Title: The Infected Holiday Special
Author: Andrea Speed
Publisher: DSP Publications
Pages/Word Count: 116 Pages
At a Glance: One amazing boatload of Urban Fantasy wrapped around characters who have more personality in their little pixels than should be reasonable or possible.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Peek behind the curtain with Roan McKichan and the various characters who make up the Infected universe in this sometimes serious, sometimes humorous collection of short stories centered around the holidays.
There’s Kevin, who reflects on how lonely his life in the closet is. And Fiona and Tank, who go on a surprisingly good first date. Roan himself finds his Halloween celebration at Panic interrupted by loose cats and obnoxious frat boys while Paris contemplates his mortality on their impromptu honeymoon. Dropkick deals with her new marriage and male egos on the job, Roan meets Connor at the scene of a drunken fight, and Holden contemplates his future as a street kid. These stories and many more will be told, centered around more holidays than you can shake a dreidel at.
Review: What can I possibly say about characters I’ve spent nearly six years developing a deep and abiding love for? That they feel like friends, like the cousins you see once a year at the holidays, and then end up having so much fun with that you wonder why you don’t make an effort to see them more often? That you have such a weird connection to these characters and their stories that reading a collection of holiday vignettes can make you feel sentimental and bring you to tears because their loss has been your loss? That the uncertainty of their futures can nag at your heart just a bit because you know Andrea Speed has a history of not pulling any punches when it comes to this world she’s created over the course of nine books?
I guess all I can say is that if you’re already a fan of this series, you know exactly what I mean. And if you haven’t read this series yet, I sure wish you would because it’s one amazing boatload of Urban Fantasy wrapped around characters who have more personality in their little pixels than should be reasonable or possible.
In this short collection of flash fiction vignettes, Speed delves into the holidays—from Christmas to Arbor Day, Yom Kippur to St. Patrick’s Day—and allows us to dip into the lives of the small family of characters she’s built in this series. The stories are told from various points of view: We see the moment Roan met Connor. We see a scene through Paris’s eyes that left me a wee mess. We see all the people whose lives have touched Roan’s—Holden, Kevin, Dee, the hockey boys, Fiona, Darinda, Rosenberg. And Dylan. And we see the one common thread they share is their affection and love for a man who hit the biological motherlode when he was born a human/lion hybrid. A nerdy punk with a wicked sense of humor who is the king of his urban jungle, and is such an anomaly that it’s uncertain whether he’s a ticking time bomb or a miracle of genetics. Or both. Roan is both.
For those of us who already know and love this world, The Infected Holiday Special is both a gift and a gut-check. Yes, I cried but oddly enough, it was Grey’s final story, Ramadan, what done me in, man, because it was a reminder of an ending I never wanted to see come. But it’s also a beginning I’m anxious to see carry on in Infected: Holden. Because Holden is the best damned human doppelganger a lion virus child could ever have.
Stop right now if you’re even thinking about trying to read this book as a standalone. Don’t do it. These stories will mean little to nothing to you if you try, because to know and love these characters is to appreciate all the previous moments spent with them through all nine of the books in the Infected series. It’s the building of the world and the connections made along the way—again, with Roan as the fulcrum of the complex machinery that is the ties that bind everything—that are imperative to know beforehand. Likewise, if you’ve started but haven’t finished all the books in the series, don’t read this because you’ll find spoilers here.
If you are done with all the books in the series, though, read this one. Just do it. That is all.
You can buy The Infected Holiday Special here: