Book Review: George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois’ Dangerous Women

Posted April 1, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois’ Dangerous Women

Dangerous Women


Brandon Sanderson, Caroline Spector, Carrie Vaughan, Cecelia Holland, Diana Gabaldon, Diana Rowland, Gardner Dozois, George R.R. Martin, Jim Butcher, Joe Abercrombie, Joe R. Lansdale, Lev Grossman, Megan Abbot, Megan Lindholm, Melinda Snodgrass, Nancy Kress, Pat Cadigan, S.M. Stirling, Sam Sykes, Sharon Kay Penman, Sherrilyn Kenyon

It is part of the The Dresden Files #2.5, , The Magicians #xx.5, Outlander #0.5, Emberverse #1.5, series and is a fantasy, paranormal fantasy, urban fantasy that was published by Tor Books on December 3, 2013 and has 736 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books in this series include The Scottish Prisoner, MatchUp, The Change: Tales of Downfall and Rebirth

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Mistborn: The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension, The Hero of Ages, Towers of Midnight, A Memory of Light, Games Creatures Play, The Alloy of Law, Shadows of Self, The Bands of Mourning, The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination, Lord John and the Hand of Devils, The Scottish Prisoner, Seven Stones to Stand or Fall, The Wild Side: Urban Fantasy with an Erotic Edge, Mark of the Demon, Blood of the Demon, Secrets of the Demon, Sins of the Demon, Touch of the Demon, My Life as a White Trash Zombie, Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues, White Trash Zombie Apocalypse, Fury of the Demon, How the White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back, White Trash Zombie Gone Wild, Warriors, Down These Strange Streets, Mean Streets, Changes, Side Jobs, Ghost Story, Dark and Stormy Knights, Aftertaste, Hex Appeal, Welcome to the Jungle, Storm Front, Grave Peril, Summer Knight, Fool Moon, Cold Days, Skin Game, Blood Rites, Death Masks, Proven Guilty, White Night, Small Favor, Shadowed Souls, The Magicians, The Magician King, A Taint in the Blood, Council of Shadows, Shadows of Falling Night, Dies the Fire, The Protector's War, A Meeting at Corvallis, The Sunrise Lands, The Scourge of God, The Sword of the Lady, The High King of Montival, The Change: Tales of Downfall and Rebirth, Blood Trinity, Man of My Dreams, Invincible, Born of Shadows, Retribution, Big Guns Out of Uniform, Tapestry, Deadly Promises, In Other Worlds, Dream Warrior, "One BAD Night", Dark Side of the Moon, Alterant, The Guardian, Whispered Lies, Infamous, Born of Silence, The Curse, Inferno, Rise of the Gryphon, Styxx, Son of No One, Dragonbane, Born of Vengeance, Deadmen Walking

An anthology of 21 short stories revolving around some interesting interpretations of dangerous women…walk carefully, lest you find one.


“Bombshells” (The Dresden Files, 12.5)
“Shadows For Silence in the Forests of Hell” (Warbreaker, 1.5)
“The Girl in the Mirror” (The Magicians, xx.5)
“Virgins” (Outlander, 0.5)
“Pronouncing Doom” (Emberverse, 1.5)
“The Princess and the Queen” (A Song of Fire and Ice, 0.5)
“Lies My Mother Told Me” (shared-universe Wild Cards, 21?)

The Stories

Joe Abercrombie‘s “Some Desperado” was sad and funny at the same time. It’s all the warnings your mother gives you come true with a girl who is honest enough to admit it in this Old West tale. An oddish sort of ending, and it worked. He’s already on my TBR list, and this story simply spurs me on.

Megan Abbot‘s “My Heart is Either Broken” was read too soon after I read a post on stories that ended without proper punctual endings, and the title bothered me. Of course, it bothered me, for completely different reasons, once I finished this short. It’s a peek into a dreadful time for a young couple. Their daughter’s been stolen and the hard cruel eyes of the public are judging, expecting. And I suspect it’s the beginning of the end. You’ll cry at the end, and I also suspect you’ll hope without hope.

