Led Astray: The Best of Kelley Armstrong (Tachyon, Sept. 15th)-There’s quite a lot to love in Kelley Armstrong’s newest collection, Led Astray. In fact, if you haven’t read any of her work, this is a perfect way to discover it, and it’s a treat for fans. I personally haven’t read her Cainsville series (I know!) or Age of Legends, yet I loved getting a taste of those worlds in stories like “Gabriel’s Gargoyles” about a boy with a drug addicted mother that finds refuge with his aunt in Cainsville.
One of my absolute favorites is “Suffer the Children,” about a village that is hit hard by diphtheria, taking the lives of adults and children alike. When two strangers come to town offering a way to get their children back, it seems too good to be true, and it is. It really, really is. It’s a creepy yet poignant story about the power of love, and those that would exploit that, and it’s not wrapped up in a neat bow.
Another standout, for me, is the short and sweet “The Collector.” This story originally appeared in Hellbound Hearts, a collection set in Clive Barker’s Hellbound Heart universe, and is about a woman that loves puzzles who finds herself in possession of a very special puzzle box (I bet you know which puzzle box I’m talking about.) It leaves quite a bit to the imagination, which actually makes it more effective. You’ll get chills.
“The Door” is about a young girl who, after losing her parents, must venture outside, beyond the safety of their home, in order to take care of her little sister. She never could have imagined the world outside, and it’s a coming of age I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
More highlights include “Harbinger,” about a young woman who begins to see what seem to be the spirits of drowned women. Why are they following her? You’ll find out, and there’s a neat twist at the end, too. Also of note is “Plan B,” a diabolical little chiller about a husband and wife…and murder. There really isn’t a dud in the bunch, and this collection shows just how versatile Armstrong is as a writer. She does supernatural just as expertly as she does thrillers and suspense. This is a must for her fans, and new readers alike.