A Thousand Beginnings and Endings Book Pdf ePub

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings

by
3.98650 votes • 225 reviews
Published 26 Jun 2018
A Thousand Beginnings and Endings.pdf
Format ebook
Pages336
Edition8
Publisher Greenwillow Books
ISBN 0062671170
ISBN139780062671172
Languageeng



Star-crossed lovers, meddling immortals, feigned identities, battles of wits, and dire warnings. These are the stuff of fairy tale, myth, and folklore that have drawn us in for centuries.
Fifteen bestselling and acclaimed authors reimagine the folklore and mythology of East and South Asia in short stories that are by turns enchanting, heartbreaking, romantic, and passionate.
Compiled by We Need Diverse Books’s Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman, the authors included in this exquisite collection are: Renee Ahdieh, Sona Charaipotra, Preeti Chhibber, Roshani Chokshi, Aliette de Bodard, Melissa de la Cruz, Julie Kagawa, Rahul Kanakia, Lori M. Lee, E. C. Myers, Cindy Pon, Aisha Saeed, Shveta Thakrar, and Alyssa Wong.
A mountain loses her heart. Two sisters transform into birds to escape captivity. A young man learns the true meaning of sacrifice. A young woman takes up her mother’s mantle and leads the dead to their final resting place. From fantasy to science fiction to contemporary, from romance to tales of revenge, these stories will beguile readers from start to finish. For fans of Neil Gaiman’s Unnatural Creatures and Ameriie’s New York Times–bestselling Because You Love to Hate Me.

"A Thousand Beginnings and Endings" Reviews

Natalie
- Hong Kong
4
Wed, 18 Oct 2017

3.75 stars
I requested A Thousand Beginnings and Endings for one reason and one reason only: Julie Kagawa. Her Talon series crashed and burned, she'll always have a special place in my heart due to The Iron Fey series. To my surprise, I found myself enjoying the other stories just as much, some even more.
Anthologies are always a bit of a mixed bag, so I'm going to review them individually:
Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi — 5 stars

“Do not trust the fruit of Maria Makiling.”

Alright, I didn't enjoy The Star-Touched Queen, but this was just wow. It's about a semi-forbidden romance between a mortal and a diwata (mountain spirit). The writing is lush and just the right amount of purple. It has very distinct The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic feel, which I love. A Filipino folktale.
Olivia’s Table by Alyssa Wong — 2.5 stars
“Don’t talk to strangers,” Mom had said, over and over. And don’t trust the ghosts, especially not during the Ghost Festival.”

This one revolves around the Chinese Ghost Festival. I'm Chinese and live in Hong Kong. One of my earliest memories involves around my mom telling me not to pick up the yellow paper money scattered on the ground because it’s for ghosts. Even though the theme is familial and revolves around coping with loss, it failed to make an emotional impact on me, partially because I'm too close to it in a way. There is another Chinese-inspired tale in this anthology that I quite liked though, so maybe it's not my thing.
Steel Skin by Lori M. Lee — 2 stars
“She has this memory. Only a chaotic set of images and sounds, but vivid, like neon scripts streaming across a black screen.”

Illuminae does it better.
Steel Skin takes place in the future where androids have been banned because they gained sentience and rebelled. The protagonist suspects her dad has been replaced by an android. The what-it-means-to-be-human plot is old and tired, this story was just too short to really do anything with it or hit the right emotional notes. A Hmong folktale.
Still Star-Crossed by Sona Charaipotha — 2.5 stars
“You don’t know how to choose until you’re right there, on the precipice, giving away your everything for something that may be real or may be a shadow, a ghost you’re chasing.”

There's really not much to say about this one without giving away the ending. Taara meets a beautiful, seductive stranger who seems to recognize her. It could have been longer because it ends abruptly without any closure. An Punjabi folktale.
The Counting of Vermillion Beads by Aliette de Bodard — 3.5 stars
“At night, it sings—a quivering, warbling sounds that rises in her dreams, becomes her sister’s voice. It wouldn’t be so bad, if the bird spoke of cryptic wisdom, or of the dream Tam had, the one that started everything, but instead it’s small, everyday things, the kind of talk they had before Tam changed.”

Asian folklore is speckled with stories of men and women transforming into animals. The Counting of Vermillion Beads is a beautiful story of sisterhood. Tam and Cam are forcibly escorted from their village to be census girls for the palace. One night, trying to climb over the wall and escape, Tam falls and transforms into a bird. A Vietnamese folktale.
The Land of the Morning Calm by E.C. Meyers — 2.5 stars
“Harabeoji says my mother is a gwisin. That’s the Korean word for ghost.”

A quirky millennial spin on Korean myths. The Land of the Morning Calm is a multiplayer RPG that the protagonist's mom used to play all the time before she suddenly passed away. Like Olivia's Table, it's a story about grief and moving on. It dives into gaming culture too.
The Smile by Aisha Saeed — 5 stars
“Belonging meant he could place me wherever he liked, whether in his bed or in this dank tower. Belonging is not love. It never was.”

