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, Young Adult, Anthologies, Fantasy, 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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  • Elise (TheBookishActress)
    January 1, 1970
    holy shit, that cover. also: MAKE 👏 THE WITCHES 👏 GAY 👏
  • 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.
  • 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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  • Sonja ✧ Badass Wanderer ✧
    January 1, 1970
    gay witches?? fuck yes.
  • yeva 🐢
    January 1, 1970
    IT'S CONFIRMED, WE HAVE GAY WITCHES oh m ygod, i can die happy now
  • destiny ☠ howling libraries
    January 1, 1970
    If this book isn’t gay I’m gonna be so disappointed
  • ⚔ Silvia ⚓
    January 1, 1970
    The only thing I need in this and any other timeline is gay witches
  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • TheYALibrarian
    January 1, 1970
    Please please let me have an ARC for this NetGalley!!!! I don't think I have ever wanted a book this bad I need it and I need it now I can't wait until August!!!Update 2/21/18HOLY FUCK THEY APPROVED IT!!!! I'm going out of my mind I can't handle this excitement. I need work to end so I can get home and start reading AAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!
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  • Lea (drumsofautumn)
    January 1, 1970
    Update Nov 13th: YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS Nov 8th: THERE BETTER BE FEMALE WITCHES IN LOVE IN THIS ONE
  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by Harlequin Teen in exchange for an honest review
  • kat
    January 1, 1970
    i heard gay witches??? yES pleASe👏🏼
  • Holly
    January 1, 1970
    *eARC kindly provided by Harlequin TEEN via NetGalley*Starsong by Tehlor Kay Mejia was really good! Enchanting writing, pulling me in from the start, with a latina who's trying to find herself and her magic, who just wants to move on from the past and do better for herself, and a barely-there cute exchange with another girl. I gladly would have read more of it, so this makes me even more excited for Tehlor's debut next year! This anthology is off to a strong start. (4 stars)Afterbirth by Andrea *eARC kindly provided by Harlequin TEEN via NetGalley*Starsong by Tehlor Kay Mejia was really good! Enchanting writing, pulling me in from the start, with a latina who's trying to find herself and her magic, who just wants to move on from the past and do better for herself, and a barely-there cute exchange with another girl. I gladly would have read more of it, so this makes me even more excited for Tehlor's debut next year! This anthology is off to a strong start. (4 stars)Afterbirth by Andrea Cremer was about a witch trial in 1650, told by a combination of storytelling from the young midwife apprentice, Deliverance, and testimony and interviews that result in the death of an innocent. A complicated birth questions everything, and throws the people into chaos, and it's a stark reminder of the way that women were accused of witchcraft and persecuted. But I really liked that ending! (3.5 stars)The Heart in Her Hands by Tess Sharpe: "I didn't have a choice before. Now, I do." I LOVED this one. It's about girls who spur fate, who take matters into their own hands, to fight for a love worth turning their backs on their teachings and community. But through that, they find so much MORE, and they are strong enough to handle whatever comes their way. I especially loved the way that Bette takes back her choice in the beginning, by burning bonds that would try to sever a power that is hers. So great! (4.5 stars)Death in the Sawtooths by Lindsay Smith was more fantastical than the previous stories, which I really enjoyed. It's hard to get that in such a short amount of pages, but it felt effortless, and not that hard to follow. And I so liked the bit of darkness to it, the way that the MC, Mattie, could sympathize and understand the "villain" but who chose a different path, a better one, even if a lonely one. (4 stars)The Truth About Queenie by Brandy Colbert was a lot less focused on the witchy aspect, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I was kind of bored, to tell you the truth. I wasn't hooked on this story. I just wanted it to end so I could start the next one. I'm sad because I loved Brandy's Little & Lion but this one did not work for me. I liked that ending, but that was about it. (2 stars)The Moonapple Menagerie by Shveta Thakrar: "Next summer's just a year away. I've got another play to write." I loved this one so much!! It was dazzling, beautiful, full of magic and sisterhood and even the trial and error of what it means to be a writer. Shalini had to trust in herself, and in her coven, to tell the story right, and she almost didn't. But she had to remember that she had worth, and a powerful friendship at her side, and that theater is a place to lay it all on the line. (4.5 stars)The Legend of Stone Mary by Robin Talley was a little disappointing because it went in a direction I didn't care as much for, than the one I was hoping it would be. But I still really liked this story. I've a particular fondness for curses, and I thought the way that this one was wrapped