Book Review: Were- (an Anthology)

Book Cover from Amazon

Were-, an anthology published by Zombies Needs Brains, LLC.


Werewolves rule the night in urban fantasy, but everyone knows there are other were-creatures out there just as dangerous and deadly, if not as common, each with their own issues as they struggle to fit into—or prey upon—society. What about the were-goats? The were-crows and were-wasps?

Here are seventeen stories of urban fantasy by today’s leading science fiction and fantasy authors that introduce you to some of those other were-creatures, the ones hiding in the dark background shadows, waiting to bite. Join Seanan McGuire, Ashley McConnell, Susan Jett, Eliora Smith, David B. Coe, April Steenburgh, Gini Koch, Mike Barretta, Elizabeth Kite, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jean Marie Ward, Katharine Kerr, Sarah Brand, Anneliese Belmond, Faith Hunter, Patricia Bray, and Phyllis Ames as they take you into the hidden corners of our world to see some lesser known were-creatures. You may want to bring along some silver … just in case.



Normally I give anthologies four stars, because while one or two stories are standouts, usually I run into a couple clunkers as well. I loved all the stories in Were- – most of the stories created solid worldbuilding in a few short strokes. 

Avoiding the ubiquitous werewolf, Were- follows the dozens of other shifters of folklore and urban fantasy: weregoats, shape-shifting unicorns, young children-cubs, murders of were-crows, were-plants. … Yep, were-plants … and many more things which will make your skin crawl or, maybe, shift.

The stories and writing style varied as much as the were-creatures – from detective noir to superhero. A+ read!

Best in Show by Seanan McGuire – Detective noir sent to a cat show.

We Dig by Ashley McConnell – Worldbuilding with miners and historical industrial (and racial) issues.

Eyes Like Pearls by Susan Jett – You never forget your first holiday crush.

Among the Grapevines, Growing by Eliora Smith – Were-plant.

A Party for Bailey by David B. Coe – Children bite, and momma bear really should keep her cub closer to home.

Cry Murder by April Steenburgh – Age old issues of crows versus owls.

Missy the Were-Pomeranian vs. the Masters of Mediocre Doom by Gini Koch – Wonderful superhero snark!

Paper Wasp by Mike Barretta – Who put this back to back with Missy the Were-Pomeranian? Really the whiplash between the upbeat superhero story and this horror one is mind-blowing. After all the light and joy building from A Party for Bailey, to the family vibe of Cry Murder and pure fun of Missy vs. the Masters, Paper Wasp stings deep. 

Well done editors with the pacing of stories funny, sad, scary, and thoughtful.

Point Five by Elizabeth Kite – Email format writing style and an amazing “if this, then this would happen” worldbuilding.

**Usually about here in anthologies, things start to be the second stringers. A reader feels like they got their money worth and is willing to try a couple new authors who are learning the craft. I swear, in this anthology, things got even better after the half-way point.**

The Promise of Death by Daniell Ackley-McPhail – Unicorn without a horn.

The Five Bean Solution by Jean Marie Ward – I’ve read the first short-story about these characters in a different anthology and this one is even better. The characters and POV character’s voice in the story are nicely nuanced.

Witness Report by Katherine Kerr – Historical were- story.

Attack of the Were-Zombie Friendship with Benefits by Sara Brand – Another worldbuilding twist – when it is no longer safe to go out at night, how does the night-scene teenagers and early-twenty adjust? 

The Whale by Annelies BelmondEven humans unconsciously recognize the majestic and tragic hidden in human form. The worldbuilding of Weight-bound gives an entirely different approach to shifter/were- relations and activities. I would say this one was my favorite short story, except I want to say that about a few others as well. I will say this is the most original in a collection of very original material. A must-read.

Anzu, Duba, Beast by Faith Hunter – A story from the Jane Yellowrock world.

Shiftr by Patricia Bray – Again with the worldbuilding. If you have “this” then “this”. Love the apps – from hook ups to family tree to DNA investigation.

Sniff for Your Life by Phillis Ames – If you like rats, this short is a must-read. Big alpha werewolf needs a nose even more sensitive than a canine’s to save the city.