Ashleigh Paige

I'm a full-time college sophomore pursuing my B.A. in English with hopes of one day working as an editor. Cats, musicals, documentaries about cults/disasters/tragedies, and curse words are just a few of my favorite things. Also, check out our blog or I WILL FIND YOU.

Defy the Dark

Defy the Dark - Saundra Mitchell,  Malinda Lo,  Myra McEntire,  Sarah Ockler,  Jackson Pearce,  Dia Reeves,  Jon Skovron,  Courtney Summers,  Aprilynne Pike,  Beth Revis,  Carrie Ryan,  Rachel Hawkins,  Sarah Rees Brennan,  Tessa Gratton,  Christine Johnson,  Valerie Kemp See more of my reviews on Birth of a New Witch! My copy was an ARC I received for review from one of the contributing authors.Sadly, my review of this is incomplete. My ARC is missing one story: "The Sunflower Murders" by Kate Espey, the winner of the Defy the Dark Author Contest. Yet another reason to buy the finished copy because it's sure to be awesome!Anyway, some statistics first before I review each individual story. Number of authors whose stories I fell in love with and whose future publishing exploits I will stalk/continue to stalk: 2. Number of authors whose works I have sworn off for good: 4. You'll pick them all out easily!"Steepstalk" by Courtney Summers: 5/5. This story puts us in the head of a stalker. That's about the simplest way to put it. She's so obsessed with her object of "affection" that she she rewrites events in her favor and we never even get her name. Who has time for themselves when so deeply obsessed with someone else? Not this girl. Books where the lead characters are being stalked are my guilty pleasure, but getting put in the head of one was just as great!"Nature" by Aprilynne Pike: 1/5. The weakest story of the anthology, not to mention the only one I gave 1/5. This story has twenty or so pages and four or five are spent dumping the history of this post-apocalyptic world on us and telling us why ladies of certain hip sizes are forced to have all the babies. It's a poorly written story with too many glorified parallels to Mormonism, a religion I have many fundamental problems with. Creepy in all the wrong ways."The Dark Side of the Moon" by Dia Reeves: 3/5. This made sense solely because I've read this author's Portero books, which this story is set in. It's weirder than a gaggle of geese playing hopscotch, what with baby spider people, not-magic magic, and a kid trying to prove himself to his girlfriend's parents. Kinda fun, but it grates on me when obviously magical things are crawling around and people say it's not magic the way Patricia does. Points for an interracial relationship, though. He's black, she's white."Ghost Town" by Malinda Lo: 4/5. Well-written, creepy, and starring an LGBT character as Lo's stories always too. She's such a reliable source of diversity! She develops her female lead Ty well, gets across how hurt she is by the prank the girl she liked pulled on her, and all that tripped me up is that its parts were told in reverse chronological order. I didn't catch that until my third reread and it made the first two quite confusing."Eyes in the Dark" by Rachel Hawkins: 2/5. There are a few creepy moments and good writing here and there once they drove into the forest and encountered the red-eyed creatures, but this is mostly a story that induces facepalming. The female lead cheats on her boyfriend with some eye candy, the writing is immature, and they call something skanky for laughs. It's not that funny to me. Her writing has been getting too immature for me to deal with anyway, so off my list she goes."Stillwater" by Valerie Kemp: 5/5. It's the only other five-star story in this anthology and let me tell you, it is GOOD. This creepy little Texas town has kept two branches of the same family together for years and when they go to sleep, they forget how they can escape this odd, magic-entrapped place. The authentic Southern voice, the elements of magical realism, solid writing, and how the story plays out makes me want to keep an eye on what Kemp does in the future. This is why I love anthologies: I usually find one good author to start following."I Gave You My Love By the Light of the Moon" by Sarah Rees Brennan: 3/5. Brennan normally writes great short stories, but this one is rather bland. Nothing more than a vampire-and-werewolf story that doesn't use the words "vampire" or "werewolf". It's so unremarkable and especially disappointing because she's shown she can do better."Night Swimming" by Beth Revis: 2/5. This one is a prequel to her Across the Universe series, but have fun trying to figure out who the unnamed main character is and their role in the series. I've actually read the first book of this series and have no idea who they are. Considering that they're writing out vengeful plots in the end, they might be a little bit important. Being unable to fit the events and its main character into the continuity of the series took away what little I enjoyed about this odd story."Almost Normal" by Carrie Ryan: 3/5. There are elements of This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers in this zombies-are-invading-oh-noes story, but it doesn't have the same magic to it. It also gives us the third nameless protagonist of the story! I'm unsure if their gender was ever specified either, so my brain says they're female and that makes their relationship with their girlfriend and LGBT relationship. My head, my rules. But they're most likely male, sadly."There's Nowhere Else" by Jon Skovron: 3/5. The idea of this teenage boy's soul leaping into other bodies while he sleeps is fascinating, as is the eventual battle two separate forces wage for his gift. It's rather blandly written, however, and undermines the genuinely entertaining premise."Naughty or Nice" by Myra McEntire: 2/5. And another one off my list! This story takes its lead characters Bex and Henry to Bavaria, where an unusual festival has them running from a monster whose sack they have to grab if they want to live. It's an awesome idea, but the judgmental way Bex describes other girls and the haphazard way the hyponenuses (Henry and Bex each had their own love interest before getting together during the story) are gotten rid of makes this so difficult for me to enjoy."Shadowed" by Christine Johnson: 3/5. This is the one high-fantasy-themed story in the anthology and once again, I love the idea. A girl whose own shadow is trying to kill her? Yes! What kills it is the confusing ending, how the love interest attaches to Esme unnaturally fast, and the badly explained premise in general."Now Bid Time Return" by Saundra Mitchell: 4/5. The protagonist escapes to Europe for a week hoping the polar night (the sun being down all the time) will help her sleep, but she ends up finding so much more. It's a little time-travel story that's well-written with well-developed character and an amazing idea, but how they saw each other through time still confuses me and there's no resolution whatsoever."The Moth and the Spider" by Sarah Ockler: 2/5. Aaaand another author off my list. This story of a girl trying to write her suicide note when someone calls her with the wrong number has a very literary feel to it, but it's very odd too. We have no idea why Cali tried to kill herself and her only real quality is her desire to die until Theresa Zednick calls the number she thought was her mother's. Not well-developed, though admittedly well-written."Where the Light Is" by Jackson Pearce: 3/5. Another unremarkable story. In a town of miners, the lead works in the mines in order to live up to other people's expectations; his father was a heroic miner who saved people's lives and died a few years before. He meets a Knocker (mountain-dwelling creature) while working in the mines one day and strikes up a friendship (later romance) with her. Decently written, nice idea, but it didn't stick with me."This Was Ophelia" by Tessa Gratton: 3/5. The focus of this story is the romance between a girl named Ophelia (who cross-dresses and attends clubs as a guy named O) and a boy named Halden, who likes kissing boys and likes O but not Ophelia. These two fall in love over the course of three nights and their overdramatic affair is the focus of the story, making the story itself overdramatic. However, the prose is lovely and the Hamlet parallels are awesome.