up in Wendy's present was interesting. (3 stars)The One Who Stayed by Nova Ren Suma was told by a collective of girls; girls who had been wronged, who had been broken. Girls who wanted something they shouldn't: revenge and justice and a safe place to let their anger breathe fire. Girls who protected each other, and those who couldn't protect themselves. This was my first foray into Nova Ren Suma's writing, and I loved it. SUCH a good short story! (4 stars)Divine Are the Stars by Zoraida Cordova was, at its core, about family. Even when family doesn't always mean love and joy, but anger and hate too. It's complicated, and I liked how that was shown here. But I adored the relationship between Marimar and her cousin, Chuy. This seemed much shorter than the previous stories, though, so I didn't feel as pulled in. It had seemed so abrupt, the way that it ended. But I enjoyed it all the same! (3-3.5 stars)Daughters of Baba Yaga by Brenna Yovanoff: I was born to bury saints in the yard. I reaaaally liked this one! I wasn't always a fan of the MC's voice, or the way it was written. But it wasn't hard to like the butcher girl and her new friend, witches who just wanted to exact revenge on those who deserved it, who wanted to make the bullies and the assholes feel as small as they make others feel. IT'S MY FAVORITE THING. (3.5 stars)The Well Witch by Kate Hart was a lot lighter on the witchery than I expected, and wanted. It was set in 1875, about a girl living alone while her father's off trading, sparing kindness for strangers who turn on her by the end. It was a bittersweet story, one that focused more on the historical fiction than the paranormal, which saddened me, but I definitely still liked it. It just wasn't as great as I'd hoped. (3 stars)Beware of Girls with Crooked Mouths by Jessica Spotswood: "You cannot survive together. But it's not so easy surviving apart, either." The Campbell curse is AWFUL, and I hate it, and I just wanted the three sisters to be able to have everything they wanted without losing how dear they are to each other. I honestly want a full book of the prophecy Jo had seen, of a new Campbell generation fighting to break the spell, and Jo and her sisters reunited and happy together. I want MORE, damn it! (4 stars)Love Spell by Anna-Marie McLemore: "If you let fear be your voice, you will never have sure hands." This was one of the stories I had been waiting for, and it did not disappoint me. I will say this every single time I read an Anna-Marie book; her writing is gorgeous, and I settle into the story, sinking into the words and staying there until I'm finished. I loved the MC, Adrian, and their romance. It was soft and sweet, and I'm so glad they found their way to each other. And I adored her relationship with her tia. SO GOOD. (4.5 stars)The Gherin Girls by Emery Lord: In a way, you're related to many women who have suffered for misunderstanding and fear. Gah, I LOVED this one. It's a bit quieter on the witchery, on the gifts that Willa, Nova, and Rosie have. But through everything that happens, the thread of love and protectiveness and warmth that binds them together is a magic all its own. This had the trademark Emery Lord goodness, full of family and strength and feminism, and I loved that it was told in 3 POVs, that we got each of their thoughts and feelings. I could see myself in each of them, these girls who breathe fire and love fiercely. (4.5 stars)Why They Watch Us Burn by Elizabeth May: Destroying a girl is one of the easiest things in the world. And: The most terrifying thing in the world is a girl with power. This was an anthem, a war cry. A story to invoke anger at injustice and rape and the pain from those who choose to speak the truth even when it costs them. That ending was bittersweet, but still full of fire and magic. I loved it. (4.5 stars)Overall, I freaking loved this anthology, as I was sure I would. Not only did it have so many of my favorite authors in it, but it was about witchcraft and the way that women are magic and fire and life. This was one of my highly anticipated books of 2018, and it did NOT disappoint. SO, SO FANTASTIC.Overall Rating: 4 Paw Prints!
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  • Brandy Klocko
    January 1, 1970
    Never thought I would reach for an anthology because they typically irritate me, but this one I did enjoy. I felt like a lot of the stories didn't need a continuation or a full book for the reader to know and feel content that the story ended how it should have. Usually when I read anthologies I hate them because I want to know how each of them started and ended. But, I was quite satisfied with how each of these began and ended. Love me some witchcraft and mystery, add a splash of feminist chara Never thought I would reach for an anthology because they typically irritate me, but this one I did enjoy. I felt like a lot of the stories didn't need a continuation or a full book for the reader to know and feel content that the story ended how it should have. Usually when I read anthologies I hate them because I want to know how each of them started and ended. But, I was quite satisfied with how each of these began and ended. Love me some witchcraft and mystery, add a splash of feminist character leads and I'm a happy soul.
