led astray book coverReviewed by Jennifer Jensen

Long before Goodreads or my Prime membership on Amazon.com, I selected which books to read the old-fashioned way: wandering up and down the sci-fi/fantasy aisle at Barnes & Noble, selecting a book that had an interesting cover, and giving it a shot if I liked the blurb I read on the back of the book. This is how I discovered the Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong in 2007, and I’ve been a fairly faithful reader ever since.

But once Goodreads, used-book swapping services, book blogging, and Kindle were introduced into my life, so were new authors and titles, and it became difficult to keep up with my auto-buy authors at the time (Kelley Armstrong, Laurell K. Hamilton, Rachel Vincent, Vicki Pettersson, to name a few). I somehow managed to stay pretty on task with reading the Women of the Otherworld series, but I missed out on several other series that Armstrong released, both for adults and for young adults.

Discovering the publication of Led Astray, a collection of short and not-so-short stories in new as well as familiar worlds, has renewed my interest in reading absolutely everything that Armstrong has written. I was reacquainted with beloved characters from the Otherworld series and reminded of other characters I’d long forgotten. I got a taste of her other series, ones that are either sitting on my shelves right now, collecting dust, and ones I didn’t know how much I’d like to read.

Led Astray also features several stories that were written specifically for anthologies with a particular theme, such as zombies or vampires. I have to say I’m not a huge fan of anthologies, though; if I have purchased them in the past, it’s been for only an author or two, and I’ve usually skipped over the others in the collection because I’m not familiar with the authors. The beauty of this anthology is that every story included is one of Kelley Armstrong’s, making it the perfect addition for any reader that has affection for her wickedly fantastic worlds.

To be perfectly honest, my favorite stories in this anthology were stories that had nothing to do with the characters and worlds I’m already aware of. Notably, my favorites included “Rakshasi,” “A Haunted House of her Own,” “Harbinger,” and “Plan B.” Of these four stories, “Rakshasi” was the least convincing as a short story; I wanted more of the characters and their world, and could see this as the promising start of a successful new story. Unfortunately the story was published four years ago, and most likely won’t develop into anything more.

There were a handful of stories included in this volume that simply held no appeal for me, whether it was because they confused me due to feeling too rushed and cramming too much information into them, or because they didn’t seem as polished as I needed them to be to connect to the characters or the setting. With a collection like this, however, I wouldn’t feel too much guilt over skipping a story that doesn’t resonate with you.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Tachyon Publications. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.