I love me a good short story, yet when I first pick one up for reading I'm always skeptical, but Holly didn't let me down. I wanted something short but with the same depth of a full lenght book, and this collection delivered!
The first tale, The Coldest Girl in Cold Town, blew my expectations out of the water by not only giving me a gritty, fast-paced, and completely original vampire story, but also (and quite shockingly) a moral.
Despite the mature story elements--such as underage drinking, drug addiction, and the like--there was always some lesson to be learned. The lesson was often the harsh reality of fast living which was dealt with most directly in one of my favorite stories, Going Ironside, in which two naive faeries come to our world to get pregnant and have little faerie babies just for the heck of it, and wind up addicted to heroine and possibly trapped in our world. It was haunting hearing the fearie girl talk about how much she wanted it even though the iron needle burned her arm like fire.
Some stories, as is to be expected, weren't as good others, and I wound up skipping a few of them all together because they were just too explicit for my liking1, but some of them have gained a spot in my mental list of favorite tales. Among the stories I liked best are The Coldest Girl in Cold Town, Going Ironside, The Dog King, and Paper Cuts Rock (which was awesome!). And while I enjoyed many of these stories a lot, I wouldn't recommend The Poison Eaters to everyone on account of such mature themes. I'd say this one is most appropiate for readers 15 and up, if not older, as well as for anyone who likes gritty, raw, harsh dark fantasy and urban fairytales.
As for what you'll find between the covers, there's a story about the darker side of the vampire glamour as told by a girl who's been bitten and must constantly remain drunk to avoid drinking blood; a contest with the Devil himself involving a dog, a car, and gobs of gummy candies; a cautionary tale of what may happen if you believe everything you read; a touching story of a girl who learns to love herself with the help of a vindictive tree spirit; a look at what happens when your lies catch up with you on the quick, relentless feet of a werewolf; a story of a boy, his unicorn, and the ultimate betrayal; some memories of prom that will not be cherished; the story of a boy who must save his childhood love from the greedy clutches of the fey; a story that you can really put yourself into; and more.
I give The Poison Eaters...
for awesome story telling.
1 As a general rule, I don't read anything that A) I wouldn't want my mama to know I'm reading or B) that I might have to confess. Some people might call me a wuss, but there's nothing wrong with censorship as long as it's you, or a trusted adult, censoring your reading.