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  • Melissa Robles
    January 1, 1970
    This is a great anthology full of witchy goodness! I liked some stories better than others, but overall, the authors did a great job by mixing witchcraft, magic and a little bit of mayhem in every one of them. My favorite stories were: Death in the Sawtooth by Lindsay Smith, The Moonapple Menagerie by Shveta Thakrar, The Heart in Her Hands by Tess Sharpe, Beware of Girls with Crooked Mouths by Jessica Spotswood, and Why They Watch Us Burn by Elizabeth May.*Full review to come soon*
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  • Emily (emilykatereads)
    January 1, 1970
    (20/04/2018) This collection was good. I could break down my opinions on each story in this anthology, as I took notes on my thoughts throughout, but quite frankly, I don't have much to say about a decent number of them. So instead of boring you with my lack of thoughts on some stories, I'll just sum up my opinion of the collection as a whole.Some stories in here were absolutely incredible and I would love to have been able to read more. While some on the other hand, I really never connected wit (20/04/2018) This collection was good. I could break down my opinions on each story in this anthology, as I took notes on my thoughts throughout, but quite frankly, I don't have much to say about a decent number of them. So instead of boring you with my lack of thoughts on some stories, I'll just sum up my opinion of the collection as a whole.Some stories in here were absolutely incredible and I would love to have been able to read more. While some on the other hand, I really never connected with and just kept reading for the sake of moving to the next story. I ended up putting this down for now and didn't get to the last few stories just yet, since about 3/4, a lot just blended together and it felt more like a chore. I'm sure I'll go back and read the last ones, as I see other reviews praising the ending of this anthology; however, I feel I'll get more out of them if I give it a break before going back.On the plus side, this book nails it for diversity. There are so many #ownvoices writers in here, and different stories cover so many different lives. Plus yes I was super excited for the f/f witches in this anthology, and they didn't disappoint. Stand-out stories: The Heart in Her Hands, The Truth About Queenie, The Legend of Stone Mary, The One Who Stayed, and The Daughters of Baba Yaga.(17/02/18)I just got an arc of this!! I'm so excited that I no longer have to wait until August for some gay witches !!!
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  • Bran Pendergrass
    January 1, 1970
    I worship a good anthology and witch novels… So how could resist requesting to read this ARC early?!? I literally squealed with delight when I was pretty much instantly approved, and I had to go brag to all those in my immediate literary world! I got it! I got it! Then I have spent every chance I get to reread the stories! I have already pre-ordered this book! It will be a great addition to my ever-growing library!Of the 15 stories within this anthology, I am utterly, completely attached to thre I worship a good anthology and witch novels… So how could resist requesting to read this ARC early?!? I literally squealed with delight when I was pretty much instantly approved, and I had to go brag to all those in my immediate literary world! I got it! I got it! Then I have spent every chance I get to reread the stories! I have already pre-ordered this book! It will be a great addition to my ever-growing library!Of the 15 stories within this anthology, I am utterly, completely attached to three of them. I have read these three stories multiple times and they might be the best short stories that I have ever read. I will not do spoilers because I want everyone to love these stories and be touched by them like I was! ~ Why They Watch Us Burn by Elizabeth May had me so far up in my emotions that the inevitable fall was three times as hard! Thanks for making me ugly cry and for putting this story at the end because it really drives home the magic of feminism that is this anthology!  ~Love Spell by Anna-Marie McLemore is a fantastic little Latinx short about a Bruja girl who went to live her tia because they are both exceptionally gifted at curing heartbreak. There is also a transgender boy in the story who has devoted his entire life to God and the Catholic Church. Now that statement right there is enough to give you pause because we all know how Catholics are all fire and brimstone. The story is so beautifully written and relevant! The story touches on prejudices, family, and learning to be exactly who you are meant to be! I have to say that I absolutely love this huge insurgence of books with wide varieties of diversity. The world is a very diverse place and literature worlds should be too!~ The One Who Stayed by Nova Ren Suma***I just want to say, this one might have some triggers that could leave a bad taste in your mouth. The story deals with molestation, and detrimental sexual assaults. If any of these things cause you to take note, then you might want to skip. ***I’m a huge fan of witch movies with cult followings. This story reminded me so much of a modern-day retelling of one such movie, that it quickly soared to the top of my list. I’ll just say initiation is a bench and so are these ladies!I will totally recommend this book to everyone and sing its praises from the top of roofs or whatever is required to get other women to read this book! The stories are so empowering and the messages within are so femininely fantastic!I do have to say it is a shame that going forward there will only be 14 stories instead of the 15 that I got to read! I do support the publisher for revoking the one story from being printed because of the sexual allegations against the author. You cannot have a book that empowers women of all shapes, races, and sexual orientations and have this huge cloud of controversy throwing shade on the other 14 brilliant short stories! Thank you for being aware and putting the book 1st!THANK YOU HARLEQUIN TEEN AND NETGALLEY! I am very honored to be able to read and review this book of anthologies before it has been published in exchange for an honest review! The views and expressions within are my own and were not influenced by previously mentioned parties.