I loooved this one. Gimme your feminist fairytale retellings. Saeed weaves a gorgeous narrative about freedom and choices with a peasant girl-turned-courtesan and the prince who invited her to the palace after he saw her dance. A South Asian folktale.
Girls Who Twirl and Other Dangers by Preeti Chhibber — 1.5 stars
“This whole holiday is about good defeating evil, right? Dinesh is not going to magically get what’s coming to him. So, it’s on us.”

My least favorite in the entire anthology. It's just really silly. Three girls team up to punish a rude boy, which parallels Navratri, a Hindu holiday. It's based on a myth that champions the physical manifestation of divine female energy to defeat a demon. I like the portrayal of female friendship, but that’s all.
Nothing Into All by Renee Ahdieh — 4 stars
“As the leaves fall/As the sky turn to night/Summon the magic/To turn nothing/Into all”

I still have issues with Ahdieh's writing (“...words of rebuke flowing past her lips like water from a steaming kettle”; I mean, come on), but this compact story appealed to me far more than anything else of hers I've read. Inspired by a Korean fairy tale called The Goblin Treasure, a sister is granted three wishes by goblins, but her jealous brother plots to steal it. Sibling rivalry is a traditional fairytale framework, though here it works perfectly.
Spear Carrier by Rahul Kanakia — 2 stars
“When I’d agreed to his offer, it was because I had thought I’d be a hero. But a hero wouldn’t be so lonely and so afraid.”

An interesting story about war from the perspective of a statistic—an ordinary person, out of millions on a battlefield, who dreams of becoming a hero. It didn't make me feel much though. A South Asian epic.
Code of Honor by Melissa de la Cruz — 2 stars
“I try not to let myself get angry because that’s when I most desire human flesh.”

Another story that has a fascinating concept, but left me feeling hollow. This Filipino-inspired tale
touches on immigrants—an aswang (vampire) travels to America to flee prosecution in the Philippines.
Bullet, Butterfly by Elsie Chapman — 3 stars
“Don’t forget we’re only ever soldiers here in Shangyu and soldiers never get to be the ones who wake up from a spell, or who even get to break a spell. We’re just the dragons guarding the gate, ordered to keep breathing the fire of those who cast the spell in the first place.”

Each tale is followed by a short essay by the author explaining the inspiration behind the story. Bullet, Butterfly is a retelling of one of the most famous Chinese folktales, the Butterfly Lovers. They are kept apart by familial duty. Here, Liang disguises himself as a girl and sneaks into the armory for a bet, but ends up falling for Zhu, one of the workers there. A queer romance along the lines of Mulan.
Daughter of the Sun by Shveta Thakrar — 3 stars
“She yearned for someone who didn’t fear her brilliance.”

This one is very weird. It's set in modern times yet has a strong fairytale vibe. Maybe it's the purple-drenched writing—a girl with a heart that glows like the sun who falls for a boy with a heart as silver as the moon. Based on a South Asian epic called Mahabharata.
The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon — 5 stars
“Despite how the legend goes, the truth of the matter is, Dear Reader, I saw him first.”

The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl is another popular Chinese folktale. The star-crossed lovers are only allowed to meet on the seventh day of the seventh month each year when a bridge of magpies form the Milky Way. Pon puts a fresh spin on it by granting the usually silent weaver girl her own voice and reshapes certain events. I've read Pon's contribution to the villain anthology Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy and honestly, her writing is top-notch. I seriously need to pick up one of her novels soon.
Eyes Like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa — 3.5 stars
“Yuki met his gaze, eyes glowing a subtle gold in the candlelight, the tip of a bushy tail peeking behind her robes.”

Best for last, I suppose? Ironically, I didn't like it as much as a few of the others mentioned. Nonetheless it's an enjoyable read with all the elements I've come to anticipate from Kagawa's work—solid writing and a forbidden romance between a mortal and a supernatural being. In this case, it's the well-known kitsune which appears time and time again in Japanese popular culture.
Ultimately, there were highs, there were lows. But the highs are worth it.
ARC provided by Edelweiss

Hannah
- The United States
0
Tue, 17 Jul 2018

DNF at 48%.
A Thousand Beginnings and Endings is a collection of short stories that re-imagine South and East Asian myths, penned by fifteen authors tasked with representing their culture. While the myths themselves are interesting, the re-tellings lack sparkle. Halfway through the book, the only alluring tale is found in its opening pages: 'Forbidden Fruit' by Roshani Chokshi. Chokshi conveys a bittersweet tale of love and heartache with colorful prose, though the moral of the story is delivered clumsily.

