Toil & Trouble
A young adult fiction anthology of 15 stories featuring contemporary, historical, and futuristic stories featuring witchy heroines who are diverse in race, class, sexuality, religion, geography, and era.Are you a good witch or a bad witch?Glinda the Good Witch. Elphaba the Wicked Witch. Willow. Sabrina. Gemma Doyle. The Mayfair Witches. Ursula the Sea Witch. Morgan le Fey. The three weird sisters from Macbeth.History tells us women accused of witchcraft were often outsiders: educated, independent, unmarried, unwilling to fall in line with traditional societal expectations.Bold. Powerful. Rebellious.A bruja’s traditional love spell has unexpected results. A witch’s healing hands begin to take life instead of giving it when she ignores her attraction to a fellow witch. In a terrifying future, women are captured by a cabal of men crying witchcraft and the one true witch among them must fight to free them all. In a desolate past, three orphaned sisters prophesize for a murderous king. Somewhere in the present, a teen girl just wants to kiss a boy without causing a hurricane.From good witches to bad witches, to witches who are a bit of both, this is an anthology of diverse witchy tales from a collection of diverse, feminist authors. The collective strength of women working together—magically or mundanely--has long frightened society, to the point that women’s rights are challenged, legislated against, and denied all over the world. Toil & Trouble delves deep into the truly diverse mythology of witchcraft from many cultures and feminist points of view, to create modern and unique tales of witchery that have yet to be explored.

Toil & Trouble Details

TitleToil & Trouble
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 28th, 2018
PublisherHarlequin Teen
ISBN-139781335016270
Rating
GenreShort Stories, Fantasy, Young Adult, Anthologies, Paranormal, Witches

Toil & Trouble Review

  • Melanie
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.Friends, when I first heard about this anthology staring witches, I almost sold my soul for it. Instead I sent a begging request to Harlequin, but I would have tried any amount of magic to get my hands on this. And with good reason, because this was nothing short of amazing. I know this doesn’t come out until late August, a day after my birthday to be exact, but something about this ARC just compelled me to read it this early. And I ARC provided by HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.Friends, when I first heard about this anthology staring witches, I almost sold my soul for it. Instead I sent a begging request to Harlequin, but I would have tried any amount of magic to get my hands on this. And with good reason, because this was nothing short of amazing. I know this doesn’t come out until late August, a day after my birthday to be exact, but something about this ARC just compelled me to read it this early. And I mean it, I couldn’t put this down. And when I did, each night I found myself being like, “just one story before bed!” and then I’d back to back read three or four, staying up way too late. I loved this, and I truly believe that it is nothing short of magical. I think three stories really stood out for me, but there is honestly so much to love here. But my favorite was easily Why They Watch Us Burn by Elizabeth May. It meant so much to me that I instantly reread it, with just as many tears in my eyes. It was powerful, and important, and is going to change so many lives. I feel so blessed to have read it, and I’ll carry it with me forever. Love Spell by Anna-Marie McLemore was also a masterpiece, and one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read in my entire life. And The One Who Stayed by Nova Ren Suma also left me speechless from all the emotions it was able to evoke from me. I promise you, there are so many good stories in this anthology, but these three were my personal favorites. I'm going to break down each short story with my thoughts, opinions, and individual star rating!➽ 1. Starsong by Tehlor Kay Mejia - ★★★★ “People find me when they need to see the beauty they feel.” This was so adorable. This is an ownvoices Latinx story about a sixteen-year-old girl, who loves painting, and make up, and reading charts and horoscopes for people. She has a very large social media presence, and people pay her to show them the things that they are unable to see. But this beautiful bruja is still living with the consequences of one bad decision she made a year ago. TW: drug use. Luna feels lonely, since her journey of changing her life, but that changes one night when a cute girl messages her. Also, I loved seeing Luna question if the girl she was talking to was queer or not. Like, so relatable, I swear. The story turns into two cute girls texting about science vs. magic, and I need so much more. I loved this. Also, this talks briefly about a polya relationship too that hires Luna, and give me all the polya rep and support and normalization! ➽ 2. Afterbirth by Andrea Cremer - ★★★ “In the eyes of the village, my truths cannot be suffered to live.” I really enjoyed this little tale, set in 1600s New England during the witch trials. We are shown a very difficult childbirth scene (TW: complications during childbirth) that brings suspicion to the woman that delivered the child. Throw in mysterious spell books, a trial that a woman has no possibility of winning, and maybe even the Devil himself, and we have a very fun and spooky witch story that was perfect for this anthology. ➽ 3. The Heart in Her Hands by Tess Sharpe - ★★★ “He can’t fill the empty space in her because there are none. There is no emptiness in a devoted heart.” Okay, first off, this is a tea lovers dream of a short story. I was filled with so much happiness just by all the tea descriptions in this book. Next, this was a wonderful story about soulmates and who you choose to love is the one you should be with. This is also queer and beautiful. And it really talks about the expectations your family can put, and sometimes force, on you. But how becoming who you want to be, and who you want to be it with, is more important than anything. This was adorable. TW: loss of a parent. ➽ 4. Death in the Sawtooths by Lindsay Smith - ★★★★ “A person can tell you anything, but bones—those tell the truth.” Witches, warlocks, and wizards; this one had the whole magical hierarchy set in this town. Our main character is heavily judged because her patron is the Lady of Slumber, and she deals with the thing everyone fears most: death. So, this town carries some very heavy prejudices. But it ends up having a beautiful message about how everyone has a choice, and a person should only be judged on the actions they choose to perform. But sadly, people continue to stereotype off their prejudices. Even when the person they ostracize the most is the only one that can help them. I was hoping this was going to turn F/F, but it was still a nice relationship from bully to friend. TW: bullying, death, and prepping dead bodies. ➽ 5. The Truth About Queenie by Brandy Colbert - ★★★★★ “I do it for me, because if I don’t accept all the parts of myself, how can I be who I really am?” This story was so damn good, and immersed me so damn hard, that I forget I was reading a short story in a witch anthology and was shocked when the witch aspect came into play. Yeah, this one was honestly perfection. This short story had everything, and it was nothing short of a delight to read. And the rep? This is an ownvoices story, and I believe all the characters we are introduced to are African American. And issues are brought up seamlessly, like how being black in a white neighborhood is hard enough, on top of also being a witch. The main character has panic attacks, is dealing with a loss of a friend, and is constantly worried about another loved one’s health. Also, the family members in this story and the strong emphasis on family was beautiful. And how much it means to have representation in something you’re passionate about. And it even talks about what it is like to be friends with someone famous, and how weird it is, because you knew them when they weren’t famous. And I’ve only told a few close friends about this, but this is actually something super near and dear to my heart, and I am not sure I’ve ever read that perspective in a book before. But mostly, this book is about owning who you are, letting people feel the weight of who you are, but making your own choices, and believing in yourself, and only letting yourself and your actions define you. Friends, get your hands on this short story. I promise, it’s worth the price of this anthology alone. ➽ 6. The Moonapple Menagerie by Shveta Thakrar - ★★ “Would you trade your friends for your deepest heart’s desire?” This one was still fun to read, I just didn’t love it. It is about a coven of teenagers that are putting on a play and they all have different roles in the production. Oh, and they can all shift into different animals! The cast is all super diverse too, which I loved, and our main character, Shalini, is in charge of creating the perfect ending for the play. Yet, she feels like she needs a little help, so she asks a churel (demon) to help her, but obviously they are not willing to do it for free! But this is truly a story about friendship, and how being honest with the ones you love is always important. Also, don’t make deals with demons. ➽ 7. The Legend of Stone Mary by Robin Talley - ★★★★ “Everybody for miles around used to remember the story of Mary Keegan’s curse, but you wouldn’t know it now.” You all, this one was spooky as heck to read! This would make the perfect Halloween read. Seriously, it has such a creepy atmosphere, setting, and even writing style. Robin Talley is talented. Also, this features a bit of F/F romance which you all know I’m always looking for. But this is a short story about a girl who has a very important lineage. And this is also a story about how important it is to not forget and repeat history, especially when a very powerful witch is still after revenge. TW: death and bullying. ➽ 8. The One Who Stayed by Nova Ren Suma - ★★★★★ “We used to be little, and soft. We used to say yes before we even heard the entire question. We used to think we had no recourse for making someone’s heart ache like ours have ached, for resetting the balance in the universe, for striving for the thing we’re not supposed to want but we still do want: revenge.” First off, major TW for sexual assault, molestation, and rape. The dread you feel while reading this book, knowing what is going to happen, is something I don’t even have words for. But this story was perfection. It was powerful, and feminist, and evoked every emotion from me. Also, it has major vibes of The Craft, and you all know I’m always here for that. Also, I could have highlighted this entire story. This story will be so much better if you go into it blind, but I will say that it is about a group of girls in the woods, waiting to meet their newest member. And Nova Ren Suma just made my auto-buy list. ➽ 9. Divine Are the Stars by Zoraida Córdova - ★★★★ “…But memories make things grander and more beautiful when you want to think fondly on them.” This was such a beautiful, ownvoices, Latnix, magical realism story that I want so much more of. Zoraida always completely blows me away with her lyrical writing, and this was no exception. This is a story about a girl named Marimar, who goes back to Colorado because her grandmother is dying. And even though it at first feels like this is a story about how death follows her, it’s such a beautifully gripping tale about family, and all the messy parts of family that people don’t like to put on display. And how family can truly do some horrible things, but it’s always important to know yourself, where you came from, and know what you need to be. ➽ 10. Daughters of Baba Yaga by Brenna Yovanoff - ★★★ “The moon is full, and even the stars are scared of me.” This is obviously a twist on the tale of Baba Yaga, which surrounds three girls. And this one is filled with so much good. It’s basically about three witches, who want different things to change. TW: bullying and a bit graphic animal dissecting scene. This book stars a butcher’s daughter, so it is a little descriptive on animal organs and cuts and things of that nature, so use caution. But this has major The Craft vibes, too! Another other character was from Jewish descent, and it was amazing to see and read. And really damn important. There is such a good discussion around trying to “fit in” and be more “American” because you are embarrassed by what you are. This story even briefly talks about CCCP and the image of the hammer/sickle. There is a lot going on in this story, a lot, and maybe that’s why I didn’t love it as much? Or maybe I was just looking for more witchcraft? I don’t know, but I still think it’s powerful, and beautiful, and a wonderful addition to this collection. And I’ll always be here for girls unapologetically loving themselves and their culture. ➽ 11. The Well Witch by Kate Hart - ★★ “But men were the most unpredictable animals, and those that found Elsa’s oasis were usually lost both in geography and life…” Okay, so I was completely enthralled and totally captivated by this story. It is set in 1875 Texas, and stars a girl who lives all by herself in a very harsh desert environment. Her mother is dead, and her father has been away for three years, so she has lived by herself for quite some time. That is, until three men show up looking for shelter. Again, I really enjoyed the first half of this, and was so excited to see where it would go. Sadly, I hated where it went. I completely hated this ending, and the events that took place leading up to it. TW: racism and animal cruelty and death. ➽ 12. Beware of Girls with Crooked Mouths by Jessica Spotswood - ★★★★★ “But she would trade it all to be able to remember her little sister’s smile.” This was such a good story! Completely different than anything else in this collection, and I loved it. This is a story about three sisters who are forced to live their life devoted to a prophecy that happens every generation. Jo has an affinity with prophecies, Elle has a specialty for poison, and Georgie has a way with fire. Yet, the first thing we see in this tale is a prophecy for the future that Jo sees, and soon becomes obsessed with making it a reality. This totally does have Three Dark Crowns vibes, because only one of these girls are meant to live. Yet, this is truly a story about sisterhood, and how the choices we make will always be something we are held accountable for. And this ending gutted me. Seriously, please give me this full-length novel. I’m not above begging. ➽ 13. Love Spell by Anna-Marie McLemore - ★★★★★ “I said my prayers to God, who I believed still wanted me, even if the men who took up his name on Earth never would.” Everyone, I’m crying while writing my mini-review for this one. Perfection. A masterpiece. Something worth more than all the stars. This is one of the most beautiful and powerful short stories I’ve ever read. Ever. In all my life. I’m going to preorder this collection just for this story alone. Nothing I’m going to say is going to do this story justice, but this is a tale about a bruja who comes to live with her tía, because they both share the magic of curing other people’s heartbreak. This is ownvoices Latinx fiction, that stars a boy who has devoted his life to God and the Catholic church, and a girl who the town thinks is a witch that doesn’t even deserve communion. And I promise you, it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read. Also, the boy is trans and it just made the story even more perfect. This is about community, and prejudices, and family, and knowing your worth, and knowing when love is worth it. ➽ 14. The Gherin Girls by Emery Lord - ★★★★★ “She’ll tell her daughters someday: If you don’t feel safe enough to yell back, you’re not safe enough. My babies, that is not love.” This was so powerful and so empowering. This is a such an amazing portrayal of sisterhood and unconditional love, and it stars three girls with very unique and different powers, but this is a story about abuse. TW: talk of abuse, but nothing too detailed or graphic. But this wonderfully lays out the cycle of abuse, and how easy it is to not realize you are in an abusive relationship. It talks about how your abuser will always want to isolate you, will make up excuses, will blame you, will gaslight you, and how they will slowly and seamlessly weave this into something that feels normal. This is an important short story, and I now want to buy everything Emery Lord has ever created. Also, there is a super cute F/F romance in here. And extra also, one of the three sisters are stated to be a lesbian, but I think it’s pretty implied that another sister is pan, but she should be bi, and that’s awesome too! This was amazing, and important, and easily worth more than five stars. ➽ The Only Way Back by Tristina Wright - N/AOkay, so this story will not be in the finished copy of this book in light of the sexual assault allegations against the author. You will only see this story in the printed ARC version. (Thank you so much to the editors, Harlequin, and anyone else that had a hand in this and by proving that they are listening and want to take steps to change the industry and make it a safer place.) ➽ 15. Why They Watch Us Burn by Elizabeth May - ★★★★★ “Here’s how to fulfill a prophecy: you are a woman, you speak the truth, and the world makes you into a liar.” I finished this one weeping and sobbing. I immediately reread it, aloud, to a loved one. Immediately. It was that important to me. And the second time around, I was still crying. Ugly crying. Truthful crying. I cried for every woman out there, whose voice has been silenced. Whose voice will continue to be silenced until things change. This is about a girl who is sent to work in a forest, lumber, labor camp, because of her sinful ways. There, she is one of thirteen girls, all from different walks of life, but all of them have sinned for just being a woman, therefore a witch. This is about found family, and sisterhood, and reclaiming your identity, and gaining a voice. This was so beautifully structured, and so beautifully written. And it has such great representation, from different races, to a beautiful F/F story, to a trans character, this was just exceptionally crafted. This story should be required reading. I don’t see how anyone who reads this anthology's life isn’t going to be changed just from reading this short story. And the editors were genius for making it the closing story. This short story is probably the best thing I’ve read all year. I am in awe, I am speechless, but I’m begging you to read this short story. This was feministic perfection. TW: implied rape, but nothing too graphic or visual. This story meant so much to me, and impacted me so profoundly, I’m going to find a way to incorporate it in my best reads of 2018 come December. I gave Toil & Trouble four stars overall, because out of a possible 75 stars (5 stars possible for each of the 15 stories) this collection accumulated 59 stars (~78%). But honestly? This feels like it deserves a higher percentage. This was amazing, and I completely recommend it. And I don’t say this lightly: Elizabeth May’s story honestly changed my life. It’s maybe the best short story I’ve ever read. Please pick this up come August! [Edit: May 5th, 2018] I can't stop thinking about this anthology! So, screw that percent rating I did above! This deserves five stars! All the stars! Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Youtube | Twitch The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
