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Mysteria    by MaryJanice Davidson & et al order for
by MaryJanice Davidson
Order:  USA  Can
Berkley, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Welcome to Mysteria, a small town in Missouri filled with 'magical misfits and outcasts', a place that becomes 'the refuge for creatures of the night and those unwanted by traditional society. No one - or thing - was turned away'. Oddly enough, this town almost didn't come into existence - Satan himself sent the High Demon Lord of Self Doubt & Second Thoughts to destroy its original settlers. But at the last moment, the Demon Lord couldn't bring himself to obliterate a courageous group of settlers who were so determined to survive.

In Mortal in Mysteria, Susan Grant shows just how nasty Satan can be if his orders are ignored. For over a century he's been torturing his High Demon for saving those settlers, but even that isn't enough to appease The Dark Lord so he decides to inflict upon his demon the ultimate punishment - mortality and banishment to the very town he decided to spare - and he could forget about a retirement plan too! The ex-Demon's first mortal encounter is with Harmony Faithfull, who's new to Mysteria and pastor of a non-denominational church. Harmony is looking for souls to save and Damon is looking for someone to show him the ropes of being mortal. That includes falling in love the mortal way, even if Damon's former Dark Master isn't quite finished with him yet and keeps throwing all sorts of demonic monkey wrenches into the couple's plans.

Mary Janice Davidson tells the story of Alone Wolf, who's been raised by mortals and figures it's high time to go looking for his own life with his own kind. All roads take Cole Jones to Mysteria where he promptly buys a haunted house complete with a ghost who loves to dish out advice. Cole soon discovers that the weirdness is only just beginning, what with vampires, ghouls, goblins, fairies and every other kind of supernatural creature thick as thieves around every corner. More annoying are the Tawdry triplets, a trio of witches who'd love to get their hands on him and check out his muscles - and other - assets. But Cole only has his glittering green eyes set on the saftig realtor, Charlene Houtenan, who just happens to have a very special agenda planned for Cole too.

We learn more about the Tawdry triplets, Genevieve in particular, in Gena Showalter's The Witches of Mysteria and the Dead Who Love Them. Genie has always has a major thing for local tavern owner, Hunter Knight. But for some reason he treats her like a dead goblin he'd scrape off the bottom of his shoe. Desperate to get his attention and show him how much she loves him, she begs her sister Glory to whip up one of her guaranteed love spells. Just when things are looking up and it seems that Hunter is finally falling under Genie's spell, a bunch of demons kick open the tavern doors, demon hunter Hunter dead in their sights. Unfortunately Hunter dies while protecting Genie. When Hunter rises from his grave as a vampire, he's appalled, knowing Genie would never accept him as an undead lover. But he really doesn't know how determined this witch is to keep her man!

P.C. Casts casts readers a nifty tale in Candy Cox and the Big Bad Werewolf. High school English teacher Candice Cox is sick and tired of committing 'serial matrimony'. She swears off men forever, but when her best friend Godiva Tawdry tells her how much fun her werewolf lover is, she suggests Candy find herself her own pet werewolf too. The next day Candy bumps into a former student who's really filled out and just happens to be a werewolf. She figures Godiva might have had a hand in their fortuitous meeting, but what the heck, a short fling with a younger man - errr ... werewolf - wouldn't hurt. As she as Justin spend more and more time together sharing picnics created by fairies, love poetry and dreams of the future, Candy decides that a thirteen year age difference isn't such a big deal after all and that happily ever after can actually happen to a mortal living in Mysteria.

This quartet of talented authors first showcased shorter versions of these stories in the American Red Cross Disaster Fund Raising Anthology Bewitched, Bothered and Bevampyred. They've expanded those stories and the result is Mysteria. It's clear that each author has a well-developed funny bone, because if they'd taken themselves too seriously the often goofy mystique that dwells within the borders of Mysteria wouldn't have worked as well as it does. And they've left the creative door wide open for all sorts of spin-off possibilities - here's hoping they put together another such whimsical collection soon.

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