I’ve been on a bit of a Robin Hobb kick lately, and I should admit that I mainly bought Songs of Love and Death so I could have one of her stories in print. However, it also includes stories from other authors I like – Neil Gaiman, Jim Butcher, Jacqueline Carey and Peter S. Beagle, for example, and the chance to get to know a few new ones. I’m not really a fan of the romance genre, but the promise of sci-fi and fantasy and top notch authors was too hard to resist.
Overall, this was a pretty uneven collection. My favourites were the usual suspects – Gaiman’s The Thing About Cassandra was absolutely delightful and made me fall in love with his writing all over again, Hobb’s Blue Boots was typical and felt like being under a warm and comfortable blanket, just because I love her writing so much. I’ve only read Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart, but her story You, And You Alone was a great exploration of character of one of my favourite characters from that book, as well as a poignant love story. I’m not sure how it would stand by itself though, since the framing story is an important event from Kushiel’s Dart. I also quite liked Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden story, Love Hurts – I really need to read more Dresden files. Kaskia by Peter S. Beagke was also pretty darn good.
Now for new (to me) authors. My favourites were probably The Wayfarer’s Advice by Melinda M. Snodgrass (although I’m not sure if that counts as new-to-me, since she worked extensively on Star Trek: The Next Generation) – I thought it was a really well-crafted bittersweet story. I also liked Hurt Me by M.L.N. Hanover a lot, a woman moves into a haunted house but is strangely unafraid – I thought the resolution to this was pretty cool, even though it was a bit obvious. I liked the settings of Courting Trouble (I’m a sucker for space!) and After the Blood, but not the love stories.
Two stories that I thought were pretty bad – The Marrying Maid by Jo Beverly (woman goes from being afraid of being kidnapped and raped to being in true love in literally a few hours…), and The Demon Dancer (elderly woman transforms into hot babe and gets with the young Guardian she’s been mentoring…)
Anyway, a good buy, especially if you can get it used! Gaiman’s story is the standout, and if you’re following the Hobb/Carey/Butcher series’, they’re great backstory.
- “Yes, Chef” by Marcus Samuelsson
- “Redshirts” by John Scalzi