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  • destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
    January 1, 1970
    She didn’t understand she’d done it. We all had, and we were only getting started. She didn’t realize that all her roaring, living, breathing anger could create so much light. When I heard that this incredible, diverse cast of women were gathering to create an anthology about witches, feminism, queer girls, girls of color, survivors, and so much more, I was sold from the jump. This isn’t something I talk about often online, because it feels like baring my soul a little too much, but much of my She didn’t understand she’d done it. We all had, and we were only getting started. She didn’t realize that all her roaring, living, breathing anger could create so much light. When I heard that this incredible, diverse cast of women were gathering to create an anthology about witches, feminism, queer girls, girls of color, survivors, and so much more, I was sold from the jump. This isn’t something I talk about often online, because it feels like baring my soul a little too much, but much of my childhood was spent with my grandmother—a self-proclaimed witch herself—and after the things she taught me and what I have seen and done, I’ve identified as one for a very long time. Growing up with those beliefs and feelings made it difficult to see the constant negative and horrifying portrayals of witches. Don’t get me wrong, I can enjoy a villainous witch as much as the next person, but sometimes, I just wanted the angry, vengeance-seeking witchy girls to be the heroes for once. Enter Toil and Trouble.Nothing about this collection disappointed me in the slightest; in fact, I can confidently say that this is the SINGLE best anthology I have ever read in my life. I have never loved a collection of short stories so much, and I cannot begin to describe how much the witches in these stories meant to me. I’ve rambled enough at this point, though (and I’m sure a few of you are side-eyeing me a little after that last paragraph, but that’s okay, too), so let’s jump into the breakdown.→ F A V O R I T E S ←The Gherin Girls — Emery LordThe One Who Stayed — Nova Ren SumaDeath in the Sawtooths — Lindsay Smith → Starsong — Tehlor Kay Mejia ★★★★★ ← Maybe we were just two people chasing numbness because we didn’t know what the stardust inside us was for. Ever since I read Tehlor’s story in All Out , I’ve wanted more of her writing, and this did not disappoint! It’s a story of a young Latinx girl who is an Instagram model and a bruja, and it’s full of magic and remorse and healing and cute girl-on-girl flirting. My favorite aspect was the narrator’s confidence in her own appearance, which is something we don’t see nearly enough of. ♥ This piece is written for people who believe in the stars, and magic, and more, and I loved every word of it. → Afterbirth — Andrea Cremer ★★★★★ ← “They will see the devil in those pages because they will choose to.” Afterbirth alternates between a young apprenticing midwife’s narrative, and a legal trial for her teacher, a woman now being accused of witchcraft for saving a newborn that appeared stillborn. The story is set in the 1600s, and the writing feels so gorgeous and atmospheric. There are a lot of things left to be questioned, but it fits the scene somehow. → The Heart in Her Hands — Tess Sharpe ★★★★☆ ← There is no emptiness in a devoted heart. This was my first time reading Tess Sharpe’s writing, and I have to say, it was lovely. This story tells of a world where witchcraft is seemingly considered altogether normal, and Bette comes from a line of healers who are marked with the first words of their soul mate. The problem is that Bette already loves someone, and she’s determined not to give up her love for Fate’s idea of what her future should look like. My only complaint is that parts felt rushed and under-explained; it could have benefited greatly from being longer. That said, it was beautifully queer and feminist, and the “kitchen witch” line (if you’ve read it, you know) had me grinning ear to ear. → Death in the Sawtooths — Lindsay Smith ★★★★★ ← Folks can hate me, shun me, fear me all they want, but I’ll lay their bones to rest. I love stories about necromancers, but we never see enough of them—and especially not ones like this, where the spirits are being laid to rest, rather than being raised. Mattie is a servant of Xosia, the lady of death, and her gift is to lay spirits to rest, but the entire town spurns her out of fear—until they need her talents, of course. This was my whole witchy aesthetic, with a touch of eeriness to it, and frankly, now I just want an entire urban fantasy series about Mattie. → The Truth About Queenie — Brandy Colbert ★★★★☆ ← Sometimes if you pretend like a part of you simply doesn’t exist, you can will it away. After hearing so many rave reviews of Brandy’s writing, I was eager to finally check out her style through this short story, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s hard enough on Queenie’s family to be the only black people in the neighborhood, but being witches on top of it? That’s just asking for trouble. Queenie tries her hardest to hide her powers and even convince herself they don’t exist, but when her pro-skaterboarder best friend comes home for a visit, she finds herself in a place where she’s forced to use her gifts, or leave her friend broken-hearted. It reads like a fluffy contemporary with a touch of magic, but I loved the sentiment that Queenie doesn’t need spells or crystals, just belief and energy. → The Moonapple Menagerie — Shveta Thakrar ★★★☆☆ ← Some things, though, you had to do without your sisters. That was why she would never tell them she’d petitioned the bone palace for help. When Shalini is tasked with writing a play that she can’t quite seem to nail the ending on, she reaches out for help, but forgets that assistance from feyfolk and spirits always comes at a price. This story is definitely a mixed bag for me. The girls are almost all POC, and the author herself is South Asian. There’s a lot of lore thrown in, which I LOVED, but some of it does require you to have pre-existing knowledge of the stories, so if you don’t, it may not carry the same weight. Unfortunately, the writing just didn’t mesh with me (which surprises me, since I loved this author’s submission in another anthology earlier this year!). It felt a little immature and something about it reminded me of children’s fairytales (albeit creepier), which isn’t what I was hoping for. → The Legend of Stone Mary — Robin Talley ★★★★☆ ← Everybody for miles around used to remember the story of Mary Keegan’s curse, but you wouldn’t know it now. Wendy Keegan is the descendant of a famous witch in her small town, and the townspeople never let her forget it, ostracizing and bullying her relentlessly for her birthright. Desperate for friendship, she agrees to tag along to visit her ancestor’s memorial statue one Halloween night, but strange occurrences will change the way the town views her family—for better and for worse. Let me tell you guys, I am a total sucker for curse stories—stuff like this is honestly one of the things I live for in witchy tales, so I knew this would be a winner for me, and it was. I did take off a star because the romantic aspect felt forced (which doesn’t surprise me, because I’ve never felt any chemistry in any of Talley’s writing), though I appreciated that it was f/f regardless. → The One Who Stayed — Nova Ren Suma ★★★★★ ← The storm inside her could fill this whole wooded grove and take us over. She was coming. Were we ready? A group of witches circle a fire in the woods, waiting for the girl that will come running to them—hoping that, this time, she stays and fights. This was easily my favorite in the collection so far. The writing is haunting and lyrical and gorgeous, immediately making me want to pick up full works from Nova Ren Suma, and the content is heavy and heartbreaking. I figured out what was going on pretty quickly, and watching it come together was enough to make me cry through most of the story, but the solidarity between these girls is everything. Stories like this represent precisely the type of modern witches we need. → Divine Are the Stars — Zoraida Córdova ★★★★☆ ← “We become what we need,” Marimar said, and though the stars were hidden, she knew they were listening. The fact that I love magical realism so much makes it shocking that this was my first taste of Zoraida’s writing, I know, but I definitely want to read more from her now. Marimar travels home to visit her dying grandmother, and finds a strength and connection to her roots that she’d always been missing. It’s not just a story of witchcraft or magic; more than anything, it’s a tale of family, and loving and accepting yourself, as well as your history and culture. → Daughters of Baba Yaga — Brenna Yovanoff ★★★★★ ← This time, the magic was cool and slow. I was a poison night-flower blooming on black, not righteous, but vengeful. I always loved the legend of Baba Yaga, so I get really excited about any sort of retellings involving that story, and this did not disappoint. In this story, the main character is alienated at her school a bit, but she is approached by another girl who knows Stony is a witch, and who claims to be a witch as well. She quickly proves herself to Stony, though her form of magic is entirely different, and throughout the piece, we are shown this idea where Stony explains that there are different types of witches who perform their magic differently, but they’re all valid and need to support one another. It was a little creepy, a little strange, and a whole lot of righteously angry feminism, and I loved it. → The Well Witch — Kate Hart ★★★★★ ← Men were the most unpredictable animals. I was not expecting a 19th-century western story in this collection, but I got it, and I loved it. Elsa is a witch who can conjure up water in the desert, and she’s been living alone in her late parents’ cabin for three years when a trio of men show up, seeking shelter. While one of them has pure intentions, the other two are less than noble, and Elsa is forced to find a way to save her own life with her magic. This one was surprisingly sad and dark, but I really enjoyed Elsa’s character and the entire setting—simplistic, but immersive. → Beware of Girls With Crooked Mouths — Jessica Spotswood ★★★★☆ ← In every generation, one Campbell witch goes mad and murders the others. It has always been so. Will always be so. I have heard such rave reviews of Jessica Spotswood’s writing that I was eager to get to this story, and it truly had such a unique and incredible plot. In this family of witches, each generation is cursed with a forced matriarchy: only one girl from each generation will live, and she will carry on the household until the next girls take it. Because of the curse, these three sisters are forced to grow up distrusting one another, but they are determined to beat the curse—until one of them has a vision that tells her the other two girls can only live if she can force them to go far away and never return. It was such an intriguing and heartbreaking scenario, and I loved the execution of it until the ending, where it suddenly fell flat enough for me that I had to knock off a star. That said, I can’t wait to read more from this author! → Love Spell — Anna-Marie McLemore ★★★★★ ← La Virgen may be our Mother of grace and mercy, but She is also more mischief than our priests will ever admit. When a bruja falls in forbidden love with an acolyte from the local cathedral, she can’t decide whether it’s fortune or tragedy that her tía has raised her with the knowledge for offering remedies to cure lovesickness. Not only am I a sucker for these angst-filled, starcrossed lover sorts of stories, but in Anna-Marie McLemore’s own-voice fashion, our protagonist is a girl falling in love with a trans boy, and the scenario is depicted so beautifully. I could just get lost in her lyrical prose for days, and never tire of it. → The Gherin Girls — Emery Lord ★★★★★ ← What a wonder—love that powerful, but so careful to never break anything in its path. I thought I wouldn’t be able to pick a favorite story from this collection until reaching this piece, but this is absolutely, hands down, my favorite. The three Gherin sisters take care of one another; in a family known for magic, they simply consider themselves “gifted”, but their capabilities are incredible and nurturing. The oldest, Nova, always knows exactly what food or drink will best comfort a person in that moment. The middle girl, Rosemary, tends to plants and all things green. The youngest, Willa, can detect a person’s entire range of emotions with a moment’s touch.As the story switches perspectives, we get to learn about each of the girls in turn, like Nova’s bisexuality and her need to be recognized as queer, alongside her blossoming crush on a man she works with. Willa is a lesbian in love with her best friend, and then Rosemary is in the middle, and really, this story revolves around her most of all, because she’s recently escaped a terrible, emotionally abusive relationship, and none of the trio have quite recovered from her losses.This story had my favorite representation of being a survivor of emotional abuse I have ever read in my life. I have read entire novels about abuse victims, and while many of them were incredible, none of them were so entirely, 100% me and my story as this one was. I just cried through most of this short story and wanted to spend chapter upon chapter nestled in the protective and understanding love Rosemary’s sisters had for her. On top of everything else, this entire depiction that these girls’ magical abilities were about comfort and love, not casting spells or curses, was so wonderful to me, because those are my witchy goals, too. I honestly cannot say enough about this story, or how badly I want to now read everything Emery Lord ever has or ever will write, just based on these few pages.In my ARC, there is a Tristina Wright story here, but I won’t be reviewing it because it won’t be included in the final printed editions, so I didn’t think it was fair to count it into the average rating at the end.→ Why They Watch Us Burn — Elizabeth May ★★★★★ ←Every woman is never enough; she’s always too much. We angered someone, somewhere, for our too muchness. If to be too much is to be a witch, then I am a witch, and we are all witches.Thirteen girls are taken to a lumber camp in the woods to pay penance for their “witchcraft”, or as you might more accurately call it, for accusing their sexual assailants of abuse. This entire story is a stunning metaphor for how society treats women who speak up, and it definitely is a punch to the gut in a few places. While Night, our narrator, is learning how to survive and to hold on to the righteous fury she holds for the man who hurt her, she is also falling in love with a beautiful Indian girl who helps her to remember that no amount of imprisonment or stoning can ever take away her power—and that is why the world is so terrified of “witchy”, angry women.FINAL AVERAGE RATING: 4.6/5 This is easily the highest average score I’ve ever given to an anthology, and it is with no hesitation whatsoever that I’m rounding up to a solid 5 stars. I adored every moment of this collection and hope that it will get every ounce of the hype it deserves.All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to Harlequin Teen for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!You can find this review and more on my blog, or you can follow me on twitter, bookstagram, or facebook!
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  • Elise (TheBookishActress)
    January 1, 1970
    holy shit, that cover. also: MAKE 👏 THE WITCHES 👏 GAY 👏✨Arc received from the publisher via Edelweiss for an honest review. [ releases: August 2018.]
