There was once a time when while reviewing an anthology, I would review every single story within it. I don’t do that anymore because 1. I am lazy but 2. I don’t think anyone really wants to read a review of EVERY SINGLE short story in an anthology because thats a lot to read and most people will pick an anthology up even if it has a couple mediocre short stories. Also, like, I do want to say I am definitely appreciative of the people who do review every single story and you guys are great. ANYWAY. The Radical Element is chockfull of some of the best YA writers right now and it ups the ante from A Tyranny of Petticoats. Tyranny certainly won my heart in 2016 but we still needed a…
Toil & Trouble: 16 Tales of Women & Witchcraft
Jessica Spotswood, Tessa Sharpe
Genre: Anthology, Magic, YA
Publication date: August 28th, 2018
by Harlequin Teen
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.
-A copy was provided by Harlequin Teen for review-
It is no secret that YA has been severely lacking with witchy content lately. I miss the delightful witchy pnr/urban fantasy that was so prominent in YA a couple years ago and I hope this anthology signals a comeback. SO. ANYWAY. When I heard about this anthology, I was ready for it. And it delivered. Like with any anthology, there were some stories that didn’t quite hit their potential, but I think I actually liked every single short story?? Which is quite a feat for an anthology.
I think my favorite thing about this anthology is just how much variety there is! It is extremely diverse but also, there is also just a huge variety in the kinds of stories being told. We get witch-y meet cutes, romances, horror, mystical, feminist, historical, EVERYTHING.
Top 3 Stories
Starsong by Tehlor Kay Mejia
I don’t know if Starsong was objectively the best short in the anthology but it was very memorable to me was because of how well-written and adorable it was. If you’re a fan of the skeptic/believer romance trope and meet-cutes, you’re gonna love this one too.
The Gherin Girls by Emery Lord
I am a garbage person who hasn’t read anything by Emery Lord so I was quite excited about finally getting the chance to do so. The Gherin Girls is a slightly dense story dealing with abusive relationships but we also get to see the amazing sisterly bond between the three main characters.
Why They Watch Us Burn by Elizabeth May
UGH. EVEN TRYING TO WRITE A MINI-PARA about this short story has resulted in goose bumps because it was so powerful. Elizabeth May was also an author I hadn’t read yet and her short blew me away. In it, we see a group of women who are put in ‘jail’ for accusing men of sexual assault. It is a powerful tale about allowing yourself to be angry but also of sisterhood.
Just so we are clear, these three shorts are accompanied by MANY other wonderful stories and it truly was a pain to have to pick favorites so I could keep this review reasonably short. Toil & Trouble is the perfect October read but also perfect for any other time of the year.