Saturday, 27 June 2015

reviewing Dangerous Women

I'm afraid I'm well behind the times with this one... so behind in fact that I thought briefly that I shouldn't bother saying anything.

However, this book really bugged me.

This is a book of short stories with the central theme of 'dangerous women', which is basically cobbled together in order to piggyback some other authors onto the current success of George RR Martin, who has one of his World of Ice and Fire novellas in here.  I got it because of the George RR Martin story, and I did enjoy some of the other authors. I welcome the chance to find new stuff to read (despite the length of my 'to read' list). I don't even mind that I don't like some of the stories, however, some of these stories are just shite. Some of the women aren't dangerous; they're barely even characters, and they drag an otherwise good book down.

I've been through the stories so you don't have to.
  1. Some Desperado by Joe Abercrombie. A great Western style story with an impressive dangerous woman, name of Shy.
  2. My Heart is Either Broken by Megan Abbott. A really good story with a genuine dangerous woman, but mainly with misunderstandings, mistrust, and a horrible man. Also, that is an amazing title.
  3. Nora's Song by Cecilia Holland. I'm a fan of this historical period and so did enjoy this short story. Eleanor of Aquitaine can certainly be considered dangerous. Although Beckett might wish to suggest her husband more so.
  4. The Hands That Are Not There by Melinda Snodgrass is not a story I particularly like, but there is a dangerous woman at the heart of this tale.
  5. Bombshells by Jim Butcher. I loved this story which was fabulously non-sexist, and had the marvellous Molly as our dangerous woman. Awesome.
  6. Raisa Stepanova by Carrie Vaughan. Raisa is certainly dangerous, in this historical, fact based, war story. This wasn't for me, but that doesn't mean it wasn't well written.
  7. Wrestling Jesus by Joe R Lansdale. This story should be embarrassed to be seen in company with some of the other tales in this book. The male characters are horrible, and the woman is nothing but a prize. She is the excuse the men use for reprehensible behaviour, while little to no interest is paid to her character.  She is accused of horrors, but no motivation given. Awful.
  8. Neighbours by Megan Lindholm. Megan Lindholm is Robin Hobb or vice versa. I like the woman. This is a good story, and an interesting take on dementia. Beautifully done. I don't see a dangerous woman though.
  9. I Know How to Pick 'Em by Lawrence Block. No idea what this story is doing in this book. This is the story of a man meeting a vulnerable woman and murdering her. The whole point is that she is not dangerous, but she needs to be, and she is too stupid to see the situation she's getting into.  Unpleasant.
  10. Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell by Brandon Sanderson. I love the title, and this story. It's beautifully crafted and well told. Complete with a dangerous woman by the name of Silence. What a great name. But Silence isn't the only thing to be feared in the Forests.
  11. A Queen in Exile by Sharon Kay Penman is a really interesting story about a Queen making the most of a difficult situation. She's brave, she's wise, but she isn't dangerous. The author adds a note to say that after the events of this story she may have been involved in a rebellion against her unjust husband's rule. It seems to me that that tale would be the one to tell for this book. Perhaps it wouldn't be so interesting though.
  12. The Girl in the Mirror by Lev Grossman. Hmm, well, people think the girl in the mirror is dangerous, but there's no evidence of it. It's a bit tediously Harry Potter-esque for me, and a shame that in a story with mainly female characters, it's a male professor who must come to the rescue.
  13. Second Arabesque, Very Slowly by Nancy Kress. Totally love this post apocalyptic story, vividly painted and totally gripping. Complete with dangerous women too.
  14. City Lazarus by Diana Rowland. Surprisingly good for a detective-type tale. There certainly is a dangerous woman, but I'm not telling you who.
  15. Virgins by Diana Gabaldon. I read this so you don't have to. Don't get me wrong, the idea behind the story is good, the characters well realised, but why make people speak with Scottish accents if you don't know how to write a Scottish accent? It's painful to read. There is also no development of the fact that the two highborn Scots turn out to be Catholic. Obviously it's not a problem that they are, but something that contentious would surely be pass remarkable? As for dangerous women, I suppose the woman in question is a bit dangerous, although vexing might be more apt. Again the story is focused on men, and women serve as troublesome cargo, service providers, and unfortunate pawns. Diana Gabaldon has done very well with her Outlander books (the characters from which are in this story), and I'm sure the TV series works better, although I found the first episode maddening for its non-problematic idea of everyone in Inverness being a bit pagan. Surely the wee frees would have something to say about it?
  16. Hell Hath No Fury by Sherilyn Kenyon. I was dubious about this story to start with. The characters are made for TV, but it sucked me in and I was quickly hooked. It's a great wee ghost story complete with morals and a very dangerous woman.
  17. Pronouncing doom by SM Stirling. I loved this story. It's set around an idea which is a really interesting if improbable one to explore. An island which has shifted in time. I'm going to add some SM Stirling to my reading list. However, the main dangerous character in this story is a man. There is a woman who has had it in for him and gets to have her day, but with permission, and with help. Hardly dangerous really.
  18. Name the Beast by Samuel Sykes. Sam Sykes is Diana Gabaldon's son. So I didn't have high hopes. I found the story hard to follow, but beautiful and poignant, and starring a dangerous woman.
  19. Caretakers by Pat Cadigan. An interesting story packed full of dangerous women. Grand stuff.
  20. Lies my mother told me by Caroline Spector. A wild card story, with some very dangerous women.
  21. The Princess and the Queen by George R R Martin. The reason I bought this book! Some back story for the Song of Ice and Fire series. This story focuses on two Targaryon factions led by said women, who while they are dangerous are vulnerable to the whims of the men around them.
Have you read it? What did you think?

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