Friday, March 10, 2017

Book Review: Behind the Mask: A Superhero Anthology

Behind the Mask: A Superhero Anthology by Tricia Reeks, Kyle Richardson, Seanan McGuire, Aimee Ogden, Jennifer Pullen, Michael Milne, Lavie Tidhar, Nathan Crowder, Patrick Flanagan, Stephanie Lai, Carrie Vaughn, Ziggy Schutz, Chris Large, Stuart Suffel, Sarah Pinsker, Keith Rosson, Matt Mikalatos, Adam R. Shannon, Kelly Link, Cat Rambo, Kate Marshall and Keith Frady.

Release Date: May 16th 2017
Publisher: Meerkat Press, LLC
Pages: 290
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

From Goodreads:

Behind the Mask is an exciting collection of short stories about the everyday lives of superheroes. Ranging from laugh-out-loud funny to deliciously dark, these stories are about the ordinary day-to-day challenges facing these extraordinary individuals growing up, growing old, relationships, parenting, coping with that age-old desire to fit in when, let s face it, they don't.


"Superhero" can mean different things depending on who you ask. If you ask your Grandpa, he'll probably recall reading about superheroes in comics when he was your age; if you ask a kid, he'll probably say his Dad is a superhero. The official definition, however, states it is a fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers; or an exceptionally skillful or successful person.

I think "exceptionally skillful person" is the perfect definition for the characters in this anthology. Every story shows that whether they're superheroes or super villains, when their masks are off, they're people too.

Masterfully-written, this compilation lets us  peek inside these people's ordinary lives, and shows us that they may not be as different as we think.

I want to start off by saying that I've never read a more welcoming introduction in my life. Tricia Reeks' anecdote about her grandson was the perfect way to introduce the 20 stories. I also want to quote Kyle on something every reader can relate to "I found life through the life of others." If that's not why we read, then I don't know what is.

This selection of stories has everything you could ask for: 
Sugar, spice and everything nice. But some dark and very important topics as well.

I want to highlight some of my favorites:
  • Destroy the City with Me Tonight by Kate Marshall

The plot behind this story was so ingenious. To twist the typical "hero who defends a certain city" into a hero that is enslaved to one is fantastic. "She's always wondered why you'd bother with a mask; now she gets it. It's not to be concealed, it's to be seen, to be remembered."

  • Pedestal by Seanan McGuire

A funny yet realistic story of the struggles to lead an ordinary life when you're a superhero, a celebrity. I loved the casual thoughts she had during the fight: "I enjoy the number of limbs I have and buying jeans is difficult enough without mutating." We've all been there.

  • Quintessential Justice by Patrick Flanagan

This lighthearted story follows the day of a superhero's assistant. I found the conversations hilarious and loved the eccentric vocabulary. This story is proof that everything is not what it seems, and that we often label people without knowing them. Even Patrick's "about the author" is fantastic!

  • Eggshells by Ziggy Schutz

It is a heart-warming story about the process of recovery from an injury in which we learn, along the main character, that  we shouldn't be ashamed of asking for help.

Final thoughts                                                                         

I would be writing all night if I talked about every single story in here. I really liked most of them, luckily, but some of them just weren't my cup of tea.

The great thing about these stories is that everyone will find a character to feel identified to. Some of them are revenge-driven, some are angry or afraid, but more importantly, they're human. I think that's something most of us can relate to, right? (If you're an alien please contact me.)

Absolutely recommend it!


4.5 out of 5 stars

Special thank you to the lovely people from Meerkat Press who sent me a copy through LibraryThing.

Are you a superhero lover? Will you check out this compilation? Let me know in the comments.

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