This post has been a long time coming. A while back, I wanted to do an old Top Ten Tuesday I never got around to: Anthology Authors That Made Me Want to Read Their Book. [Dubiously inspired by posts by Danielle @LifeofaLiteraryNerd and Destiny @HowlingLibraries.] But I realized I have way. too. many. stories to discuss.
The only anthology on my shelf I won’t be discussing is Violent Ends by Shaun David Hutchinson, as it was a very long time ago and I don’t remember it very well.
I made this super nice graphic, and then I realized that this is quite literally the only anthology I have completed in my Goodreads days that I had absolutely no highlights from, which is honestly just tragic.
→review here← (read May 2017)
This anthology had no calculated average rating and contained zero favorites out of seventeen total stories.
→ Somewhere That’s Green by Meredith Russo ← ★★★★★ 🇸🇱
Out trans girl Nia has been awarded a petition to use the correct bathroom. Closeted Lexie petitions the school to take it back… and then realizes she’s doing it for her parents. Listen, this would’ve been so easy a concept to fuck up, but this story gets it right, never excusing Lexie’s actions but also giving her a decent amount of narrative sympathy. Nia is written fantastically – this is actually #ownvoices for trans rep! – and was such a compelling and awesome character. Also the ending of this was so fucking iconic!! This was basically perfect and I’m reading everything this author ever writes now.
→ Oomph by Emery Lord ← ★★★★★ 🇸🇱
Peggy Carter and Natasha Romanoff meet in an airport and flirt their way through a flight delay. This is literally the purest thing I’ve read in my fucking life? Hilarious banter + compelling characters = happy me. I literally want to read a full novel about these two girls. They’re SO CUTE. AND PERFECT. This feels like a Hayley Kiyoko song.
→ The Unlikely Likelihood Falling In Love by Jocelyn Davies ← ★★★★★ ☀️
Logic girl Sam tries to calculate the possibility of seeing a boy on the passing train again. IM GOING TO SCREAM AT HOW CUTE THIS WAS. None of you can ever understand how fucking cute? And sweet? And Good? This was? And it was so well-written! The author really knows how to drop in humor and leave it there rather than trying to force laughs.
→ The Department of Dead Love by Nicola Yoon ← ★★★★★ ☀️
This story made me feel like the most fake deep person in the whole world. But in a good way? A recent breakup victim tries to go through love departments to do over his relationship… until he meets a girl working at one of the departments. The worldbuilding of this one is definitely the focus, but honestly, I am occasionally a sucker for brilliant concept work. I really wish this could be a full book. and this story also contains my favorite quote from the anthology:
“Some people you want to get to know and some people you want to know you. I think that’s the difference.”
→review here← (read Jan 2018)
This anthology had an average rating of exactly 3.5 stars and contained four favorites out of fourteen total stories.
→ Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore ← ★★★★★
✔ 1870 Mexico | mf, trans mc, latinx mcs
An bruja tries to break her trans lover, León, out of prison. God. Okay. I’m going to make my thesis statement about Anna Marie McLemore’s work and the theme of an evil or cursed family, because she plays with that concept A LOT and it’s great every time. There’s also a short author’s note and I kind of adore the inspo for this story. I don’t even know, this woman just knows how to fucking write.
→ Burnt Umber by Mackenzi Lee ← ★★★★★
✔ 1638 Amsterdam | mlm
Painter Constantijn is much more talented at painting nude bodies than his fellow apprentices – until he’s asked to draw the guy he’s got a crush on. This was just… really cute. I really love Mackenzi Lee’s sense of humor and I laughed at this a lot.
→ Molly’s Lips by Dahlia Adler ← ★★★★★
✔ 1994 Seattle | wlw
This was my FAVORITE. I don’t even understand why but for some reason I started tearing up at this? Molly and Annabelle go to a memorial for Kurt Cobain’s death and… things occur. This is a deeply adorable story that is also obviously very deeply heartfelt for the author, and I love it. I don’t even know anything about Nirvana besides, like, one song, but I love this.
→ Every Shade of Red by Elliot Wake ← ★★★★★
✔ 1300s England | mlm, trans mc, qpoc cast
Okay, this story is Robin Hood, except it’s sort of a story about being yourself in the environment you can be – which is a great retelling concept – and Robin is trans and dating Will. I don’t think I’m the same person as I was before I read this story. This… listen, I have only once in my life been so completely destroyed by a short story. I CRIED at the end of this. In a good and bad way. I’m so deeply upset. Also, writing porn. There were like two descriptions of the people of color in the gang I was kind of iffy on – I think they were in for historical accuracy but also why? But this was…………… oh my god.