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  • Taylor Wilson
    January 1, 1970
    This is yet again another brilliant anthology about women. This time including witches. This book presents witches which were often women that were educated, unmarried, or didn't follow traditional expectations put in place by society. This book denies that if you're not following societal norms you're doing something wrong as a woman, which is true. Society expects women to be these perfect housewives when most women can do more than most men. Women have the right to worship, love, and do whate This is yet again another brilliant anthology about women. This time including witches. This book presents witches which were often women that were educated, unmarried, or didn't follow traditional expectations put in place by society. This book denies that if you're not following societal norms you're doing something wrong as a woman, which is true. Society expects women to be these perfect housewives when most women can do more than most men. Women have the right to worship, love, and do whatever they choose. Once again a wonderful anthology about women has been written and I hope it continues because women need to see that they are amazing. I truly enjoyed reading this.
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  • Office
    January 1, 1970
    This collection overall was pleasant to read. It definitely gave me some ideas on how to approach magic differently in my own writings. Some of the stories were a bit boring, and a few alluded to some disturbing themes related to the dark side of humanity, which while somewhat interesting, were definitely not what I was expecting in this collection. But I suppose they are needed to add a balance to the good and bad sides of life and people. Overall, would recommend this book if someone wants som This collection overall was pleasant to read. It definitely gave me some ideas on how to approach magic differently in my own writings. Some of the stories were a bit boring, and a few alluded to some disturbing themes related to the dark side of humanity, which while somewhat interesting, were definitely not what I was expecting in this collection. But I suppose they are needed to add a balance to the good and bad sides of life and people. Overall, would recommend this book if someone wants some witches and magic reading in their life.
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  • Vicky Who Reads
    January 1, 1970
    Question: Since Tristina Wright was removed from the anthology (after claims of her sexually harassing others), does this mean it's going to be "15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft" or...Some info here
  • Skye ~ A Court of Binge Reading
    January 1, 1970
    **Thank you to Harlequin Teen for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review** I hadn’t read an anthology in a while so when I saw this one up on NetGalley I knew I had to try to get an ARC. If you couldn’t tell by my Goodreads I adore anything supernatural, paranormal, or fantasy related. Witches are right up my alley. This anthology has 15 short stories so I will give brief review along with a rating for each story!1. Starsong by Tehlor Kay Mejia *4 stars * This was the best story **Thank you to Harlequin Teen for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review** I hadn’t read an anthology in a while so when I saw this one up on NetGalley I knew I had to try to get an ARC. If you couldn’t tell by my Goodreads I adore anything supernatural, paranormal, or fantasy related. Witches are right up my alley. This anthology has 15 short stories so I will give brief review along with a rating for each story!1. Starsong by Tehlor Kay Mejia *4 stars * This was the best story to start off this anthology. It’s so sweet. This short story follows a Latinx (own voices) sixteen-year old named Luna who is obsessed with makeup, fashion, and reading charts and horoscopes for people. She has a huge social media presence which allows her to show people things they aren’t able to see (such as their true horoscopes) since she is an actual bruja (a witch). Meanwhile, Luna is also trying to gain back her mother’s trust after making some poor life choices a year ago. (Trigger warning for substance and alcohol abuse). As a result of all of this Luna feels rather lonely. All she seems to do now is hang out in her room reading horoscopes for her clients online and posting new photos on her social media. However, this all changes one night when a cute girl messages her on her social media. The two girls begin to banter and argue about whether astrology is an actual science, while Luna wonders if the girl is flirting with her. I adored this story. It’s such a sweet and relatable story. 