Urban Allies: Ten Brand-New Collaborative Stories
Edited by Joseph Nassise
Cover Artist: Photo: Maciej Toporowicz / Arcangel Images; Design: Own Corrigan
Review by Wes Breazeale
Harper Voyager Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780062391346
Date: 26 July 2016 List Price $16.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
If you're anything like me, there are times you can't help wondering what it would be like for characters from one book or TV show to interact with characters from another book or show. These days, things like that seem to happen quite a bit in fan fiction, but not as frequently in official canon. Whether it's a childhood daydream of what it would be like if Magnum P.I. teamed up with the brothers from Simon & Simon (have I dated myself now?) or how Gandalf and Dumbledore might stack up against one another, team-ups are always amusing to think about.
Well, fans of urban fantasy don't have to wonder any more. Urban Allies, a new anthology edited by urban fantasy author Joseph Nassise, brings together a slew of popular characters over the course of ten excellent short stories. Being familiar with the characters is not necessary--and being unfamiliar with at least half of the players in any given story may in some ways actually heighten the enjoyment of that story. I had mixed exposure to the authors involved, from fully versed with their characters to occasionally not even recognizing the authors' names. And in each case I was able to enjoy the stories.
The premise of each story is very straight forward. Characters from two different series are thrust together, whether as allies or something else varies from story to story. The authors' approaches vary as well. In some of the stories there are clear demarcations of who is writing which section, with perspective shifting from character to character. But other partnerships are less clear, with stories simply flowing with no break to indicate a change from one author to another.
Which stories will jump out to you as highlights naturally depend on who your favorite authors might be, but each story is enjoyable in its own right. From Jonathan Maberry's Joe Ledger teaming up with Larry Correia's Agent Franks in a bloody, epic battle in the desert to Seanan McGuire's Verity Price and Kelley Armstrong's Elena Michaels literally crossing paths in upstate New York, the book runs the gamut on styles and approaches to these meetings. Charlaine Harris and Christopher Golden have a Dahlia/Peter Octavian mashup; Joseph Nassise brings Templars to Sam Witt's Pitchfork County for a joint raid with the Night Marshall on a very tough motorcycle gang; and so it goes, with each set of authors adding a mélange of their characters and magic to the mix.
On its own, Urban Allies is a great collection of stand-alone urban fantasy stories. But as an introduction to potentially new and exciting authors, it is an indispensable primer for fans of the genre. Highly recommended.