I received this book for free from Greenwillow Books in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.A Thousand Beginnings and Endings by Ellen Oh
Published by Greenwillow Books on June 26th, 2018
Genres: Anthology, Mythology, YA
Source: Greenwillow Books
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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.
There have been so MANY amazing anthologies on my radar this year but A Thousand Beginnings and Endings might have been my most anticipated for the year.
I’ve talked this about a lot so I sometimes feel like a broken record, but it is an important point and a huge part of my love and excitement for this anthology so it is worth repeating. I grew up without much rep which was weird and confusing. Obviously, this review is not meant to be an analysis of my trauma but even as a teen, this was so evident when I’d open all those angel/vampire books that were soaked in Christian and western myth. Myths I grew up on, or other people grew up where never part of mainstream media even though they were all cool and all fascinating with potential to make for amazing stories!
My first taste of seeing Hindu mythology on paper was when I read The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi. It was very validating and freeing to see a part of my culture in a book! ANYWAY, SO. THIS ANTHOLOGY. It is a collection of Asian myths and folklore, written by Asian authors. We aren’t just talking East-Asian (as such is often the case when people say ‘Asian’) WE’RE TALKING South-East Asian, South-Asian, ALL OF THE THINGS.
I’ve now written three paragraphs without saying a single thing about the actual stories but you know, anthologies aren’t really easy to review and a long-ago gave up on trying to review every short story in an anthology.
Here is what I can say. This stories in this anthology are written by a group of talented authors. I didn’t love every single one of them but I did like all of them very very much and loved a good deal of them.
Top 3 Stories
Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi
Chokshi is known for her re-creations of Indian folklore but this time she is re-creating a Filipino folklore about a mountain spirit, a diwata and a villager who fall in love. There is vengeance, forbidden love, heartbreak, betrayal and death. Basically, all the good things.
The Smile by Aisha Saeed
I am not really sure what to say about about The Smile other than it was just really well-written? It is about Naseem who Prince Kareem’s courtesan. After a series of incidents, she slowly becomes aware of how her relationship with Prince Kareem has basically left her with no control over her life and choices. She then begins the fight to regain control over her life and her freedom. Basically, The Smile is very empowering and just one of the best in this anthology.
The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon
THIS ONE IS ALSO A FORBIDDEN STORY between a cow herder and an immortal goddess. Our main character has never had a flirtation with a mortal like her sisters but when a slight flirtation turns into full-fledged love, she must deal with the consequences. The Crimson Cloak has no vengeance like Forbidden Fruit but it is much more heartbreaking and melancholic.
4 Hot Espressos