The New Voices of Fantasy – 3 stars – releases August 8th 2017
I love anthologies because I get to review each story as a separate entity.
While I’ll be mentioning thoughts on each story separately, I would like to say a few words about the collection as a whole. First of all, this is more speculative fiction than fantasy. Barely any of these take place in a different world, and barely any have standard plots. Instead, with a few exceptions, most are brief ruminations on a certain topic. I have to admit, I found that element fairly boring. Many of these started fantastically and ended just blah.
However, I did find a few FANTASTIC stories in here. I’m an especially big fan of the weird-but-badass Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers by Alyssa Wong, the eerie Jackalope Wives by Ursula Vernon, the probably-going-to-be-polarizing Tiger Baby by JY Yang, and the emotional & feminist The Husband Stitch by Carmen Maria Machado. If you’re looking for a place to read a few of my fav stories from this anthology, I’d recommend checking out Melanie’s review, in which she added links for every single short story she could find so you can read a few of my favs for free!!. This was so much extra effort and I appreciated it so much. If you want to check out her blog and follow her because she’s fantastic, she’s here!!
♔ Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers by Alyssa Wong – ★★★★★
This one is basically terrifying. A girl uses Tinder to find dates and feed off their gross thoughts about her body. Yet on one date, she feasts off a murderer and becomes addicted. There’s also a maybe-romance between her and her best friend. I adored this story, although I felt that the end fizzled a little. The writing and atmosphere is pitch-perfect, I adored the characters… just great. Probably my favorite of all the stories.
You can read this here.
♔ Selkie Stories are for Losers by Sofia Samatar – ★★★
This follows– um, I’m not quite sure, because this really didn’t feel resolved or completed. I liked the writing and the atmosphere, but the execution of the storyline was mediocre. Also appreciate that both of the first two stories were both a little gay.
♔ Tornado’s Siren by Brooke Bolander – ★★★
This follows a girl in love with a tornado. It’s… weird. I love the idea, but I didn’t emotionally connect with anything here. The magical realism feel is nice, at least.
♔ Left the Century to Sit Unmoved by Sarah Pinsker – ★★★★
This is a slice-of-life about people living near a pond in their small town. I LOVED the beginning. Absolutely adored the writing, loved the themes, was so excited to see what the solution is. I thought this would blow my mind. It unfortunately didn’t. These open endings have got to go.
♔ A Kiss with Teeth by Max Gladstone – ★★★
It’s a coming of age story, but with a really old vampire instead of a teen. I was honestly kind of surprised I enjoyed this, after I found the beginning badly written and slightly stalker-ish. But this quickly turned into an interesting story about accepting faults in love. I especially loved reading about Vlad and Sarah’s little family.
♔ Jackalope Wives by Ursula Vernon – ★★★★★
This is a story about wanting what you can’t have and having what you can’t want. It’s… eerie. I feel like this will be polarizing, but I loved it. And yes, it is about jackalope wives. Go figure.
♔ The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees by E. Lily Yu – ★★★
I don’t think I understood this? The themes about human empowerment are clear, but there’s no thesis to it, I guess. It is very well-written.
♔ The Practical Witch’s Guide to Acquiring Real Estate by A. C. Wise – ★★
Meh. I think I have to agree with Melanie when I say this was kind of pointless. It’s a guide for witches building houses.
♔ The Tallest Doll in New York City by Maria Dahvana Headley – ★★★★
This was so weird but so creative and atmospheric. It follows a group of buildings that are dating. I said weird, don’t blame me. I don’t even know if I understood all of it; is it time neutral or something? Yet I ended the story with happiness rather than with a desire for more.
♔ The Haunting of Apollo A7LB by Hannu Rajaniemi – ★★★★
The first line of this story is freaking amazing; I actually planned to take a break from this collection until I saw the first line. And thankfully I really enjoyed this!! It’s a story of lost love and dreams. Be warned it’s far less creepy than its blurb.
♔ Here Be Dragons by Chris Tarry – ★★
This follows a man who is always leaving his parents to make money off townspeople via slaying fraudulent dragons. I thought this was going to be some story of redemption after being a terrible father, but it’s so… ugh. There’s this vibe of “women are the right parents for children and men pitching in is just a bonus” which… no. I kind of enjoyed the middle of this story, but the end ruined it for me by going back on all the potential for character development.
♔ The One They Took Before by Kelly Sandoval – ★★★
Maybe more of a 2.5, because I legitimately have no fucking clue what this is about. Nice writing though.
♔ Tiger Baby by JY Yang – ★★★★★
This was so weird, and yet here I am with your latest five-star review. Maybe a 4.5 in reality, but this fucked with my mind. This follows a girl who believes she is truly a tiger. The ending is just as odd as the rest, but I really enjoyed something about it. I’d like to analyze this one. I feel as if it will be quite hit-or-miss. And this will sound odd, but I appreciate the amount of stories in this collection with badass gay Asian girls as protagonists.
♔ The Duck by Ben Loory – ★★★
This follows a duck who falls in love with a rock. I know what you’re thinking – he’s weird. An odd duck, if you will. But truly, that’s the point. This story is truly about accepting your friends for who they are. It’s a sweet theme and a sweet story. Unfortunately, I found this a bit lacking. The themes lacked the depth of development I wanted, due to the ridiculously short length.
♔ Wing by Amal El-Mohtar – ★★★★
This is a story about how love should be accepting. Following a girl with a book around her neck, a girl with a secret, we see how love should come about. It’s quite short, but I enjoyed this a lot. There are some fabulous and quotable lines in here.
♔ The Philosophers by Adam Ehrlich Sachs – ★★★
This is a series of vignettes about fathers and sons. And no, there aren’t any girl characters. Go figure. The first story is about generations trying to communicate and bad translating methods. The second story is about recognizing parental faults and hats. The last story isn’t about fathers at all, it’s about creating paradoxes through assassinating your relatives. But it was probably my favorite of all these.
♔ My Time Among the Bridge Blowers by Eugene Fischer – ★★★★
This is a story about colonialism. Readers will be drawn to the themes and message of this, as well as the complex and intriguing worldbuilding. Why couldn’t this be a full book?
♔ The Husband Stitch by Carmen Maria Machado – ★★★★★
I read this earlier due to Melanie‘s awesome recommendation. This is a story about being consumed by men and losing your own agency. It’s a story about how much you can give before you break. And that’s all I’m really going to say about it. This is one you really have to experience on your own. One thing is clear, though; it’s worth the read. There were a few metaphors here I only understood on the second go due to sheer exhaustion, which is really upsetting – I feel like this would be my fave rather than my second fave otherwise.
You can read this story here.
♔ The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn by Usman T. Malik – ★
I’m going to be totally honest here – I hated this. It’s really well-written, and I’m sure many will appreciate it if they “get it”. But I could not get past the length. This takes up an entire 25% of the story collection. Twenty. Five. Percent. That’s not short. That’s a 75 page story. And it didn’t need to be so long!! This easily could’ve been twenty pages and fantastic, if a little confusing. Confusing short stories are fun and make you think. Confusing long stories are annoying. This was the latter. It’s an overwritten mess that keeps touching on cosmology but doesn’t make any sense.
Comment below if you had any similar thoughts on these stories, or different ones!!