Cecelia Holland‘s “Nora’s Song” is a dip of the historic toe into the family chaos of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine and has me wanting to delve into what happened to their children. An intriguing, and sad, look at their children’s lives growing up between these warring spouses. It raises a sad and parallel thought about ambitious parents — generally royal and noble ones — eager to continue their legacies and family names at the expense of their children. To be loved by one’s parents. Is it a fantasy only recent generations have? That expectation to be loved for oneself? I do want to read more of Holland’s work.

Melinda Snodgrass‘s “The Hands That are Not There” is another sad tale of bigotry and love in the wrong places in this science fiction romance. You know it’s going to end wrong, but you won’t believe how wrong. Heartbreaking and so very well done.

Jim Butcher‘s “Bombshells” is a brief glimpse into Molly’s travails after Dresden has died, the efforts she goes through to do honor to her mentor in saving his half-brother, and how it affects the people around her. It’s also a cheeky thump to the heart with its ending hint!

Carrie Vaughn‘s “Raisa Stepanova” is its own tale complete in itself of a stubborn girl who wanted to fly and World War II gave her the opportunity. Her thoughts, her dreams, her worries all come through even as Vaughn paints a worrisome picture in the background. Very nicely written.

Joe R. Lansdale‘s “Wrestling Jesus” is yet another bittersweet story, of a wrestler this time and the dreams that held him back in this grim contemporary story. Dreams that will spur his protégè on. I did love the way the X-Man prodded Marvin onward, lol. Another name added to my TBR.

Megan Lindholm‘s “Neighbors” is a terrifying mix of old age and science fiction! A true look through an old woman’s eyes at the choice of fates before her. Aging with the loss of memory that accompanies it and being nagged toward losing too much of herself or stepping out into a “new world” where she knows nothing. I hate how Lindholm left this, and I’m hoping she’ll go somewhere with it as it’s left me with way too many questions!

Lawrence Block‘s “I Know How to Pick ‘Em” is terrifying in a different direction. The title sounds like a complaint, and it’s more of an acknowledged lament. I have to wonder if this is his “job”? His direction in life? What did that army doctor see and how did it affect “Gary”‘s decision? I haven’t read much Block, and this story didn’t seem like his usual (of the little I’ve read *eye roll*). Excellent contemporary story of a perverse mother, no-tell motels, and with a nasty twist on that dangerous woman theme.

Brandon Sanderson‘s “Shadows For Silence in the Forests of Hell” is another one, arghhhh! A brief glimpse into this woman’s world, and I want to know so much more about it!! Sanderson gives plenty to intrigue but only enough to touch on Silence’s background and the dangers of this fantasy world. It’s greed, pride, and fear that push and pull at its characters, and it takes a dangerous woman to survive.

Sharon Kay Penman‘s “A Queen in Exile” is another historical based on true people: Constance de Hauteville and her husband, Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor. It’s a few years of her married life with the jerk with a behind-the-scenes reasoning for her choices for Frederick. Very well done.

Lev Grossman‘s “The Girl in the Mirror” is the planning and effect of a prank that reveals so much more and reads like the start of something. Brief sketches of students, several professors, and the school that made me feel as if I were stepping into a story that has been ongoing, and while Grossman pulled me in with his effective characterizations, he’s left me wanting more. I want to know more about Wharton and his pencils. I want to know more about Plum and what haunts her. I want to know more about Professor Coldwater, whose portrayal was very conflicting, and the secrets ways of Brakebills. As for the girl? She’s barely tapped. If it weren’t for the title, we wouldn’t know she might be important. The ending was annoying as well. All this effort and this is it?