  • Amalia Gavea
    January 1, 1970
    ‘’Scorn the witch. Fear the witch. Burn the witch.’’If we substitute the word ‘’witch’’ with the word ‘’woman’’, we will be able to understand the reasons and motives behind the terrible witch-hunts that left another bloody mark in History. The complexity of women’s psyche, the direct, unbreakable contact, and bonding with Nature, the innate strength to survive, the resilience, the passion, the intelligence. Witches or not, men have always gazed upon women as a possession. If she cannot be ‘’ob ‘’Scorn the witch. Fear the witch. Burn the witch.’’If we substitute the word ‘’witch’’ with the word ‘’woman’’, we will be able to understand the reasons and motives behind the terrible witch-hunts that left another bloody mark in History. The complexity of women’s psyche, the direct, unbreakable contact, and bonding with Nature, the innate strength to survive, the resilience, the passion, the intelligence. Witches or not, men have always gazed upon women as a possession. If she cannot be ‘’obtained’’, if she resists then she has a mind of her own. How dare she? She must be dancing with demons and lying with Satan. Fundamentalism and society have long found a way to justify the wrongs committed by men.This beautiful collection contains stories of young witches from different eras and nationalities. Focusing on the themes of revenge and injustice, these tales are told through the eyes of young women who try to cope with their gift, their heritage and their feelings in communities that are unable to understand and to accept. Naturally, not every story is a gem and there are some that are too YA influenced for my taste but this is a collection that has a lot to offer to the reader regardless of age or gender. Starsong by Tehlor Kay Mejia: A teenage astrologer who uses social media to draw charts and chase her demons away. Beautiful writing, interesting debate between science and magic. Afterbirth by Andrea Cremer: A story of a birth going horribly wrong for a woman who was a midwife and a healer, set during the era of the Witch Trials. One of the finest stories in the collection. The Heart In Her Hands by Tess Sharpe: A young witch goes against the will of the Elders in order to remain with her true soulmate. I can’t say I enjoyed this story. It seemed too naive and copy-pasted from teenage films. Death In The Sawtooths by Lindsay Smith: In a city echoing New Orleans, in a community of witches and warlocks, a young woman serving the Lady of Death accepts the confessions of the dead in a macabre role of the Last Messenger. This was a story that started exceptionally well but lost focus and quality along the way. Still, it was very atmospheric and memorable if you overlook the naive, mundane, unnecessary use of certain supernatural creatures that seem to be fashionable because of that atrocious ‘’Walking Dead’’ (or whatever it’s called…) thing. The Truth About Queenie by Brandy Colbert: Teenage sentimental problems mixed with racial issues may sound interesting to many readers but not to me. Add cliche dialogue and a predictable, cringe-worthy plot and this easily becomes an ugly piece of writing judged by my personal standards. The Moonapple Menagerie by Shveta Thakrar: Moonlight and Indian culture is a beautiful combination but the dialogue in this one was jarringly irritating. Τhe Legend of Stone Mary by Robin Talley: A story whose roots go back to the Civil War era. A tale of witches, witch-hunters and a frightening statue. But for the silly love plot, it would have been marvelous. The One Who Stayed by Nova Ren Suma: This story read like a predictable, ridiculous horror film about cruel teenagers with a little bit of ghost revenge to add another cliche in the mixture. No… Divine Are The Stars by Zenaida Córdova: A story of family, loyalty, magic, and faith mixed with elements of the Mexican culture. Extremely well-written and atmospheric. ‘’I just want to bite a hole in the world. I wish I could stop smiling at things I hate. Sometimes I wish I never learned.’’ Daughters of Baba Yaga by Brenna Yovanoff: A story of a powerful witch-girl of Russian heritage. A haunting setting and one of the finest moments in the collection.P.S. I adored the references on Nikola Tesla. ‘’The moon is full, and even the stars are scared of me.’’ The Well Witch by Kate Hart: ‘’But she would leave a light on like she’d promised. If she had to burn the whole thing down.’’ This story is so perfect it deserves its own novel. Elsa is a one-of-a-kind character in a tale of ruthless men during the Reconstruction era. A water witch, love, bravery and Comanche traditions. My favourite story in the collection. Beware of Girls With Crooked Mouths by Jessica Spotswood: A witch family from Scotland, each girl dedicated to an element. But the daughters don’t live long except for one. Only one will survive. The witches go mad. They murder their sisters as the Book commands. And they have obeyed for hundreds of years. Now a young witch has decided they must defy the tradition. A brilliant story possibly set in the Regency era. ‘’As I thought of these things, I caught la Virgen in the corner of my vision. Beneath Her blue veil, She cast her eyes to the church floor. But Her lips held a small smile, as though She will always see the love we carry in our hearts long before we understand it to be there.’’ Love Spell by Anna-Marie McLemore: A story rich in Mexican traditions. A tale of a strange love between two seemingly opposing worlds. Beautiful and moving. The Gherin Girls by Emery Lord: A story of sisterly love, abuse, and isolation set during the fall equinox. The problem is that the writing was so naive, so dull that I just didn’t care. Why They Watch Us Burn by Elizabeth May: An alternative USA where rape victims become outcasts, looked upon as temptresses who provoked ‘’honest’’ men. They have to be taken away, otherwise, they will contaminate the ‘’purity’’ of the society. Although atmospheric and haunting at parts, I felt that this context has been overused to death and I don’t believe that its remarks on religion added anything innovative. A story clearly inspired by Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and the awful, ridiculously Hollywood-esque TV series that tried (in vain) to bring an excellent book to life. A mediocre story, in my opinion.It was lovely to read each writer’s favourite literary witch and I was excited to see that Morgan Le Fay was the most popular choice.My two complaints are the occasional teenage writing that echoed TV series, films and possibly books devoid of quality and substance, and the emphasis on sex as a form of emancipation. I don’t agree with the ones who view this as an exploration of sexual identity. This isn’t how it’s done. In my opinion, sex and sexual preferences do not make us rebels or emancipated, feisty and independent. Our personality, intelligence, and intellectuality do that. Sex has nothing to do with who we are as people. However, I definitely appreciated the diversity and honesty of the themes in the stories. I wish certain tales had made better use of such strong elements.Apart from these issues, this is a collection to be read by all. And if I ever have a daughter, I will definitely include this book in my recommended reading list to her. ‘’My witch is furious and ferocious. She doesn’t grant wishes. But if you do what she says and treat her right, she just might help you. In the stories, there’s always a catch, though, right? The catch is this - her way of helping is HER way. Sometimes the way she helps you is by raining fire on all your enemies.’’My reviews can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.word...
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  • Sana
    January 1, 1970
    hi in case you didn't know, this has gay witches and it's confirmed by Tess Sharpe. have a nice life waiting for this to come out, you're welcome.
  • may ➹
    January 1, 1970
    Toil and Trouble was a pleasant surprise for me with its enchanting tales of witches, magic, and female empowerment, all written gorgeously. So many of these stories hit me hard, and they were all are so powerful and showed just exactly how magical witches—women—are.My calculated average rating for the anthology is 3.31 stars, which was much lower than I thought it would be, but I’m giving it an overall rating of 4 stars because my enjoyment level of the anthology as a whole was pretty high, and Toil and Trouble was a pleasant surprise for me with its enchanting tales of witches, magic, and female empowerment, all written gorgeously. So many of these stories hit me hard, and they were all are so powerful and showed just exactly how magical witches—women—are.My calculated average rating for the anthology is 3.31 stars, which was much lower than I thought it would be, but I’m giving it an overall rating of 4 stars because my enjoyment level of the anthology as a whole was pretty high, and I usually rate books based on how much I enjoy it! Also, the stories that I loved were stories that I ADORED with my entire heart.I do have to say, though, I went into this thinking there would be more diversity? The blurb says that these were the stories of witches from different ethnic backgrounds and sexualities and religions… but some stories weren’t diverse at all. Yeah, sure, I’ll say it: I was expecting all the stories to be diverse (at least ONE marginalized side character???), from what the blurb stated, and they weren’t.🌹 FAVORITES 🌹|| Why They Watch Us Burn by Elizabeth May|| The Gherin Girls by Emery Lord|| The Heart in Her Hands by Tess Sharpe|| The One Who Stayed by Nova Ren SumaThese are all literally… STUNNING stories and I truly think they all are the must-reads of this anthology. They are so beautiful and hard-hitting and powerful and I loved them so much.✨ Starsong by Tehlor Kay Mejia • ★★★★☆|| ownvoices sapphic Latinx MC, sapphic side character!|| CW: drug useOkay, I have to say that at first I was kind of confused by what was going on, but the more I read, the more I got into it, and by the end I REALLY loved it. I adored Luna, the main character, and all the texting with the cute girl on Instagram made me so giddy. I loved that the theme of this was realizing that you’re a different person and not only accepting but loving your new self. Plus, Mejia’s writing is SUPER gorgeous, and I wouldn’t complain a single bit to read more of this story!✨ Afterbirth by Andrea Cremer • ★★★☆☆.5|| CW: childbirth, blood, deathThis story was... interesting. The format of it was cool, though a little confusing at times, but I just couldn’t connect to the characters as much as I think I could’ve. I really did love the ending though, and that’s why this is 3.5 and not 3 stars. There nothing else really notable? An enjoyable read, but not that engaging.✨ The Heart in Her Hands by Tess Sharpe • ★★★★★|| rep: sapphic MC, sapphic LI (f/f relationship)|| CW: loss of a parentOh my god. I absolutely adored this one. I mean, rebelling against compulsory heterosexuality and choosing to run off to live in a house on a mountain with your witch girlfriend? God, I LOVE it. The underlying themes of this were beautiful, the writing was gorgeous, and I adored everything about this. After loving Tess Sharpe’s short story in All Out, and now this, I’m thinking I definitely I have to read her books now. This story is honestly so meaningful, in so many hidden ways, and I just really love it. It’s subtly beautiful.✨ Death in the Sawtooths by Lindsay Smith • ★★★☆☆|| CW: death, cutting corpsesThis one was... weird? I liked the concept (because I like strange, dark, death-related things) but the execution of it wasn’t exactly right for me. It moved slowly at the beginning, then slowly at the end, and the character development seemed really forced and unnatural. It was entertaining, but only that, and other aspects of it ruined a bit of the enjoyment for me.✨ The Truth About Queenie by Brandy Colbert • ★★★☆☆.5|| rep: black MC, several black side charactersI love how this story was focused on coming to terms with all parts of your identity and knowing that only you define who you are, and I also really liked how much of a focus it put on family. (The part about Queenie worrying about her grandma’s cancer coming back is so relatable and... what I needed right now.) But I think while it was a lot of fun to read with so many great themes and messages, it was bogged down a little by the love triangle drama and I honestly didn’t care for that.✨ The Moonapple Menagerie by Shveta Thakrar • ★★☆☆☆|| rep: South Asian MC + other side charactersI… really did not like this. The writing was juvenile, as if the author was writing for a middle grade audience, and it did not click with me at all. Half the story had me confused and half had me reading but not really focusing. I liked how it highlighted being cast out of your friend group because you’re not enough (something I can relate to a lot) but that wasn’t enough to save the rest of the story.✨ The Legend of Stone Mary by Robin Talley • ★★★★☆|| rep: sapphic MC, sapphic LIThis was... so good? I can’t specifically point out what I loved but I just enjoyed it a LOT. The curse was super interesting to me, and I ADORED the sapphic undertones of the story. I also have, like, a fondness towards the main character? (I don’t know how else to describe it.) This was engaging, cute, and a really fun read. I loved it.✨ The One Who Stayed by Nova Ren Suma • ★★★★☆.5|| CW: death, rapeOh, this one was just so good. I think it’s best to go into this story not knowing much, but I do have to say that the writing is so gorgeous and the atmosphere of the whole story is so strange and mysterious and I love it. I loved the concept, the message, everything. The only reason that this isn’t 5 stars for me was because I expected (and wanted) MORE. It felt slightly unfinished to me, but it was still absolutely amazing and I highly highly recommend you all to read it if you read this anthology. So, so good.✨ Divine are the Stars by Zoraida Córdova • ★★★☆☆.5|| rep: all Latinx castI think I just didn’t click very well with this one. The writing is super beautiful and lyrical, and I loved the concept, but I was lowkey confused the whole time. I think the themes of family and all the imagery were just gorgeous but I kind of didn’t know what was going on? I know it’s magical realism and magical realism usually has that mysterious vibe, but something just didn’t work for me.✨ Daughters of Baba Yaga by Brenna Yovanoff • ★★★★☆|| CW: bullyingFor some reason I liked this a lot? It’s kind of a weird story, and I don’t normally love historical fiction, but this one was just really entertaining for me to read? I loved the main character’s friend (and I also loved their friendship!), and I adored the whole concept of getting-justice-on-people-who-did-something-wrong-with-witchcraft. It was just a super fun read for me!!✨ The Well Witch by Kate Hart • ★★★★☆|| rep: brown MC|| CW: racismThis was like the type of beauty and power I call “quiet”. This is about a brown water witch in Texas who’s been living on her own when some abandoning soldiers find her, and it’s about how she escapes and finally goes after what (or who) she wants. She didn’t really see a future for herself, but she went out and made it. And I just… really love that.✨ Beware of Girls with Crooked Mouths by Jessica Spotswood • ★★★☆☆.5|| rep: sapphic side characters|| CW: fireI think this story could have been REALLY GREAT but it just fell short for me. There was one scene that felt written really… unnaturally for me? And I personally would have liked a little more of a closed ending, because it felt a little unfinished and just didn’t hit me in the way I know it could’ve. I still liked it and I think it had a really interesting concept but it didn’t execute it in the way I wanted it to. ✨ Love Spell by Anna-Marie McLemore • ★★★★☆|| rep: Latinx MC, trans Latinx LIThis story is so beautiful, just like everything that McLemore writes. At its surface, it’s a story of a bruja and a boy falling in love when it’s not approved of, but deeper than that, it’s about self worth and love and prejudice. The only reason this isn’t five stars for me was because 1) I felt like some important parts of the story were skimmed over and 2) it talked about Christianity a little too much for me personally. I know it was important to the context of the story but for me and my personal history, I wasn’t entirely comfortable with it. Still, it’s a beautiful, beautiful story.✨ The Gherin Girls by Emery Lord • ★★★★★|| rep: lesbian MC in a relationship with another girl, multi-gender-attracted (and possibly demisexual??) MC|| CW: abusive relationshipWow, this story was just… amazing. It’s such a beautiful, powerful story, but powerful in a soft way, if you know what I mean? I loved the exploration of sisterhood and family, and wow, the portrayal of an abusive relationship was so well-done. (In my opinion as someone who’s never been in an abusive relationship!) All the characters were so precious and pure and I would give every bit of my cold dead heart to read more of this.✨ Why They Watch Us Burn by Elizabeth May • ★★★★★|| rep: sapphic MC in a relationship with another girl (who is a POC I believe)|| CW: rape, sexual assaultThis is honest to god one of the best things I’ve read this year? Like. Even just a few pages into this story, you KNOW it’s going to be amazing. It was just… so powerful. And so stunning. And so important. It’s such a meaningful, symbolic story of empowerment and fighting against your oppressors, while finding the support of other girls like you. And on top of that, there’s the most beautiful f/f relationship blooming. I just… adored everything about this story. The writing, the characters, the concept, the messages. This is absolutely a must read, and honestly? I’m so glad it was last because everything else would have been dull compared to this story, and it was a breathtaking way to end the anthology.Though it took me a week to finish it, I really enjoyed this anthology and I think the stories in it are absolutely beautiful. If you can, please pick it up! The four favorite stories of mine are literally stunning and I hope everyone has the chance to read them because they are actual brilliant pieces of literature. Thank you to Harlequin Teen for sending me a review copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review! This did not affect my opinion in any way.
