Monday, June 3, 2019

Small Kingdoms & Other Stories by Charlaine Harris

A new collection of linked short stories from Charlaine Harris, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse books, the basis for HBO’s True Blood, and the Midnight Crossroad series, the inspiration for Midnight, Texas on NBC.

Principal Anne DeWitt knew her past could catch up with her, but she didn’t expect it would make her late for school. Killing a man does take time though; so does disposing the body... if you do it right.

After three relatively quiet years at Travis High School, it seems Anne is in danger of being exposed—even the baseball coach knows more about her former life than she ever imagined. Now, she must find out who else holds her secrets and who wants her to pay for them... without letting it make her tardy again. Anne still has a school to run, parents to manage, and a few students who might benefit from her unique—and deadly—experience.

Collected together for the first time in Small Kingdoms and Other Stories, “Small Kingdoms,” “Sarah Smiles,” “Small Chances,” and “Small Signs” are sure to delight fans of Charlaine Harris.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Within the first sentence, I was officially hooked. Oh, how I had missed Charlaine Harris' unique voice whispering in my head as I read her stories. To be honest, I had no clue what these shorts were about, but was beyond curious after that first sentence. I knew I was going to be entertained.

Small Kingdoms & Other Stories (not entirely sure why that is the title, to be honest) features four short stories, which I will call episodes, featuring Anne DeWitt. She was a trainer at a camp, which I can only assume put the trainees through harsh situations to 'toughen' them up for classified work.

Anne is thorough, dedicated, slightly unemotional yet loyal. There's a sarcastic air wafting from her interactions with others. An empowering quiet confidence.

Under an assumed identity, Anne DeWitt is a high school principal, determined to keep her cover while making the best of her current situation. The first two stories feature 'helping' students, which had a sociopathic vengeance, poetic justice component. Anne had a unique way of helping, as well as a new cohort.

The final two episodes are centered more on Anne, personally then people from her past, perfectly tying all the shorts together.

All four episodes in the life of Anne DeWitt made me hungry for more. I'm on the fence if I want a full-length novel in a linear timeline or appreciate the way this novel was written. I was thoroughly entertained, able to read an episode in one sitting, without fear of losing reading momentum due to life interruptions. Each short was a tasty snack.

Anne DeWitt was an intriguing character, as was Holt. I hope Harris is inspired to bring readers more stories based on these unique characters.

This is a fabulous collection of creepy short stories about a rather disturbing high school principal. Charlaine Harris never disappoints and Anne DeWitt is one of her best characters ever. Anne is delightfully amoral and her cold, calculating logic is terrifying.

There isn’t a supernatural element to this story, but Anne’s skills and resources are almost super human. Anne never quite reads human – she studies people and mimics human behaviour very skillfully. I love her otherness as much as I love the idea of a headteacher with such dark secrets. As a teacher myself, the creepiest thing about Anne is how closely she resembles some of the real life headteachers I’ve worked for. I’ve learned to never underestimate the lengths a headteacher will go to in pursuit of an improved inspection result.

I really loved these stories and I’d love to see Anne DeWitt in her own TV show. This is a short book and each of the stories can probably be read separately.

I loved this collection of short stories, which all fitted together, but were rich in their own right. The explanation of how Harris considered the impact of having a routine disrupted can affect a day set up the first story beautifully, and made it all the richer.

If you are a fan, then I am sure that these will be a no-question read, but if you have never read Harris before, then I reckon that these would be a great introduction into the quality of her writing, the depth and breadth of plot, and the richness of her characters.

Highly recommended.

Charlaine Harris is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse and Midnight, Texas, fantasy/mystery series and the Aurora Teagarden, Harper Connelly, and Lily Bard mystery series. Her books have inspired HBO’s True Blood, NBC’s Midnight, Texas, and the Aurora Teagarden movies for Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. She has lived in the South her entire life.

Connect with Charlaine

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Instagram  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Small Kingdoms & Other Stories by Charlaine Harris to read and review.

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