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Home Improvement: Undead Edition
Edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner
Review by Gayle Surrette
Ace Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780441020355
Date: 02 August 2011 List Price $26.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Now that they've tackled birthdays, Christmas, and vacations, Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner have gathered stories where the supernatural members of society must deal with true evil – home improvements. Any reader who has ever had to deal with changes to their home, apartment, or yard will appreciate just how much more difficult such work would be if you also had to deal with ghosts, demons, vampires, wizards, or otherworldly creatures.

There's all types of home improvements and the stories fall into several different categories. For the simple projects such as changing the side of closet that has the door, imagine the added difficulty if such a project disturbed a restless spirit. In Charlaine Harris story, "If I Had a Hammer", the ghost that is disturbed may have been involved in a murder and needs to be put to rest.

"In Brightest Day" by Toni L.P. Kelner, deals with a simple effort to finish a renovation. Of course the architect in charge is now dead and needs to be resurrected to finish the project, and that definitely puts a spin to the story.

Home security system are either required or gone awry in several of the stories. In "Wizard Home Security" by Victor Gischler, a wizard learns that you really shouldn't cut corners when putting in a security system, and one should always ask detailed questions about how the system works. A fence is required to protect their property in "The Strength Inside" by Melissa Marr. Unfortunately, they live in a covenant community and the paperwork looks like it never will be sufficient to pass the board, until the head learns the name of the architect.

On the other hand, the security system needs to be breached before October Daye can even get into her new home in "Through This House". While "The Path" by S.J. Rozen details the hazards of a security system that can be dismantled too easily by those who don't understand the system.

Ghosts and otherworldly creatures that attach themselves to houses can get mightily upset when renovations occur. The degree to which they manifest or cause problems may differ but having to deal with this additional factor is dealt with in the following stories: "If I Had a Hammer" by Charlaine Harris; "Gray" by Patricia Briggs; "Squatters' Rights" by Rochelle Krich; and "The Mansion of Imperatives" by James Grady.

Vandalism and home invasion is the topic of "Blood on the Wall" by Heather Graham, "Rick the Brave" by Stacia Kane; and "Full-Scale Demolition" by Suzanne McLeod. Though I'll admit the home invasion was only a ploy to set up the contractor in "Full-Scale Demolition".

"Woolsley's Kitchen Nightmare" by E.E. Knight is the only story that I couldn’t fit into a home improvement category. The owner of a new supper club for supernaturals is finding his clientele dropping off and he hires a consultant. It doesn't take the consultant more than a few minutes to realize that the problem is the human running the restaurant just doesn't understand what his clientele really want. Trying to fix the problem ...well, that's for you to find out when you read the story.

All in all, Home Improvement: Undead Edition is a good, strong mix of stories. While you may not enjoy every story in the volume, you're sure to find more than one that will make the book worthwhile. Anthologies are always a great way to learn about new authors.

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