Genre: YA Fantasy Anthology Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Rep: Queer, Disabled, POC
As a whole, I absolutely loved this anthology! There were quite a few 4 and 5 star stories, and the representation was fantastic! My top 3 were:
1. The Necromancer’s Army by Agatha Lopez
2. From the Ether by E.M. Lacey
3. Dawn by Morgan Daimler
Weight of the Arrow by Erin Casey (3 Stars)
I liked that the MC is in the midst of a journey towards body positivity. I also really enjoyed the dragons in this story!
Daughters of the Jungle by R.L. Medina (4 Stars)
I really liked that the story focused on both sisters, but it was from Yara’s perspective. I loved the magic in the story and the way Yara and Leku are opposites, but also connected. The ending was fantastic!
Enchanted by the Elven Prince by Sirena Knighton (5 Stars)
I feel like elves are overdone in fantasy nowadays, but I must say I absolutely loved this story! I will definitely be reading the full novella of this story and, if it’s not too spicy for me, I will be ordering Knighton’s first book in this series as well. Her writing was simply exquisite and the romance was perfect!
Kingdom of Blood and Bane by K.R.S. McEntire (4.5 Stars)
Another wonderful story! It certainly drew me in from the beginning. I really liked the plot twist towards the end of this story. The plot in general was interesting and I adored the main character, Sura.
Akin to Magic by Jessica Cage (2.5 Stars)
I was not a fan of this story. The writing was repetitive at times and inconsistent at others. For instance, one character is described as having the ability to wield fire, but a few sentences later is said to have no magical affinity. Additionally, the story itself was disappointing. I would have liked to see Adain stick to her decision to make a point.
From the Ether by E.M. Lacey (5 Stars)
The best word I can think of to describe this story is powerful. It was absolutely phenomenal and packed a lot of emotion in a short story. The plot was unique, and I appreciated the way the main character was disabled, but also had special abilities. Overall, this was a beautiful and moving story, and I will definitely be checking out the author’s books!
They Call Him Destroyer by John Wells (3 Stars)
This story was good, but nothing really stood out to make it great for me. I wasn’t particularly attached to any of the characters. However, the plot was solid and the story moved at a quick pace.
Beauregard by LaLa Leo (1.5 Stars)
I’m not sure if this story is related to some of the author’s other works, but it was very confusing. Keep in mind that I read an ARC copy, so perhaps there will be significant changes, but the writing was so jumbled and inconsistent, it was difficult to tell what was happening in the story. There were some incomplete sentences and scenes that just seemed random.
A Mother’s Love by Kristen S. Walker (4.5 Stars)
I absolutely loved this story! Maylayna’s love for her daughter is moving and I think the story being told from her perspective made it better. I really liked that it highlighted the experience of a trans girl, showing what that is like in real life. It warmed my heart that Nestia’s mother stuck by her as every mother should!
Lucky Scales by Kat Zaccard (5 Stars)
I need more Avina, Saphie, and Finneus!!! This story was wonderful! I loved the fact that there were various creatures and beings included, and the three main characters, really made the story shine. Who wouldn’t love an adventure with an orphan, a dragon, and a leprechaun? This story seems like it could set up a larger series, and I’m sincerely hoping the author has plans on writing more with these characters!
Season of War and Blood by D.L. Howard (5 Stars)
I definitely got lost in this wonderful story! The characters were fantastic, especially Tiaret. Tia’s powers are very intriguing and I love that she forms a bond with a lion cub. My favorite aspect of the story was the theme of acceptance!
Heads Will Roll by Amanda Ross (4 Stars)
I really enjoyed this Alice in Wonderland retelling! I love that Roisin is a morally grey character. Ross did a phenomenal job of connecting to the reader’s feelings. At first Roisin’s feelings towards Allis are a bit alarming, but as the story goes on I felt myself understanding Roisin more and more. Overall, a great and unique retelling!
The Sword, the Scepter, and the Crown by N.D.T. Casale (4 Stars)
I have read a few of Casale’s short stories now, and she is surely becoming a new favorite author of mine! This story was cute and exciting. I’m always amazed by Casale’s writing because it is so vividly descriptive, which is by far my favorite aspect of this story. I can’t wait to read her debut book, which is coming out this year!
The Necromancer’s Army by Agatha Lopez (5 Stars)
If the title of this story doesn’t draw you in immediately, the first few paragraphs surely will! This is perhaps the most unique short story I’ve ever read, and I loved every minute of it. Everything about it was stunning; the plot, the action scenes, the characters. Not to mention the MAJOR plot twist. I did not see that coming at all! Reading that this is Lopez’s first published work is shocking. When I read a story this epic, I typically assume that it is written by a seasoned author. I feel this only attests to how talented Lopez is, and I cannot wait to read more of her work!
Dawn by Morgan Daimler (5 Stars)
As a fan of fairytale retellings, I absolutely loved this Beauty and the Beast meets a gender-swapped The Boy Who Cried Wolf retelling! Una was a perfect character! As someone who also uses a cane, I really liked the representation and felt as though I related to her a lot. Similarly, I liked how Daimler points out that the elderly, like the disabled, are often overlooked. Marie and Una were the perfect team. The story was beautiful, and I would have love to read more about Una!