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REVIEW: Prom Nights from Hell by Meg Cabot, Kim Harrison,...

Prom NIghts from HellProm Nights from Hell is a thoroughly entertaining collection of stories from five of the top teen writers in the business. The fresh and fully realized worlds will engage the entire spectrum of readers from tween to adult. While not all of the stories are self contained as some appear to be introductions to future series, there is enough to satisfy. What makes the anthology really shine is the variety of riffs on the same theme: prom night gone bad. Every author tells a unique and different tale from various points of view. Even the guys aren’t left out. Overall, this is one of the best anthologies I’v read of late and would rate the book a B+.

***

Dear Ms. Cabot:

You open the anthology with The Exterminator’s Daughter. Mary is not your normal high school student. She’s a vampire killer’s daughter. Mary’s mother was The Exterminator of all kinds of otherworldly bad guys until, well, the bad guys got her. Mary is determined to take vengeance starting with killing Sebastian Drake, a descendant of Dracula. Besides being a vampire and all around bad guy, Sebastian has lured Mary’s new best friend into his web and plans to turn Lila on prom night. Adam, Mary’s classmate, is as determined to help Mary as Mary is determined to shun him. Adam shows Mary that revenge needn’t be undertaken alone.

The issue with this story is that each chapter is told from a different point of view and there were so many characters that I was unable to figure out who was whom until about the second to the last chapter to sort everyone out. B-

Dear Ms. Myracle

The Corsage is a horror story which shows us the danger of teenage capriciousness. Frankie, Will, and Yun Sun go to a psychic to have their fortunes read. Frankie is hoping that this visit will spur Will into asking her to prom. While there, Frankie notices a dried corsage on the psychic’s shelf. The psychic is reluctant to tell the teens about it but Frankie pushes the issue. The Corsage is a wish charm. Three wishes can come true but there is obviously danger in the wishing. Frankie’s wish is for Will to get the courage to ask her to prom. She knows that he wants to but he can’t quite bring himself to the point. Magic has its dark side and you need to be careful what you wish for.

Despite its predictability, this entry was sweet but emotional. B+

Dear Ms. Harrison:

Madison Avery and the Dim Reaper had a great fantasy construct but attempted too much in a short space without providing a full story. Madison is disgusted at being in stuck in podunk town with her father where her mother sent her after Madison was caught sneaking out. She’s rude to her prom date and he spurns her. When a sexy young man asks her to dance, she sees an opportunity to get back at her date and the rest of the world. But the sexy young man is dangerous and will kill to get what he wants.

To some extent, while interesting, this novella felt more like an advertisement for future books in this world. B-

Dear Ms. Jaffe:

Kiss and Tell was my favorite entry. In a marked contrast to the Cabot and Harrison offerings, you provided a shorter cast list and a tighter plot; plus, the fully contained story could be translated into a larger series without confusing the reader. I could envision following Miranda Kiss from story to story as she angsts over being a teenage misfit by day and saves people by night. Miss Kiss has superpowers. Super hearing, super strength, super speed. But being super has led her to being cast from foster family to foster family until she finds a place at a boarding school. While a senior, Miss Kiss is busy trying to hide her super deeds from the local sheriff deputy who also happens to be a hottie; her part time roller derby pasttime; and her chauffering for the owner of the roller derby team.

Complicating this is the fact that Miranda had only one date and one kiss with high school crush Will who hasn’t talked to her since their disastrous outing and who is going with someone else to the prom. She’s taken to reading self help books that give spectularly bad advice.

