Friday, August 24, 2018

Book Review: Toil and Trouble - 15 Tales of Women and Witchcraft

Title: Toil and Trouble: 15 Tales of Women and Witchcraft
Author: Various
Genre: Young Adult | Short Stories | Witches
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Source: Publisher
Format: ARC

A young adult fiction anthology of 15 stories featuring contemporary, historical, and futuristic stories featuring witchy heroines who are diverse in race, class, sexuality, religion, geography, and era.
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 (goodreads).

Understandably, there are hit-or-misses in anthologies, but this one had more misses. 

 I was thrilled to pick this one up as the synopsis hinted at exploring various different witches throughout history and literature with a feminist slant. Toil and Trouble delivered in highlighting characters from different backgrounds and there was an impressive amount of queer stories. Storywise, I felt that most of the shorts were not memorable and most had very abrupt endings. I understand how hard it is to create characters, worldbuilding, and a storyline within a set number of pages, but I was disappointed that only three stories drew me into the story and world. This is a collection of books that I would recommend that you read even once, just to support this diverse collection.

Starsong by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Afterbirth by Andrea Cremer 

The Heart in Her Hands by Tess Sharpe

Death in the Sawtooths by Lindsay Smith

The Truth About Queenie by Brandy Colbert

The Moonapple Menagerie by Shveta Thakrar

The Legend of Stone Mary by Robin Talley 

The One Who Stayed by Nova Ren Suma

Divine Are the Stars by Zoraida Cordova

Daughters of Baba Yaga by Brenna Yovanoff

The Well Witch by Kate Hart

Beware of Girls with Crooked Mouths by Jessica Spotswood

Love Spell by Anna-Marie McLemore

The Gherin Girls by Emery Lord

Why They Watch Us Burn by Elizabeth May


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