Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Defy the Dark edited by Saundra Mitchell

Defy the Dark edited by Saundra Mitchell
"The seventeen original stories in Defy the Dark, an eerie, mind-bending YA anthology, could only take place in darkness.

Open the pages and discover: A creepy guy who stares too long. The secrets of the core of the earth. Dreams of other people’s lives. A girl who goes mad in the darkness. Monsters in Bavaria. A generational spaceship where night doesn’t exist. And other mysteries and oddities.

The contributors to the enthralling collection are: Sarah Rees Brennan, Tessa Gratton, Rachel Hawkins, Christine Johnson, Valerie Kemp, Malinda Lo, Myra McEntire, Saundra Mitchell, Sarah Ockler, Jackson Pearce, Aprilynne Pike, Dia Reeves, Beth Revis, Carrie Ryan, Jon Skovron, Courtney Summers, and Kate Espy, winner of the Defy the Dark new author contest."- summary from Amazon

I figured the best way to do this was just go story by story. Enjoy!

Sleepstalk- OMG CREEPY. Summers does a wonderful job setting this story up and unraveling every layer as the story goes on and it ends just on the right disturbing note.

Nature- Interesting premise from Pike, but the story didn’t connect with me. It was just okay.

The Dark Side of the Moon- This made me want to read Reeves’ sophomore novel which I haven’t gotten around to yet. She goes back to her world of Portero (and may even be using characters from her novels but it’s been so long I don’t recall their names) and I loved it. It was creepy, absurd, out-of-this-world insane, and a fair amount of humor too.

Ghost Town- I love how Lo set this story up, starting at late in the evening, then going back through events of the night. It starts out creepy and ends VERY creepily. I was actually reading this while alone in a house that wasn’t my own (I was pet-sitting) and it may have caused me to turn on a few more lights.

Eyes in the Dark- Hawkins’ tale is interesting, starting out as a fun, romantic little thing of a story then takes a turn for the scary mid-way through. It was a nice little twist.

Stillwater- I liked the idea of this, but I hope this is the beginning of something more from Kemp. There’s something wrong with a town but we never figure out what it is or why it’s like that, so it felt like there should’ve been more exploration. It was an interesting story, but fell a little flat for me because of that.

I Gave You My Love By the Light of the Moon- I don’t really have much to say about this, but it was a cute little story from Rees Brennan with a shape-shifting twist to it (dealing with were animals).

Night Swimming- This is a prequel story to Revis’ Across the Universe trilogy and I liked getting a little glimpse into this event that’s mentioned in the books. It was nice getting to learn a bit more about some characters before the events of the trilogy.

Almost Normal- This story was just okay for me. I also may be getting a bit tired of seeing Ryan always doing zombie stories. I know that’s what she’s known for and what she likes writing, but I kinda want to see something new and different from her; I did feel the same way about Revis’ story, but not as much since it’s the first short story I’ve ever read from her. This is like the 3rd or 4th that I’ve read from Ryan.

There’s Nowhere Else- I absolutely love Skovron’s novels (so excited for his upcoming one!) and so was happy to see a short story from him included in this anthology. It did not disappoint. I loved the concept behind it and the story takes an unexpected turn in the end, which was fun to read. I liked the characters and flew through this story.

Naughty or Nice- I really liked the focus on Krampus in this tale- don’t really see much of it, so it made the story interesting. I thought it was a bit cute, but the ending was very abrupt and the action too short. Everything happened in like two paragraphs, and then the story was over. I wish there had been a bit more to the climax.

Shadowed- I’ve never read anything by Johnson before, but heard wonderful things and now I see why. I’m usually not a fan of historical fiction, but I really liked this story. It had some quick action scenes that were written well, a spooky concept at the center of it, and a killer ending.

Now Bid Time Return- This was a very intriguing and wonderful ghost story. Mitchell did a great job building up the world and we learn things as the main character Dacey learns them. The ending had a fun little twist to it.

The Moth and the Spider- It’s an interesting story and told in a compelling way, which was really fun since it’s been a while since I’ve read anything from Ockler (though this is different from what she normally does). But I’m not quite sure I really grasped what was going on in the story and I just had questions after finishing it. I thought there could have been more to it.

Where the Light Is- A new kind of paranormal creature is explored in this story and I love Pearce for introducing the reader to it and for giving something new. It’s an interesting story with a little romance at the center of it. I really liked it.

This Was Ophelia- Gratton’s story is fascinating and I really need to read more from her stat, after finishing this story and reading a bunch from her in The Curiosities. It’s a different kind of story too and ends with a twist that I didn’t expect to see. I really liked what Gratton did with this story.

There’s a 17th story from the winner of the Defy the Dark contest, which was not included in the advance copy though they had picked a winner by the time it went to print, I believe, so not sure why they didn’t include it. But anyway, I haven’t read it so I cannot comment on it in this review.

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.


  1. I have this, but haven't started it. I'm especially interested to read Beth Revis' story. Thanks for reviewing this.

  2. I'm looking forward to this anthology. I know what you mean about some authors doing the same thing over and over. I feel like a few who had a very successful first series are stuck with that series instead of venturing out.