2. Afterbirth by Andrea Cremer *2.5 stars* This story is a classic witch trial story set in New England in the 1600’s. The story begins with a difficult childbirth scene (trigger warning for complications during childbirth) that results in the midwife being accused of witchcraft. This story consists of a traditional witch trial (meaning the woman has absolutely 0 chance of winning) and some mysterious spell books which means you’re in for a creepy, spooky, fun ride. 3. The Heart in Her Hands by Tess Sharpe *3.5 stars* This story is full of generational witches, tea lovers, kitchen and garden witches, and angry deities-- so basically everything you could ever ask for in a witch anthology. The main theme of this story is soulmates. It explores the idea of soulmates being predetermined and following your heart. I loved this story so much. It’s just a heartwarmingly beautiful story. 4. Death in the Sawtooths by Lindsay Smith *4 stars * This story follows Mattie who is in service to Lady Xosia who is also known as the Lady of Slumber aka Death. Naturally, the town carries extreme prejudices against Mattie because her patron is Death. The main theme of this story is of being stereotyped and judged for the actions of others rather than on your own actions. P.S. There’s also a cool witch and wizard hierarchy in this story which is really fun and intriguing. 5. The Truth About Queenie by Brandy Colbert *5 stars* This story is perfect. I actually forgot that I was reading a short story in an anthology. I need more. This story has such a diverse cast of characters; I believe the whole cast is African American. Queenie, our main character, is a witch but she is denying her powers because she believes that when she was young her powers accidentally hurt a friend. While that may be the premise of this story, the story contains so much more. It’s a beautiful story about accepting and believing in who you are, making your own choices, and letting yourself and your own actions define you. This was by far my favorite story in this anthology. The themes, the writing, the characters are all crafted perfectly. 6. The Moonapple Menagerie by Shveta Thakrar *2 stars* This story was entertaining, but I just didn’t fall in love with it. It’s a cool story about teenage shapeshifters that are putting on a play. Shalini, our main character, asks a churel (demon) to help her create the perfect ending for the play, but as per usual the demon is not willing to do this for free. Demons aside this core of this story is about friendship...and not making deals with demons--just don’t do that. 7. The Legend of Stone Mary by Robin Talley *3 stars* I’m not quite sure why, but I just could not connect with this story. The writing was great; Talley created a spooky atmosphere that we all expect when witches are mentioned. Wendy, our main character, has always been warned away from the woods (naturally) where a statue of her great great great great (i’m not sure how many greats, honestly) grandmother’s statue remains. The statue is meant to remind the town of a witch who was killed in the town which leads us to the central theme of this story: to always remember the past and in turn not repeat history. 8. The One Who Stayed by Nova Ren Suma *5 stars* Wow. Just wow. I was on the edge of my seat with my heart slowly breaking into a million little pieces. This story was so powerful. The heart of this story is feminist and empowering. It’s about women coming together to support each other during their darkest times. (Trigger warning: sexual assault and rape.)9. Divine are the Stars by Zoraida Cordova *4 stars* First off, I love Zoraida Cordova. I couldn’t wait to read her story in this anthology and she did not disappoint. This story is full of magical realism and Cordova’s beautiful prose. At its core, this story is about what all families go through behind closed doors; the messy parts that we don’t like to advertise to the public. In typical Cordova fashion, she weaves a beautiful tale centered upon family. 10. Daughters of Baba Yaya by Brenna Yovanoff *3.5 stars* My first thought while reading this story was of The Craft. If you are a fan of The Craft then this story is made for you. This story is essentially about 3 girls who want things to change. They are tired of sitting back and letting bad things happen instead they want to punish those who have hurt them. These girls find their power and agency in this story and it’s AMAZING. 11. The Well Witch by Kate Hart *2 stars* This story is centered around a girl living all alone in the rugged outback of Texas in 1875. Her mom is dead, and her father left three years ago and has yet to return. Then, three men show up seeking shelter. I was enthralled with the first half of this story but the second half was a let-down. I didn’t like the ending. 