Double Feature Review/Anthology Maddness!: Dark Duets by Christopher Golden and Dangerous Women by George R. R. Martin

Anthologies can be hit or miss for me.  Often, they seem to be positioned as a way to introduce readers to series and authors.   Now this is just my opinion, but too many times short stories aren’t as engaging and just don’t pull me in like a novel.  The characters may not be as well introduced because they exist in a series or novel already.  There are exceptions of course.  For example, Alice Munro, Patricia Briggs and Jim Butcher write beautifully executed short stories.  But honestly, too often there are so many authors in an anthology that I don’t care about with only one or two authors I do care about.  Oh and many times, I feel forced to read the short story if it takes place between a series, because I worry that I will miss out on a crucial series development if I miss reading.  So it was odd that I found myself reading three anthologies at the same time (only two I review here — Dear Life by Alice Munro is the third) and enjoying each of them.  What struck me as different about these two anthologies is that the stories can be read as standalones.  But I should say upfront, I did not read all the stories in each book.  I read the stories by authors I love. First, in Dark Duets,  the theme for each story is that two or three authors team up to write a horror story collaboratively.  The ones I read are good.  Second, in Dangerous Women (edited by GRRM), the stories are more like novellas.  They are long, well developed and something to sink into on their own.  If you read any anthologies this year, I suggest looking in to these two.  If I had to choose, then Dangerous Women is the better collection.  

Double Feature Anthology Review

Dark Duets by  and

Dangerous Women by George R. R. Martin

(7) Dark Duets

 

Dark Duets by Christopher Golden
*review copy received from Netgalley*
Regina’s Rating: 4 stars/Grade B+
Book Summary:

[box color=grey]New Tales of Horror and Dark Fantasy will be published in January, 2014 by Harper Voyager. Edited by Christopher Golden, it features an extraordinary lineup of collaborative stories, with the authors of each story collaborating for the very first time. And here they are!

-TRIP TRAP by Sherrilyn Kenyon & Kevin J. Anderson
-WELDED by Tom Piccirilli & T.M. Wright
-DARK WITNESS by Charlaine Harris & Rachel Caine
-REPLACING MAX by Stuart MacBride & Allan Guthrie
-T. RHYMER by Gregory Frost & Jonathan Maberry
-SHE, DOOMED GIRL by Sarah MacLean & Carrie Ryan
-HAND JOB by Chelsea Cain & Lidia Yuknavitch
-HOLLOW CHOICES by Robert Jackson Bennett & David Liss
-AMUSE-BOUCHE by Amber Benson & Jeffrey J. Mariotte
-BRANCHES, CURVING by Tim Lebbon & Michael Marshall Smith
-RENASCENCE by Rhodi Hawk and F. Paul Wilson
-BLIND LOVE by Kasey Lansdale & Joe R. Lansdale
-TRAPPER BOY by Holly Newstein & Rick Hautala
-STEWARD OF THE BLOOD by Nate Kenyon & James A. Moore
-CALCULATING ROUTE by Michael Koryta & Jeffrey David Greene
-SISTERS BEFORE MISTERS by Sarah Rees Brennan, Cassandra Clare, and Holly Black
-SINS LIKE SCARLET by Mark Morris & Rio Youers[/box]

These stories are horror based and the three I read were spooky:

Dark Witness by Charlaine Harris and Rachel Caine
T. Rhymer by Gregory Frost and Jonathan Mayberry,
Sisters Before Misters by Sarah Rees Brennan, Cassandra Clare, and Holly Black

The beauty of the three stories I read is that no one author’s style shows through but it reads as the best of each author.

Dark Witness – 5 stars 
I feel like every time I read something new by Charlaine Harris I am hoping that what I used to love about her is evident in the text and there is none of what I came to strongly dislike toward the end of the Sookie series.  Well BAM. I loved this story.  This story is not obviously written by either Caine or Harris.  I couldn’t recognize either authors’ style.  It is spooky and well developed and it begins with a nightmare.  There is a hint at the coming apocalypse and it is not romantic.  The characters are there to allow the story to unfold, rather than the story being about the characters.  This is just a darned good spooky tale.

T. Rhymer – 5 stars 
So I read this story because I love Maberry’s Rot and Ruin series.  I know nothing of Gregory Frost (but now I will seek out books by him).  Again, this story is really good and very well done.  Maberry’s writing style was not obvious in the story, the authors blended so well together.  This story takes what we usually read about elves, the fae, and hell – – and turns it on its head.  T. Rhymer is a character in the story and I would love to read more of him.  There is non stop action and some interesting surprises.   I could not put this one down.

