Review: Werehunter

Werehunter - Mercedes Lackey

Werehunter is an anthology of fourteen science fiction and fantasy short stories by Mercedes Lackey.  I’ve read some of her fantasy work before, and I thought this anthology was a pretty good reflection of both the good and the bad aspects of her writing style.


Four of the stories in the book were “SKitty” stories.  This was a really fun premise.  It’s a science fiction setting, where it’s common for starships to have a genetically engineered cat on board.  The cats have front paws like raccoons, and they’re more intelligent.  SKitty is unusual in that she's able to communicate telepathically with her human handler, whom she’s quite attached to.  The stories were very fluffy, in more ways than one, but it was fun to read about intelligent cats.


Although I really enjoyed the SKitty stories, I became increasingly exasperated by them.  My limited experience with Lackey’s books is that she tends to go overboard with the recapping.  She gives more info than is needed to understand the newest story, and she tends to dump it out all at once in an unnatural way.  This is annoying enough in a full-length book, but I think nearly half of the fourth SKitty story consisted of a recap of the previous three stories.


There were a couple short stories based on Lackey’s Diana Tregarde series, which I wasn’t familiar with.  Maybe the books are better but, in the short stories, I thought the characters were too melodramatic.  One story didn’t interest me at all, and the other story interested me but I was annoyed by the characters.


The last two stories were about two young girls, one of whom begged for food on the streets of London and the other of whom was the daughter of missionaries to Africa and was living in a school in London.  The daughter of the missionaries had an intelligent pet parrot given to her by a shaman in Africa, and that parrot served as her protector.  All three of them, the two girls and the parrot, had some special abilities.  The stories were interesting and fun to read, but the second story had particularly bad editing.  The poor parrot kept changing genders left and right, often within the same sentence.  There were also some sentences that made such abundant use of female pronouns in relation to all three characters that you had to use your best judgment to figure out who had done what.


Most of the other short stories were fairly entertaining.  There was one called “Roadkill” that was slightly creepy and amusing at the same time.  There was a story set in Laumer’s Bolo universe that started off boring but got interesting by the end.  Over-all, this anthology was a quick, fluffy, and mostly-entertaining read, but with several annoyances.