who are both leaders and lesbians. Additionally, it’s wonderfully rewarding to find authors who remain true to the wild mythology, while finding creative ways to make the stories contemporary.

The Fullness That Love Began by Marie Carlson
This was a fun story about suburban werewolves (complete with jobs at Microsoft), hunting rights, pack alliances, the war of the sexes, and the emotional conflict between love and procreation. Visually, the focus here is definitely on the human side of things, but the politics are all werewolf, and the sex is just wild enough to cross (and re-cross that line).

The Fire of Her Eyes by K. Piet
A much more traditional a tale about werewolves in the wild, with a danger triangle between werewolves, weretigers, and human hunters, this was definitely my favourite story in the collection. The romance between Katya, leader of the wolves, and Yun, blind tiger outcast, is simply gorgeous, and their lovemaking is both wild and sensuousness.

Luna's Mate by Shashauna P. Thomas
After two tales that proudly thrust us into the midst of the pack, with alpha females well-established and in charge, this is a nice step back to the story of a ‘normal’ girl on the run from wolves. Luna is just a great character, and we really get to see her transform emotionally through her meeting with feral destiny, and her seduction by the sexy Syrene is delightful to behold. The tone of the writing didn’t quite match that of the story, but I loved how it first set, and the upset, all expectations.

To Pierce the Sky by Erik Moore
Combining themes of the first two stories, this one was an interesting look at a contemporary werewolf tribe, established within a Native American culture. I liked how the cultural clash between Native and Caucasian was contrasted with that of the werewolf and the human, and I thoroughly enjoyed having the tables turned, with the virgin werewolf being seduced by the white woman who has come to interview her.

Protect the Moon by Della R. Buckland
Although a decent story on its own, this fantasy tale suffers from comparison to the stories around it. Whereas the others walk that fine line between mythology and reality, allowing us to imagine the story could be happening just behind that line of trees, this is clearly a tale of another time and place. That in itself isn’t an issue for me (I love epic fantasy), but it feels artificial here. Full of action, but without the sensuality or the drama of the others, it just came across as kind of flat.

Sacrifices by S.L. Armstrong
Another story firmly rooted in the realm of fantasy, this is a large part of why the previous story suffers in comparison. The characters here are easy to love, the writing flows beautifully, and it’s probably the sexiest story in the collection. Like the first story, the themes of duty and obligation are key here, with Sasha having to balance her King, her pack, and her mate. The werewolves are definitely not traditional, but it’s kind of fitting that the collection end on a creative twist.

Overall, a very strong collection, and one that I think has broad appeal – no pun intended.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for the review! I'm happy you enjoyed the anthology as a whole (and my short story in there ^_^)! This was my first official lesbian story, so I feel like I was in the best of possible company!

    Thanks for reading and reviewing! I hope readers enjoy the stories as much as you did!

    ~K. Piet