Does anyone remember when it was “weird” for women to read fantasy? I distinctly remember getting into an argument with a total stranger who walked up and started scolding me because “Lord of the Rings is for boys!” (Unfortunately for her, I was a grown and grouchy 20-something, not the teen she thought I was. She got more than she bargained for that day, and I still maintain she should have left me alone and ate her food…)
Things have really changed, as this new fantasy anthology for and about young women shows. 15 diverse writers have put together this indie anthology all about magical girls doing magical things. Most of them are Black; a few are Asian (although I think it’s worth pointing out that not all of these stories are #ownvoices). The stories are culturally, socially, and thematically diverse and I think there’s something in here for everyone.
That’s also where reviewing gets tricky. Anthologies are a little uneven by nature–with so many different writing styles and perspectives in one book that it’s rare to find one that’s 100% enjoyable for everybody from cover to cover. I won’t give this a star rating because while there were some stories here I didn’t care for, I recognize that they would definitely be appreciated by other genre readers.
That said, I really loved some of these. K.R.S. McEntire’s “Grace and Ghosts” is a great take on a crime solving medium tale, although the young Black heroes have slightly different concerns than The Ghost Whisperer would. Alice Ivinya gives us the beautiful fairytale “Wind and Silk” based on Chinese mythology. It includes disability rep and really sweet emotional authenticity in the midst of all the magic. “Faith”, by Sudha Kuruganti is perhaps the first urban fantasy with an Indian heroine I’ve seen, and has an interesting twist. And I need Amanda Ross to turn the funky Black 60’s monster hunter story “Funnel Cake” into a series stat — I’d love to see these characters do more together.
If you like magic and powerful girls, check this collection out–it has a lot to offer.
Thanks to K.R.S. McEntire and the FB Group Diverse Books With Magic for the E-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
(Beautiful people! Thanks for reading, as always. For more books featuring women wielding magic, check out this booklist in the Equal Opportunity Bookshop. Also, don’t forget that this blog has affiliate relationships and if you click/purchase anything from here, a commission will be paid to the owner of this blog.)