June 21, 2018

Review: A Thousand Beginnings and Endings

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings by various authors (edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman)
Grade: B-
Release date: June 26, 2018
An e-galley was provided by HarperCollins via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: Fifteen bestselling and acclaimed authors reimagine the folklore and mythology of East and South Asia in short stories that are by turns enchanting, heartbreaking, romantic, and passionate.

Compiled by We Need Diverse Books’s Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman, the authors included in this exquisite collection are: RenĂ©e Ahdieh, Sona Charaipotra, Preeti Chhibber, Roshani Chokshi, Aliette de Bodard, Melissa de la Cruz, Julie Kagawa, Rahul Kanakia, Lori M. Lee, E. C. Myers, Cindy Pon, Aisha Saeed, Shveta Thakrar, and Alyssa Wong.

A mountain loses her heart. Two sisters transform into birds to escape captivity. A young man learns the true meaning of sacrifice. A young woman takes up her mother’s mantle and leads the dead to their final resting place.

From fantasy to science fiction to contemporary, from romance to tales of revenge, these stories will beguile readers from start to finish. 

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: This boom of YA short story anthologies is producing some great stuff. I loved the idea of retold myths and folklore, especially stories I hadn't heard before. Don't get me wrong - I love a good fairytale retelling, but I'm tired of the same ones over and over again. So A Thousand Beginnings and Endings was fresh and interesting and entertaining. I appreciated hearing why each author chose to retell the legend they did. Now to break it down by story.

"Forbidden Fruit" by Roshani Chokshi
It almost worked for me but not quite. I think it was something about the beginning. 3.5 stars.

"Olivia's Table" by Alyssa Wong
Interesting and compelling, and I think it mostly wrapped up well for a short story. 4 out of 5 stars.

"Steel Skin" by Lori M. Lee
Interesting interpretation of the tale Lee chose to reinvent. I'm not big on sci-fi, though, so I didn't love it. 2 stars.

"Still Star-Crossed" by Sona Charaipotra
Interesting, and it kind of worked, but something wasn't quite right about the narration. I liked that there was enough space to develop the mother-daughter relationship and establish some settings. 3/5 stars.

"The Counting of Vermillion Beads" by Aliette de Bodard
It was fun to read how the author reinterpreted this tale. I do wish some details were a little more concrete, though. 3.5 stars.

"The Land of the Morning Calm" by E.C. Myers
Good blend of modern and legend. I think younger readers will easily open their imaginations to believe this story, at least for a few pages. 4 out of 5 stars.

"The Smile" by Aisha Saeed
I love Aisha's writing. I also appreciated what she explored in this story - is it really love if there is always fear of disappointment and punishment? 4.5 stars.

"Girls Who Twirl and Other Dangers" by Preeti Chhibber
Fun story about a holiday celebration, but the voice sounded very young. 3 out of 5 stars.

"Nothing into All" by Renee Ahdieh
Oh, I really liked this one. Charan was lovely, and the magic and the world were interesting. 5 stars.

"Spear Carrier" by Rahul Kanakia
I didn't like the voice, so I skimmed the first few pages and then skipped the rest. DNF.

"Code of Honor" by Melissa de la Cruz
Vampires just aren't my thing. The writing style was good, though. 3 stars.

"Bullet, Butterfly" by Elsie Chapman
Such a cool retelling that mostly worked for the short format. The side characters felt a little confusing and not fleshed out enough, though, so only 4 stars.

"Daughter of the Sun" by Shveta Thakrar
I probably would've liked this more when I was younger, but I'll give it 4 stars.

"The Crimson Cloak" by Cindy Pon
Beautiful and tender and a wonderful homage to the original. I didn't like how the main character spoke to readers, though. 4.5 stars.

"Eyes like Candlelight" by Julie Kagawa
Felt very much like a folktale. 3.5 stars.

Content warning: Some violence. Very little foul language. I'd feel comfortable giving this to middle schoolers.

The Verdict: A must-read.

Will I be adding this book to my library?: I don't think so, but I'm picky about what anthologies I own. 

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