This was SO GOOD. Witches, retellings, space thieves, the weighing of hearts, Schwab returns to the world of A Darker Shade of Magic, and Libba Bray returns to the world of Gemma Doyle... What. A. Showstopper.
A Universe of Wishes comes out on January 5, 2021!
As this is an anthology, I've reviewed each story individually and given a one sentence sales pitch of sorts below. Quick take, my favorites were: The Weight by Dhonielle Clayton, A Royal Affair by V.E. Schwab, Unmoor by Mark Oshiro, Liberia by Kwame Mbalia, and The Scarlet Woman by Libba Bray.
Tara Sim - A Universe of Wishes (3.5 stars)
Thorn harvests wishes from the dead and gets caught red-handed by the morgue boy—what now?
Natalie C. Parker - The Silk Blade (4 stars)
Lushly described, beautifully colored—a bisexual female warrior competes to win the heart of the Bloom prince and may or may not fall for her beautiful rival instead.
Libba Bray - The Scarlet Woman(5 stars)
Gemma Doyle has been in New York for a while now, but the world's magical community isn't done with her yet and someone's determined to reel her back in with grisly gifts.
Anna-Marie Mclemore - Cristal y Cerisa (3.5 stars)
A transgender prince, a Mexican girl attends a ball with a pair of fated glass slippers and a desperate plea for her people.
Kwame Mbalia - Liberia (4.5 stars)
Kweke is the primary research officer on the spacecraft Liberia growing plants with ancestral ties to the crew's abandoned homeland, deep roots.
V.E. Schwab - A Royal Affair (5 stars)
Sure to be a fan-favorite for series readers, this behind-the-scenes take on Alucard's origin romance with Prince Rhy was such a treat.
Rebecca Roanhorse - The Takeback Tango (4 stars)
An intergalactic thief is on a mission to steal back her people's treasures from the republic... and she might not be the only one with a conquered people to avenge.
Nic Stone - Dream and Dare (2.5 stars)
Dream escapes her family's expectations to help a monster in the woods. (This story did not resonate with me, so apologies for the bland description.)
Jenni Balch - Wish (3 stars)
A "granter" in a LAMP device is summoned to a set of very bizarre circumstances: a spaceship, a girl, and a dream for space travel.
Dhonielle Clayton - The Weight (5 stars)
A deep cut, damn. Marcus and Grace know they love each other, and they're going to get their hearts weighed to prove it... that's good, right?
Mark Oshiro - Unmoor (5 stars)
Urban fantasy, Felix wants to "unmoor" his painful memories of his lost love, Arturo—no matter the cost.
Samira Ahmed - The Coldest Spot in the Universe (unrated)
No sentence pitch for this one... I'll be honest, I could NOT get into this one and therefore did not complete it. Told in diary entries, some sort of apocalyptic natural disaster mixed with the dead? Confused.
Tessa Gratton - The Beginning of Monsters (3 stars)
High fantasy in miniature—Crystal-taloned Elir designs a new body for King Insarra, who is tired of their female one. Add in one snarky heir and some political intrigue and you get...
Zoraida Cordova - Longer Than the Threads of Time (4 stars)
A truly sensational Rapunzel retelling. There's a Tower in Central Park and every magic user knows those inside are deserving of their prison sentence—too bad one young brujo is curious enough to get close enough to find out the truth.
Onyebuchi - Habibi (3.5 stars)
Told in diary entries, an American Black prisoner and a Middle Eastern protestor behind bars strike up a magical and unworldly pen pal situation with heart-wrenching and emotional results.
Thank you to Random House Children's for my copy in exchange for an honest review.
An interesting take at the writers behind the curtain in a YA anthology filled with underrepresented voices, fantastical fiction, and more. This is a must read for anyone interested in the craft of writing.
Writers' workshop elements: ★★★★★
Foreshadow is a really unique concept for an anthology. Curated by authors Emily X.R. Pan and Nova Ren Suma, this collection features thirteen YA stories from a diverse group of lesser known YA authors—with each of their stories introduced by some of the bigger names in YA, including Melissa Albert, Laurie Halse Anderson, Roshani Chokshi, Jandy Nelson, Sabaa Tahir, and more.
To put it simply, this was a joy to read. As someone who loves YA, loves the craft of writing, and loves discovering new writers to watch, this was the trifecta.
Each of these stories carries something different. Some are romances, some are fantastical, some handle some deeper themes. They're great stories, and that's important. But what was actually more interesting for me as a reader was what came AFTER the stories. Following each of those stories is a writers' breakdown—a section focusing on the particular theme/concept/writing tool that was used by the author, and a technical analysis for what worked for that story to use that particular device/etc.
