Love is Hell is a collection of five silly-spooky love stories (titles below) by Melissa Marr, Scott Westerfeld, Justine Larbalestier, Gabrielle Zevin, and Laurie Faria Stolarz. Westerfeld is one of my favorite YA authors, and I’ve enjoyed books by all five of these authors in the past, so I knew I had to pick this one up. I’m not generally a fan of short story collections, simply because it feels like reading lots of mini-books, and my brain gets tired when switching so quickly. This was only five, though, and I split the reading up over several days, so it worked for me.
Each of the stories is about love, with a paranormal or supernatural bent. The stories range from fairy folklore to ghost story to dystopia. Exactly as I would have expected, my favorite was Westerfeld’s. Of the five, it felt most like a complete story, rather than a short sketch of a full novel’s idea. While I enjoyed the others, they could be a bit jarring in how fast characters went from “you’re a stranger” to “you’re the love of my life.” They were fantastic ideas, but I think I would have preferred them in a slightly longer format. Westerfeld’s piece felt more like a short story that could be expanded but didn’t need to be.
Still, that’s not to say this wasn’t fun to read! It made for great cold-front reading, wrapped in a shawl and sipping at hot coffee. Each of the stories was different from the others in feel and content, making it the perfect kind of story collection to read. I remember them all individually and distinctly, rather than having them run together as has happened when I’ve read other story collections. Each story had very vivid images that I imagine will stay with me for some time.
I wasn’t intending to participating in Peril of the Short Story, as I don’t read many of them, but between this book and the collection of Poe’s stories I have sitting on my desk, I think I will! This collection was a fun way to start.
“Sleeping with the Spirit” – Stolarz
“Stupid Perfect World” – Westerfeld
“Thinner Than Water” – Larbalestier
“Fan Fictions” – Zevin
“Love Struck” – Marr