Melanie
- Las Vegas, NV
5
Mon, 26 Mar 2018

ARC provided by HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.
This is the anthology I’ve been waiting my entire life for. As a Filipina woman, I have no words to express how happy my heart is to just read a collection of short stories that are all ownvoices. And at the end of each short story is an author note on why they wrote the story that they did. And, I think I cried reading at least 75% of the author’s notes. This anthology is so beautiful, so powerful, and it means more to me than I have word combinations to express.

“We fell in love with all those myths about powerful gods being vulnerable, about humans becoming heroes. Such stories taught us about mythology, about the beauty of folktales and legends, and about how stories of gods and goddesses are also stories about the human heart. But we never found similar compilations that were distinctly Asian.”

Friends, please preorder this and fall in love, too! If you’d like to get me a birthday gift this year, please just preorder this, read, and review this collection. Honestly, it’s the only thing I want in 2018. I’ll beg, I’ll plead, I’ll scream from the rooftops: please preorder this anthology and show the world that Asian stories can not only sell, but can also change lives. I will cherish this book forever and ever. (While also apparently rereading Roshani’s from my ARC copy over the phone to my grandmother 100 times!)
This collection honestly has so many amazing additions, but my personal favorites were Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi, Olivia’s Table by Alyssa Wong, The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon, and Eyes like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa. But my all-time favorite of the collection was The Land of the Morning Calm by E. C. Myers.
But I'm going to break down each short story with my thoughts, opinions, and individual star rating!
Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi - ★★★★★
Filipino
“It was an ill-fated thing to claim that a heart is safe. Hearts are rebellious. The moment they feel trapped, they will strain against their bindings.”

I am in tears writing this. Best opening story of any anthology ever. This is a version of the Philippine mythos of Maria Makiling that my grandma has been telling me stories of since I was a little girl. And Roshani’s take on it was beyond words beautiful. This opening story was enough for me to preorder three copies of this book. And I know I’m being completely biased, but this was nothing short of magnificent, and I’ll cherish it forever and ever. Roshani, thank you, with every bone in my body, thank you.
Olivia’s Table by Alyssa Wong - ★★★★★
Chinese
“Can’t they see the ghosts all the time?” she asked. “Not like you and I can. The Festival is when ghosts are most themselves instead of what the living want them to be. Not everyone will like what they see tonight.”

Everyone knows I’m a huge fangirl of Alyssa Wong, but the reason for that is because she truly writes the best short fiction out there right now. There are so many amazing authors out there, but talent like Alyssa’s, where it just shows that she was meant to weave words together and craft these life changing stories, is so rare, but so awe-inspiring. She is such a blessing to the literary world, and I'm forever thankful. Every anthology collection I’ve read that includes a story from her ends up being ten times better for the inclusion. And her story always ends up completely stealing the show, my soul, and my heart, while also becoming my favorite. And Olivia’s Table was no different. This is a perfect story about a girl dealing with grief and depression but honoring her family by cooking at the Hungry Ghost Festival. And this was such an honor to read, and I know I’ll carry this tale with me forever. TW/CW: loss of a loved one, terminal illness, grief, and depression.
Steel Skin by Lori M. Lee - ★★★★
Hmong
“The brain is just a highly complex circuit of electrical impulses, so it stands to reason that it can be artificially manufactured. Scientists have been trying to understand this process for decades. What. Makes. Emotion?”

This is a sci-fi tale about a girl and her strained relationship with her father, who hasn’t been the same since her mother died (TW/CW: loss of a loved one, grief, and abandonment). But she and her friend soon start to unravel a mystery concerning the androids that were recalled long ago for being too intelligent. And this was such a beautiful story, with such an amazing ending. And the end note about this reimagining of The Woman and the Tiger, a Hmong folktale, completely made me fall even harder in love.
Still Star-Crossed by Sona Charaipotra - ★★★
Punjabi
“You don’t know how to choose until you’re right there, on the precipice, giving away your everything for something that may be real or may be a shadow, a ghost you’re chasing.”

This one wasn’t my favorite in the collection, just because it stars a young girl at a club with her friend when a strange young man appears and keeps following them. I mean, all the red flags, right? And even though his intentions always seemed good, it still made me uncomfortable to read. I did love the author’s note for this one, I just sadly didn’t love this vision. But oh my gosh, the atmosphere and the food descriptions? Perfection. Like, don’t read this if you’re hungry, because my stomach is growling just thinking about the food and drinks from this short story.
The Counting of Vermillion Beads by Aliette De Bodard - ★★★★★
Vietnamese
“We can’t go home, but that doesn’t mean we have to be caged.”

I loved this tale about two sisters and that unconditional bond. This story felt so full, so atmospheric, so perfect. This story was inspired by Tấm and Cám, but the version that Aliette De Bodard created is so heartwarming and so inspiring. This is an empowering little tale, that truly emphasizes that we can be anything we want in this world, with whoever we are in this world, regardless of what others want to shape and mold us to be.
The Land of the Morning Calm by E. C. Myers - ★★★★★
Korean
“I finally know how it ends.”