12. Beware of Girls with Crooked Mouths by Jessica Spotswood *5 stars* This definitely has Three Dark Crowns vibes. This story is about three sisters who are aware that one of them will go crazy and murder the other two. How do we know this? It’s a family curse/prophecy. Beware of Girls with Crooked Mouths could honestly be a full-blown novel, actually can Jessica Spotswood make that happen? I would LOVE to read it. 13. Love Spell by Anna-Marie McLemore *4.5 stars* Lovespell is about a bruja who is living with her aunt so that she can learn her craft as they both share the magic of curing other people’s heartbreak. This story is ownvoices Latinx fiction about a girl who is struggling to hold on to her faith and first-love because she knows he can never truly be hers. Full of heartbreak and hope, this story is a must-read. 14. The Gherin Girls by Emery Lord *5 stars* I adored this tale of sisterhood and the unconditional love shared between sisters. At its heart, this story is about abuse. Emery Lord captures the cycle of abuse perfectly. She shows how it’s not always easy to realize you are in an abusive relationship and how your abuser will always want to put the blame on you rather than on themselves. This story is heart-wrenching but so incredibly realistic. N/A The Only Way Back by Tristina Wright *N/A* I’m skipping this story because it will not be in the finished version after sexual assault allegations were brought against the author. 15. Why They Watch Us Burn by Elizabeth May *5 stars* THIS STORY WAS THE PERFECT ENDING TO THIS ANTHOLOGY. I cried. This story made me feel every single emotion possible. (Trigger warning: rape/sexual assault though it’s only implied rather than described.) This story is about Night and 12 other women who are taken into the woods to repent. It’s haunting and heartbreaking how accurate this story is in regards for how survivors of sexual assault and rape are treated in society. At its core, this story is about finding your voice and reclaiming your true identity. It’s about sisterhood and supporting one another through the most treacherous times in life. It’s about love. Overall, I enjoyed this anthology. It's full of meaningful stories that are incredibly relevant to our current society. I also think it's important to mention that you don't need to be a fan of witchcraft to enjoy this collection of stories. Bookstagram | Twitter
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  • Molly Likovich
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed this book!* I was sent this book for free by the publisher in return for my honest review, all opinions on the book are my own *SPOILER FREE:"Toil & Trouble" is 16 short stories about female witches, varying in time-period, culture, sexual orientation, type of spell work, as well as how high the level of "fantasy" element was.Disclosure for my review: I identify as a witch so I think my take on the stories will be somewhat different from those who don't identify as witches, I really enjoyed this book!* I was sent this book for free by the publisher in return for my honest review, all opinions on the book are my own *SPOILER FREE:"Toil & Trouble" is 16 short stories about female witches, varying in time-period, culture, sexual orientation, type of spell work, as well as how high the level of "fantasy" element was.Disclosure for my review: I identify as a witch so I think my take on the stories will be somewhat different from those who don't identify as witches, and those who don't believe in witches. I will say, if you don't believe in witches, I think a lot of these stories are going to let you down, since most of them are based in the reality of what witchcraft is, vs. the more flashy, high fantasy "Harry Potter" style side.My favorite stories in this were, "Starsong", "Afterbirth", "The Heart in Her Hands", "Granddaughters of Baba Yaga", "Lovespell", and "Why They Like To Watch Us Burn" these stories were set firmly in the real world, some of them with SLIGHT fantasy elements but for the most part, all real witch.Some problems I had with the book were:waaayyyyy too long, there was no need for 16 stories, it felt too clunky and incoherent a lot of the time. The order of the stories also felt weird and off-kiltered. There wasn't a good flow from one story to the next. Some stories were way too long and dull and witchcraft was treated like a backseat element to the story when it really should've been a more primary feature.In one story there are comments made by a certain character stating that "that magic doesn't belong to us" when another character suggests they try and study some other magic to find the spell they need, and I find this very problematic to the eclectic witch community of which I am a part of who like to learn about all different culturesAnd lastly, it was very obvious some of the authors in this anthology do not believe in witches and it showed in their writing and I think that hurt the overall tone of this anthology.What I loved about the book:Most of the women introduced were strong and unique.We got to see different cultures' take on witchcraft as well as weaving different sexual orientations into the craft along with sex itself, and relationships in general.It showed witches still practicing other religions which I thought was a really fascinating takeAnd the authors who clearly do believe in witchcraft had stories that shined through.I recommend this book if you do believe in witches and want a taste of good, gritty and honest witch-fiction.*I will have a more in-depth review coming to my YouTube channel (http://YouTube.com/MagiKwand99) closer to release date.
