Wednesday, December 27, 2017


edited by Melanie Meadors
Anthologies are always tough to rate. No matter how many writers or stories you have, there are always going to be some that stand out above the rest. Unfortunately, in this particular anthology, the number of stories I loved was far smaller than I had hoped. This is particularly disappointing because I love female protagonists, especially angry female protagonists. I think my main problem with short stories is there’s just not enough time to delve into the nuances of female anger. As a result, a lot of the stories feel surface-level.

The stand-out stories:

“The Scion,” by S.R. Cambridge. This was masterful.  In a very short time, Cambridge made me care about the main character and her sister. It was interesting, surprising, and poignant. I don’t want to say much more because it’s very easy to spoil a short story, but reading this was a pleasure.

“Casting On,” by Philippa Ballantine. I liked that this one was unexpected. The protagonists were older women whose main focus was knitting. Not only did Ballantine show that women don’t have to be young to be badass, but she also successfully made their weapon knitting, something that’s very female-coded.

Of course, I’m not saying that the other stories were bad. They simply weren’t to my tastes or, if they were, they felt too short and underdeveloped.

One odd thing was that the anthology includes short biographies of admirable women. In theory, I like the idea, but the biographies are short and blandly written. They break up the flow of stories and ultimately take more away from the collection than they contribute, almost like they’re fillers to pack the table of contents. However, I did like the inclusion of non-fiction essays even if, again, most of them were too short to pack much of a punch. It was an interesting attempt to merge what we read in fiction to how we relate to those stories and help bring them to life, both as writers and readers.

I’m sure anthologies, because of their nature, are hit-or-miss for most readers. If the subject matter interests you or you’re a fan of any of these writers, I’d say give it a shot. I think it’s a book best read in small doses, though, rather than straight through.

Thanks to NetGalley and Ragnarok Publications for an e-copy of this in exchange for an honest review.

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