Dark Secrets: A Paranormal Noir Anthology
Authors: Rachel Caine, Cynthia Eden, Megan Hart
Suzanne Johnson, Jeffe Kennedy, and Mina Khan
Page Count: 504 pages
Overall Rating: 3 out of 5
(Post amended 9/24 to note changes made between ARC and final copy.)
* I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review. *
Straight-up, this is false advertising. This is not an anthology of paranormal noir. It is an anthology of paranormal, and also of noir, but most of the stories are just one or the other. Only a couple of the stories actually fall under both genres. Incredibly disappointing.
I’ve ranked each story individually below. This was a very hit-or-miss anthology though.
Six award-winning authors bring you this spellbinding collection of stories about dark desires, mysterious worlds, and danger that lurks in the shadows of the night. Where nothing is black and white; where things might not be as they seem; where magic and mayhem rule.
MARION, MISSING by Rachel Caine (★★★★★)
Valentine is a detective with two major problems: he’s been offered a kidnapping case that will probably get him killed, and his partner won’t let him turn it down. He owes her that much… since his partner’s a ghost, and he’s the one who killed her. A dark, haunting noir mystery of love, hate and loss.
I loved everything about this story, from the setting to the time period. I grew up in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, and while the 90s and early 00s were a far different time period than the 50s in this short, it was still fun to see places I recognize. And the details are perfect, from the description of Tilde to the casual, period-specific racism. The paranormal aspect was subtle, but still delightfully creepy, and I love Valentine’s not-so-stereotypical noir detective character.
“What about the dead being all-knowing? Isn’t that what all those spiritualists say?”
“They lie,” she said. (Kindle Loc. 679)
FEMME FATALE by Cynthia Eden (★★☆☆☆)
PI Mick Swayne has seen it all—his clients have included liars, thieves, and even killers. He thinks he can handle anything and anyone. Then she walks into his office. Savannah Moreau is beautiful, seductive, and… a vampire? The gorgeous vamp hires Mick to help her track down a killer who is hunting in Chicago, but as Mick slips deeper into Savannah’s paranormal world, he wonders if he can really trust his new client…
A fantastic premise, but poorly executed. The characters themselves were great, but the plot was riddled with holes (vampire, bullet, you decide) and I found the big reveal incredibly unsatisfactory. There was a lot of confusion, scenes that played out and then a few pages later were disregarded or ignored. And the “he said, she said” back and forth was annoying.
“Crazy, sane, or vampire… doesn’t matter to me. From this point on, for ten grand a night, you’re my client.” (Kindle Loc. 1085)
DANCE WITH THE DEVIL by Megan Hart (★★★★☆)
When the devil starts the music, you’d better get ready to dance.
Kathleen Murphy has sold her soul to the devil. Fame, fortune, success…everything she’s ever dreamed of is hers, and all she has to do is the devil’s bidding. When love comes knocking, the last thing in the world she wants to do is involve Jake in her twisted world, but the devil’s started up the jukebox and Kathleen has no choice but to learn the steps.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I was confused at first, because when you think of fame and fortune, an author is not the first thing to spring to mind. But I’ll go with it, sure. Although I don’t think that even JK Rowling and Stephen King command the kind of fame and adoration that Kathleen gets in this story.
But the devil! Oh wow, what a fantastic character. So well written, so hilarious. The plot was fantastic, too, and I did not see that plot-twist coming. A very enjoyable story about how far a person will go to get the thing they want the most.
This was not love.
She wouldn’t allow it to be. Not so soon, not with a stranger she’d met in a bar. That’s not the way love grew. She didn’t write romance novels, but she didn’t need to in order to know that.
Still, it was something, and they fell into it together as easily as slipping into a warm bath. (Kindle Loc. 2556)
THE CONSORT by Suzanne Johnson (★★★★☆)
Faulkner Hearne, the captain of the ruthless Fae Hunters, finds his duty at odds with his heart when he’s ordered to capture the consort of Faerie’s cruel Prince of Summer when she flees across the veil into modern New Orleans. Can Faulk turn Liandra over to a certain death at the hands of the prince, or will he risk a war with Faerie in order to save her?
A totally predictable plot? Sure. But wow, this story was a lot of fun to read! Liandra is innocent and naive in the ways of the world, but she’s also very smart and a quick learner, which makes her a lot of fun. And Faulk is a better man than most, so he’s a great hero.
This is part of the Sentinels of New Orleans ‘verse, and I’m very interested to read more!
“Stop looking like you’re ready to bolt. I’m the last person who’d turn in someone who didn’t want to spend a year being my brother’s sex slave. He’s a jerk. Eat your gumbo.” (Kindle Loc. 3618)
HEART’S BLOOD by Jeffe Kennedy (DNF)
Post amended 9/24: I did not finish this story due to the content. Since communicating with one of the authors, a notice has been added to the beginning of this story to warn for potentially triggering content. My thanks to Mina Khan for taking the time to do this!
Nix is nothing. The Princess Natilde—her former waiting woman—attacked her on the journey to wed Prince Cavan, stripping her of everything and taking her place. With no serving skills, Nix becomes a goose girl. Perhaps if Nix keeps her promise never to reveal who she really is, Natilde won’t carry out her vile threats. Prince Cavan entered his arranged marriage determined to have a congenial, if not loving relationship with his future queen—for the sake of both their kingdoms. But, his wife repels him more each day and he finds himself absurdly drawn to the lovely Nix.
THE DJINN IN THE MIRROR by Mina Khan (★★★☆☆)
Dahlia, the step-daughter of a power hungry wizard, promises to free a djinn trapped in a mirror if he rescues her from impending death. But Ashmael the djinn has his own agenda: to trick & seduce his way to freedom. The only problem is he ends up falling for Dahlia. Can he win his freedom and save the girl?
A really well-done short story, set in the Djinn World ‘verse. It’s a fantastic story, and edits between the advanced copy I read and the final copy have fixed some of the major flaws. I plan to re-read the story in its final form, as I think it’s a well done piece! However, I do think the entire sub-plot with Ashmael and his family was 100% unnecessary, in my opinion. It didn’t benefit the story at all.
What the hell had the girl been thinking? He should have read her mind, except, he’d been too distracted by her body, by the challenge in her gaze and by the possibilities. (Kindle Loc. 5966)
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