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


In a nutshell: very well-crafted anthology with lots and lots of amazing, thought-provoking stories, both by established authors (Kelly Link and Seanan McGuire for example) as well as authors who are less well-known. I enjoyed this mix of different voices a whole lot.

I have been thinking about this review all morning and still do not know how to write it. I always find anthologies difficult to assess and to review - there are so many things happening and obviously some stories resonate more with me than others. Also, for me the stories tend to blend into each other and I cannot always remember each one enough to even have an opinion about it after finishing the whole collection. That said: this was a pretty brilliant anthology. Tricia Reeks and Kyle Richardson obviously put a lot of thought and love and work into collecting these stories and to fit them into a more or less coherent order.

As you can tell from the title, this is a collection of superhero stories focussing on the maybe less often talked about aspects of being a superhero. Interestingly, most stories focus on female superheroes (and some supervillains) and the specific problems they might face (work/life balance, sexism in the workplace, losing your identity etc) and I obviously loved that to pieces. I don't know if this was on purpose or if those just were the stories the authors wanted to tell, but I appreciate it nontheless.

Every author put their own spin on the superhero genre and mostly they greatly succeeded. I did appreciate the newer voices more than the stories by the more established authors. Some standouts for me were Nathan Crowder's "Madjack" - a wonderful homage to David Bowie; Kate Marshall's beautifully imagined and original "Destroy the City with Me Tonight" (with the absolute best ending of all the stories); Aimee Ogden's "As I Fall Asleep" - sad and poignant and very very great; Carrie Vaughn's playful spin on a romantic comedy "Origin Story" (even villains have meet cutes!); and my absolute favourite of the book: Chris Large's "Salt City Blue" - I loved loved loved this one and its beautifully flawed main character and I do not want to spoil it but you should read it.

I received an arc of this book curtesy of NetGalley and Meerkat Press in exchange for an honest review. Thanks for that!