27 August 2018

A Thousand Beginnings & Endings by Ellen Oh

Series: N/A
# of Pages: 336
Publication: June 26th, 2018
Source: Library Copy
Genre: Fantasy, Fairytale Retelling
Goodreads | Amazon

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.

Because this is a short story compilation I'll be reviewing each individual story. Some stories have a longer review while others may simply be a sentence or two. 

Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokski - Filipino: (4 Stars) This was such a phenomenal story! It was heartbreaking because of the romance, but the legend behind the romance made me want to know so much more about Filipino myths and legends.

Olivia's Table by Alyssa Wong - Chinese: (5 Stars) This has to be my favorite out of the entire book. It has paranormal elements, but also bits and pieces about family, tradition, loyalty, and love. There is positive LGBTQIA+ representation. I loved the main character. And I kept hoping and wishing that there would be more, but then I floated back down to reality and realized that this was only a short story. I definitely want to see more from Alyssa Wong.

Steel Skin by Lori M. Lee - Hmong: (3.5 Stars) I was shocked. I mean super shocked when I figured out the ending to this story. It was good. I think there are elements of the story that could have been worked like plot, but I did enjoy the writing. This is great for science-fiction fans.

Still Star-Crossed by Sona Charaipotra - Punjabi: (3.5 Stars) This was such a fascinating story, but I only felt comfortable giving it a 3.5 stars because it left me wanting more. It was such a beautiful story about reincarnation and lost love. I really truly believe that Sona Charaipotra could write a book based around the short story. I know that I would definitely pick it up.

The Counting of Vermillion Beads by Aliette De Bodard - Vietnamese: (2 Stars) To be honest I’m rating this one so low because of the fact that I did not understand anything about it. I re-read passages over and over again and for some reason the story and I just didn’t connect and it didn’t make much sense. I could not figure out if there was a bit of magical realism going on or what, but I just know that I didn’t like it and it’s probably one of my least favorite stories in the entire collection.

The Land of the Morning Clam by E.C. Myers - Korean: (4.5 Stars) This one was sooooo good. I really enjoyed the “gaming” or “virtual reality” aspects of this story. It was well written, but also heart-breaking. I could not begin to imagine the type of loss that the main character experiences. It has so many great Korean cultural references and I like that the author added a little bit of gaming for those who were interested. This is definitely one of my other favorites in the collection and I wish that the author would have gotten the opportunity to write this as a full story.

The Smile by Aisha Saeed - South Asian: (3.5 Stars) This was not the best written story within the collection; however, what I liked about it is that it focused on women’s empowerment.

Girls Who Twirl & Other Dangers by Preeti Chhibber - Gujarati : (3.5 Stars) This is perfect for those who need to understand that revenge isn't the best medicine. Sometimes it's just better to address the problem at hand.

Nothing Into All by Renee Aidieh - Korean: (4 Stars) This is a fairy tale that I will share with my children. It illustrates how good and evil are not as clear as we think and sometimes someone who seems "bad" may just have the best intentions but they've projected it in a bad way.

Spear Carrier by Rahul Kanakia - South Asian: (3 Stars) This one was weird and quite frankly I didn't understand a lot of it except the references to heroes. I liked the analysis of what it means to be a hero and how things out of our control can determine what path our lives will take.

Code of Honor by Melissa De La Cruz - Filipino (4 Stars) Okay this one was a huge surprise. I'm not a fan of Melissa De La Cruz at all. I don't know if it is her characters or her writing, but we usually don't see eye to eye. HOWEVER, this story was great. I was so shocked that I enjoyed it so much. It actually made me want to read her Blueblood series.

Bullet Butterfly by Elise Chapman - Chinese (5 Stars) If you know anything about me then you know that I'm a huge fan of Romeo and Juliet and this was definitely a dark/twisted version of it that gave me steampunk vibes. I loved it. It was one of my favorites in collection.

Daughter of the Sun by Shveta Thakrar - South Asian (4 Stars) Such a beautiful, beautiful story with such a smart, cunning main character. This was such a fun story to read.

The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon (3.5 Stars) - I think that what I loved about this shorty story is that it's a tale thatis re-written to give it the voice of the woman who they myth is about. I loved that she was able to dictate how the story was told. It was a fun and interesting story.

Eyes Like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa (4 Stars) - I've never read anything by Julie, but if her other stuff is like this I will definitely be reading it. This is such a sad story and what's crazy is that I've heard of the myth before, but the way in which she constructed the tale was beautiful.

Overall I thought that this was a good short story collection. I usually stay away from short story compilations with so many authors because they tend to be overwhelming and I usually don't like most of them so I was super excited to find some many gems in this book. If you haven't had the opportunity to check out this book definitely give it a chance.


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