Authors listed at the end of the review.
A disabled teen tracks down an elusive sea beast. A young, Indian detective finds a magical artifact. A Black teen who can see the dead solves a murder mystery. An Ethiopian girl discovers magical secrets when she is kidnapped by her teacher. A teen survivor of a deadly plague realizes she and her robot companion are not alone.
Girls of Might and Magic is an anthology celebrating the magic of strength, resilience, and hope. It contains stories of characters of color, characters with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ characters. It’s about how these characters not only discover powerful magic, but also themselves.
The anthology is put together by Divers Books With Magic, a group that aims to highlight #ownvoice authors and stories with diverse characters. This is the group’s first book and it contains short-stories from 16 different authors.
I recently interviewed K.R.S. McEntire about the project (here), and I want to highlight one of the things she said:
“So I think it’s a mix of wanting to create something new, but also wanting to just be able to exist in fantasy worlds without it being seen as odd or as some type of political statement. “
After reading the book over the last two days, I feel like this sums up what’s at the core of this anthology. It’s no more or less political than fantasy in general. Rather, Girls of Might and Magic is a collection of stories about young women, dealing with the difficulties of growing up, of their first steps in adult life, and of coming to terms with having to play the hand that fate dealt them.
Also, it’s really good, and you should read it.
What I’ll whine about
Sixteen authors and sixteen stories – all of them about young women, facing the kind of issues young women deal with (plus magic). As a middle-aged man, I’m not exactly the target audience for this anthology. Not all of the stories resonated with me, but I’d say that’s to be expected. It would be unfair (and unreasonable) of me to raise that as a serious complaint (I don’t really have a serious complaint).
There’s a variety of themes and styles, and not all stories will appeal to all readers – such is life.
What I’ll gush about
The theme of strength, resilience, and hope really did a number on me – more so than I expected. It’s encouraging and uplifting, and a lot of the stories gave me the feels in the best of ways.
The writing. Much as mentioned above that not all of the stories resonated with me, I still have to call out that the quality of the writing is uniformly high. I know that for some of the authors involved, this anthology is among the first times they’re published, but judging by writing, I’d be hard pressed to tell who they are.
The anthology only contained one story by an author I’d read previously, and it contained stories by authors I’d never even heard of, but more importantly: it contained stories by authors I want to read more of. I’ve added several new books to my TBR, and I’ve placed one pre-order for an upcoming book that ties in to one of the stories.
This collection of YA short-stories is a great choice if you need a little emotional pick-me-up – or just a quick dose of hopeful, positively charged fantasy.
The stories and their authors:
- Heartburn by E. M. Lacey
- Wind and Silk by Alice Ivinya
- Faith by Sudha Kuruganti
- Grace and Ghosts by K. R. S. McEntire
- The Outside by C. C. Solomon
- Daughter of Soil and Gold by Meghan Rhine
- Check Yourself by Kat Zaccard
- A Meeting in the Woods by Nicole Givens Kurtz
- Pretty Young Things by LaLa Leo
- Funnel Cake by Amanda Ross
- Outcast by D. L. Howard
- Serenity Dawn by C. I. Raiyne
- The Cursed Gift by Courtney Dean
- Chasing Waves by Kendra Merritt
- Sight by Tamika Brown
- Memories of Magic by Ashley Ford