Songs of Love & Death edited by George R. R. Martin: Book Review

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My Synopsis:

This collection of short stories is exactly what the subtitle says: tales of star-crossed love. Crossing a gamut of sub-genres within the realms of science fiction and fantasy, there should be something here for almost everyone.

My Review:

As with almost any anthology, there were stories that I loved and some that just didn’t do anything for me. I was a little afraid that it would start to get depressing (star-crossed love just doesn’t sound happy, now does it?) but there was a good balance of happy and sad endings.

Favorite story: “Hurt Me” by M. L. N. Hanover.–A woman moves into a house haunted by an angry ghost. It was dark and disturbing all the way through, but holy cow, what an ending. I feel like I should have seen it coming but I completely did not. Very well done.

“Love Hurts” by Jim Butcher–Someone starts magically forcing people to fall in love on Harry’s turf with disastrous results. I’ve only read the first two books in the Dresden Files, but I do love Harry and Murph. There wasn’t really anything spoilery in this story, labeled as # 11.5, but it was a little bittersweet.

“The Marrying Maid” by Jo Beverley–A young aristocrat zeroes in on a sensible vicar’s daughter as his one true love. This felt like it was going to venture into bodice-ripper territory (nothing wrong with it, but that’s not my thing), but it steered mostly clear. It was fun but I don’t think it will end up being memorable for me.

“Rooftops” by Carrie Vaughn–A playwright living in a version of Gotham City is rescued by a masked crusader. A strong contender for my favorite story. A shy new superhero? Yes, please.

“Demon Lover” by Cecelia Holland–A young woman unsatisfied with her lot in life ventures into a castle she’s never seen before. I had to look and remind myself what it was about. Not a great sign, but I did enjoy it while I was reading it. A story of mortals drifting into the faery realm is always a safe bet for me.

“The Wayfarer’s Advice” by Melinda M. Snodgrass–The captain of a tradeship stumbles on the wreckage of an Imperial cruiser (different wording, same thing) and he’s pretty sure his old flame was on board. Again, I had to look back at it, but it was haunting while I was reading it. I felt like there were elements of Serenity in it. I’m not complaining.

“Blue Boots” by Robin Hobb–I did not enjoy the two books I’ve read by Robin Hobb at all so I gave up on her altogether. This story made me rethink my stance. A plucky kitchen maid and a minstrel? Again, has my name all over it.

“The Thing About Cassandra” by Neil Gaiman–A man starts hearing about an old girlfriend that he’d completely forgotten about. If you read many of my reviews at all, you know I love Neil Gaiman, so you know I was excited for this one. I was let down. There was a twist that surprised me, but I didn’t really care. I can’t describe it better than that.

“After the Blood” by Marjorie M. Liu–The Amish, a plague, these vampire-y thing? I just didn’t understand this story. I felt like I was reading an entry in a series that I knew nothing about. Maybe I was. I was missing a whole lot of information that I think would have helped me make sense of what was going on.

“You, and You Alone” by Jacqueline Carey–Delauney’s story, only hinted at in Kushiel’s Dart. I loved the Kushiel series so I was very excited to read this, especially when I realized what it was about. Loved it.

“His Wolf” by Lisa Tuttle–A recently relocated woman falls in with a mysterious man and his wolf. It didn’t go exactly in the direction I expected, a huge plus.

“Courting Trouble” by Linnea Sinclair–The captain of a tradeship finds herself relying on an old friend for help, years after he betrayed her trust. A little too science-fictiony for my reading taste. I didn’t dislike it though.

“The Demon Dancer” by Mary Jo Putney–A magician cop and an old friend tackle a succubus before the spirit can destroy too many lives around the city. I liked this one quite a bit. I didn’t see where it was going either.

“Under/Above the Water” by Tanith Lee–Two lovers, separated by centuries, trying to find their way back to each other. Not my style. I typically need to be up in the characters’ heads to really enjoy a story and this one felt very distanced.

“Kaskia” by Peter S. Beagle–A man hits “the red button” on a mysterious computer with very unexpected results. Felt a bit too short, although I think Beagle accomplished exactly what he was trying to do. I just wanted a little more!

“Man in the Mirror” by Yasmine Galenorn–A troubled woman moves into a house with a past of its own. A sad, haunting, very visual tale. I really, really liked it.

“A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows” by Diana Gabaldon–A WWII RAF pilot goes down over Scotland and wakes up in an unexpected place. Possibly my least favorite story. What a crap ending.

And that’s it. The good outweighed the bad and overall I enjoyed the book. There were some very strong entries in this collection. I do recommend it.

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  1. Even having read your review, I share your original misgivings about it possibly being too sad! It does sound like some of the stories were really good though (something that reminded you of Serenity – awesome!) plus some by authors I really like. I might have to add this to my to-read list after all 🙂 Thanks for the review!

  2. I've had this under my radar ever since R.R.Martin mentioned it on his own blog, but it's the first review I actually read of it. Glad to know you think it's good overall.

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