Review: A Thousand Beginnings and Endings Anthology

Posted by Jessi (Geo) on 18 June, 2018 | 0 Comments



Review: A Thousand Beginnings and Endings AnthologyA Thousand Beginnings and Endings by Aisha Saeed, Aliette De Bodard, Alyssa Wong, Cindy Pon, E.C. Myers, Ellen Oh, Elsie Chapman, Julie Kagawa, Lori M. Lee, Melissa De La Cruz, Preeti Chhibber, Rahul Kanakia, Renee Ahdieh, Roshani Chokshi, Shveta Thakrar, Sona Charaipotra
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Published by Greenwillow (6.26.2018)
eARC, 336 pages
Source: Edelweiss


4 Stars

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.

My Review

Three words for you: Asian. Folklore. Reimagined. If that doesn’t catch your attention, I don’t know what will! I loved the culture, mythology, and folklore in this one! It was amazing to see different mythology from different cultures in Asia, and I also loved hearing where each author drew their inspiration from.

The stories were very hit or miss for me, but the few really amazing ones definitely made it worth the read!

Favorite stories: Eyes Like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa, The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon, The Land of the Morning by E.C. Myers, and Bullet, Butterfly by Elsie Chapman

Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi

This one was very strange, yet beautiful and heartbreaking (as it seems are all Roshani stories)! I love how she took a folktale and made it into her own story. This would have made a great full length novel!

Overall Assessment

Premise: 4.5/5
Writing Style: 4.5/5
Characters: 3/5
Pace: 4.5/5
Feels: 2/5

 

Olivia’s Table by Alyssa Wong

While I liked the concept of the Ghost Festival, I’m afraid I found this one rather boring for being a short story. I have a hard time becoming emotionally invested in short stories to begin with, but I wasn’t really interested in the story which made me even less invested. The pacing was very slow despite its short length. It was cool that the main character was gay as well as Chinese, though!

Overall Assessment

Premise: 4/5
Writing Style: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Pace: 2/5
Feels: 0/5

Steel Skin by Lori M. Lee

Ohh, I really liked this one! What an interesting twist, I didn’t see that one coming. The world building was a little shaky, but I think Lee did a really great job with what little time she had to put things together. I loved the futuristic dystopian feel this one had, and the androids. I enjoyed her writing style and found it engaging – I’d love to read more of her work!

Overall Assessment

Premise: 4/5
Writing Style: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Pace: 4/5
Feels: 3/5

Still Star-Crossed by Sona Charaiopotra

I didn’t care much for this one. I think my real issue here is that I’m not a fan of romance, and this was one. It was an interesting concept, sure, but I was rather bored with the story and the mysterious ‘swoony’ guy that kept insisting he knew her. Um, creepy much? View Spoiler »

I did like the Indian culture, though! I confess I had to look a lot of things up, but I loved the diversity.

Overall Assessment

Premise: 4/5
Writing Style: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Pace: 2/5
Feels: 0/5

The Counting of Vermillion Beads by Aliette De Bodard

Well that was….f*cking weird. O_O I don’t even know how to review this one. I was kind of intrigued by the wall, but the story was so odd and confusing that I couldn’t really follow. I didn’t really understand the world, or the context of the Palace (?) that the girls were trapped (??) in. Lots of question marks here lol!

Overall Assessment

Premise: 2/5
Writing Style: 3/5
Characters: 2/5
Pace: 1.5/5
Feels: 0/5

The Land of the Morning Calm by E.C. Myers

Oh my gosh, I loved this one!!!! I desperately wish that this had been a full length novel. Not only was the video game aspect awesome, but I adored learning about the Korean mythology! I loved the idea of the kumiho (a nine-tailed fox spirit), gwisin (ghosts), King Yeomra (god of the dead), and Jeoseung (a grim reaper).

It’s hard to say much else without giving anything away, but I really loved the direction Myers took with the ending! I definitely want to check out more of his work!

View Spoiler »

Overall Assessment

Premise: 5/5
Writing Style: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Pace: 4.5/5
Feels: 4.5/5

The Smile by Aisha Saeed

This one was kind of interesting – a simple smile that can undo everything. I kind of liked that her attitude was to die free rather than live in chains, and that she found freedom in the end one way or another. I don’t have much to say about this one – nothing about it was particularly memorable but it was enjoyable to read for the most part.

Overall Assessment

Premise: 4/5
Writing Style: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Pace: 3/5
Feels: 2/5

Girls Who Twirl and Other Dangers by Preeti Chhibber

Wow, this one was horribly juvenile. I did enjoy the mythology story in between, but that was it. The girls taking revenge on some guy that was a “butt” (their exact words, eye roll) was super shallow and petty and just had me sighing and rolling my eyes. I felt like I was reading a story meant for 13-year-olds.

Overall Assessment

Premise: 1.5/5
Writing Style: 1/5
Characters: 1/5
Pace: 2/5
Feels: 0/5

Nothing into All by Renee Ahdieh

I don’t think there’s anything Renee could write that I wouldn’t enjoy! This one was fabulous. I loved the sense of family that Charan had, and the idea of the goblins and turning nothing into all. And of course Renee always has to have an ending that leaves things wide open!