→ The Girl with the Blue Lantern by Tess Sharpe ← ★★★★★
✔ 1839 Northern CA | wlw
This was BEAUTIFUL. Human Ella meets a wood spirit, Oria, through her dog, and then they fall in love. And it’s really sweet and creative. I’m still super into rational MCs in bad situations, and Ella’s narrative voice was really great. Also I’m a complete slut for vaguely creepy spirits and aestheticy forest descriptions porn!
→ Walking After Midnight by Kody Keplinger ← ★★★★★
✔ 1952 NY | wlw, a-spec MC
Awww, I love this. It’s about Betsey, a child actress on the way to New York for a play and a new future, and Laura, a girl she meets on the way. This story made me feel really deep about The Future and The Possibilities Of Tomorrow and I don’t even know, it just made me really happy?
→ Three Witches by Tessa Gratton ← ★★★★★
✔ 1519 Castile [Spain] | wlw
This story follows Violante, a girl in conversion therapy, and Gracia, the nun caring for her. This story is one about the nature of religion, and I think the reasons I loved it so much can be summed up pretty easily: 1) the writing and 2) the ending. The ending of this story is one of the most powerful endings in the collection and I just… gah.
→ The Inferno & the Butterfly by Shaun David Hutchinson← ★★★★★
✔ 1839 London | mlm
Magician’s assistant Alfie tries to save rival magician’s apprentice Wilhelm. This story is about believing yourself to be cursed and releasing yourself from that and it meant somuch to me.
→ Healing Rosa by Tehlor Kay Mejia ← ★★★★★
✔ 1933 New Mexico | wlw, latinx mcs
This is joining the list of things that were written so well they made me literally, actually cry. This follows a girl who falls in love with another girl, Rosa, and tries to heal her of the demon inside her. Oh my god, I loved this, I loved the leads, I loved the story, I loved the writing. 20/10 would reread and cry a bit and desperately await Mejia’s gay as hell 2019 release.
→review here← (read March 2018)
This anthology had an average rating of 4.12 stars and contained nine favorites out of seventeen total stories. It’s one of my favorite anthologies of all time. Please read it immediately.
→ Pearls by Beth Revis ← ★★★★★
Helen Davies flees her rapist fiancé in 1876 Chicago for a small schoolhouse near Cheyenne. This story is BADASS and the heroine is awesome. The ending was just flat-out perfect.
→ Gold in the Roots of the Grass by Marissa Meyer ← ★★★★★
In the Dakota Territory of 1877, Sun Fei-Yen helps out a boy named James. It’s one of the cutest, best things I’ve ever read. That ending was so great!! I love happy takes on depressing plotlines.
→review here← (read March 2017)
This anthology had an average rating of 3.43 stars and contained two favorites out of fifteen total stories.
→ Glamour by Anna-Marie McLemore ← ★★★★★
✔ 1923 Central Valley, CA | brown Mexican MC, disabled trans boy LI
I think McLemore just has very consistent quality writing and characters and very consistently plays with themes I LOVE. Here, it’s about the masks we put on to hide things we may not be ashamed of, but others will be, and how that affects us. The best one in the first half of the collection, honestly.
→ Better For All The World by Marieke Nijkamp ←★★★★★
✔ 1927 Washington, DC | autistic MC
THERE WAS A STORY THAT WAS EXPLICITLY ANTI EUGENICS. Okay, so I got really passionate about this historical era this year because I did a paper on post-World-War-II eugenics. So this story and its discussion of the way society treated “different” people was so amazing. The main character, Carrie, is very clearly autistic and written so well and I basically adore her [an icon!!!!!] I hope she gets the lawyer job she deserves. Spoilery note: I kind of wished in the first half that the love interest had figured out that he was wrong, if only so the lead could get a happy relationship? But the way the story actually went was better on another level by validating the lead’s need for someone who actually treated her well, so I guess that wish was pretty irrational.
→ When the Moonlight Isn’t Enough by Dhonielle Clayton ← ★★★★★
✔ 1943 Oak Bluffs, MA | black MC
Uh, wow, three fives in a row just as I was readying to write this collection off as good-but-not-standout? Lead character Emma has been alive for 200 years and is just now deciding whether to break free. This story is primarily focused on the continuity between earlier black history and later black history. The other main concept explored here is the question of how black people can be patriotic in a culture that has offered them so little, and how they can find their own communities. It’s just an excellent story with very sound writing.
→ Land of the Sweet, Home of the Brave by Stacey Lee ←★★★★★
✔ 1955 Oakland, CA | multiracial Chinese, Japanese, and Hawaiian MC
A story about Lana Lau dragging everyone to hell and back. Every line of this was the most savage thing I’d ever read and I love it. Also love the mentions of American imperialism in Hawaii and the taking-back of that narrative. And I know I’ve said it, but I truly love the lead.
→review here← (read May 2018)
This anthology had an average rating of a surprisingly high 4.0 stars and contained four favorites out of twelve total stories.