Published by Greenwillow Books on June 26th 2018
Source: Publisher, Edelweiss
Genres: Anthology, Short Stories, Diversity, Contemporary, Fairy Tales & Folklore, Fantasy & Magic, Own Voices, Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
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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.
You know how some anthologies have hit or misses? In a mix of so many authors, there are bound to be better ones than others. This was not the case with this anthology. I can safely say that I loved all the short stories in A Thousand Beginnings and Endings. This anthology features 15 short stories – 15 #ownvoices stories – following South, East, and Southeast Asian mythologies that are rarely seen in Young Adult literature. Quite frankly, it’s the kind of stories that I grew up with. Without further ado, I’ll write a couple of sentences on each story and feature the very first line of the stories.
Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi – Filipino
Do not trust the fruit of Maria Makiling.
This story follows the bittersweet romance of the mountain spirit Dayang and the human Bulan. It’s mystical and magical; a short tale of the consequences of love written in beautiful prose.
Olivia’s Table by Alyssa Wong – Chinese
Olivia blew into town with the storm and headed straight for the Grand Silver Hotel.
Olivia’s mother used to cook a lavish banquet for the Ghost Festival at the Grand Silver Hotel. Now that she’s passed, it’s up to Olivia to handle the cooking. Featuring delicious foods and a delicious attraction between a human girl and a ghost girl, Olivia’s Table left me both hungry for more yet content at the same time.
Steel Skin by Lori M. Lee – Hmong
Yer’s father was an android.
I’m not sure how Lee managed to store such an exciting and in-depth adventure in such a short story, but it’s there. There’s intrigue, secrets, exploration of emotions, different depths of love, and ultimately, the meaning of being human. Who can resist such a sci-fi?
Still Star-Crossed by Sona Charaipotra – Punjabi
I knew I shouldn’t have come.
Charaipotra writes of an interesting romantic entanglement between a mysterious boy, Taara, and Taara’s mother. It takes the classic tale of Mirza and Sahiba and molds it into a whole new story in a contemporary setting, featuring mystery and reincarnation.
The Counting of Vermillion Beads by Aliette De Bodard – Vietnamese
Seen from afar, the wall fills up Cam and Tam’s world like skin over a healed wound.
This was a gorgeously-written story of two sisters, Cam and Tam, who try to escape the confines of the walls of the palace. One sister transforms into different shapes but still can’t get out. The other works so hard she increases in rank and is given the opportunity. Exceptional sister-sibling love and support.
The Land of the Morning Calm by E.C. Myers – Korean
It’s been five years since my mother died, but I still use the back door when I come home from school.
Travel across video game landscape with Sun as she searches for her dead – or lost? – mother. This is a supernatural story set in contemporary featuring a wide variety of creatures from South Korean folklore: kumiho, shape-shifters, magical animals, and gwisin – Korean ghosts.
The Smile by Aisha Saeed – South Asian
The musicians warmed up their strings, tablas, and lutes in the marble dance hall, steps from the room where my maidservant Simran was finishing lacing the bodice of my silk dress.
Saeed spins an enchanting and empowering tale of a courtesan, Naseem Begum, who was brought to the palace to be owned by one of the princes. Originally a love story, Saeed rewrites it so Naseem recognizes the unhealthy relationship and seeks out her own life outside of the palace. Also, girl friendship for the win.
Girls Who Twirl And Other Dangers by Preeti Chhibber – Gujarati
There are three reasons I know fall is awesome: the most anticipated Bollywood movies are always on a fall release schedule, my mom starts practicing her delicious party dishes, and it means it’s time for Navrati!
This was such a fun story following Jaya as she and her friends decide to teach a mean-spirited boy a lesson during a night of celebration. It alternates between the legend of Ma Durga and the parallels with Jaya’s own story. Full of fun and forgiveness, this story promises an exciting night of Navrati.
Nothing Into All by Renée Ahdieh – Korean
Many years ago, a girl and a boy lived with their parents in a bark-shingled home near a flowing river’s edge.
Chun and Charan are twins that are headed toward separate ways and goals as they grow up. While Chun wants to make sure his family is provided, Charan has dreams of going to a music school. When Charan gets a magical club to make “nothing into all,” this creates unavoidable tensions between the two. A wonderful brother-sister dynamic and magical settings make this story a hit.
Spear Carrier by Rahul Kanakia – South Asian
During my first day I was in shock.
This was a very introspective story about a young man taken from his thoughts in his car to a strange battleground with people and species across time and space. There are many questions in this story – what is this battle for? Where are these beings from? Why are they fighting and how important are their lives? The narrator challenges this in the midst of battle.
Code of Honor by Melissa de la Cruz – Filipino
I almost murdered a girl yesterday.
One of the more supernatural stories in this anthology! This one follows a lonely aswang, or vampire, and her desire to seek out people like her after she left the Philippines and came to New York. Her nemesis, Lilah, might be more than just the “mean girl” that Aida thinks she is. With surprising action and blood, this one will leave you chanting for more.
Bullet, Butterfly by Elsie Chapman – Chinese
The latest illness and its slow recovery left them all bored and restless, and Liang ended up losing the bet.
Wow… just, wow. The Butterfly Lovers is a folklore close to my heart – I grew up listening to this story and watching cartoon and live-action renditions in my grandparents’ home in Shanghai to this story. Chapman writes this retelling with all the heart and passion the original tale has. Set in the time of war, this one is a forbidden love story where duty battles with heart.
Daughter of the Sun by Shveta Thakrar – South Asian
Savitri Mehta’s parents had named her for light.
Absolutely enthralling! Thakrar weaves two stories in this one retelling, a romantic tale where the girl ends up saving the boy. I love how empowering this one for women and how Savitri took charge of her own life. #girlpower forever!
The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon – Chinese
All the storytellers get it wrong.
Another Chinese tale dear to my heart! This story is The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl from the Weaver Girl’s point of view, with some slight changes made. Pon makes this classic tale refreshing as she tells the tale through Hongyun’s perspective, and her manipulations that eventually lead to love.
Eyes Like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa – Japanese
Takeo stood at the top of the rice terraces watching his mother and sisters wade through the ankle-high water, shoving green rice-seedlings into the mud in neat rows.
This story revolves around the tale of kitsune, shape-shifting foxes in Japanese mythology that are cunning and mischievous. When Takeo saves a small fox from two village hounds as a child, he had no idea that would lead to a kitsune falling in love with him. Following that is a story of sacrifice, romance, and revenge.
From mountain spirits to mischievous devils to ancestral ghosts, each story brings alive a vastly unique and refreshing folklore dug from the roots of Asia. Each author adds a short explanation of the original story and why they chose to write what they did at the very end. The settings also range from present-day America to the palaces of Asia. A Thousand Beginnings and Endings is glorious and spellbinding – any lover of legends and folklore needs to pick this one up.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Thank you Edelweiss and HarperCollins for the review copy!