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  • Amber
    January 1, 1970
    **This book was provided to me free by Netgalley. Thank you so much for letting me read and review this.**If you average the ratings of the short stories I finished you get 2.73 stars, so I rounded up to three stars."Starsong:" 3/5 stars. Started off boring, ended just when it got interesting. Typos in the pdf sent to me."Afterbirth:" 4/5 I enjoyed this one a lot! Much better than the first, and more of want I expected out of this book."The Heart in Her Hands:" 3.5/5 StarsI loved Bettina and Aug **This book was provided to me free by Netgalley. Thank you so much for letting me read and review this.**If you average the ratings of the short stories I finished you get 2.73 stars, so I rounded up to three stars."Starsong:" 3/5 stars. Started off boring, ended just when it got interesting. Typos in the pdf sent to me."Afterbirth:" 4/5 I enjoyed this one a lot! Much better than the first, and more of want I expected out of this book."The Heart in Her Hands:" 3.5/5 StarsI loved Bettina and Auggie, their story was underwhelming and a tad confusing, but still cute nonetheless."Death in the sawthooths:" 3.5/5 Stars"The Truth About Queenie:" 5/5 StarsI absolutely loved the all black characters, and the story of this one. "The Moonapple Menagerie:" 1/5 stars"The Legend of Stone Mary:" 5/5 Stars This was another home run for me. This story would have been amazing as a fully fleshed out standalone."The One Who Stayed:" 3.5/5 StarsTrigger warning for gang rape with no details, but you pretty much get the idea."Divine are the stars:" 1/5 stars.I don't know if I'm just not intelligent enough for most of these stories, but I stayed lost on 90% of them, and this was one of them."Daughters of Baba Yaga:" 1/5 starsBOR-ing. Petty revenge tale. "The Well Witch:" 1/5 starsOne of the least interesting for me and it dragged on longer than it should have when other stories deserved more detail. Every other short story in this (3 more) were DNF's I couldn't do it. I just couldn't muster up what was needed to finish this book. And I've only ever DNFed one other book in my life. So thats saying something. I was really looking forward to this book, but sadly it was a flop for me. Edit: I realized the was kind of a short review and it didn’t say much.Part of why the book was a flop for me is that the stories that were good, were way too short; and the stories that were bad were way too long. This is a book about witchcraft and some stories had zero witchcraft, and others had subtle blink-and-you-miss-it witchcraft.I did absolutely love the w|w representation, as well as the stories featuring an entire cast of POC characters. However, with its flowery writing, and overly complicated story structure for short stories, this book was a colossal overall failure for me. I struggled my way through the entire 70+% that I managed to make myself read. The few stories inside that were good are not worth picking this book up IMO.
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  • Christina (Ensconced in Lit)
    January 1, 1970
    I was very excited about this anthology because... witches, right?I think some of this is personal taste but I didn't enjoy most of the stories. The two stories worth reading are Beware of the Girls with Crooked Mouths by the amazing Jessica Spotswood, and Why The Watch Us Burn by Elizabeth May. I really liked the Spotswood story but even that story, intriguing and gripping as it was, felt more like a first chapter in a book I want to read rather than a short story. The second is an excellent sh I was very excited about this anthology because... witches, right?I think some of this is personal taste but I didn't enjoy most of the stories. The two stories worth reading are Beware of the Girls with Crooked Mouths by the amazing Jessica Spotswood, and Why The Watch Us Burn by Elizabeth May. I really liked the Spotswood story but even that story, intriguing and gripping as it was, felt more like a first chapter in a book I want to read rather than a short story. The second is an excellent short story.The rest, I feel, I could have done without.
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  • Ninoshka
    January 1, 1970
    *This book was provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*When I first saw the cover of this, I knew that I had to get my hands on it. It’s just so pretty and the fact that its about women and witchcraft? I was completely sold. Now I wasn’t completely sure what I was going to expect with this anthology having only read some of the authors before, but I couldn’t wait to read this. In a matter of just a couple days I was already almost halfways through the book and I had no inten *This book was provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*When I first saw the cover of this, I knew that I had to get my hands on it. It’s just so pretty and the fact that its about women and witchcraft? I was completely sold. Now I wasn’t completely sure what I was going to expect with this anthology having only read some of the authors before, but I couldn’t wait to read this. In a matter of just a couple days I was already almost halfways through the book and I had no intentions of stopping or taking a breather. Almost all of these stories completely took my break away and I was so happy to have been able to read these.With the first story ‘Starstrong’, I thought it was really perfect for it to be the introduction to this wonderful set of tales. It started off by giving us as readers and idea of how these stories were going to go, or at least that’s what I thought. I had assumed that they would all take place in our present time and be influenced by the things that were happening around us. I was completely wrong and I couldn’t be happier with that fact. Tehlor Kay Mejia did such an amazing job with how she described the way the world seemed to speak and at the same time start telling the beginning of a possible love story (through a computer chat of all things) and it doesn’t pull you out of the story. Usually I’m not a big fan, but it went so well with how the author set up this world, that I didn’t even notice.With ‘Afterbirth’, I already knew that I had been wrong to assume that this would take place in the present time, because in this story we’re thrown hundreds of years in the past when people were being accused of witchcraft. Cremer did such an amazing job telling such in intricate story with only one setting really and only a couple main characters, but I could feel the injustice of what was happening in my chest (so what if the woman really was a witch?) ‘The Heart in Her Hands’ was also a really good story and Sharpe did an amazing job with it, I think by this third story I knew that I was going to love this book and all the little treasures found inside of it. Once I got to ‘Death in the Sawtooths’ I was done. I didn’t want to say this one was my favorite so early on in the game without having read all the others, but I knew it was. Necromancers? I mean, of course it was going to be my favorite. Any time sometype of ‘death’ magic is involved, I’m already head over heels in love.