I cried through 80% of this story. Easily, this was one of my new favorite short stories of all time. I will never forget this story for as long as I live. And I am immediately buying everything E. C. Myers has created. This is a story about a gwisin (ghost), and a girl that is still dealing with the death of her mother, five years later. It doesn’t help that she’s still living with her father and her mother’s father (her grandfather), who reminds her of her mother’s presence constantly. But it is undeniable when the MMO that was her mother’s life, and the reason her parents met, is being shut down forever, but has drawn Sunny into playing again. And Sunny has just found out about a new private server that will preserve the game, and maybe the memory of her mother. I loved this more than words. MMORPGs have meant so much to me during my life. I have played them since high school, and I have some of my very best friends and loved ones to this day because of them. And this short story is a love letter to video games and the impact they can make on your life. And video games are such a huge part of Korean culture, and the significance and importance shined through this story so very brightly. This story just had such a profound meaning to me, because it made me realize that one day I’m (hopefully) going to be a mom that is a gamer, and a con lover, and a writer, and so many of the things that Sunny viewed her mom as. Like, I promise, I was bawling through almost this entire story. This was beyond words beautiful. I have no word combination to string together to let you all know how perfect this was and how much this story meant to me. TW/CW: death, loss of a parent. And RIP to my favorite NPC of all time, Ephoenix (Ezra Chatterton).
The Smile by Aisha Saeed - ★★★★★
South Asian
“Belonging meant he could place me wherever he liked, whether in his bed or in this dank tower. Belonging is not love. It never was.”

This was so beautiful, I couldn’t help but fall in love. I need a full-length of this story, I need to know what happens next, I need so much more. But I guess that’s the beauty of this tale; anything could happen next. This is an extremely feminist short story about a girl who serves a prince who is in love with her. But this story is about love, and how it should only be given freely and to those deserving. Seriously, this is such a treat of a story. I think this will be one that everyone who picks up this anthology will love.
Girls Who Twirl and Other Dangers by Preeti Chhibber - ★★★★
Gujarati
“There are three reasons I know fall is awesome: the most anticipated Bollywood movies are always on a fall release schedule, my mom starts practicing her delicious party dishes, and it means it’s time for Navrātri!”

I loved this adorable story that switched between Hinduism mythos, and to current time to a girl celebrating Navaratri at a party with her friends, while they also plot revenge on a boy that’s being rather rude. Navaratri is celebrated in honor of good defeating evil, and the battle of Durga and Mahishasura, a buffalo demon. And Preeti Chhibber does such a wonderful job transitioning and showcasing these two stories together. Also, I just loved learning about this Hindu holiday that’s so empowering to women. This was expertly crafted and such a joy to read.
Nothing into All by Renée Ahdieh - ★★★★
Korean
“Many years ago, a girl and a boy lived with their parents in a bark-shingled home near a flowing river’s edge.”

Oh, this was such a fun and whimsical read! This was a super unique spin on The Goblin Treasure, which is actually a story I grew up hearing, too. But Renée Ahdieh did such a wonderful job making me feel every single thing for this set of siblings. And there is such a wonderful message about how we all carry goodness and badness inside of ourselves, but how we choose our actions based on which is what is truly important.
Spear Carrier by Rahul Kanakia - ★★
South Asian
“When I’d agreed to his offer, it was because I had thought I’d be a hero.”

This is a long short story about what it truly means to be a hero, and if being a hero only means accomplishing what you set out to do or winning the battle you set out to fight. There are a ton of lighthearted pop culture references in this, but a ton of hard-hitting questions of war and what is worth losing one’s life for. I just thought that sometimes the writing was a little too harsh and a little too dry for me.
Code of Honor by Melissa de la Cruz - ★★
Filipino
“I almost murdered a girl yesterday…”

Friends, I’m heartbroken. I was supposed to love this one! I just read the Fresh Ink anthology, and Melissa de la Cruz’s story was easily my favorite out of the entire collection! But this? This just didn’t work for me at all. It’s about a vampire that is living in hiding, but has lost her journal that has a spell attached to it, so no human can read it. But it is still causing her a lot of trouble. Also, TW/CW for sort of a graphic animal comment, since she feeds from them. One line in this kind of made me shudder upon reading, so use caution. But I think this might be a set-up or something for her series Blue Bloods, but it just really felt strange being a part of this anthology, and I really didn’t enjoy it as much as it pains me to say.
Bullet, Butterfly by Elsie Chapman - ★★★★★
Chinese
“Don’t forget we’re only ever soldiers here in Shangyu, and soldiers never get to be the ones who wake up from a spell, or who even get to break a spell. We’re just the dragons guarding the gate, ordered to keep breathing the fire of those who cast the spell in the first place.”

