Gerald Jonas (NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEWS, July 29, 2001):

“Klale’s ignorance of city ways makes her a useful guide to post-Collapse Vancouver; we look over her shoulder as she learns how to stay alive in a society where even minor disputes swiftly escalate to deadly violence. … She keeps forgetting the key to survival in Downtown Vancouver that even the robotlike Blade grasps: ”There were no safe places.” But together with Toni’s more knowledgeable meddling, her attempts to get inside Blade’s head trigger a redemption process that forms the most satisfying thread of this complex narrative — a technologically aware and emotionally wrenching twist on the old tale of Beauty and the Beast.”

Kelly Rae Cooper (ROMANTIC TIMES, August 2001):

“For her debut novel, Donna McMahon has penned a riveting postapocalyptic tale set in twenty-second-century Vancouver. … DANCE OF KNIVES (4 stars) is a gut-wrenching look into a dismal future. Ms. McMahon delivers an edge-of-your-seat read by weaving her characters into a complex tapestry of strength, mystery and discovery.”

Nalo Hopkinson (QUILL & QUIRE, July 2001):

“McMahon skilfully depicts the struggles of class, race, sexuality, and culture in her future Vancouver, tensions that feel realistically extrapolated from the present day. History, social issues, and new technology are smoothly inserted into the narrative without bogging the story down. There are delightful touches, too: a cat named after Mohawk writer Pauline Johnson, and the Screaming Eagles, a militant organization reminiscent of the Black Panthers with their dedication to creating education and jobs.”

Charles de Lint, (FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION, March 2001):

“I always enjoy discovering a new writer who gets everything right the first time out. … This is a wonderful debut.”

Gary K. Wolfe (LOCUS, October 2000):

“McMahon writes her scenes with abundant skill in both prose and dialogue, she can give her characters admirable depth and complexity, and she can pace her adventure tale with intelligence and efficiency: she is, in other words, another novelist to watch.”

Tom Easton (ANALOG, October 2000):

“McMahon does a nice job. Her characters are fully and complexly human, and she deals with them well, even as she constructs a tale of reasonable extrapolation and satisfying suspense.”


Eileen Kernaghan, author of The Snow Queen and Winter on the Plain of Ghosts

“Donna McMahon’s starkly prophetic vision of a near future Pacific Northwest reads like a first-class thriller written in the 22nd century. Her derelict post-collapse Downtown, with its beggars, tongs and crumbling apartment towers, in all too believably rooted in Vancouver’s present-day reality. With its break-neck pace, compelling plot and engaging protagonist, this is a first novel that grabs your attention and won’t let go.”

Crawford Kilian, author of Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy

“Donna McMahon writes with wit, grit, and a keen sense of place. She also writes about the 22nd century like someone who lives there as perhaps she does. Anyone who goes ‘Downtown’ in 2108 is heading for trouble–but Donna McMahon is a reliable guide.”

John Barnes, author of Orbital Resonance

“Science fiction tends to be Romantic with a capital R, and so do the readers. This book delivers all the Romanticism you could want — dark secrets, hidden pasts, desperate odds, a violent and grungy yet curiously beautiful world, surprises and disguises, heroes who have been bad, villains who could have been great …. all in a nicely imagined, scary-but-exciting future. So, buy it. Get something good to eat and drink, sit down in a comfortable chair, and go escape from the world for a while. As C.S. Lewis said, the only people opposed to escapism are jailers.”

Dean Ing (author of Big Lifters, The Skins of Dead Men)

“In Dance of Knives McMahon gives us in print what ‘Blade Runner’ offered on film: a detailed rocketing ride through a raunchy urban hell. It’ll keep you up late, but you won’t be sorry.”

John Dalmas, author of Soldiers, The Lizard War

“The heart of the story is the interaction between Klale, Toni, and Blade, and itís conclusion is upbeat. Its beauty lies in its humanity, the low-key heroism of key people living it, and in McMahon’s skill in making it and them very real. … This novel is in the running for the Nebula award, voted on by members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.”

The 2001 Tor cover.