Nancy Kress‘ “Second Arabesque, Very Slowly” is another dip of the toe, into an apocalyptic world this time. The characters ring true and prove that man fails when he reduces women to second-best. Stories from the past and a glimpse of the beauty that was cause this tiny leap of hope in the midst of shortsighted dogs of greed. What doesn’t ring true is Kress’ explanations for why dancing is so horrible that it earns a death penalty — her explanation in the story doesn’t work for me since Kara hasn’t had a period yet, so WTF? Yet another ending that left me frustrated.

Diana Rowland‘s “City of Lazarus” looks at corruption in New Orleans with a different twist on the after effects of Hurricane Katrina. And not so fanciful either as it’s still a fate that could overtake New Orleans! A corrupt cop who learns a better way to live only to find the answer, too late. I did keep expecting Kara Gillian to crop up, though, *grin*

Diana Gabaldon‘s “Virgins” is a prequel that tells the story of how Jamie joined up with Ian’s mercenary group in France and one of their adventures there. Oh, boy. Jamie may still be a virgin, but Ian has lost a bit of his, um, innocence, lol.

Sherrilyn Kenyon‘s “Hell Hath No Fury” is a fearful ghost story of a Creek woman done wrong and what it will take to appease her. Nice blend of history, Indian beliefs, and greedy bigotry with a touch of the psychic to pull it together.

S. M. Stirling‘s “Pronouncing Doom” was fabulous! Another apocalyptic tale but one involving law and Wiccans. I want more. A small group of people who are trying to pull together and survive. To be better than the old world. A-l-most you could want a disaster to see if we could make things better as the Dun do in this story. Yes, it’s hard work and too many died to make this come about, but to bring about a more peaceful, supportive, and responsible rule? Stirling did a lovely job of sharing Juniper’s thoughts, how hard this was for her to make the choices she did, and the whys. I’ve enjoyed his Shadowspawn series, and I can see that I have definitely got to read more of his work.

Sam Sykes‘s “Name the Beast” has promise, but I found it too confusing. Sykes dropped me in and left me dangling. Much like Eadne. It turns out there were two different mother-and-daughter couples and both were, um, sort of fighting the other? And each other?? I didn’t understand who Kalindris or Rokuda were. What their purpose was. I caught the conflict. The usual one of “invasion” of some sort, but I never did understand Kalindris’ side of all this. What the purpose of her people was. This was my own bête noir of the anthology.

Pat Cadigan‘s “Caretakers” is a horror story of sisters far apart in age and the typical rivalry of siblings as each struggles with how they react with each other and their fears for their mother in an assisted living home. Their fears of how the staff are caring for their mother and the other retired people. It’s a bit close to home with the description of a mother suffering from Alzheimer’s and her gradual decay.

Caroline Spector‘s “Lies My Mother Told Me” is a well-written and interesting blend of X-Men, comic superheroes, and the paranormal in a short story that is part of George R.R. Martin’s shared-universe series, Wild Cards. It’s zombies and conspiracies as an unknown enemy is stealing Wild Card powers and Bubbles and Hoodoo Mama must thwart them with the background help of Adesina. My one quibble is why they want Bubbles to retire??

George R.R. Martin‘s “The Princess and the Queen” is a prequel to A Song of Fire and Ice series, one that I suspect is set in the distant past as he relates the story of royals flying dragons while half-brother and half-sister battle it out for the Iron Throne (Being a History of the Causes, Origins, Battles, and Betrayals of the Most Tragic Bloodletting Known as the Dance of the Dragons, or a battle within House Targaryen from 129 to 131 AC). It’s very much in the theme of the story with its paranoid betrayals, battles, and death. And I suspect the last time dragons fly in this world. Until now.

The Cover and Title

The cover looks like an old, smoky parchment brushed by fire on the edges with the title in a bright, gleaming gold raised above the surface. The editors’ names are also in a raised font in black while a partial list of contributing authors is below the title.

The title is the theme of these stories, for they are all about Dangerous Women in one form or another.