I loved this so much. I loved this more than words. This is a reimagining of the Chinese legend Butterfly Lovers, and it was so beautiful and so impactful. The theme of loyalty to one’s family, but also to one’s heart and happiness is constant throughout this tale. And just all of the ways that war impacts every single person, whether they are forced to create, forced to fight, or forced to any duty against their true heart’s desires. This story was wonderful and made me such an emotional mess. For sure a highlight in this already amazing anthology.
Daughter of the Sun by Shveta Thakrar - ★★★★
South Asian
“She sang for her parents, for the hue-switching heavens, for herself. She read fairy tales, epics, and legends and imagined performing them on a stage draped in velvet. But it wasn’t enough. She longed for a friend.”

This was a beautiful story inspired by two of the stories in the longest epic poem in history, The Mahābhārata. One about Princess Savitri and Prince Satyavan, and one about Ganga and Shantanu. This was a moving story about destiny and sacrifice and how important it is to always follow your heart, regardless of the outcomes and/or circumstances. And I was high-key living for the feminist undertones that were expertly woven throughout this.
The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon - ★★★★★
Chinese
“…whatever I might make for myself in this life: hearth, home, or family—they would mean nothing without you.”

Please, excuse me while I go buy more from Cindy Pon because this story was one of the greatest blessings of 2018. And this is her version of the Chinese folklore tale of Cowherd, and the magical girl who saw him first. I actually had never heard of this tale before, so I spent some time afterwards reading everything I could, and I am even more in love. This is for sure one of the best stories in this anthology, and Cindy Pon’s giving a voice to this magical, fairy, weaver girl is something so beautiful I don’t even have words for it. One of the most romantic short stories I’ve ever read too. All the feels, all the happiness, all the tears.
Eyes like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa - ★★★★★
Japanese
“She could charm bears with that smile, Takeo thought. If he were a bear, he would lie down with his head in her lap and not move until the hunters came for him.”

I loved this with every fiber of my being. I loved this writing so much that I think I’m actually going to pick up everything I’ve been neglecting on reading from Julie Kagawa, too. Like, this was the perfect closing story. And it surrounded one of my favorite mythical creatures of all time: Kitsunes! Again, the writing was so perfect, I was instantly teleported into this small village. The main character, Takeo, was the sweetest little cinnamon roll. And this short story was honestly perfect in every way. And the ending of this was absolutely haunting. I would buy and read anything else about this heartbroken girl, and the small boy that missed so much because of evil men.
Out of a possible 75 stars (5 stars possible for each of the 15 stories) this collection accumulated 63 stars (84%). But I am giving this five stars regardless, because I loved it so much. The stories in this collection meant more to me than I have words for. And I truly hope you all pick this up upon release.
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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Alyssa
5
Wed, 07 Mar 2018