Enter Sybil, a young girl that wants to kiss as many boys as possible and eat as much food as possible before the day is out. Miranda is to chauffer Sybil to a house but when Miranda drops her off, she can’t help but escape the feeling that something really bad is about to happen to Sybil. Miranda and Sybil will need their brains, Miranda’s super powers, and the prom to save themselves and maybe even the world. A-

Dear Ms. Meyer:

Hell on Earth is a great take on the angel/demon thema swirling around the paranormal romance world. The protagonist is Gabe, a high school student who feels compelled to help people. He can sense when someone needs his help and he really enjoys doing it despite getting suspended for decking a predatory teacher or getting teased for setting up so many couples. But Gabe has a knack of making people happy and when they are happy, he is happy. He is such a decent guy that when his date to the prom, Celeste, finds someone else’s arms (many other elses) more comfortable, he’s worried about whether he needs to take her home. He is also left wondering why prom night is turning into such a sad debacle with couples breaking up left and right.

Sheba is the cause. She’s a demon and her job is to make people unhappy. Sheba does a great job of it. She uses Celeste to move from boy to boy, tempting them into dancing with her and kissing her in front of their dates. She uses Cooper, a rich young kid, as the ultimate instrument of her maelstrom. heba’s plans are interrupted by Gabe who senses that she needs him in a way that no one else does.

This does touch on school violence and it is possible that given the recent events that some may feel a portion of it was glib. I don’t want to spoil the book but I want to provide the necessary information for readers that this tale does end happily without any deaths. In this story you show yourself to be a master at making the swoon-worthy high school boy. B+

Best regards,

Jane

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

16 Comments

  1. Cyn
    Apr 18, 2007 @ 08:25:19

    I’m a HUGE Meg Cabot fan, but I was really disappointed by her contribution to Prom Nights. I know the short anthology format is a constraint, but her story seriously felt like she’d written it in about thirty minutes. The characters were stock, the descriptions approached cliche, and, overall, it just didn’t feel fresh or interesting. As Jane mentioned, the POV shifts often between the hero and the heroine. That’s cool. I was not confused. But, I have to say, Ms. Cabot’s version of a teenage male voice is not very convincing. I mean, the kid notices Mary (heroine) for the first time and within hours decides she’s “the one”? Gimme a break.

  2. bam
    Apr 18, 2007 @ 13:29:33

    I’m a huge fan of 1-800-missing-you by Meg Cabot and I was disappointed too.

    Hey, Jane, my fave was Meyer’s followed by Jaffe’s. :)

  3. Jane
    Apr 18, 2007 @ 14:43:33

    Meg Cabot’s was pretty confusing. I liked the use of the male POV here as variety but Meyer did it better than Cabot. Still, it was a great anthology. Nice collection – varied but on the same theme. Adult authors could pick up a thing or too.

  4. Shelly @ Bewitched
    Apr 18, 2007 @ 17:06:39

    I’ve been looking at this one in our store and I think I’ll give it a whirl. I’m not usually into anthologies as the stories never seem to satisfy, but these are some great writers and I’ll give it a chance.

  5. Chelsea
    May 11, 2007 @ 06:00:44

    I was very disappointed with the first two entries of this anthology. Meg Cabot’s story was quite cliche, and I absolutely abhor Dracula spin-offs of any kind. And “The Corsage” took *so* many elements from”The Monkey’s Paw,” including the actual word-for-word dialogue… I was simply disgusted that anyone could be so unoriginal. My favorite stories were “Madison Avery and the Dim Reaper” — because I was wishing it was a full-length novel at the end — and “Kiss and Tell”, which was just wonderful. Stephenie Meyer’s story disappointed me just a little… The constant narrator shifts were confusing, and it was just a little OFF for me. But I still enjoyed it.

  6. Karmyn
    May 16, 2007 @ 10:20:56

    I am currently reading this book and have had a mixed reaction to the stories so far. The Meg Cabot story was okay, but the shifting pov was distracting. Also did not like the ending.
    Did not like the Lauren Myracle story. Very unoriginal with TSTL characters. This did not surprise me as I felt the same way about the characters in her book TTYL.
    The Kim Harrison was good and I would like to see her do more with this. It would make a good YA series.
    I am currently reading the fourth story and enjoying it very much.
    This is not a book I would buy even with stories by big name authors so I am glad I got it from my local library.