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  • Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
    January 1, 1970
    This was okay, but Emery Lord’s story was the only real stand out for me. Definitely not my favorite YA anthology. ———STARSONG by Tehlor Kay Mejia: 3/5 starsAFTERBIRTH by Andrea Cremer: 3/5 starsTHE HEART IN HER HANDS by Tess Sharpe: 3/5 starsDEATH IN THE SAWTOOTHS by Lindsay Smith: 4/5 starsTHE TRUTH ABOUT QUEENIE by Brandy Colbert: 3/5 starsTHE MOONAPPLE MENAGERIE by Shveta Thakrar: 3/5 starsTHE LEGEND OF STONE MARY by Robin Talley: 3/5 starsTHE ONE WHO STAYED by Nova Ren Suns: 3/5 starsDIVINE This was okay, but Emery Lord’s story was the only real stand out for me. Definitely not my favorite YA anthology. ———STARSONG by Tehlor Kay Mejia: 3/5 starsAFTERBIRTH by Andrea Cremer: 3/5 starsTHE HEART IN HER HANDS by Tess Sharpe: 3/5 starsDEATH IN THE SAWTOOTHS by Lindsay Smith: 4/5 starsTHE TRUTH ABOUT QUEENIE by Brandy Colbert: 3/5 starsTHE MOONAPPLE MENAGERIE by Shveta Thakrar: 3/5 starsTHE LEGEND OF STONE MARY by Robin Talley: 3/5 starsTHE ONE WHO STAYED by Nova Ren Suns: 3/5 starsDIVINE ARE THE STARS by Zoraida Córdova: 3/5 starsDAUGHTERS OF BABA YAGA by Brenna Yovanoff: 4/5 starsTHE WELL WITCH by Kate Hart: 3/5 stars BEWARE OF GIRLS WITH CROOKED MOUTHS by Jessica Spotswood: 3/5 starsLOVE SPELL by Anna-Marie McLemore: 3/5 stars THE GHERIN GIRLS by Emery Lord: 5/5 starsWHY THEY WATCH US BURN by Elizabeth May: 4/5
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  • ⚔ Silvia ⚓
    January 1, 1970
    Mathematical average rating (of 13 out of 15 stories): 3.76/5 stars, two not-rated DNFs/didn't read.I read this anthology back in summer and I finally sat down to edit the notes I made on my phone after each story. I have to say this was one of my most anticipated releases of this year and while I can’t really say that I’m disappointed, I also wish I’d enjoyed more stories. I didn’t downright hate any, but a lot of them were just average for me.With that said, I did have some favorites:✨ Why The Mathematical average rating (of 13 out of 15 stories): 3.76/5 stars, two not-rated DNFs/didn't read.I read this anthology back in summer and I finally sat down to edit the notes I made on my phone after each story. I have to say this was one of my most anticipated releases of this year and while I can’t really say that I’m disappointed, I also wish I’d enjoyed more stories. I didn’t downright hate any, but a lot of them were just average for me.With that said, I did have some favorites:✨ Why They Watch Us Burn by Elizabeth May✨ Afterbirth by Andrea Cremer✨ The One Who Stayed by Nova Ren Suma The notes I wrote back in summer were mostly spoilery (so I would remember the story) and I left them that way while editing them into a more readable review, so be aware of that if you don’t want to know anything about them. Also sorry if some of them are a bit of a mess.• Starsong by Tehlor Kay Mejia: this was about a girl who has star magic and a lot of the story tells us how she came to have said magic. I was mostly just confused at the whole magic part, especially since it focused a lot on astrology which I know nothing nor care about and I felt like it required the reader to already know some stuff. Anyway then the girl chats with a cute science girl on Instagram who doesn't believe in magic but is open to listening to her and they plan a date. Basically an aspiring astronomer/astrologist pairing that probably deserves its own full length novel that I would totally read, but I just didn't care about the magic part which was what made up most of this story. 2.5/5 stars• Afterbirth by Andrea Cremer: a midwife apprentice witnesses the delivery of a stillborn child that is saved from death by the midwife while the mother dies. Other people are present, including a priest, and they see a monster in the afterbirth and believe the baby's father is the devil himself. The midwife passes her book of healing and spells to the apprentice, who keeps the child and makes plans to move where it's safer to keep practicing her craft. The story is told in narrative parallels, between the present and the future trial that finds the midwife guilty of witchcraft (I think it's in Salem? It's set near Boston) and I think it worked really well to have alternating timelines. It’s a very graphic and almost gory story, which is something I’m not normally into but I think it worked here and I never felt like it was gratuitous. 4.5/5 stars • The Heart in Her Hands by Tess Sharpe: Fate (a goddess) chooses one's soulmate, a girl is in love with her girlfriend but gets a different soulmate (a guy) and defies fate to stay with the girl she loves, with the price that her gift of healing becomes a gift of death that she turns into something useful. I love the soulmate theme when it’s in fanfic and while I don’t think it always works just as well in original fiction, I did like it here. I was hoping the whole time that she'd either rebel against her chosen soulmate or it'd end up a polyam relationship but yeah it did not disappoint, I loved it even though I was a bit confused about the magic sometimes. 4.5/5 stars • Death on the Sawtooths by Lindsay Smith: this is about a witch whose patron is Xosia, the Lady of Death, and delivers the souls of the dead to her. She was bullied at the magic school, the conservatory, because people fear her power because long ago people like her uses the powers for evil. Then they summon her because someone has been taking the souls of the living out of people and wants to control them, but Mattie (the protagonist) and Savannah defeat the person who was doing this. I liked the theme of people being scared of what they don't know (Death) but also the fact that it was also a real fear since those powers had been used for evil before. And I liked that Mattie felt that pull to do the same and take control of souls but she kept that pull at bay. There were low-key gay vibes between her and Savannah but nothing was confirmed, would have liked to see their relationship in a longer story. 4/5 stars• The Truth About Queenie by Brandy Colbert: a girl comes from a family of witches/healers but they hide it as much as possible, she's black and in love with her best friend who is also a black boy but he’s got a girlfriend. She had a skateboarding injury and is in danger for her life so he begs Queenie to heal her and she can't, also she feels weird because he kissed her (tw cheating) the night before the girlfriend had the accident. Anyway she heals her when she finally embraces all the parts of herself. This story didn’t really make me feel anything tbh and I didn't like the cheating, also there wasn't much magic or much plot. 2.5/5 stars • The Moonapple Menagerie by Shveta Thakrar: I DNF’d this I'm sorry I just couldn't get into it at all.• The Legend of Stone Mary by Robin Talley: about the descendant of a witch of the 19th century, kind of an Halloween story too and also f/f romance between witch/witch-hunter which is Nice. I wish it had focused a bit more on the romance but it was good. 4/5 stars • The One Who Stayed by Nova Ren Suma: this one is kind of dark, it's about a group of women/coven (we find out they're all rape victims) that sense a girl in the woods who is being raped and it's similar to something that happened a while ago but the previous girl ran from them and got hit by a car. So when this girl goes to them this time they comfort her and welcome her in her group. I loved the narration a lot, the women were part of a collective "we" and when there needed to be a distinction it always identified them as their internal qualities, not age or appearance but like "the loudest of us" or "the one of us who was best at calming people down" (always with a superlative) and it really gave the idea of a community, also in the sense that it was all sorts of women who went through sexual assault. 4.5/5 stars• Divine Are the Stars by Zoraida Córdova: it’s about a big family, the grandma (witch) is dying and leaves everything to the granddaughters. I honestly can’t say much about it since by now I forgot it and I know that while reading I just kept getting distracted, for some reason it didn’t hold my attention at all. 2.5/5 stars• Daughters of Baba Yaga by Brenna Yovanoff: a girl is the daughter of Russian immigrants in America and her friend are witches but different kinds with different ways of doing magic and they use it to punish bullies. I really liked the writing and I loved seeing the bullies being punished and the different ways the two girls used their magic. 4/5 stars• The Well Witch by Kate Hart: a water witch lives alone in the far west in 1875 Texas and three men ask to rest for a while but then they stay much longer and two of them are Bad but one isn't That bad and she falls in love with him then he leaves to do something I don’t remember and the other two trap her inside her house and after two weeks she sets the house and barn on fire and takes away the water with her so they won't have any and will die. This was very engaging and I couldn't stop reading until I was done. 4.5/5 stars• Beware of Girls with Crooked Mouths by Jessica Spotswood: a girl comes from a family where only one sister lives and the others die and she has a vision where in the future they all live even if they're apart so she wants to recreate those conditions in order for that future to happen, she succeeds at driving one sister away but the other one stays because of the girl she loves. It wasn't bad or anything but I didn't really like it either and especially didn't like the open ending. It was also clear that what she was doing was wrong but I still felt like it brushed aside the question of consent because there’s a love potion involved. It was also all a bit too easy and the dialogue a bit rushed sometimes, idk it just wasn't for me. 2/5 stars• Love Spell by Anna-Marie McLemore: about a bruja girl whose family cures love sickness, she goes to church and a trans acolyte boy gives her the communion (which he's not allowed to bc the church hates witches) and they fall in love, he then wants her to cure his love sickness but they end up together instead and he also has magic in himself. It was really short and cute and I liked it even though I usually don't like stories where religion is too important but the writing was beautiful and I loved it. 4.5/5 stars• The Gherin Girls by Emery Lord: I didn't manage to read it ??? Like, it’s not a DNF because I didn’t even start but I can’t remember why, maybe some day I will come back to it.• Why They Watch Us Burn by Elizabeth May: this was my favorite and the reason I can’t give any other story in this anthology a full 5/5. It’s also the only story I don’t want to say anything about because it should just be read. Me trying to sum it up or even say what it’s about would belittle its beauty, so just know that part of it is a beautiful f/f relationship (but it’s not all it’s about). Honestly if you can only read one story from this anthology let it be this one. 5/5 starsSo, would I recommend this anthology? I think it depends on what you’re into, but even as someone who’s not always into magic and especially not into magical realism I managed to enjoy most of the stories. I wish I had found more favorites among them but the ones I did find were so important and I can totally see myself wanting to reread them.
