Shadowed Souls, edited by Jim Butcher and Kerrie L. Hughes, is a collection of urban fantasy featuring short stories from Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire, Kevin J. Anderson, and Rob Thurman. These stories offer nothing is as simple as black and white, light and dark, good and evil. Unfortunately, that is exactly what makes it so easy for the characters in these tales to cross the line. In , Molly Carpenter—Harry Dresden's apprentice-turned-Winter Lady—must collect a tribute from a remote Fae colony and discovers that even if you're a good girl, sometimes you have to be bad. In finds half-succubus Elsie Harrington kidnapped by a group of desperate teenage boys. Not for anything “weird.” They just need her to rescue a little girl from the boogeyman, no biggie. In , Zombie P.I. Dan Shamble's latest client is a panicky lizard missing an eye who thinks someone wants him dead. But the truth is that someone only wants him for a very special dinner. infernally heroic Caliban Leandros takes a trip down memory lane as he deals with some overdue—and nightmarish—vengeance involving some quite nasty .
Shadowed Souls is a fine collection of short stories connected by characters forced to venture into the shades of gray in the process of trying to do the right thing, or what needs to be done. I really enjoyed the look into Molly Carpenter's mind, as I am a long standing fan of Jim Butcher. I also particularly enjoyed the contributions of Lucy A. Snyder, Kat Richardson, Seanan McGuire, and Tanya Huff. None of the stories stuck me a badly written, but some I just did not connect with as easily as I did others. In some cases it was because I had not read the books set in the same world as the short story, and some it was merely a matter of my personal preferences. However, I think collections like this are a great sampler for those looking to explore new authors without committing to an entire book or series.
Shadowed Souls is a nice collection for fans of the urban fantasy genre, and a nice way to visit the worlds of favorite authors as we wait for the continuation of their next book, and a fun way to explore the writing style of other authors that just might become new favorites. As with any collection, there were some stories that I enjoyed more than others. However, I think this is a great collection for anyone that enjoys reading about characters discovering how far into the dark side they might be willing to go for the greater good, or the good of those they care for most.