  7. Jay
    May 18, 2007 @ 18:42:29

    I actually liked Meg Cabot’s. I didn’t mind the shift between characters, and briefness is what you get in a short story-it would make a very good novel, though. I didn’t like The Corsage or Kiss and Tell-especially Kiss and Tell, the constant abbreviations were so annoying! I actually thought Michelle Jaffe was the author of TTYL. The Dim Reaper story needed more explaining, but it would make a good full-length novel. I loved Stephenie’s, but it defiantly needed to be longer to explain everything correctly.
    And as to something you said about hers: “In this story you show yourself to be a master at making the swoon-worthy high school boy.” ~Well, duh. I can see you haven’t reviewed Twilight yet, but it’s an amazing book starring a swoon-worthy vampire-Edward Cullen. Almost everyone who’s read Twilight falls in love with him, the perfect man. Stephenie’s the best at making any guys swoon-worthy.’
    (As a side note to above, you should read and review Twilight and New Moon (both by Stephenie Meyer) The third book in the sieries, Eclipse, comes out August 7.)

  8. Megan
    Jun 18, 2007 @ 18:33:35

    My favorite anthology was Kiss and Tell by Michele Jaffe. I loved that story and wish it was a series. I also like the story by Meg Cabot. I really didn’t mind the POV shifts either. However, the worst story was The Corsage..i I was expecting Lauren Myracle to write something alot better.

  9. Rose
    Jun 22, 2007 @ 20:42:34

    My favourite author is Stephenie Meyer, but her quick whitty sense of humour didn’t really seem to shine through her works on “Hell on Earth”. Though I still enjoyed it and the plotline, it made me craving for more. On the other hand I think I enjoyed “Kiss and Tell” the best, it certainly had me searching for more and kept me reading.

  10. Kittia
    Dec 18, 2007 @ 15:16:45

    I finally finished the book and i have to say The Corsage was my favorite. Meg Cabot’s story simply didn’t catch my attention… they never do. As for Stephanie Meyers story, (sigh) she is already a good author. The rest of the stories were okay but still didn’t catch my attention.

  11. Kim
    Sep 27, 2008 @ 08:35:07

    My favourite story was Stephenie Meyer’s Hell On Earth, but it didn’t exactly match with Meyer’s regular style. The Exterminator’s Daughter was also pretty good, but the others weren’t really what I expected.

  12. Terri
    Aug 26, 2009 @ 18:20:34

    I loved Kiss and Tell and The Exterminator’s Daughter. The Corsage was awful!!! It was just a rip off of The Monkey’s Paw. Are all of the entries in this novella actual books? I know that the entry Madison Avery and the Dim Reaper is an actual book named Once Dead, Twice Shy but I don’t know about the rest.

  13. Lennon
    Jan 10, 2010 @ 19:31:38

    Once dead twice shy is the first book in the Jaz Parks series of supernatural spy novels written by Jennifer Rardin. It has no connection to Dim Reaper.

    OMG can’t believe so many people disliked the Corsage it was my favourite.

  14. Ambika
    Feb 08, 2010 @ 01:31:43

    I liked meyer’s hell on earth but it had constant shifts which was a little confusung. jaffe’s kiss and fell is also good.But all other stories are pretty much disappointig.

  15. Babi
    Feb 22, 2010 @ 16:31:26

    you know, in the exterminator’s daughter, is lila whose plan is to get herself turned on the prom night. Sebastian only hangs with lila to lure mary to his web.

    My fav was kim harrison’s story, the stephenie meyer’s
    Your reviwes helped me a lot on an oral work i had to do,… so thanks a lot

  16. Lauren
    Apr 10, 2011 @ 16:49:42

    I am currently reading the book and have finished 3. The meg cabot story was probably my favorite so far. I didn’t think the different pov was confusing and enjoyed the storyline. The coursage was an ok story but i was expecting a lot more and i didn’t really like the ending. The Dim reaper story was very confusing but i am sure it could develope in a long novel. I look forward to reading the other 2 especially Kiss and Tell as it is supposed to be very good.

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