Short Story Roundup for Lish McBride

I’ve read a couple of short stories by Lish McBride and since the reviews are all short I’m posting them together. Some of these are available for free online (Heads Will Roll, Burnt Sugar, and Necromancer) and one (We Should Get Jerseys ‘Cause We Make a Good Team) is part of a book.

Heads Will Roll

This is set in the same urban fantasy world as the rest of Lish McBride’s novels, but it’s about mostly new characters. Lena’s a trainer partnering with a unicorn named Steve, and together the two of them travel to underground fighting rings.

This one’s a lot of fun, too. Lish McBride pulls from all sorts of mythology as she crafts her world, and even the more familiar ones like unicorns aren’t exactly what you might expect. And the story has a good dose of humor. Recommended.

Necromancer

Ashley, the Harbinger of death, hangs out with a friend of hers from life. This is mostly backstory on Ashley and who she was before (and after) she becomes a Harbinger, and the unusual relationship she has with one of her friends from life.

I didn’t care for this one as much, although that’s probably more because I wasn’t all that curious about Ashley to begin with. Still, it’s nice to see more backstory for some of the minor characters that show up in the novels. Recommended if you like Ashley.

Burnt Sugar

Ava, Ezra, and Lock have been sent out as Venus’s enforcers to dish out some hurt to someone who hasn’t been paying Venus protection money. But what starts as an ordinary gig turns weird as they discover the gingerbread house, and what’s inside….

If you haven’t yet read Firebug, this is a great introduction to its main characters. I’m impressed by how well everyone’s personalities shine through in a very short piece, and how the story takes some familiar elements and totally runs away with them (if you didn’t think gingerbread houses were creepy before now, this story will probably change your mind). Recommended.

We Should Get Jerseys ‘Cause We Make a Good Team (part of the Cornered anthology)

Full disclosure: I got this book solely for the Lish McBride story at the end, and didn’t read any of the rest of them. Reading about particularly cruel bullies does bad things to my blood pressure.

This is Frank’s story, set between Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, and Necromancing the Stone. So it’s a bit spoilerish for those who may not have read HMC,N yet, but not too badly. Brooke and Frank go out to get Ramon a welcome-home present and Frank gets an unwelcome visitor from his past, a bully he once suffered under in high school. It’s also the story of how Frank met Brooke, Sam, and Ramon, and why he started working with them at Plumpy’s.

I like how much depth this gives to Frank, who is an interesting side character but mostly a side character in both of the novels. Frank was always oppressed, easily pressured, and a people pleaser. But over the course of this story (and continued in Necromancing the Stone) he grows more confident, more sure of his own capabilities. (And in the novels, Sam, at least, finds him indispensable, though it’s not clear if Frank himself realizes that.) And it’s fun to see how the friends Frank accidentally met one day have been so instrumental in helping him stand on his own two feet. Recommended.

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