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  • Julie Zantopoulos
    January 1, 1970
    ** ARC provided to me by Harlequin Teen for an honest review. ** I'm going to share my thoughts on each story as I read so please excuse the massive amounts of updates and times this shows on your feed. This book doesn't come out until late August but I've been in such a witchy mood that I had to read it ASAP. Right off the bat, guys, these stories are all so diverse and there's a bunch that are own voices. (yay!) Here are my thoughts. 1. Starsong by Tehlor Kay Mejia - 4 starsThis is a great sto ** ARC provided to me by Harlequin Teen for an honest review. ** I'm going to share my thoughts on each story as I read so please excuse the massive amounts of updates and times this shows on your feed. This book doesn't come out until late August but I've been in such a witchy mood that I had to read it ASAP. Right off the bat, guys, these stories are all so diverse and there's a bunch that are own voices. (yay!) Here are my thoughts. 1. Starsong by Tehlor Kay Mejia - 4 starsThis is a great story about a Latinx (own voices) sixteen year old trying to find her way and gain her mother's approval after making some poor life decisions and changing her ways a year ago. Trigger warning for substance and alcohol abuse related to said poor decisions. She's a bruja who is finding her way with magic, art, music, and makeup. A girl after my own heart. She is a bit of a social media star and ends up talking with a doubter, another young teenage girl who puts her faith in magic and their discussion quickly turns to Luna wondering if she's queer and flirting with her. It was frankly, adorable. There was also additional diversity in the reference to clients of Luna's who hired her to paint their polya portrait for their living room. The normalization of a poly relationship was pretty awesome to read. Overall, I really loved Luna, am rooting for her and her new life path and want so much more of her!2. Afterbirth by Andrea Cremer- 2 starsThis is a story set in 1650 New England about a midwife being accused of witchcraft after daring to insinuate that a servent's child was the illegitimate child of the master of the house. Overall, I just didn't connect to the story or the characters but I'm not surprised. I'm not really one for historical fiction. 3. The Heart in Her Hands by Tesse Sharpe-4 starsI really enjoyed this story on a few different levels...one all the generational witches, tea lovers, and kitchen/garden witches you could ever want which I LOVE! There are angry deities and rebellious strong women that I adored. It's a story about defying fate, the idea of soul mates being predetermined, following your love and also features a loving and heartwarming f/f love story. I really enjoyed this one! 4. Death in the Sawtooths by Lindsay Smith-3 starsThis one is probably the darkest of the stories so far. This one follows Mattie who serves Lady Xosia, the Lady of Slumber, or death. There's an entire witch/wizard order to this short story...very Slytherin vs the rest of the houses feel. Mattie is being judged for the actions of prior followers called to serve her patron and suffering judgments for their ill deeds. It's a story of judgment in a small town, overcoming stereotypes, and a bully turned friend-ish. There's some creepier TW for bullying, bloody attempted murder type deals. 5. The Truth About Queenie by Brandy Colbert- 5 starsOkay, so I'm a sucker for the unrequited love storyline but oh man, Queenie and Webb have my heart. We have an all black cast of characters and Queenie who is a witch denying her powers because she believes they went wrong in her youth and hurt a friend. I just loved and connected with so much of this story and I would absolutely read a full-blown novel centered around Queenie. I adore her.6. The Moonapple Menagerie by Shveta Thakrar- 2 starsThis is a story about friendship, learning to push past doubt, and trusting in yourself and those who care for you. It was a sweet story about teenage shapeshifters who take on a churel (demon) who wants to insert themselves into their play...or maybe just teach them some life lessons. It's a sweet story less about magic and more about friendship. 7. The Legend of Stone Mary by Robin Talley- 2 starsI'm not sure why I couldn't connect with this story. It's about a small town girl named Wendy who has always been warned away from the woods where a statue of her great great (a bunch of times over) grandmother's statue remains to remind the town of the witch who was killed there. It's a story, at its heart, about not repeating the mistakes of the past but the magical/witchy vibes were slim to none. There was a f/f relationship that had potential but even that wasn't fleshed out for me. 8. The One Who Stayed by Nova Ren Suma- 5 starsOh my goodness, that was the most tension and dread in a story that I've read in a long long time. Reading that and knowing what Mirah was about to encounter was heartbreaking. I read the entire story with teary eyes and a hurting heart but the short story was still absolutely beautiful. At its core, it's feminist, empowering, and about women coming together to support other women, to help them at their darkest hour. Such a very powerful story. Trigger warnings for sexual assault, rape, and assault. 9. Divine are the Stars by Zoraida Cordova-4 starsThis was such a beautiful magical realism story and that's saying something because I rarely connect with magical realism. I loved this story about Marimar and her cousin Chuy going back to see their dying grandmother. It's a beautifuly/ugly look at family, greed, and love. I absolutely adored it, and the fact that it is an own voices Latinx story makes it even more amazing. 10. Daughters of Baba Yaya by Brenna Yovanoff- 4 starsOkay, maybe it's because I'm coming up on Easter and us Greek's are dying all our eggs red in preparation but I'm totally connecting with the Orthodox Russian in this story. This story is gritty, dark, and dangerous and I'm about it. It's about girls who are done sitting back and listening to bullies, about girls who are finding their agency, their power. No longer will they let boys call them sluts, or whispers and taunts be unpunished. Serious The Craft vibes and I live for it. Consider yourself warned- some girls smile just to show you their teeth. 11. The Well Witch by Kate Hart-2 starsHistoric stories don't do much for me but a girl living alone in the rugged Texas outback all alone with her mom passed away and her father gone for 3 years who can call water to her and build an oasis around her--I could get down with it. Then 3 men on the run wind up at her place, taking up residence in her barn and I was waiting for something "worse" to result from the story and while it didn't I still wasn't a fan of the way the story panned out. There was a strong woman of color who was self-sufficient and then turned victim in the lamest of ways. I couldn't get behind that but the beginning was pretty promising. 12. Beware of Girls with Crooked Mouths by Jessica Spotswood- 5 starsWow! Okay, total Three Dark Crowns vibes here as we deal with three sisters who know that their family curse means one of them will go crazy and murder the others (plus we have a poisoner in the midst). I loved the sisters. I felt for Jo who has to make a difficult decision to spare her sister's lives. This is a story about family, fate, and love and how doing what you think is right can turn out so so wrong. I loved the vibe of this story, which felt very Victorian but also featured normalized bisexuality and a f/f marriage arranged by parents for the purposes of social status gain. YES to all of it. 13. Love Spell by Anna-Marie McLemore- 5 starsThis was such a beautiful beautiful story about a bruja who is living with her tia in an attempt to learn her craft. She also still attends Catholic mass and gets communion and struggles to mix her magic and her faith and be accepted by those around her. Her magic comes in the form of healing broken hearts and helping those who have lost love move on. She starts to fall for an acolyte and feels such despair because holy men can fall for witches, can lust for them, but will never marry them or be with them publically. She struggles to maintain her faith and her crush/first-love while balancing the knowledge that he can never be hers. It was heartbreaking and beautiful, hopeful and real. It doesn't hurt at all that this is an own voices Latinx story with a trans male love interest. Honestly, just such a lovely story! 14. The Gherin Girls by Emery Lord- 5 starsAnother in the collection that is so hauntingly written. This is a beautiful tale of sisters, the bond they share and their unconditional love they have for one another. As the oldest of four girls, oh my heart broke and rose with this story. At its core, it's about abuse (though hinted at and never described) and how abusers seek to isolate you from those who love and want to protect you. As somebody who has seen their sister in unhealthy/abusive and healthy/loving relationships, I related to this on so many levels. Of course, it's got magic, but the love of a sibling that will always hook me. One sister identifies as a lesbian though it's hinted at that she may be pan/bi like their eldest sibling. Another diverse and amazing read in this collection and one that had me tearing up more than a little bit. Love these strong amazing sisters. N/A The Only Way Back by Tristina Wright- N/A I'm skipping this story as it will not be in the finished version after sexual assault allegations were brought against the author. I'm so happy that Harlequin has taken to heart this incident and removed the author and her story from the finished version of this book. 15. Why They Watch Us Burn by Elizabeth May-5 starsI have tears in my eyes as I write this last review. What a stunning, diverse, amazing, beautiful, feminist, empowering af story this was. This was the perfect ending to this collection. This story has TW for rape/sexual assault though not described it's heavily implied and understood. This story centers around Night and the 12 other women taken into the woods to repent for leading men to sin. It's a haunting and all too true analogy for how we treat survivors of sexual assault and rape and oh my goodness, the sisterhood, the love in this story is overwhelmingly beautiful. There's a trans character and a f/f relationship in this one as well as messages of hope, support, and strength. Such a stunning story!This collection is the absolute definition of feminist, empowering, witchy, and haunting. I loved every single second of it, even those 2 star reads because as a whole I walked away knowing this is a book I will recommend, will come back to, and will think about for a long long time. What a beautifully crafted collection this is.
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  • Candace Robinson
    January 1, 1970
    These stories all had their witchiness! But as with almost all the short story anthologies I have read: you have the good, the bad, and the middle man that I’ll call Sam, because I like that name. I definitely preferred the ones that weren’t modern day. And I did expect more from this, but if you like witchy business then I’m sure there will be some here that will be your cup of tea... milk... soda... or whatever the heck it is you drink!!
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  • Sara (sarawithoutanH)
    January 1, 1970
    I’d like to start by saying the diversity in this anthology was great. I appreciated the amount of representation but, unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to make the content of the stories great for me. I was not impressed with this anthology at all and I disliked most of the stories. I think the mythology of witches is hard to cover in a short story and where these stories started and ended felt awkward to me. 1. STARSONG by Tehlor Kay Mejia — ✮In my opinion, this was a weak story to start the ant I’d like to start by saying the diversity in this anthology was great. I appreciated the amount of representation but, unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to make the content of the stories great for me. I was not impressed with this anthology at all and I disliked most of the stories. I think the mythology of witches is hard to cover in a short story and where these stories started and ended felt awkward to me. 1. STARSONG by Tehlor Kay Mejia — ✮In my opinion, this was a weak story to start the anthology with. I really dislike constant references to social media and this story was comprised entirely of that. It had an abrupt ending and I wasn’t really sure what I was supposed to get out of it. 2. AFTERBIRTH by Andrea Cremer — ✮This story was reminiscent of The Crucible. I just wasn’t into it. I found myself distracted while listening to it and sort of just waiting for it to be over. 3. THE HEART IN HER HANDS by Tess Sharpe — ✮I appreciated the representation, but I didn’t connect with the story. I didn’t really like the writing style and It felt rushed. 4. DEATH IN THE SAWTOOTHS by Lindsay Smith — ✮✮✮✮I really enjoyed this story. I think it’d be good as a full-length novel. The short story format wasn’t enough. It felt like True Blood meets Dexter. 5. THE TRUTH ABOUT QUEENIE by Brandy Colbert — ✮This story just sort of annoyed me. It was about a lovesick girl and the witchy factor was weak. 6. THE MOONAPPLE MENAGERIE by Shveta Thakar — ✮This story might be the worst in my opinion. I’m tempted to give it zero stars. I was not a fan. Tbh, I skipped some of it to get to the next story. 7. THE LEGEND OF STONE MARY by Robin Talley — ✮✮✮This story was decent. It was a nice Halloween read. 8. THE ONE WHO STAYED by Nova Ren Suma — ✮✮✮✮This felt sinister and mysterious. When I figured out what was going on, I was filled with only dread. I’d be very interested in reading more. 9. DIVINE ARE THE STARS by Zoraida Cordova — ✮I honestly can’t even really remember this one. I was not into it at all. It felt bland. 10. DAUGHTERS OF BABA YAGA by Brenna Yovanoff — ✮I just didn’t really get this one. I had trouble staying focused and I just wasn’t invested at all. 11. THE WELL WITCH by Kate Hart — ✮✮✮I actually liked the plot of this one. I was quite interested to see where it was going. 12. BEWARE OF GIRLS WITH CROOKED MOUTHS by Jessica Spotswood — ✮✮✮✮This one would be so good as a full-length novel. I really wanted to read more about these characters. The ending really got me good. 13. LOVE SPELL by Anna-Marie McLemore — ✮✮It was okay. The writing was okay. The plot was okay. Everything was just okay. 14. THE GHERIN GIRLS by Emery Lord — ✮✮✮✮I’d like to read more about these characters! I would totally read a full novel about them.15. WHY THEY WATCH US BURN by Elizabeth May — ✮✮✮✮I really enjoyed this one. It felt very Handmaid’s Tale to me. I was super into it and felt it was a strong ending to a mostly unlikable anthology.
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  • TheYALibrarian
    January 1, 1970
    RTC in a few hours!!Edit: Ignore that I'm an idiot thinking I can do a comprehensive review on 15 stories right now so I will say RTC soon!!
  • Sonja ✧ Badass Wanderer ✧
    January 1, 1970
    gay witches?? fuck yes.
  • Helen Power
    January 1, 1970
    The title says it all.  This is a collection of 15 short stories about magic and witchcraft, but it’s a lot more than that.  Each of the stories uses fantasy elements as a metaphor for real life experiences and social issues.  I was attracted to this anthology because it was touted as being a diverse anthology, and it does not disappoint.There are some recurring themes that are worth mentioning, but I’ll avoid any spoilers in this discussion.  This book definitely has literary merit.  Some of th The title says it all.  This is a collection of 15 short stories about magic and witchcraft, but it’s a lot more than that.  Each of the stories uses fantasy elements as a metaphor for real life experiences and social issues.  I was attracted to this anthology because it was touted as being a diverse anthology, and it does not disappoint.There are some recurring themes that are worth mentioning, but I’ll avoid any spoilers in this discussion.  This book definitely has literary merit.  Some of the short stories deal with overcoming the oppression of being a woman – how “witches” were viewed historically (and even in present day).  There are common themes of “growing up” and maturation, overcoming fears and obstacles, coming out as LGBTQ+, and becoming an adult.  This is a must read for any teenager who just happens to like magic. (So basically all teenagers).This anthology is captivating and breathtaking, with some stories making my skin tingle and others making me tear up (just a little).  Some stories had me holding my breath in anticipation, and others had me whipping through the pages, desperate to find out what would happen next. But as with any anthology, a few of the stories didn’t quite work for me.  But that’s the thing with short story collections – there’s something for everyone—and I guarantee that most young adult readers will find at least one story that speaks to what they’re going through in their own lives.Since it’s a book about witches, there are some tropes that I hadn’t even realized were tropes until I noticed them popping up in multiple stories.  The trope of three sisters being witches, or the “spinster” witch trope. This anthology does a decent job of breaking through these stereotypes and surprised me as an avid fan of all things witchcraft related.  I couldn’t quite tell if the recurrence of these tropes served well to link the stories in the anthology or if it was catering to the presumptions that many readers have about witches.  Either way, I was hooked.My favourite stories were “The One Who Stayed” by Nova Ren Suma, “Daughters of Baba Yaga” by Brenna Yovanoff, “The Gherin Girls” by Emery Lord, and “The Heart in her Hands” by Tess Sharpe.  I had a hard time whittling down this list to only four! Any of these short stories would make a beautiful, best-selling full-length novel.I recommend this book to anyone who loves reading stories that use witchcraft and magic as a metaphor for real-life experiences. *Thank you to Harlequin Teen and NetGalley for the advanced reader copy!*
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  • yeva 🐢
    January 1, 1970
    IT'S CONFIRMED, WE HAVE GAY WITCHES oh m ygod, i can die happy now
  • Danyelle
    January 1, 1970
    I received this ARC from NetGalley in return for an honest review Thank You NetGalley!Let me start off by saying while there were few stories that didn't quite get me overall there were some beautiful stories in here about the persecution of witches and even traumatic things that can happen to you that can turn you into a witch in different ways and show you parts of yourself you never knew existed and or help you accept parts of yourself that you weren't willing to before. And while I tended to I received this ARC from NetGalley in return for an honest review Thank You NetGalley!Let me start off by saying while there were few stories that didn't quite get me overall there were some beautiful stories in here about the persecution of witches and even traumatic things that can happen to you that can turn you into a witch in different ways and show you parts of yourself you never knew existed and or help you accept parts of yourself that you weren't willing to before. And while I tended to enjoy the spookier stories, I came to realize that this anthology isn’t just about scary-witchy-things, rather it’s about highlighting powerful women throughout myths and history. I may have not loved all the stories but I believe they each carried significant themes and should be shared.I would definitely put this in the lgbtq category as more than one of these stories had a girl who was either questioning her sexuality, discovering new parts of her sexuality, finally accepting that part of herself or getting those in her life willing to accept her.A few stories did drag a bit, but I was definitely drawn by each and how the writing kept me guessing. I was never bored; I just wanted to keep reading. Some stories really drive home what it means to be a woman - to be marked as the "other" in a male-dominated society and to be persecuted for not being a "proper" kind of woman. And all the women in this anthology find ways to rebel, to fight fate or expectations or restrictions, to gain what they desire. Over all I would have to say this collection is the absolute definition of feminist, empowering and witchy I loved it. As a whole I walked away knowing this is a book I will recommend and will come back to.