Sisters Before Misters – 2.5 Stars
Love the title and I love the line-up of authors that contributed to this story.  Ultimately, Sisters Before Misters was just okay.  I didn’t think it was funny – -I saw what the authors were trying to do but for me it just didn’t work.  I think it is worth reading if you have the anthology as it is a quick read.  But if you are looking to read it because it is authored by Holly Black or Cassandra Clare, then you should know it doesn’t read like one of their novels.

Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠ 

dangerous womenDangerous Women by George R. R. Martin
Audio book and Ebook checked out from library
Regina’s Rating: 5 stars/Grade A
Book Summary:

[box color=grey]The Dangerous Women anthology contains following stories:
– Introduction by Gardner Dozois
– “Some Desperado” by Joe Abercrombie – A Red Country story
– “My Heart is Either Broken” by Megan Abbott
– “Nora’s Song” by Cecelia Holland
– “The Hands That Are Not There” by Melinda Snodgrass
– “Bombshells” by Jim Butcher – A Harry Dresden story
– “Raisa Stepanova” by Carrie Vaughn
– “Wrestling Jesus” by Joe R. Lansdale
– “Neighbors” by Megan Lindholm
– “I Know How to Pick ’Em” by Lawrence Block
– “Shadows For Silence in the Forests of Hell” by Brandon Sanderson
– “A Queen in Exile” by Sharon Kay Penman
– “The Girl in the Mirror” by Lev Grossman – A Magicians story
– “Second Arabesque, Very Slowly” by Nancy Kress
– “City Lazarus” by Diana Rowland
– “Virgins” by Diana Gabaldon – An Outlander story
– “Hell Hath No Fury” by Sherilynn Kenyon
– “Pronouncing Doom” by S.M. Stirling – An Emberverse story
– “Name the Beast” by Sam Sykes
– “Caretakers” by Pat Cadigan
– “Lies My Mother Told Me” by Caroline Spector – A Wild Cards story
– “The Princess and the Queen” by George R.R. Martin – A Song of Ice and Fire story [/box]

So clearly this book has a fantastic line-up authors such as Jim Butcher and Diana Gabaldon and is edited by GRRM himself. The focus is on “dangerous women”. So I did a combination of reading and listening to the audio version of the book and I can happily report that both versions are highly satisfying; although, I only read a few stories:

Bombshell by Jim Butcher (set in the Dresden Files world)
Virgins by Diana Gabaladon (set in the Outlander world, when Jamie and Ian were young men)
The Princess and the Queen by GRRM (set in the Game of Thrones world, about the battle that unseated the T from the throne)

I loved each of these stories. They are all longer, not short and have a decent build and good character development. They don’t read as installments but as stories in themselves. For fans of authors featured in this book, they will find it very satisfying. For fans of well written stories with a fantasy or a historical element, well you should give this a try.

Bombshells – 4 stars
This story begins after Changes and likely before Ghost Story, for readers who have not got far along in the Dresden Files series I will keep spoilers to a minimum. The focus of the story is on Molly and damn her power is impressive! We get a glimpse of her talent and ability in the Dresden Files, but I don’t think Harry full understands what Molly is capable of – Bombshells shows readers. Leanansidhe plays a small role in this story as does Justine, Butters and Andi. Like the typical Dresden Files stories, nothing is easy and the risks are huge. Readers learn more about Molly and what she is capable of.

Virgins – 5 stars
I loved seeing Jamie and his good friend Ian when they were young. This story begins directly after Jamie’s father is killed and after Jamie is flogged by the British. It follows Ian and Jamie as they work as mercenaries and encounter a very dangerous women. Diana Gabaladon is so very talented at making readers feel the full flavor of life in the 1700s. She doesn’t skimp on details and is able to describe a world that doesn’t exist anymore except in books. Fans of Outlander will enjoy this story. Oh and the Virgins? That would be Jamie and Ian. 

The Princess and the Queen – 5 stars
This story is told in a removed and reminiscing way, as if we are gathered around the fire and GRRM is explaining how the iron throne became contested and how the Targaryens lost the throne, their lives and their dragons. So it is set before Game of Thrones. It is a long story and similar to GRRM’s books in this series, it is brutal. There is murder and despair. But the story is not to be missed for readers of the Song of Ice and Fire series.

Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠ 

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