5 stars. My heart is full. Special shout-out to the South Asian stories, including Sona Charaipotra's, Aisha Saeed's, Preeti Chhibber's, Rahul Kanakia's, and Shveta Thakrar's. <3 All of the stories in this anthology are lovely, but I have to especially appreciate the South Asian ones. =)
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***
A Thousand Beginnings and Endings
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: June 26, 2018
Rating: 5 stars
Source: Review copy sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
Star-crossed lovers, meddling immortals, feigned identities, battles of wits, and dire warnings: these are the stuff of fairy tale, myth, and folklore that have drawn us in for centuries.
Fifteen bestselling and acclaimed authors reimagine the folklore and mythology of East and South Asia in short stories that are by turns enchanting, heartbreaking, romantic, and passionate.
Compiled by We Need Diverse Books’s Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman, the authors included in this exquisite collection are: Renée Ahdieh, Sona Charaipotra, Preeti Chhibber, Roshani Chokshi, Aliette de Bodard, Melissa de la Cruz, Julie Kagawa, Rahul Kanakia, Lori M. Lee, E. C. Myers, Cindy Pon, Aisha Saeed, Shveta Thakrar, and Alyssa Wong.
A mountain loses her heart. Two sisters transform into birds to escape captivity. A young man learns the true meaning of sacrifice. A young woman takes up her mother’s mantle and leads the dead to their final resting place.
From fantasy to science fiction to contemporary, from romance to tales of revenge, these stories will beguile readers from start to finish. For fans of Neil Gaiman’s Unnatural Creatures and Ameriie’s New York Times–bestselling Because You Love to Hate Me.
What I Liked:
It's the final days of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and I'm sneaking in this review just in time! This anthology has to be one of my favorites of all time. I've read several anthologies over the years, and I think this one is quite possibly one of the best that YA authors have to offer. I was introduced to many new Asian myths and legends, but also recognized some of the South Asian ones. I'm incredibly proud to see an anthology of Asian stories, written by Asian authors. This is the #ownvoices representation that YA - and lit in general - needs.
I read the stories but I'm only going to highlight a few, which were my favorite. You won't need much convincing, trust me. All of these authors are true storytellers, with excellent writing. You'll recognize powerhouse names like Renée Ahdieh and Roshani Chokshi, and you'll see some "new" names, like Alyssa Wong and Preeti Chhibber. Regardless, these authors all have fantastic stories to tell. This anthology contains retellings of Asian myths and legends. It is structured such that the retelling is presented, and then in the page after the story's end, the author gives a little background information about the original legend(s). This was really cool, because I didn't know about most of the legends, and reading the retellings made me want to know more.
Below are some of my favorites. Please note that all of these stories are worth reading. I just really want to gush about these in particular. If I discussed all of them, this would be a very long and boring review (if it isn't already!).
Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi (Filipino)
This story is a loose retelling of the story of a Filipino goddess, Maria Makiling, who is associated with Mount Makiling. In this retelling, the Mountain falls in love with a human male, and loses her heart to him. It ends up being a tragic story, and in quite a heartbreaking way. I found the retelling absolutely fascinating, and the legend itself was quite intriguing as well. Roshani Chokshi has a way of weaving a story together. There was a quiet lull to this story, and then things escalated in the final pages. Amazing story, lush writing, fascinating legend.
Still Star-Crossed by Sona Charaipotra (Punjabi)
This story is based on the tale of Sahiba and Mirza, two star-crossed lovers. If there is one thing I know about Indian lore in general, it is the fascination with star-crossed lovers. You see it in old-school Bollywood movies all the time! (I say "old-school" and refer to basically anything pre-2010). The legend involves Sahiba who falls in love with Mirza, a famed archer, but she is to marry a stranger. On the night of her arranged wedding, she runs off with Mirza. But the tale doesn't end there, and I won't spoil it. The retelling is set in modern times, with Taara at a dance in the beginning of the story. Taara meets a boy who calls her Soni and claims to know her, but she has never seen him before. Still, something tugs her to him. This story ends like I expected - the twist is somewhat predictable especially if you're familiar with the culture or old tales. But I loved this story. There was something so familiar about it to me - both the original legend, and the retelling.
The Smile by Aisha Saeed (South Asian)
It isn't specified, but I believe the original tale is Pakistani. The legend is the story of Anarkali, a courtesan for King Akbar of the Mughal Empire in the 1500s. The retelling is a little different from the original story - in that it binds together two potential versions of the original story. (The original legend is very old and there are several interpretations to the story.) This in itself was really cool. But in any case, I loved the retelling. The heroine is a courtesan to a prince, and the prince is so in love with her. But the courtesan knows that while she adores the prince, she does not love him, and her life is completely controlled by him, even if she is not a prisoner. One smile of hers breaks the illusion and she realizes just how little control of her life that she actually has. The ending of this story is actually really "happy" and I loved it. I was completely hooked on this story and I was rooting for one thing, but then I realized that I wanted the story to end differently. And it did. This was such a cool story and I love that the author chose to retell such an old one, and made it her own.
Nothing Into All by Renée Ahdieh (Korean)
This retelling was so cool. I feel like I've said that several times now, in this review. But it was! The retelling is the story of Charan and her young brother Chun. Charan and Chun visit the forest often, because they've seen goblins. They'd been doing this since they were children. They got older, and Charan is getting ready to leave her family to go to music school, even though she has caught the eye of a young man in the village, and the match would be advantageous for the family. Chun is not happy about this, because he thinks his sister is being selfish by not staying the village and going through with the match. One day, Charan falls through a hole and meets the goblins. They give her an enchanted club and two wishes. Chun, in a fit of jealousy, steals the club and goes to meet the goblins. All he wants is what is best for his family, unlike what he thinks his sister wants. But things do not end the way Chun wants them to. You'll have to read the story to see what happened. The original legend (a Korean fairy tale) is called The Goblin Treasure and it involved two brothers, one with a good soul and one with a disquiet soul. Anything with goblins is awesome to me, but Renée Ahdieh's retelling of the legend is especially riveting.
Daughter of the Sun by Shveta Thakrar (South Asian)
This story had me going through a roller coaster of emotions. It is based on The Mahabharata, which is the longest epic poem in recorded history. One of the tales is that of Princess Savitri and Prince Satyavan, and this is where the author's retelling comes from. The retelling is slightly different from the original story. In the retelling Savitri saves Satyavan, a cursed so of Chandra, the lunar lord. But even though she saved him from death, Satyavan is on borrowed time. Still, Savitri brings him back and they get to know each other. But Satyavan remembers nothing of his near-death, or even his being a son of the lunar lord. He knows nothing but Savitri. What happens when his borrowed time is up? You'll have to read the story to find out. This was a heartbreaking and also very lovely story. And surprisingly, the ending was very positive. I love the themes that the author wove into the story. I also loved the romance. With short stories, oftentimes the romance is tragic or nonexistent. The romance in this story was lovely.
***
Those were my favorite stories, but please, read the anthology in its entirety!
What I Did Not Like:
Nothing to say here!
Would I Recommend It:
I highly recommend this anthology, whether you read YA or not, whether you're Asian or not. Many of these tales read like fiction (not specifically YA fiction), so I'd encourage adult fiction readers to check out the book. There is a wide range of Asian representation - Punjabi, Filipino, Chinese, Hmong, Korean, Gujarati, Vietnamese, and more. My heart was so full, to see these authors and these cultures represented. But my heart was even more full when I read these stories and was swept away by the amazing tales and lovely storytelling. These authors wrote some quality stories. Don't just read this book because it's an Asian-written anthology of Asian stories (although, that's an excellent reason to read the anthology, don't get me wrong); read the book because the stories are incredible.
Rating:
5 stars. My hat goes off to Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman for putting together this project. And of course to the amazing authors who came up with these stories. A specific thing: I didn't grow up seeing many South Asian MG or YA stories in the library, and to see so many in this anthology was heartwarming. Thank you, authors.