Overall Assessment

Premise: 4.5/5
Writing Style: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Pace: 4/5
Feels: 3/5

Spear Carrier by Rahul Kanakia

Wow, I can’t say I’ve ever DNFed a short story before. I guess there’s a first for everything.

This prose was the most incoherent, sophomoric shit I’ve ever read in my life and made me want to spoon my eyeballs out. It was so disjointed and nonsensical that half the time I didn’t even know what the flipping hell was happening, and it gave me a headache to read. And what weird BS is going on in this story, anyway?! The narrator was thrown onto some field with a bunch of tents and aliens and “a huge glass structure full of blooming vines and flowers” (what American doesn’t know what a fucking greenhouse is?) and given a weird suit “somewhere farther in the future than [the narrator was] from” which was described as thus:

Our bodysuits were incredibly warm, and you could piss and shit inside them with no problems.

Um….

And then there was no other elaboration on that. Okaaaay then. (Also, might I add that the suits were later described as skin tight??) Did I mention that the writing was horrible?

Cold clouds of visible air blew out of my nose and mouth.

Lol? Then he meets this “crab thing” that “turned its googly eyes on” him. (Or maybe it was a her?? I’m unclear.)

“Hey,” I said. We both looked away at the same time. Its pale fleshy body reddened. The creature said, “Hello.”
“What?” I said. “You speak…English?”
“It’s a language I have access to.”
[Ridiculous description of creature as goofy with “googly eyes” (yes, again. Eye roll)]
“Okay, wow,” I said. “Wow. This is…wow.”
“You’re American? Perhaps you can tell me…I wasn’t given that much information about why to come here.”
“That’s just…that’s fantastic.”

Like what the actual fuck dude. I felt like I was on some serious drugs when I was reading this, and after like 3 pages of it I just couldn’t take anymore. I would have thought that perhaps it was badly translated, but this author is apparently a best seller?? Like how??? No thanks.

Overall Assessment

Premise: 0/5
Writing Style: 0/5
Characters: 0/5
Pace: 0/5
Feels: 0/5

Code of Honor by Melissa de la Cruz

It’s difficult to be honorable at your worst moment and to forgive those who do you wrong, to have to battle what comes naturally to you. But that’s what it takes to be a monster living among mortals.

I’m not a huge vampire fan, but this one was alright. I liked that she was a vampire with a Code of Honor. A killer with a code, so Dexter-like! (I love Dexter, btw.)

The story was okay. It felt like fluff though, more of a prequel than an actual short story. It was basically a prequel (with different characters, maybe?) to her Blue Bloods series, which I’ve heard of and possibly own one but have never read. Or maybe I tried a long time ago and DNFed.

Overall Assessment

Premise: 3/5
Writing Style: 3.5/5
Characters: 3/5
Pace: 4/5
Feels: 2/5

Bullet, Butterfly by Elsie Chapman

“We’re just the dragons guarding the gate, ordered to keep breathing the fire of those who cast the spell in the first place.”

Wow!!!! What a beautiful and heartbreaking story! I absolutely loved this one! I was really impressed by how Chapman was able to bring the world and her characters to life in such a short period of time. I really enjoyed her prose, I’m definitely going to have to try more of her work!

Overall Assessment

Premise: 4.5/5
Writing Style: 4/5
Characters: 4.5/5
Pace: 5/5
Feels: 4/5

Daughter of the Sun by Shveta Thakrar

What a strange and beautiful story! I really enjoyed this one as well. It felt almost like magical realism in a way, but it wasn’t absurd like magical realism is. I found the premise of the story very intriguing – Satyavan is fated to die in a year’s time, View Spoiler »

Very interesting indeed!

Overall Assessment

Premise: 5/5
Writing Style: 3.5/5
Characters: 3.5/5
Pace: 4.5/5
Feels: 2/5

The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon

Ohh this one was amazing!!! It was very bittersweet, but absolutely beautiful. I loved Pon’s prose and the magical world she painted. I loved the idea of a forbidden love between a goddess and a mortal. I definitely need to pick up Want asap!

I desperately wish this had been a full length novel. I have no doubt that I would have cried, given more time to really connect to the story and characters! As it was, I still had plenty of feels for this being such a short novel. Bravo, Cindy Pon!

Overall Assessment

Premise: 5/5
Writing Style: 4.5/5
Characters: 4/5
Pace: 5/5
Feels: 4.5/5

Eyes Like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa

Talk about saving the best for last!!! Oh my gosh, I love Julie to pieces. There’s nothing that she could write that I wouldn’t love! And Julie, why do you always have to break my heart?! There’s a reason she’s one of my favorite authors. YOU BRUTAL AUTHOR, YOU.

First of all, I love Japanese culture. Asian culture is fascinating to me, but Japanese is my favorite of all of them! Second, I freaking love the kitsune myth, so I loved it even more!

Overall Assessment

Premise: 5/5
Writing Style: 5/5
Characters: 4.5/5
Pace: 5/5
Feels: 4.5/5

Jessi (Geo)

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