This story received third place review in the 2011 NAA Foundation Youth Content Awards. It was originally published in the April 2010 issue of FlipSide magazine.
"Prom Nights from Hell" is a short-story anthology with stories from popular young adult authors Meg Cabot, Lauren Myracle, Kim Harrison, Michelle Jaffe and Stephenie Meyer. All of the works are about prom....gone seriously wrong.
"The Exterminator's Daughter" by Meg Cabot is the opening story. Characteristic of the "Princess Diaries" author, this short story is humorous and easy to get sucked into. The protagonist is Mary, whose mother taught her how to "exterminate" all kinds of supernatural beings. When a vampire (specifically, the son of Dracula) shows up to sweep her best friend off her feet and ruin Mary's prom, she steps in to save both.
Cabot's contribution is fairly predictable and very unresolved. I wasn't satisfied with the ending. However, it is truly funny, fresh and cute, with a quirky twist on the traditional vampire hunter.
The second story is "The Corsage" by Lauren Myracle. This one is about a girl who, while trying to clue her crush in and make him ask her to prom, goes with him and another friend to a psychic. While there, the psychic reluctantly gives her an old corsage that supposedly grants the owner three wishes -- but the psychic warns her that its consequences are not worth the wishes.
In typical teenage form (and I can say that, since I am a teenager!), Frankie, the lovesick protagonist, doesn't listen and wishes for her crush, Will, to ask her to prom. I won't ruin the story, but let' s just say that it's the embodiment of "be careful what you wish for."
Of the five stories, "The Corsage" definitely has the best sense of resolution. Its storyline actually sticks within the pages allotted. Although not my favorite (I prefer the stories that are lighter in tone), it is well written, intriguing and complete.
The third story, "Madison Avery and the Dim Reaper" by Kim Harrison, was my favorite. It's the longest, and I felt it is the most original. Madison Avery, sent to live with her father, is killed on prom night after taking a ride with a mysterious stranger. One might think the story morbid or depressing, but it isn't. The tone is still light, with occasional humor.
The best part is the mythology Harrison delves into. She writes a unique take on the "grim reaper" tale, evolving it into a battle between forces of light and dark over humanity. The one issue I had with this interesting, wonderful contribution was that it ended at the beginning of Madison's story (which is actually after her death). But luckily for me, Harrison expanded the short story into "Once Dead, Twice Shy," a full novel -- and one I intend to read as soon as possible.
"Kiss and Tell" by Michelle Jaffe is a cute story about a teenage girl named Miranda with superpowers. It is funny and sweet, although there isn't much that's too special about it. The relationship between Miranda and Sibby, a younger girl Miranda meets, grows nicely, and I came to care about both of them. I also enjoyed that, as a reader, I could see Miranda becoming more comfortable with her skin and learning to live in the moment.
The last of the five short stories is written by Stephenie Meyer, the goddess of the "Twilight" world. The fact that I'm a Meyer fan notwithstanding, "Hell on Earth" is a very good addition to the anthology. It's pretty creative, about a demon of misery who comes to a prom in order to cause chaos and mayhem. Of all the stories, this one sticks the closest to the prom theme. While I thought Harrison's story edged it out a bit overall, I still really liked "Hell on Earth." It is another plot that I think would make good novel material.
I'm not really a short-story buff in general because I find it difficult to get drawn in to the characters and plot, but "Prom Nights from Hell" is a great read. The anthology is fun, fairly original and perfect for the young adult genre with its mix of romance and the supernatural. Be warned that although it isn't what I'd call scary, there are some dark events in it. So pick it up, and be thankful that at least your prom night won't be that bad...hopefully.