Google+ The Introverted Reader: Songs of Love & Death: All-Original Tales of Star-Crossed Love, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois: Review

Songs of Love & Death: All-Original Tales of Star-Crossed Love, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois: Review

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Cover of Songs of Love and Death edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
4 Stars

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.

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 a 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.

Buy Songs of Love & Death: All-Original Tales of Star-Crossed Love at

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  1. 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.

  2. 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!


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