Emily May
- The United Kingdom
4
Wed, 24 Jan 2018

This is definitely one of the better YA short story collections I have read. As with all anthologies, some stories are much stronger than others, but I enjoyed far more than I disliked. Plus, it was just so great to see the exploration of mythologies we don’t often see in the mainstream. My average rating over the fifteen stories was 3.7.
A few years ago, collections like these might have just been a way for me to go on some literary tourism of other cultures, but it's now very important to me on a personal level. My two sons are mixed race - Japanese and British - and it is so so important to me that they see their Japanese heritage represented in all forms of art and media.
And, honestly, it's just so refreshing to see fantasy stories outside of the vaguely-Medieval Euro-centric books we've come to expect. There's a whole world of fascinating history and culture out there - it's time to explore it!
Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi - 5 stars
The collection gets off to a bang with this gorgeous Filipino fairy tale and love story. I didn't love Chokshi's first novel The Star-Touched Queen, but I have to say that her flowery, poetic writing works MUCH better in a short story. It's lush and vivid, raising goosebumps along my arms at its end. A goddess falls in love with a human man - oh, what could possibly go wrong?

It was an ill-fated thing to claim that a heart is safe. Hearts are rebellious. The moment they feel trapped, they will strain against their bindings.

Olivia’s Table by Alyssa Wong - 4 stars
This was a little strange, but in the best possible way. Wong takes on the Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival in her story. A young girl who has lost her beloved mother makes it her duty to feed crowds of ghosts. It's a tale about grief, told in sweet, subtle interactions. There is something so wonderful and sad about this uniting of the living and the dead through food.
Don’t talk to strangers, Mom had said, over and over. And don’t trust the ghosts, especially not during the Ghost Festival.

Steel Skin by Lori M. Lee - 3.5 stars
If I was rating the ending alone, this would probably get five stars. It's a science-fiction story with androids, but also about grief and the loss of a loved one. There's the familial aspect: the narrator's relationship with her father hasn't been the same since her mother died; and also a mystery aspect: she teams up with a friend to uncover the truth behind the androids that were recalled. For the most part, I glided through the story, kinda enjoying it but not really loving it like the previous two. And then the ending happened. Perfection.
And now that she knew the truth, who would she decide to be?

Still Star-Crossed by Sona Charaipotra - 2 stars
It's a shame about this one because it took some interesting steps but stopped very abruptly and strangely. I turned the page and was shocked to discover that it was over! It's a Punjabi folktale retelling and the author's explanation for the story was really interesting, but I didn’t think her intentions came across at all. The main guy was pretty creepy, too.
You don’t know, Bebo, what you’ll do,” my mother says, a sudden anger simmering under her words. “You don’t know how to choose until you’re right there, on the precipice, giving away your everything for something that may be real or may be a shadow, a ghost you’re chasing.”

The Counting of Vermillion Beads by Aliette De Bodard - 4 stars
Like a lot of these stories, this one was quite weird. Though I found myself really liking it. I also found myself doing some reading into the Vietnamese story of Tam and Cam, which starts like something of a Cinderella tale, in which a jealous sister envies the other's beauty and it leads to tragedy. Here, Bodard rewrites it with a more positive spin, showing the power of sibling love above all else.
“So many precious places to discover. Come on, Lil’sis. Let’s go see them together.”

The Land of the Morning Calm by E. C. Myers - 5 stars
Aww. This was one seriously emotional, beautiful story about loss and gaming. As gaming is such an important part of Korean culture, it was great to see it explored here. And while I usually find video game-centred stories too light and silly, Myers did a fantastic job of showing how a game can be really important for someone. It can be a much-needed escape, a creativity outlet, or a doorway to an unending universe. I liked this story so much because it took something I don't usually love and did something new and deeply moving with it.
“I finally know how it ends.”

