BOOK REVIEW: DANGEROUS WOMEN 2 / AUTHOR: VARIOUS / PUBLISHER: TOR BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Dangerous Women 2 is the second of three books featuring a selection of seven short stories written by some of today’s bestselling authors. Commissioned by George R. R. Martin, author of Game of Thrones, and Gardner Dozois, editor of The Year’s Best Science Fiction anthologies, it includes stories by Megan Lindholm (aka Robin Hobb), Lev Grossman, Sharon Kay Penman, S. M. Stirling, Caroline Spector, Sam Sykes, and Diana Gabaldon.
For a book that is supposed to focus on dangerous women it featured very few. The introduction by Gardner Dozois raised expectations of the stories following it to a very high standard, which most did not manage to live up to. The characters are often unrelatable, making it difficult to empathise with them, and some of the narratives are difficult to follow. In particular, Name the Beast by Sam Sykes was confusing from the start. While some of the others start off cryptically - they gradually feed you the information you need to know to understand the narrative - this does not happen in Name the Beast. Neighbors (sic) also didn’t fit into the title of the book too, as, with the exception of a matriarch appearing at the end, there aren’t any “dangerous women” in it. And does being a matriarch actually make you a dangerous woman? If it did it would suggest that matriarchal women in general are dangerous and promotes a patriarchal ideology, which is not the ideology this book is supposed to represent.
That being said, the novel isn’t without some enjoyable stories. Lies My Mother Told Me by Caroline Spector is an interesting twist on the superhero subgenre. It tears down traditional expectations of women as mothers and lovers, as the narrative features lesbianism as the norm, which makes it a refreshing read given the other stories all feature heterosexual heroines. Similarly, A Queen in Exile by Sharon Kay Penman provided a powerful woman in a medieval sense of the word. The main character, Constance, is admirable and leads a fascinating tale of war, courage, and the importance of fertility to women of the medieval era.
Dangerous Women Part 2 offers a variety of stories fitting into the science-fiction/fantasy genre, from mediaeval Queens to modern-day superheroes, from ghosts to the apocalypse, there is a story for everyone. But for a book that is supposed to focus on dangerous women it leaves you disillusioned; while all the narratives revolve around women and their actions there are few instances where these could be described as dangerous. This book should be treated as a trial for someone who is looking for new authors to try within the fantasy/science-fiction genre as it offers a vast array of different stories and writers of which everyone should be able to find one that they appreciate. While it didn’t deliver on what it promised on the cover, the narratives were still enjoyable to read and therefore it is a recommended read.
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