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  • Amy Risner
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by Harlequin Teen in exchange for an honest reviewFirst of all, let me just say how much I appreciated this collection of short stories. The authors are so diverse and I absolutely loved the amalgamation of cultures represented here. There is so much rep for LGBTQIAP+, POC, religions, social classes — just, everything! And while I tended to enjoy the spookier stories, I came to realize that this anthology isn’t just about scary-witchy-things, rather it’s about highlighting powerful ARC provided by Harlequin Teen in exchange for an honest reviewFirst of all, let me just say how much I appreciated this collection of short stories. The authors are so diverse and I absolutely loved the amalgamation of cultures represented here. There is so much rep for LGBTQIAP+, POC, religions, social classes — just, everything! And while I tended to enjoy the spookier stories, I came to realize that this anthology isn’t just about scary-witchy-things, rather it’s about highlighting powerful women throughout mythos and history. I may have not loved all the stories but I believe they each carried significant themes and should be shared with everyone.My overall rating actually came out to be 3.5 stars (70% once I did the math) but I’m rounding it up to 4 stars because I believe this book is important and relevant, and I know several of them will stick with me forever. My favorites were Beware of the Girls With Crooked Mouths, The Gherin Girls, and Why They Watch Us Burn. I could seriously read full length novels of those stories!Since each story is only 20-30 pages long, I’m hesitant to talk too much about them without giving away anything! So here are my quick thoughts and opinions. I think some just had a slower pacing than others, which affected my overall rating for that particular story.1) STARSONG by Tehlor Kay Mejia: ★★I really thought the budding romance was cute, but I had a hard time connecting with the story. I think I was expecting a more witchy tale to kick off this book, but it was mainly centered around a bruja DM-ing with someone on Instagram. However I genuinely loved the debate between science and magic, how it’s an own voices Latinx story, and the f/f romance!2) AFTERBIRTH by Andrea Cremer: ★★★★I really loved the interview format in this story, and the demon-centered plot had me on the edge of my seat. If you’re looking for a witch trial set in 1600’s New England then this is the story for you!3) THE HEART IN HER HANDS by Tess Sharpe: ★★★This story really touched my heart and I loved the theme about fate and soulmates (and tea!) The witchcraft is strong in this story and there’s such a wonderful f/f romance.4) DEATH IN THE SAWTOOTHS by Lindsay Smith: ★★★★This story is what finally really got my interest in this anthology. It felt like I was reading an actual story about witches (and warlocks!) and the overall tone was dark and spooky.5) THE TRUTH ABOUT QUEENIE by Brandy Colbert: ★★★★This is one of my favorites. It reads like a contemporary, but I do wish it had more witchy elements. However, it flowed so beautifully and I loved the friendships. This needs to be a full length novel!6) THE MOONAPPLE MENAGERIE by Shveta Thakrar: ★Sadly this was my least favorite story. This is a story about a group of shapeshifter friends who make a deal with a demon, and the demon wants to be in their play. To be honest I wanted more story about the shapeshifters and less about the play they were writing. I just didn’t love it, I’m sorry!7) THE LEGEND OF STONE MARY by Robin Talley: ★★★★This is a fantastically creepy one! I love the legends and the twists all wrapped up in this wonderful little story. I am just a sucker for anything that has to do with small towns and their local spooky lore.8) THE ONE WHO STAYED by Nova Ren Suma: ★★★This story is so beautifully written yet very haunting. Overall it’s so powerful and feminist. There is rape and sexual assault, so please take caution before starting this one. While I may not have connected with the story I truly loved the writing and I am looking forward to reading more books by Nova!9) DIVINE ARE THE STARS by Zoraida Córdova: ★★★★I’m not usually a huge fan of magical realism but Zoraida Córdova’s writing always pulls me in. I loved the family dynamic and tension presented here, and that it’s an own voices Latinx story.10) DAUGHTERS OF BABA YAGA by Brenna Yovanoff: ★★★This was another wonderful feminist story about witches and friendships. It was dark but I usually like my stories that way! I also love any sort of Baba Yaga retelling.11) THE WELL WITCH by Kate Hart: ★★I was totally immersed in most of this story but I so did not love the ending. It had such great potential. I was loving our POC main character who was so generous, kind, yet stern and self-sufficient. Then the story took a really bad turn and I just got angry.12) BEWARE OF THE GIRLS WITH CROOKED MOUTHS by Jessica Spotswood: ★★★★★I LOVED this story so, so much. It had everything I wanted: a family of witches who each have their own powers, a curse they want to break, and visions/destiny. I truly need this to be a full length book because I felt so invested in each of the sisters.13) LOVE SPELL by Anna-Marie McLemore: ★★★★This was another beautiful own voices story about star-crossed lovers: a girl who falls in love with a trans boy (who also happens to be an acolyte at her church.)14) THE GHERIN GIRLS by Emery Lord: ★★★★★This story is another favorite but it broke my heart. I felt so connected with these sisters and my heart broke over the abuse one of them had to go through. The writing is stunning and the bonds between these sisters just about made me cry.15) THE ONLY WAY BACK by Tristina Wright: N/AThe Only Way Back will not be included in the final publication, thus the title will say 15 Tales instead of 16 Tales. The publisher has decided to redact the story after sexual assault allegations were brought on the author.16) WHY THEY WATCH US BURN by Elizabeth May: ★★★★★I think they saved the best for last because WOW. This one is so freakin’ powerful. Like, no words. No words. This is a story about women who are exiled and punished (aka accused of witchcraft) for tempting men into sin. It is so important, relevant, eye-opening, heartbreaking, and haunting. I need to give it all the stars.Overall this was such an amazing collection and I believe Toil & Trouble will be the perfect read come Halloween. It releases on August 28th! If you pick up this anthology I’d love to hear your thoughts!Blog | Instagram | Twitter
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  • Faith Simon
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of this title from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This is probably without a doubt my most favourite anthology that I've ever read to date. It conjured up so many emotions during my reading experience, grief, happiness, inspiration. These stories made me feel things, which is certainly always a plus when rating a novel. Also, this book was pretty gay, which I always appreciate. I'm not even joking, the majority of this book, gay. Not to mention witches are amazing, I received a copy of this title from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This is probably without a doubt my most favourite anthology that I've ever read to date. It conjured up so many emotions during my reading experience, grief, happiness, inspiration. These stories made me feel things, which is certainly always a plus when rating a novel. Also, this book was pretty gay, which I always appreciate. I'm not even joking, the majority of this book, gay. Not to mention witches are amazing, and the fact that this book is all female witches is amazing. I've been looking forward to reading this after it was announced, and I was not disappointed at all, all of my expectations were well met. This all being said, the way that I review anthologies is not based of the entirety of the book itself, as that is difficult with so many individual stories at play, but instead I will entail my thoughts on my chosen favourites from the bunch. So without further ado, here were my favourites. Starsong by Tehlor Kay Mejia. This was a brilliant one to start of this anthology. Set in a modern time with a present theme of social media, this story is adorable in every single way. With the presence of social media influencers as a very big part of society, this was innovative in our century and easy to relate to. And, it was gay and adorable, so obviously I enjoyed it. The Heart in her Hands by Tess Sharpe. I LOVED THIS ONE SO MUCH OKAY. This one is also set somewhat presently, and has such an intricate plot line and backstory that is brought fourth so well with such a short amount of pages. And I love soulmate AUs, although this one definitely didn't go as I expected. In fact, nothing in this story went at all how I expected, and I loved it! And this one is gay as well, and WOMEN OVERPOWERING THE OPPRESSIVE SYSTEM. WHAT MORE COULD YOU EVEN WANT?Death in the Sawtooths by Lindsay Smith. I really liked the concept on this one! It was certainly an enjoyable read, but I will say that I think the mystery element was a bit too short and conclusive, and I think that it was in general just difficult to pull off with only a short amount of pages. I thought it was lacking and it seemed to be set up to be complex when it ended up being solved shortly after. Nonetheless I loved the backstory set up here as well. The Legend of Stone Mary by Robin Talley Robin Talley is one of my favourite authors, and so of course I was just so excited to read her piece in this anthology. It was really intricate, to say the least. I really liked the backstory for this one as well, it revolves around a legend in a small town dating back 200 years, and ties this in with the present day. This is just amazingly imaginative. The One Who Stayed by Nova Ren SumaThere isn't really too much I can say about this one, other than I enjoyed it. This is also modern day, and it revolves around a group of girls who are bonded together by the same tragic event that's fallen each of them in a variety of ways, and they recruit others into the coven through comfort, as they're the ones whom are first seen after it happens when they lay in wait. This was captivating and showed the bond of different girls together through something that tied them together commonly. Also, girls seeking revenge with magic is an awesome concept in any sense. Divine are the Stars by Zoraida Còrdova. Witches and ancestry and witches of colour and discovering hidden talents and floral themes. This one was marvellous. Love Spell by Anna-Marie McLemore. I was so excited to see one of my absolute favourite authors in this anthology, it seemed obvious she would be because she's the queen of magical realism. I'm so glad she did a piece for this, because it was amazing and dazzling and magical and just basically everything you could ask for with Anna-Marie McLemore writing a story about witches. Why They Watch us Burn by Elizabeth May. This one literally made me ball my eyes out. This is so sad and heart wrenching, and though the theme feels like olden days and ancient, a lot of what's said in here really rings true in regards to modern-day society. I really liked that this one blurred the lines between witch trials and modern day events, it was really interesting and beautiful, but important and captivating, in a really somber sort of way.
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  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    This was one of the best anthologies I have ever read. The editors are to be commended because each story "stood on its own two feet." I just adored that all of our witch characters were diverse women, coming from very different cultures, different periods of time, women who were good friends, daughters, lovers, women exploring their sexuality and or sexual identity. Future readers, prepare yourself for 15 witchy tales. As is my custom, I will be breaking each tale down with their own star rati This was one of the best anthologies I have ever read. The editors are to be commended because each story "stood on its own two feet." I just adored that all of our witch characters were diverse women, coming from very different cultures, different periods of time, women who were good friends, daughters, lovers, women exploring their sexuality and or sexual identity. Future readers, prepare yourself for 15 witchy tales. As is my custom, I will be breaking each tale down with their own star rating. Overall, though, it was definitely a strong 4 star representation for me. In addition, I was introduced to 15 new to me authors and enjoyed reading who their favorite witch characters were when growing up. Starsong by Tehlor Kay Mejia. 4.5 starsEsperanza Luna is a social media guru, but that's because after a terrible accident, her family is determined to keep her safe. But Luna craves friends and wants nothing more to be able to hold hands and get kissed by someone who loves her. When Luna begins chatting with Mari, she feels confused by the butterflies in her tummy and the skipping of her heartbeat. Maybe not a "witch" tale per say, but it has a good message about being fearless and giving love a chance.Afterbirth by Andrea Cremer 5 starsNew England, 17th century. During a complicated birth, midwife apprentice, Deliverance Pond, feels helpless when the mother dies. But her pain is ever greater when her midwife instructor, Midwife Ley, is put on trial for being a witch. Cremer does an excellent job of showcasing the mass hysteria in the colonies over supposed witchcraft. The Heart in Her Hands by Tess Sharpe 5 stars Bettina Clarke receives her witch mark when she is 16 years old, but soon finds herself irritating her elders when she declares her love for her best friend, Auggie, instead of the male partner the elders declare is her "soul mate." But Bettina knows that it will be work because the love of her life has always been Auggie Both Bettina and Auggie will have to use their strengths to withstand the punishment of the elders and defeat FATE once and for all. I felt that this was such a strong and powerful love story and loved its message. Death in the Sawtooths by Lindsay Smith 4 stars Oh yeah, nothing like a good revenge story about dealing with that "mean girl " from school. Mattie, works for Lady Xosia, not everyone 's favorite magical person, but Mattie is content. One day, Mattie receives a visit from an old classmate, Savannah, a Priestess who states that the High Warlock needs help and Mattie is the only one to do it. But it might mean betraying her boss.... Just a great story from beginning to end.The Truth About Queenie by Brandy Colbert 3 starsQueenie is dealing with teen angst and coming to terms with the fact that she is actually a witch. Her mother already reminds her that it's hard enough being black, why on earth would Queenie want to make herself stand out more? But when her friend Webb asks for her help, Queenie finds herself more curious about that book of spells. Hey, I loved the characters, but that ending made me desire more! The Moonapple Menagerie by Shveta Thakar 3.5 stars Five members of a coven are about to put on their annual play when one of them makes a deal with a demon. Great lesson about asking friends for help. The Legend of Stone Mary by Robin Talley 3. 5 starsThe Keegan women have been feared by the people of Boyle's Run for generations because of a legend that their ancestress, Mary Keegan placed the town under a curse. Teenager Wendy Keegan is determined to help end the curse and jumps at the chance that new friend Karen gives her to approach Mary's statue. However, Wendy just might not be prepared for her friend Karen's secret. The One Who Stayed by Nova Ren Suma 5 stars. Narrated by a female collective of known as "we" this was perhaps the most terrifying piece in the collection and that is why I am not going to say more than that. Muhahha.... Divine are the Stars by Zoraida Cordova 3 stars A family of witches answers their grandmother's call to the ranch where some unexpected events happen. This was maybe the first story, I just couldn't really immerse myself in. However, I felt the reading was beautiful. Daughters of Baba Yaga by Brenna Yovanoff 2. 5 starsTwo girls unite and there are a lot of antics as they try their powers out on others. I really don't have a lot to say regarding this one. The Well Witch by Kate Hart 5 starsTexas, 1875. Oh this was such a good one and terrifying because the character lifters had to fight for her life. Great villians in this one, too! Highly enjoyable! Beware of Girls with Crooked Mouths by Jessica Spotswood 3.5 starsBased on a vision of her granddaughters in the future, Jo believes that she can break a family curse and ensure that her sisters and she will survive together. Of course, disaster ensues. Love Spell by Anne-Marie McLemore4 stars A young attracts the attention and love of a young altar boy, but can a witch ever be happy in love? Ok, I lied this author isn't new to me! I absolutely adored one of her novels and hated another. The Gherin Girls by Emery Lord 4 stars Nova, Rosemary, Willa all take turns narrating this story. When Rosemary finds herself entwined in an awful relationship, it is going to take her sisters courage and life to win her back. When They Watch Us Burn by Elizabeth May 4 .5 starsReading like a manifesto that discusses how women are treated by the patriarchy, we meet several female characters that are being imprisoned. A good story to top of this collection.So there in a nutshell is a little snippet of what a reader can discover in this collection. Thanks to Netgalley for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. Publication Date is August 28th, 2018
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  • Stacee
    January 1, 1970
    Between the theme of this anthology and the authors who wrote stories, I was all in. I really enjoyed this collection. All of the stories were so varied and the voices were fantastically diverse and different. I especially loved the stories from Tess Sharpe, Jessica Spotswood, and Anna-Marie McLemore. **Huge thanks to Harlequin Teen for providing the arc free of charge**
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  • Juli
    January 1, 1970