The Smile by Aisha Saeed - 4 stars
Well, I always like a good feminist fairytale! And I LOVE what Saeed did with this one. She takes a tragic love story and rewrites it to give a king's courtesan choice, freedom and agency. It's a gorgeously-written South Asian addition, and somehow both happy and sad. Happy, because it is about a woman finally getting to make her own choices and understanding what love really is. But sad, because much must be given up for the sake of freedom.
The prince always said I belonged to him. I had thought this word protected me and kept me safe, but now I understood. Belonging meant he could place me wherever he liked, whether in his bed or in this dank tower. Belonging is not love. It never was.

Girls Who Twirl and Other Dangers by Preeti Chhibber - 3 stars
This was okay. I enjoyed the alternating between Hindu myths and a modern-day celebration of Navaratri, a holiday I had never heard of before. But, though educational, I didn't feel as much of a spark with this one as I did with the others. It was light, but fairly bland. It seemed a little too long, too.
Nothing into All by Renée Ahdieh - 4 stars
I really enjoyed this one! It's a retelling of the Korean folktale Goblin Treasure and I loved what the author did with it. A girl makes a trade for goblin magic so she can achieve her dream of going away to music school, but her brother becomes angry that she isn't using the magic to make gold that could benefit the family. It's a tale about siblings, forgiveness, the decisions we make and how bad actions can be hiding a good person.
It is Chun’s fault he has become a thief. But please let him have the chance to make it right. Give him the chance to become a great man.

Spear Carrier by Rahul Kanakia - 2 stars
Too long and emotionless for my tastes. I felt like this story was droning on and on in parts, and I neither learned something new from it, nor experienced an emotional response to it. The protagonist goes on and on about wanting to be a hero, and about life and death, and I just took so little away from reading it.
Code of Honor by Melissa de la Cruz - 2 stars
There was a definite slip right around this later middle part of the book. My two least favourite stories were lumped together here. Melissa de la Cruz's work seemed to be a companion to her Blue Bloods series, which I have not read and don't particularly have any interest in. This story was about Filipino aswangs - vampire witches - and contained a lot of gore and gruesomeness, but not a lot of emotion. A potentially interesting concept that left me feeling cold.
“I almost murdered a girl yesterday.”

Bullet, Butterfly by Elsie Chapman - 4 stars
Gorgeous. Chapman retells the Chinese tale of the Butterfly Lovers - a "tragic tale of two young lovers kept apart by familial duty". Set during a war, this reimagining sees a boy posing as a girl and falling in love with another girl called Zhu. The author breathes new life into a very old concept - that of forbidden love and being torn between duty and what your heart truly wants. Beautifully-written with a touching ending.
“Promise me, Lin,” she said, “that wherever we end up stationed, we’ll stay alive long enough to find each other again, to be friends always.”

Daughter of the Sun by Shveta Thakrar - 4 stars
Inspired by two stories from The Mahabharata, this is a powerful feminist tale about sticking to your guns and putting your true passion first. Always. I loved reading about the two stories this was based on - about “Savitri and Satyavan” and “Ganga and Shantanu”. The theme of a smart woman cleverly tricking a god or demon or jinni seems to come up a lot in South Asian folktales and I must confess: I like it.
Together, her voice sparkling like diamond dust, his smooth as clove smoke, they ensorcelled the audience as they had ensorcelled each other.

The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon - 5 stars
Oh, I loved this! I'm not sure why but I sometimes love it when the narrator speaks directly to the reader with a conspiratorial wink (You can never out wait a goddess, Dear Reader. I have all the time in the world.). In this, Pon retells “The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl”, which is itself a wonderful folktale, but here becomes even more so. It's very romantic, definitely a love story, but it's a good one. The author gives a voice to the mostly silent weaver girl in this version, allowing her to tell the story from her perspective. I couldn't stop smiling as she tells us:
“All the storytellers get it wrong.”

Eyes like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa - 4 stars
I wonder if this story has anything to do with Kagawa's upcoming novel Shadow of The Fox because it is also about foxes (well, kitsunes, to be precise). Takeo, the protagonist in this story, is an extremely likable hero and we get pulled along for an adventure with one of Japan's most loved mythical creatures: kitsunes. Typically, human/fox shapeshifters. It's also a little creepy, too. Kagawa captures the eerie small-town setting perfectly and, let's not lie, there's something deeply unsettling about never knowing whether a human is really a human or something else.
Takeo never saw the fox again. But sometimes, on warm evenings when he was outside, he could almost imagine he was being watched.

Overall, this was a stunning anthology. I would really love to see more fantasy short story collections exploring mythologies around the world with own voices authors. If you like fantasy and you like short stories, I highly recommend these.
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joanna ☽
- somewhere in the sky, The United Kingdom
4
Mon, 30 Apr 2018

ALERT ALERT ALERT
I JUST FOUND OUT THAT THERE IS A FILIPINO STORY IN THIS BOOK
as in filipino
like me!!!!
i am crying actual tears of joy right now! i've never felt truly represented in any books before and this feels like such a huge step. i love the publishing industry. i love everyone. if you're reading this, i love you
so guess what i'm reading next