Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Toil & Trouble

Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft edited by Jessica Spotswood and Tess Sharpe (2018)

I am feeling very pleased with myself about actually reading this book at a somewhat seasonal time! This is a teen anthology of stories about witchy girls, and there's a lot of diversity as I have come to expect from Jessica Spotswood's anthologies. They're a mix of contemporary and historical with characters of different backgrounds, but always strong females and a lot of sisterhood.

Of course I had a few favorites. "Afterbirth" by Andrea Cremer was a chilling tale about midwives in Puritan New England. A young apprentice assists with an unusual birth that turns tragic, and the midwife is held responsible. "The Heart In Her Hands" by Tess Sharpe is set in a world where a sort of magical tattoo appears on young women, telling them the first words that will be spoken to them by their soulmate. But Brenna already has a soulmate, a girl, and she refuses the boy who speaks the prophetic words to her. "The Truth About Queenie" by Brandy Colbert is about a young witch who wants to keep her powers secret; also secret is that she's in love with her best friend, Webb. When he brings home a girlfriend for her to meet, her hopes are crushed. This story made me want more, in a good way. There's enough here about Queenie and Webb's friendship, and Queenie's powers and her family, for a full-length novel and I would definitely read it. "The Legend of Stone Mary" by Robin Talley was a creepy small-town legend about a mysterious statue that is said to come to life under the right circumstances, and a teenaged girl who is a descendant of the subject of the statue.

Now I'm realizing I have too many favorites to relate them all in details, but others include "The One Who Stayed" by Nova Ren Suma, "Divine Are the Stars" by Zoraida Cordova, "Daughters of Baba Yaga" by Brenna Yovanoff, "The Well Witch" by Kate Hart, "Beware of Girls With Crooked Mouths," by Jessica Spotswood, and "Love Spell" by Anna-Marie McLemore. There were really only a few stories I wasn't really into, and in a couple of those cases I think I just shouldn't have started a story when I was already tired. It takes some focus to get into a new story and that's one of the difficulties of reading a short story collection.

All in all, I really enjoyed this collection and recommend it if you're looking for some witchy-themed fall reading!

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