    I love spooky stories about witches, but they can get a bit trope-y at times. Variations on the same theme. Black cats. Warts. Spells. Incantations. It gets a bit repetitive. Toil & Trouble is a story anthology about witches that gives a new spin to the classic tales. These stories are diverse, creative, and entertaining, with a dash of spooky witchiness. From love spells that go wrong to witch hunts, these 15 stories celebrate all things Witch....with a empowering, feminist overtone. Each s I love spooky stories about witches, but they can get a bit trope-y at times. Variations on the same theme. Black cats. Warts. Spells. Incantations. It gets a bit repetitive. Toil & Trouble is a story anthology about witches that gives a new spin to the classic tales. These stories are diverse, creative, and entertaining, with a dash of spooky witchiness. From love spells that go wrong to witch hunts, these 15 stories celebrate all things Witch....with a empowering, feminist overtone. Each story gives a bit of a new spin to the witch tale. Creative, entertaining and thought-provoking anthology! I really enjoyed this book! Each story is different and interesting. I tried to pick a favorite, but it was pretty much a tie between two: Daughters of Baba Yaga and Why They Watch Us Burn. But, all of the stories are good! Stories included are: Starsong - Tehlor Kay MejiaAfterbirth - Andrea CremerThe Heart in Her Hands - Tess SharpeDeath in the Sawtooths - Lindsay SmithThe Truth about Queenie - Brandy ColbertThe Moonapple Menagerie - Shveta ThakrarThe Legend of Stone Mary - Robin TalleyThe One Who Stayed - Nova Ren SumaDivine Are The Stars - Zoraida CordovaDaughters of Baba Yaga - Brenda YovanoffThe Well Witch - Kate HartBeware of Girls With Crooked Mouths - Jessica SpotswoodLove Spell - Anna-Marie McLemoreThe Gherin Girls - Emery LordWhy They Watch Us Burn - Elizabeth MayThis book is definitely intended for a young adult audience. I still enjoyed it, despite having passed the Young Adult stage a few decades ago. The stories seek to empower women and show a different side to witch tales. A bit of diversity mixed in with the spookiness was a nice change!**I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Harlequin Teen via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**
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  • Emma
    January 1, 1970
    I think of witches, and understand that there are too many people in this world who would rather see a woman burn than wield power. 4.5 stars.Toil and Trouble is a collection of stories about witches—tales of girls with powerful secrets, who are always on the fringes of society, whose lives are full of mystery and danger and beauty. And I am not exaggerating even a little bit when I say it’s one of the best anthologies I have ever read in my life.There are so many different kinds of stories to I think of witches, and understand that there are too many people in this world who would rather see a woman burn than wield power. 4.5 stars.Toil and Trouble is a collection of stories about witches—tales of girls with powerful secrets, who are always on the fringes of society, whose lives are full of mystery and danger and beauty. And I am not exaggerating even a little bit when I say it’s one of the best anthologies I have ever read in my life.There are so many different kinds of stories to be found in this book—there’s a mix of contemporary, historical, and fantasy settings, a varied blend of writing styles and themes. Out of fifteen total stories, I enjoyed twelve!! (which feels like a kind of record, bc I’m picky as hell) And out of those twelve that I liked, I loved six with every fiber of my soul and I hope all of these strong and spooky girls know that they each have a very personal place in my heart.I’m going to rate each story individually, and I’ll note the diverse rep and any content warnings for each one.“Starsong” by Tehlor Kay MejiaRating: 5 starsRep: Latinx mc, f/fA Latina witch who can read people’s futures in the stars gets into an online debate with another girl who’s an aspiring astronomer. Flirting ensues. This was such a sweet and beautiful story and I WANT THIS AS A FULL NOVEL PLEASE AND THANK YOU!!! I’m also so, SO excited for Mejia’s debut novel now!!!“Afterbirth” by Andrea CremerRating: 3.5 starsA midwife’s apprentice in colonial New England witnesses her mentor's trial for witchcraft. This was cool but just a little confusing, and I kind of wish it had more of a focus on their actual magic than just the trial.“The Heart in Her Hands” by Tess SharpeRating: 5 starsRep: f/fHealer witch Bette finally meets the boy who’s meant to be her soulmate. The only problem? She couldn’t give less of a shit about him, and is determined to defy fate and fight for a future with Augusta—her childhood best friend and girlfriend. I absolutely LOVE that this subverts the “everyone has one (1) soulmate” trope, and basically implies that this is a dumb and largely heteronormative concept collectively imposed on society.“Death in the Sawtooths” by Lindsay SmithRating: 2.5 stars.This felt like a really confusing mashup of contemporary and high fantasy. I’m still not very sure what the deal was with the worldbuilding. It had something to do with priestesses and goddesses? And the main character works with the death goddess so people are suspicious of her when someone starts working this weird kind of necromancy? There were some good ideas in here but it just felt rushed and messy and confusing.“The Truth About Queenie” by Brandy ColbertRating: 2.5 starsRep: all black charactersThis one is about a girl from a family of black witches in California, but it’s much more focused on romantic drama than magic?? I liked Queen’s family, but I didn’t care about the whole love triangle dynamic at all,, and unfortunately that was 90% of the story.“The Moonapple Menagerie” by Shveta ThakrarRating: none (DNF)Rep: South Asian mcA storytelling witch and her friends are trying to put on a play, but she's forced to make a deal with a mysterious creature in order to get over her writer’s block and finish the script. I reeeallly couldn’t get into this one and ended up DNFing after five pages or so. The writing felt very juvenile and like it was meant for more of a middle grade audience……which might be fine for some people, it’s just not really my thing. :///(psst I know I just trashed the last few a lil bit but I swear those were the only ones I didn't like, everything before and after is fucking brilliant)“The Legend of Stone Mary” by Robin TalleyRating: 3.5 starsRep: f/fA girl whose ancestor laid a curse on her town has to confront her family’s dark legacy. This was cool! Very small-town sapphic mystery-ish. I just wish it had been a bit longer. The concept had a lot of potential, but it felt sort of underdeveloped.“The One Who Stayed” by Nova Ren SumaRating: 5 starsCW: rapeHoly. s h i t. I don’t really want to explain the plot, because it’s pretty short and I feel like it’s best to just experience this story. This was heartbreaking and intense and cathartic and I honestly had chills the entire time. (Please take care while reading, though, because this one does center around sexual assault and a specific instance of rape.)“Divine Are the Stars” by Zoraida Córdova Rating: 5 starsRep: all Latinx charactersA girl from a family of Latinx witches returns to their ranch when she hears that her grandmother is dying. This is so beautiful and full of magical realism, with a strong focus on family and heritage. All of the imagery and emotions of it are absolutely gorgeous, and I seriously can’t wait to read more of her books!“Daughters of Baba Yaga” by Brenna YovanoffRating: 4 starsRep: Polish MCCW: goreI don’t know exactly how to summarize this one?? Plotwise, it’s about this Polish-American girl who teams up with one of her friends to use her magic to exact justice in her high school, but that description feels lame and incomplete. It’s kind of weird and gruesome, and touches on issues of feminism, generational trauma, and immigrant identities. This was also an interesting read for me because it’s actually the first time I’ve read about a character who actually has the same religion as me! It’s only a tiny part of the story—and not precisely the same bc my family is specifically Greek Orthodox—but I appreciated the little details connected to Eastern Orthodox culture and religion!“The Well Witch” by Kate HartRating: 4 starsRep: half Native American MCCW: racism, animal deathA water witch living on the prairie in 1870s Texas finds her way of life threatened when three strangers arrive on her doorstep. This one has a kind of old Western movie vibe, which I didn’t expect to like very much…but it was really interesting and compelling? It was a bit on the longer side and felt like it dragged a bit towards the end, but overall I enjoyed it!“Beware of Girls with Crooked Mouths” by Jessica SpotswoodRating: 4 starsRep: sapphic minor characterCW: mentions of suicideThis story is centered around a family of witches who bear an ominous curse—out of each generation, only one family member will survive to old age. Jo, the oldest of three sisters, has a vision of her future that may allow her to save her siblings, but she’ll have to betray them first. I have mixed feelings about this one, because IMO it was just too big of an idea for a short story. I really liked it, but I felt like I was reading an excerpt of a longer piece……so it just seemed kinda incomplete? I did love that it was a historical-y setting and not at all heteronormative, though! “Love Spell” by Anna-Marie McLemoreRating: 4 starsRep: all Latinx characters, trans boy love interestA bruja whose family is known for curing lovesickness begins her own forbidden romance. This was sweet, and obviously it’s Anna-Marie McLemore so the writing was absolutely stunning, but I kind of wanted more? The ending was a little too abrupt for me.“The Gherin Girls” by Emery LordRating: 5 starsRep: two sapphic main charactersCW: abuseThis is a very character-centric story—it’s about three sisters with magical talents in a small town in Wyoming, and their solidarity and closeness as one sister recovers from an abusive relationship. It’s very quiet, and I genuinely Felt Things about these girls and how much they care about each other!!“Why They Watch Us Burn” by Elizabeth MayRating: 5 starsRep:f/f, trans side character, South Asian love interestCW: sexual assaultThis is.....so hard to describe or categorize. All I can really say is that it's about internalized misogyny and rape culture, and reflects specifically on how organized Christianity is often used to enforce them. It's smart and brutal, but at the same time it's also about found family and a really soft f/f relationship!!Overall, this was one HELL of an anthology!!! Like I said, I really do recommend this in its entirety, but I especially Stan™️ The One Who Stayed, Starsong, The Heart in Her Hands, The Gherin Girls, Divine Are the Stars, and Why They Watch Us Burn!! Those stories in particular are absolutely stunning and I am o b s e s s e d.I received an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Scarllet ✦ Underrated Lit Warrior
    January 1, 1970
    This anthology is filled with stories and a cast of characters that carry so much weight and so much power. In average, my ratings ended up a whopping 4.4 but I am not entirely sorry to give this whole book a 5 star rating. It was brilliant! The top four stories that I stan completely are Death in the Sawtooths, The One Who Stayed, The Gherin Girls, and Why They Watch Us Burn. Starsong by Tehlor Kay Mejia: 4.5 🌟The starsong is louder now, swelling in a way that says something's coming. Somethin This anthology is filled with stories and a cast of characters that carry so much weight and so much power. In average, my ratings ended up a whopping 4.4 but I am not entirely sorry to give this whole book a 5 star rating. It was brilliant! The top four stories that I stan completely are Death in the Sawtooths, The One Who Stayed, The Gherin Girls, and Why They Watch Us Burn. Starsong by Tehlor Kay Mejia: 4.5 🌟The starsong is louder now, swelling in a way that says something's coming. Something bigger than just tonight. Buy maybe something steady. Something that doesn't have to make me feel afraid. The cutest way to start off the anthology. It was fun to see technology and social media play a big role in a bruja's life. Like, a Latina who has an Insta with loads of followers? And she gets a sassy comment from a NASA loving girl? This f/f rep was adorable and sweet. I wish it was longer though!Afterbirth by Andrea Cremer: 5 🌟When dawn crept through the window, I had collected a treasure of hidden gems and stowed them in my mind.The trial aspect of this story was so interesting and it's decidedly a witch story but I don't see it as played out or lacking. The Heart in Her Hands by Tess Sharpe: 5 🌟This is the thing about Bette: She will never let anyone control her again. Not even Fate Herself.The basics of this story is this: Heteronormativity? Nope. This one is so creative and has one of my favorite types of tropes in stories: soulmate marks, like, how cool?? This one was strong for me and really, the quotation I chose speaks for how awesome this story is. It's about reclaiming control and power and choice. Plus f/f. Iconic.Death in the Sawtooths by Lindsay Smith: 5++ 🌟A person can tell you anything, but bones—those tell the truth.What can I even say about this story? It includes the Lady of Slumber (death goddess) and a form of necromancy that people fear and ostracize because they fear death. It's so unique and dark and eye-catching. A lot of these stories include magic but aren't submerged into fantasy and this one is truly a fantastical merge of my favorite type of magic. The Truth About Queenie by Brandy Colbert: 4 🌟There's no negative energy in me or in this room. Just hope—and more belief in the power within me than I've ever had.I really liked the idea of this story but the way it ended up being, left much to be desired. I wish there was less relationship drama and more magic, but at the same time it wasn't all bad of a read because I do like me some unrequited love angst.The Moonapple Menagerie by Shveta Thakrar: 3 🌟Pearl in hand, she reached into herself—past, present, and future—and cast the storytelling spell.At first I skipped this one because I couldn't get into it and then I waited until I finished the book to go back to it. It was sweet. A whole witchy ensemble creating a play? Not knowing how to finish a story? Like relatable as hell. It was a cool concept but it didn't fully connect with me. The Legend of Stone Mary by Robin Talley: 4.5 🌟 I forgive them, every one! I never meant to hurt them! Witch and a witch hunter fall in love? Forgiveness to end a curse? F/F??? Sign me the hell up! I really enjoyed this one! I like the way Robin Talley crafts her stories and characters and this one was no different.The One Who Stayed by Nova Ren Suma: 5++ 🌟She didn't realize that all her roaring, living, breathing anger could create so much light.I've been following Nova Ren Suma for a while but this is my first story of hers that I've read and I'm obsessed. This one was heavy and potentially triggering and so so so powerful. Her writing catches my attention and it's amazingly illuminating. A definite read in my book!!!!Divine are the Stars by Zoraida Cordova: 5 🌟"We become what we need," Marimar said, and though the stars were hidden, she knew they were listening.I adore Zoraida's magical writing and her characters. The focus on family was strong for me; how dramatic family can be, how intense they can be, and it was part of the reason why I loved this one. Discovering your power and your strength is another reason why I loved this read. Daughters of Baba Yaga by Brenna Yovanoff: 4 🌟I was born to bury the saints in the yard.This story shows us different ways witches weaponize their magic for revenge, to avenge. It took me a second to get immersed but when I did, I found it was a good story with a good message behind it. The fact is that most of these stories are so well-written, even if they aren't your cup of tea, you can't fault that because this anthology is filled with amazing witchy goodness.The Well Witch by Kate Hart: 5 🌟She brought nothing but the water along behind her.I kind of love this one a lot. It's a slightly Western story that managed to tug at my heartstrings through the intense characterization that Kate Hart blessed me with. Beware of Girls With Crooked Mouths by Jessa Spotswood: 3 🌟We have power that most women can't dream of, darling, but love—that's a luxury Campbell witches can't afford.This story had a good start for me, seeing that this one had a premise of these witch sisters dealing with a curse. Not just any curse, but one that would turn a witch mad enough to murder her other sisters. A lot of magic and double-standards when it comes to the perceptions of others but it kind of fell flat for me at the end. Love Spell by Anna-Marie McLemore: 3 🌟I wondered how many hearts in this town held magic inside them. Knew it. Feared it.The thing with McLemore's writing is that I don't seem mesh well with it, unfortunately. I know, I know. Everyone loves her stories, but I've read one of her novels and it soured me on her a bit. I did enjoy the story: a witch in love with an acolyte of the church. She writes love stories based on her own life so there is beautiful trans rep. But her type of magical realism isn't my style, though thankfully, it wasn't too sugary of a story for me. The Gherin Girls by Emery Lord: 5++ 🌟What a wonder—love that powerful, but so careful to never break anything in its path.This story! Wow! Sisterly love that was reminiscent of the Halliwell sisters (Charmed) and of the Owens sisters (Practical Magic). I love how we not only get each sister's point of view, understanding where each sister was coming from, but we also get to feel their love for each other. It's a very character focused story (my absolute favorite kind) with a story that I want to hug to my chest. Plus there's Gnome, the cat, and well.. add a cat and the story ends up amazing imo.The Only Way Back: This short story will not be in the finished copy so I am not rating this one.Why They Watch Us Burn by Elizabeth May: 5++ 🌟You understand the truth, though, don't you? The most terrifying thing in the world is a girl with power. That's why they watch us burn.This one was a power way to end the anthology! This reflected how women have been viewed all throughout history: as witches, as temptresses. There's not only f/f rep but intense hope and intense power in connection and in standing tall. And I'm super glad they chose to end it in a bang because wow, okay! All the stars for this one! !!! I'm so speechless because of this one that I need a moment to let it fill my crevices and absorb thoroughly. SO. GOOD.
