Hello lovelies! I was recently sent A Thousand Beginnings and Endings by Harper360YA (thank you!) I’m so grateful I got the chance to read this #ownvoices collection of retellings of Asian myths and legends, and would love to see more stuff like this on the market.
What the book is about…
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 thought of it…
This is such a fantastically valuable book. I’m so glad this has been put together. Like all anthologies, it has its highs and lows – the middle dipped quite spectacularly but the last few stories made up for it with their awesomeness. I did not really want to summarise what each story is about, I just wanted to talk about my thoughts on them but if anyone is interested in finding out more about each individual story, I would like to direct you all to Melanie’s fabulous review! For now, I will talk briefly about each story individually below 🙂
Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi – 4 stars
The first story in the collection was beautiful and heartbreaking. This was my first experience of Chokshi’s writing and I found it sumptuous and gorgeous.
Olivia’s Table by Alyssa Wong – 5 stars
This was so well-developed for a short story! It made me feel so much in so few pages. It was darkly fascinating and full of foody descriptions which is always the way to my heart 😉
Steel Skin by Lori M. Lee – 3 stars
I didn’t really connect with this sci-fi story. The writing was ok but the whole thing felt a bit rushed. I did like it slightly more when I learned the folklore that it was based on, but it wasn’t my favourite.
Still Star-Crossed by Sona Charaipotra – 2.5 stars
I wasn’t feeling this one at all. It had weird creepy vibes and I didn’t enjoy it. It was an interesting ‘Romeo and Juliet’ type of story but I found it quite strange.
The Counting of Vermillion Beads by Aliette de Bodard – 3.5 stars
I’m not gonna lie, I did struggle to differentiate between Tam and Cam! But I did love the magic in this one. It reminded me of some magical realism I read recently. Though I think I might have preferred the original ‘nasty’ version of the story!
The Land of the Morning Calm by E. C. Myers – 5 stars
This is my favourite story of the collection. It was so very touching. The folklore was incorporated seamlessly into the story and I never once felt confused because it was explained as it went along. I would gladly read more stories set in this world and I will certainly be looking for more of this author’s work.
The Smile by Aisha Saeed – 4 stars
This one was short but powerful, with a great feminist message.
Girls who Twirl and Other Dangers by Preeti Chhibber – 3 stars
Another story that I struggled to connect with. The contrast between the old myths and the contemporary references felt jarring in this one and I just didn’t really ‘get’ it. It also felt very young in tone.
Nothing Into All by Renée Adhieh – 5 stars
I love anything to do with goblins so this was a delight. Adhieh really captured the fairytale feeling with her writing.
Spear Carrier by Rahul Kanakia – 2 stars
This felt like information overload. It was all very weird. I think it was a bit too deep for me; I did appreciate it more once it was explained but I found it longwinded and harsh.
Code of Honour by Melissa de la Cruz – 2 stars
This one felt totally out of place in this collection. There was barely a link to any mythology and it was reminiscent of teenage paranormal romances of the 2000s.
Bullet, Butterfly by Elsie Chapman – 5 stars
Joint favourite story! This was utterly heartbreaking but oh so beautifully written. I cried.
Daughter of the Sun by Shveta Thakrar – 5 stars
Absolutely gorgeous writing and great feminist messages. This read like a real fairytale.
The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon – 5 stars
Sumptuous! I’ll never look at a sunset the same way again. I love that the author gave voice to a character who has even less dialogue than an ox in the original legend! I also really enjoyed that the reader was addressed directly; I always think that adds to the magical fairytale feeling.
Eyes like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa – 5 stars
This was surprisingly dark to end on but had some lovely descriptions. I loved it.
Out of a possible 75 stars (five stars for each of the 15 stories), I gave this collection 59 stars. I gave the book an overall rating of 4/5 stars.
Has anyone else read this anthology? If anyone does want to know more about any story in particular, do get in touch 🙂
What are your thoughts on short story collections in general? Let me know your favourite in the comments! x