Rating: Disliked (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)
This book made me emotional, but in ways the authors did not intend. First it disappointed me, then it frustrated me, then it made me outright angry.
Tails of the Apocalypse is a collection of short stories about animals during or after the end of the world. About half the stories were written from the animal's POV, the other half from a person's POV about the animals.
One of the most important thing in stories like that is that the animals be believable. Out of the dozen or so stories, only three had believable animals in it. In a collection of stories about animals, that's a big black mark against it.
With the exception of three stories (those same three stories...) none of them were well-written at all. Some of them (barely) hit the 'okay' mark, but most of them fell well below that.
I don't read many collections of short stories, but when I do, I dislike the ones that are set in existing book series; if you haven't read that series, generally you're not going to get as much out of the story as you would an 'original' one. Almost every story in this book was set in another series...
One of the author's only qualifications for writing a story for this book was that he posted a lot on Anne Rice's message boards. I wish I had brought my Kindle to work with me so I could give the direct quote, but he outright said he posts a lot and she gave him a special title for it, thus he's qualified to contribute a short story for this book. (Spoiler: It was the worst written of them all.)
"The Water Finder's Shadow" - by David Bruns. This was easily my favorite of the book. Water was rare after the world ended, and a few people were born with Talents that let them find it. One man lost his Talent, and this was the story of him and his very old, dying dog.
"When You Open The Cage" - by Edward W. Robertson. The second best story of the book. This one touched me because I had often imagined doing just the same thing. A plague wiped out most of the humans, but one young girl survived. An animal lover, she went around freeing animals from cages and collecting a pack of dogs.
"Protector" - by Stefan Bolz. Things went downhill with this one. A young boy saved a wolf pup from a trap, then years later the wolf turned amazingly un-wolf-like and tracked down and killed all the boy's enemies because he had rescued him as a pup. I didn't believe a moment of it.
"The Poetry of Santiago" - by Jennifer Ellis. This one made me so sniffly sad! It was the story what happened to an old, dying man and an old, dying cat when a modern day Mt. Vesuvius/Pompeii happened. I could have done without the post-ending stuff (generations after they died), but still. Very nice story. I fully believed the cat as a cat.
"Demon and Emily" - by David Adams. Set in some other book series world. Aliens were attacking (I suppose the how and why of that was explained in the other books...). Space marines(?) were fighting the aliens, and Emily's family was trying to escape with Demon, their dog.
"Keena's Lament" - by Hank Garner. I don't remember anything about this one and, without my Kindle, can't check. Sorry, author! (Edit: Turns out I stopped reading this one very early on. Another case of the "short story set in a book series's world, didn't work as a stand-alone story".)
"Tomorrow Found" by Nick Cole. Set in some other book series. The world ended, and for some unknown reason (likely covered in the book series), a man was searching for old libraries. Not just so he could read the books, it was some kind of Quest or something. This really failed at being a stand-alone story.
"Pet Shop" - by Deirdre Gould. This one felt like the least believable animal in all the stories, but I don't know much about parrots, so maybe it wasn't so bad. Still, the parrot felt more like a human than an animal. Plus this was set in another book series, so was lacking details about the world and confusing... I not only didn't buy the parrot as a real animal, the human characters weren't believable either.
"Kael Takes Wing" - by Elena E. Giorgi. Set in some other book series. There were apparently two kinds of humans, normal ones and ones that had technology in them (like electronic wings, new ears, superpower eyes, etc). A baby hawk fell out of the nest, so those human+ types made it into a bionic hawk. Story was okay, but did nothing for me, and the lack of details about the world made it confusing.
"The Bear's Child" - by Harlow Cyan Fallon. Ugh, I don't even know. A human crawled into a den with a dying bear and the bear took care of the human. I gave up on this one quickly.
"Wings of Paradise" - by Todd Barselow. This one didn't even try to be realistic about the animals. It started with a claim that, after all humans were killed, animals were no longer being repressed, and so could quickly evolve (in a couple generations) to human-level intelligence... The story did not work for me at all and I didn't finish it.
"Ghost Light" - by Steven Savile. Ugh, this one just annoyed me. A good enough idea (dogs leading spirits to the afterlife), but just not written well enough to pull it off.
"Kristy's Song" - by Michael Bunker. Insert the same line about this being set in another book series, lack of details, confusing... A too intelligent dog saves a man, loses man, finds man again. Maybe this story would work if you had read the books it was set it. Did not work as a stand-alone story.
"Unconditional" - by the book's editor, Chris Pourteau. A zombie story (I hate zombie stories), with a not believable ending and a too intelligent, not-dog-like dog main character.
When I got a copy of this book, I had assumed it wasn't self-published. I guess I hadn't thought that anthologies could be self-published, which is kind of silly.
My angry/annoyed feeling about this book comes from the suspicion that the editor knew that most stories weren't very good. Three of the first four were great, and none after those were even good. I suspect they ordered them that way to trick us into reading them all, in hopes of more great ones.
In addition to that, the "about the author" sections after each short story was a quarter the length of the stories themselves, and filled with promotion/links/sales info. That made this book feel more like advertising than an honest attempt at offering stories.
If not for the couple stories I like, I would have rated this a 'hated'.