This is an anthology that is a love letter to the craft of writing YA. I wouldn't recommend this to everyone, but for the readers who like to peek behind the curtain at the act of writing itself, this one to pick up.
Thank you to Algonquin for my copy in exchange for an honest review.
Dark, diverse, feminist, eerie, memorable, and twisted—welcome to the new generation of Edgar Allan Poe. It’s a lot of fun in here.
In His Hideous Heart, editor Dahlia Adler has compiled a truly impressive shortlist of some of Poe’s most famous tales, reimagined for a 2019 audience. I couldn’t believe how nuanced and imaginative these retellings were, and how eerily similar they felt to their original inspirations. Having the original Poe tales in the back of the collection was such a good call—I actually read each tale in tandem, from new reimagining to old inspiration to compare and contrast each entry.
To keep this review shorter than its original anthology, here are my quick thoughts and ratings on each of the 13 tales:
She Rode a Horse of Fire (Metzengerstein) by Kendare Blake
The perfect opener to this anthology, this historically-minded tale about a manor house experiencing the entrancement and death of its lord was the PERFECT amount of spooky.
It’s Carnival! (The Cask of Amontillado) by Tiffany D. Jackson
A tale twisted to a diverse feminist revenge story, this entry watches the narrator as she exacts a clinical end to the man who mocked her and her family for not being Jamacian enough with deadly results in modern-day New Orleans.
Night-Tide (Annabelle Lee) by Tessa Gratton
Tied as my favorite, this prose retelling of the poem follows the summer seaside hypnotic reality of the narrator as she questions whether her illicit love for Annabelle Lee was the cause of Annabelle’s death in this historic New England tale perfect for fans of f/f star-crossed lovers.
The Glittering Death (The Pit and the Pendulum) by Caleb Roehrig
A modern tale of a serial killer who targets women, and the girl who finds herself a live captive in need of escape—extremely gritty, and another parable on modern-day feminism.
A Drop of Stolen Ink (The Purloined Letter) by Emily Lloyd-Jones
Rating: ★★★★ 1/2
Edgar Allan Poe meets the future in a world where information is coded in biometric tattoos and one girl is sent to uncover a CEO’s treachery in the high-stakes world of the tattoo-data black market.
Happy Days, Sweetheart (The Tell-Tale Heart) by Stephanie Kuehn
A high-achieving diverse female student always comes in second to the mediocrity of her white male competitor at their private school--so she decides to balance the scales of justice and eliminate him in this gruesome tale of cold revenge.
The Raven (Remix) by Amanda Lovelace
The poem The Raven, blacked out to create a new narrative, remained cool in concept by struggled to shine in between such impressive prose entries.
Changeling (Hop-Frog) by Marieke Nijkamp
Set in 1832, this tale of the Fae is reimagined as a vigilante group of former disabled and neglected abused children who receive a glorious second chance at a happy life or a vengeful one in a dark tale of one girl questing to retrieve those who deserve more than what the mortal world can give them by transporting them to the kingdom of the Fae and punishing their perpetrators.
The Oval Filter (The Oval Portrait) by Lamar Giles
A college football star’s dead girlfriend shows up in his Instagram feed trapped in an oval filter that appears to be suffocating her behind the screen—can Tariq solve the mystery behind her appearance before it drives him mad?
Red (The Masque of the Red Death) by Hillary Monahan
My least favorite in the collection, this tale should be read for the aesthetic and not for the narrative as it is essentially a color-coded picture show with a dark conclusion.
Lygia (Ligeia) by Dahlia Adler
Rating: ★★★ 1/2
A f/f tale of loss and mourning gone too far, the narrator mourns her dead girlfriend, Lygia, and tries to remake her presence in her new girlfriend with dark results.
The Fall of the Bank of Usher (The Fall of the House of Usher) by Fran Wilde
Tied as my favorite, this masterful blend of futuristic nanotech with old-school English manor joins the heist trope in this tale of (potentially) gender-fluid twins who take the job of hacking the unhackable Bank of Usher in an old manor house guarded by semi-sentient computerized mold. (I hear you saying “wtf”—just read it. It’s amazing.)
The Murders in Rue Apartelle, Boracay (The Murders in the Rue Morgue) by Rin Chupeco
Confusing and at times overly complicated given its length, this tale was a modern blend of magical realism in the Philippines told by the female narrator as she recounts the tale of her mysterious rich boyfriend who may or may not be too knowledgeable about a murder case.
Original notes: Ahhhh! So thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for His Hideous Heart. Stay tuned for my review on September 5! This is one of my most anticipated releases for 2019 so I am HYPED.
Thank you so much to Flatiron Books for an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.
Amy Imogene Reads
Just someone looking for her own door into Wonderland.