“The Truth about Queenie’ was both heartbreaking and inspiring. I had been rooting for those two friends to finally admit they liked each other, but then this normal everyday thing happened and I couldn’t find a fault in it, because things like that happened all the time. Yet, Queenie grew from the experience and she reacted in a way a best friend truely does react and I loved her for it. With ‘The Moonapple Menagerie’ I wasn’t 100% sure what was going on. Although it was probably one of the most fantastical of pieces with what truly felt like storybook magic happening on the pages, I just couldn’t love it as much as I loved the others at that point.When I got to ‘The Legend of Stone Mary’ it was the young adult fiction I had been waiting for. While the others did have young adult characters, it didn’t read as the typical for the genre. I had almost forgotten that this might be books aimed for young adults. In this story, we have the witch who cursed the town. Her ancestors who are now living there and no one really talks about anymore. Then the girl that our main character likes who happened to be a witch hunter. While it wasn’t up with my favorites so far, I did enjoy seeing the way it did stick to that young adult storyline.I have to say, ‘The One Who Stayed’ was probably my second favorite of all of them. It was such a powerful story and even though it never really said what had happened to these girls outright, you just knew because of how well the author wrote this story and all the emotions she poured into her words. It made me angry, but calm at the same time because these girls managed to find each other and become powerful after what they went through. When I started reading ‘Divine are the Stars’ I tried so hard not to have expectations. I have read almost all of Cordova's other work and I’ve loved everyone of them. Of course, I did go into this with expectations and they were completely met. I love her storytelling and I can't wait to see what else she has in store for us.So I’ve been on a serious Russian folklore and fairytale kick. For the longest time it’s all that I wanted to read. When I got to ‘Daughters of Baba Yaga’ I almost lost my mind. One the title was perfect and as soon as I started reading, it had my full attention. I liked the fact that the magic was so normal for her, I almost don’t know how to describe it, but when I read the like ‘the moon is full and even the stars are scared of me’ I screamed. It was such a perfect line and I’m here for angry unapologetic girls. While reading ‘The Well Witch’ I loved it yet at the same time I wish there was so much more to it. It was a good beginning, and I knew it was a short story, but I wanted to see more of her witchcraft.I really wanted to like ‘Beware the Girls With Crooked Mouths’, but there was something about this story that just didn’t make me love it like the others. I found myself turning the pages and not really absorbing what I was reading. While a few others might not have been my favorite, or had a story that I couldn’t follow along with, this one I found myself just not being able to remember much of what I had already read. McLemure was another author that I didn’t want to judge based on her previous work, but I knew at this point in the book it wasn’t going to be possible. I’m such a huge fan of her other novels that I wanted to love ‘Love Spells’ as much as everything else she had written. I’ve realized that she’s just becoming one of my favorite authors. Her words read like a daydream. Every. Single. Time. I don’t know how she does it, but I’m completely convinced she has as much magic as the characters she creates. Starting out ‘The Gherin Girls’ I wasn’t to sure what to expect. I’ve never read any of Lord’s other works so I was mostly going in blind. While I really enjoyed her writing and the lyrical style of it, I wasn’t a big fan personally of focusing on all the different sisters. Sometimes it felt a little bit rushed and I wanted more than I was given. ‘The Only Way Back’ was another first for me with Wright. The first couple of sentences were absolutely amazing and I was already captured by the story. I don't know why, but I always love when magic is mixed with science and math. There’s just something about it that makes it explainable and then in a sense real. This read like such a fairytale as well and I loved every moment of it.Finally, there was ‘Why They Watch Us Burn’. This was the perfect story to end this set of anthology. The first sentence blew me away and it kept blowing my mind as I kept reading. Isn’t this what we’re facing right now? Isn’t this what we used to tell ourselves and some still might even if they don't think it’s a bad thing? “The Most terrifying this in the world is a girl with power. That’s why they watch us burn.” This was a really powerful peace and it just stuck with me so well. Overall, this book was an amazing read. Each story brough its own element and its own style yet everyone of them went so perfectly well with the other. These were some amazing authors and I cant wait to read more of their writing and see what they have in store next.
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  • Leah
    January 1, 1970
    This anthology is a great collection of witchy stories, and I definitely recommend it! Read the full review on my blog.
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