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  • andrea caro
    January 1, 1970
    Yep, I loved this. RTC.
  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    1- Starsong by Tehlor Kay Meja- 5 stars2- Afterbirth by Andrea Cremer- 5 stars3- The Heart in Her hands by Tess Sharpe- 5 stars4- Death in the Sawtooths by Lindsay Smith- 5 stars5- The Truth About Queenie by Brandy Culbert- 1.5 stars6- The Moonapple Menageries by Shveta Thakrav- 2 stars7- The Legend of Stone Mary by Robin Talley- 1.75 stars8- The One Who Stayed by Nova Ren Suma- 4.25 stars9- Divine Are the Stars by Zoraida Cordova- 3 stars10- Daughters of Baba yaga by Brenna Yovanoff- 3.5 stars1 1- Starsong by Tehlor Kay Meja- 5 stars2- Afterbirth by Andrea Cremer- 5 stars3- The Heart in Her hands by Tess Sharpe- 5 stars4- Death in the Sawtooths by Lindsay Smith- 5 stars5- The Truth About Queenie by Brandy Culbert- 1.5 stars6- The Moonapple Menageries by Shveta Thakrav- 2 stars7- The Legend of Stone Mary by Robin Talley- 1.75 stars8- The One Who Stayed by Nova Ren Suma- 4.25 stars9- Divine Are the Stars by Zoraida Cordova- 3 stars10- Daughters of Baba yaga by Brenna Yovanoff- 3.5 stars11- The Well Witch by Kate Hart- 4 stars12- Beware of Girls With Crooked Mouths by Jessica Spotswood- 3.25 stars13- Love Spell by Anna-Marie McLemore- 3.75 stars14- The Gherin Girls by Emery Lord- 5 stars Favorite!15- Why They Watch Us Burn by Elizabeth May- 5 starsAvg 3.8A mixed bag like any anthology but when it's good, it's amazing! Definitely some strong women power! The Gherin Girls hit me the hardest. It's about an abusive relationship. 3 sisters with their own gifts (like prophecy, healing, feeling emotions of others). They each have their part but it's mostly about Rosie who ends up in an abusive relationship and about the cycle of abuse and how they (the abuser) get into your head and make you believe that it's all your fault, that you deserve it. It hit incredibly close to home for me. Thankfully for Rosie she had 2 wonderful sisters by her side. I wish I had had that, even one. But of course it's still hard. Nothing is graphic but it's very emotional and touching, especially if you've been in that situation, or are. Please know, an abuser's abuse is NOT your fault, you do NOT deserve it. And if you see said person abusing an innocent animal, they will abuse you too. Make no mistake about that.I also related to the oldest sister Nova. Who appears to be bisexual and wants it to be known she is queer enough. As a bisexual myself, hell yes.The other sister is a lesbian.This entire anthology has queer and poc rep. It has hard-hitting and wonderful stories. True, I didn't get along with ALL of them, but I did many of them, and the ones I loved more than made up for the few I didn't. Love these strong and witchy women! Youtube | Twitter | Tumblr | Goodreads | Instagram | Letterboxd | TV Time
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  • Lauren Stoolfire
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft is a YA anthology of short stories featuring contemporary, historical, and futuristic stories featuring witchy heroines who are diverse in race, class, sexuality, religion, geography, and era. History tells us women accused of witchcraft were often outsiders: educated, independent, unmarried, unwilling to fall in line with traditional societal expectations - bold, powerful, an I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft is a YA anthology of short stories featuring contemporary, historical, and futuristic stories featuring witchy heroines who are diverse in race, class, sexuality, religion, geography, and era. History tells us women accused of witchcraft were often outsiders: educated, independent, unmarried, unwilling to fall in line with traditional societal expectations - bold, powerful, and rebellious. From good witches to bad witches, to witches who are a bit of both, this is an anthology of diverse witchy tales from a collection of diverse, feminist authors. The collective strength of women working together - magically or mundanely - has long frightened society, to the point that women’s rights are challenged, legislated against, and denied all over the world. This collection delves deep into the truly diverse mythology of witchcraft from many cultures and feminist points of view, to create modern and unique tales of witchery that have yet to be explored.I was so excited when I was approved for this YA short story anthology all about witches. I mean, it's edited by Tess Sharpe and Jessica Spotswood and features stories by them as well as Brandy Colbert, Zoraida Córdova, Andrea Cremer, Kate Hart, Emery Lord, Elizabeth May, Anna-Marie McLemore, Tehlor Kay Mejia, Lindsay Smith, Nova Ren Suma, Robin Talley, Shveta Thakrar, and Brenna Yovanoff. I'm familiar with the work of some of these authors, but others are entirely new to me. Either way, I've had quite a bit of good luck lately with YA short story collections even though they aren't my go-to and I was hoping that would be the case here, too. Unfortunately, I found this to be slightly underwhelming as a whole. The first couple of stories weren't quite my thing, so it took me a bit longer than I was hoping to get into the swing of the anthology. I will say, though, that I particularly enjoyed the following stories: "The Legend of Stone Mary" by Robin Talley, "The One Who Stayed" by Nova Ren Suma, "Divine are the Stars" by Zoraida Corova, "Daughters of Baba Yaga" by Brenna Yovanoff, "The Well Witch" by Kate Hart, and "Why They Watch Us Burn" by Elizabeth May. Of those favorites, May's story is easily the standout of the entire collection. Finally, Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft is a unique YA witchy anthology featuring complex and diverse characters. While I wasn't the biggest fan of every story, there were still some truly great tales in this collection. Some of these stories really gave me a great taste of the author's work and have made me want to try more of their writing, and perhaps wish that some of these stories were expanded into a full novel. If you are interested in bold witches of YA, you may want to give this collection of stories a try.
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  • Robin Bonne
    January 1, 1970
    I was excited starting this witchy anthology. Like with all collections, some of the stories were stronger than others. Four of them particularly stood out to me as being phenomenal: The Heart in her Hands by Tess Sharpe, The Legend of Stone Mary by Robin Talley, The One Who Stayed by Nova Ren Suma, and Why They Watch Us Burn by Elizabeth May. These stories are worth picking up a copy of this book. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free copy of this ebook!
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  • Ashleigh | Wild Heart Reads
    January 1, 1970
    This books has lesbians. Lesbians are good. Ergo this book is good.
  • Aleksandra
    January 1, 1970
    Mathematically counted rating= 3,46 stars She didn't realize that all her roaring, living, breathing anger could create so much light. First of all, I’m appalled by the lack of content warnings here. Quite a few stories address triggering content. Self-pub is so better at this, but this is a story for another time. I am including CWs after each story, where it's necessary.Secondly, I was tired of the "female vigilante against awful men" tune. Don't get me wrong, I love myself a good revenge stor Mathematically counted rating= 3,46 stars She didn't realize that all her roaring, living, breathing anger could create so much light. First of all, I’m appalled by the lack of content warnings here. Quite a few stories address triggering content. Self-pub is so better at this, but this is a story for another time. I am including CWs after each story, where it's necessary.Secondly, I was tired of the "female vigilante against awful men" tune. Don't get me wrong, I love myself a good revenge story of terrible men, I love stories about women reclaiming their agency. What I didn't expect that apparently "Tales of Women and Witchcraft" revolves around reaction to terrible man. I wanted variety in themes. I kept comparing Toil & Trouble to All Out and A Thousand Beginnings and Endings anthologies I read earlier this year, they did get what it takes to make a varied, diverse, captivating anthology.I did appreciate the diverse set of writers and the stories they have told in terms of sexuality and race. Unfortunately no non-binary/trans experiences or any non-US-centered experiences (fantastical setting nonwithstanding).Total 15 stories: 5 stories are written by women of color (as far I know), 6 stories feature sapphic characters.Despite the various disappointments, the anthology has started out strongly and thus I have mostly positive impression of it, even thought things went downhill somewhere in the middle.My favorite stories in the anthology:• Afterbirth by Andrea Cremer• Death in the Sawtooths by Lindsay Smith• Love Spell by Anna-Marie McLemoreMini-reviews of each story:Starsong by Tehlor Kay Mejia 4 starsBeautifully written story about young bruja Luna Mendoza, her starsong, her Instagram account and her meeting a girls with freckles. Sapphic witch is a good way to start an anthology.CW: mentioned death of a relative; hospitalization from alcohol and drug useAfterbirth by Andrea Cremer4 starsStory about midwife apprentice in New England, mid 17th century. About birth, afterbirth, trial for witchery and the reality of not believing a woman’s word when she doesn't’t uphold the patriarchy.The Heart in Her Hands by Tess Sharpe4 starsI dislike Soulmate AU in fanfiction but Tess Sharpe’s take on this trope is great. A big middle finger to fate itself and choosing the one you love. Also sapphic witches and fighting against the old way of doing things. I like this story a lot!Death in the Sawtooths by Lindsay Smith4 stars!Wow! I’m impressed how the author created layered and captivating worldbuildung in a just a short form. I liked this story about witch of Lady Death and a bit of mystery solving. Well written and engaging. I wouldn't’t mind reading a novel big story in this world.The Truth About Queenie by Brandy Colbert3 starsI didn’t really care about the story. I liked that it has all black cast, featuring the main character sixteen year old Queenie. The witchy part is lowkey, it mostly reads as a contemporary. There is a scene which can be considered cheating, even though it was a “spur of a moment” deal. CW: cheatingThe Moonapple Menagerie by Shveta Thakrar3 starsIt was alright but I didn’t care much about what was happening. I believe it's East-Asian inspired story.The Legend of Stone Mary by Robin Talley3.5 starsIt had some cool ideas but the message was so simplistic and the narration was jumbled. The story was about teen girl in 1975, living in small town in the South (USA), she comes from the family rumored as witches. The girl is sapphic.CW: abuse in the pastThe One Who Stayed by Nova Ren Suma4 starsWhimsical in writing, devastating and relevant in plot. I was taken a back by the seriousness of the story. It’s an evident shift in tone from previous stories.CW: rape (incl. mention of rape of a child)Divine Are The Stars by Zoraida Córdova3.5 starsMagical realism story set in Colorado. I liked the story well enough but I can’t say I cared all that much. It has feminists themes and whimsy.Daughters of Baba Yaga by Brenna Yovanoff3 starsThe story was trying to be woke and deep but it all felt very surface level. However I do appreciate angry ruthless girls and I like that the main character comes from family of immigrants from Soviet Union.The Well Witch by Kate Hart2.5 stars Set in late 19th century in Texas, a woman is living alone in the middle of the desert until three men arrive. The story isn’t bad but like with previous ones I just didn’t care. I’ve read quite a few story about witches besting terrible men. So nothing’s new about this one.CW: unlawful imprisonmentBeware of Girls With Crooked Mouths by Jessica Spotswood3 starsFairly interesting story about family of witches who is always fated to have just one girl survive in each generation. Until one girl tries to defy the rules, things do not go according to plan. I didn’t really care though.Love Spell by Anna-Marie McLemore4 starsBeautiful lyrical story about a bruja and an acolyte of the church. It’s full of heart and sorrow and hope. McLemore’s magical realism stories never fail to hit me hard. I love them.The Gherin Girls by Emery Lord3.5 starsImportant story about significance of bond between sisters. However, I’m disappointed by the lack of trigger warning for any of this stories. This one in particular. The depiction of abusive relationship is graphic and disturbing. I appreciate the message of the story and slight witchy themes, I’m upset there weren’t any indication of triggering content going into it.The story features a bi sister, a sapphic sister and a straight sister.Also why one of the character is called Nova and Novy interchangeably? Is it a common knowledge? I was so confused before I got that it’s one person.CW: abusive relationship in the past, recovery from abusive relationship, mention of gaslightening and manipulation.Why They Watch Us Burn by Elizabeth May3 stars“Destroying a girl is one of the easiest things in the word. It’s such a simple for if denial, and it goes like this: bad things happen to those other girls. Other girls. Not this girl. Not me. I’m different. You are only different until the day you’re not.”Important story in recent media attention of constant sexual assault and abuse of power in different industries. However, while the story is poetically beautifully written, it doesn’t offer anything different from the previous stories. It’s the same story but with grimmer, darker dystopian-sequel Handmaid's Tale themes. I want to make it clear that the story could be easily a five star read, I wholeheartedly agree with the message and I appreciate how the author did it, but it’s the last story in the anthology and I’m judging it as part of anthology and I’m tired.It has sapphic rep and f/f relationship between two captive women.CW: assault, rape, persecution of innocent, death by fireDo I recommend reading it? I honestly do not know. I am just relieved it is over.
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  • Cori Reed
    January 1, 1970
    Brandy Colbert's story was definitely my favourite, and there were a few other gems, but overall just okay.
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