A Thousand Beginnings and Endings


A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Published June 26th, 2018
Genres: Anthologies, Short stories, YA, Fantasy, Mythology
Pages: 336
Format: Hardback
Buy: Book Depository | Amazon

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.

Captura de ecrã 2017-06-30, às 18.09.21This is one of the best anthologies I’ve ever read! It’s so unique and beautiful!

I loved reading each retelling and knowing in what they were based. There were so many myths and legends I’ve never heard of and they were beautiful! I wish there were more anthologies like this! I would definitely read them!

Like with every anthology there are always some stories better than others, but this one was in general a success! I will be mentioning each short story and the myths and legends they were based on as well as their individual rating.

My Top 3 stories were Forbidden Fruit, The Crimson Cloak, and Eyes like Candlelight. But I loved so many of them, that is difficult to just mention my top 3… But these are the ones that I loved more than anything.

The short stories

Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi (Filipino Folktale – Maria Makiling):

This was a beautiful and interesting story about a goddess that falls in love with a human boy. I didn’t know the Filipino Folktale but the story managed to touch me anyway. It was just… wistful, sad and magical to the point of overwhelming me. It’s an incredible and emotional love story that I will definitely not forget. We are up to a great start!

Overall:  5 stars

Olivia’s Table by Alyssa Wong (A Chinese Tradition – The Hungry Ghost Festival):

I loved this story and the meaning of it! This story touches themes like grief over a loved one, terminal illness, and depression. Our main character Olivia is an amazing girl feeling her mother’s shoes and bringing honor to her family by feeding a crowd of hungry ghosts so they can move on. It’s beautiful and sad and so touching! I absolutely loved it!

Overall: 5 stars 

Steel Skin by Lori M. Lee (A Hmong Folktale – The Woman and the Tiger):

This one talks about grief over a loved one, family and friendship. It’s a sci-fi story where androids went crazy with over-intelligence and a girl whose father hasn’t been the same since her mother died in an android “rebellion”. One day she finds out that her father has been dealing with android matters again, so she teams up with her friend to uncover the truth. It was emotional and sad to see her relationship with her father and beautiful to see her friendship with her neighbor. Plus that end… Beautiful!

Overall: 4 stars

Still Star-Crossed by Sona Charaipotra (A Punjabi Folktale – Mirza and Sahiba):

I can’t say I didn’t like this one but other than that it was a bit difficult to get in, it was also a bit weird. It’s supposed to be romantic and sometimes it felt like it, but other times it felt quite creepy. I mean, I wouldn’t be happy to have a guy following me around after a party at a club – I definitely wouldn’t find it romantic. I think the idea was really good, and I loved the folktale, but the story still left me longing for more…

Overall: 3 stars

The Counting of Vermillion Beads by Aliette De Bodard (A Vietnamese Folktale – Tấm Cám):

Oh, how I love stories that focus on sisterhood! This story was beautiful! It was much more uplifting than the original one, that’s for sure! I really liked how it was written and how much meaning it had behind it. I especially loved the end and how it shows that we are able to do whatever we want and be whoever we want if we just put our mind to it. It was a beautiful tale and I loved the folklore too!

Overall: 4 stars

The Land of Morning Calm by E. C. Myers (A Korean Epic – The Chasa Bonpuli):

This. Was. Amazing. What an incredibly beautiful and bittersweet tale! It’s about the loss of a loved one, family and grief but it’s shaped in such a different and interesting way! I’m not very much into video games and often can’t connect with stories focused on them because of that, but this one was beautiful and it definitely showed how games can be a big part of someone’s life. I loved how the modern version intertwined with the Korean Epic. Which was very fitting for the story since gaming is an important part of Korean culture. It was so well structured and emotional! It left me sobbing. It was THAT beautiful!

Overall: 5 stars

The Smile by Aisha Saeed (A South Asian Legend – The Story of Anarkali):

I really liked the feminine aspect of this story and how it shows that one can not love if one is not free, because what is love if not freely given, right? But I didn’t manage to connect with the story and for me, it felt a bit rushed and too short. I really liked to read about the legend behind it and how the author managed to turn in such an important message, but I just didn’t feel much comparing to other stories I’ve read here.

Overall: 3 stars

Girls Who Twirl and Other Dangers by Preetu Chhibber (A Hindu Festival – Navrātri):

This was the most fun one in the lot. It’s a really cute story that changed from myth to current time. It was very different from the other stories in that, and the current time really read like a cute contemporary. I loved the myth incredibly much and how well both mixed together. Plus, I loved how much it showed woman-power. It had a really good moral and I especially liked how it showed that we shouldn’t be too harsh and fast judging others.

Overall: 4 stars

Nothing into All by Renée Adieh (A Korean Fairy Tale – The Goblin Treasure):

I really liked this one! It’s such a beautiful and magical story! As I told before, I love stories that focus on sisterhood and both the original fairy tale and the retelling are beautiful! I loved the spin the author put in it and how beautiful and real it felt. It really felt like anything could happen. But the best part was how it showed that we all carry good and bad inside us, but the big difference is in our actions, just because someone acts wrong sometimes, doesn’t mean the reason behind wasn’t good or that the person is bad. It was a beautiful message, beautifully told.

Overall: 4 stars

Spear Carrier by Rahul Kanakia (A South Asian Epic – The Mahabharata):

Hmmm… This one didn’t do much for me. I liked the meaning of it on what it means to be a hero, but it was not emotional or exciting? It tried to do a weird mix with philosophy and the meaning of things, with a dash of sci-fi and it was definitely not my taste. I liked the idea but the story itself didn’t cause a big impression on me, and neither did I like the main character…

Overall: 2 stars

Code of Honor by Melissa de la Cruz (A Filipino Folktale – Aswangs):

I loved the idea of this one, it’s about aswangs, which are supposed to be vampire witches. I love magic and supernatural stuff so I was excited when I started reading this one. But while I loved the idea, I didn’t feel much for the story, and the main character didn’t really make me feel anything, which is sad because I truly loved the theme… After reading the author’s note I can’t stop feeling like this is a link-like promotion to her series Blue Bloods, which I haven’t read, and I just didn’t particularly like that fact either… I was really expecting to like it with all its supernatural and gruesome parts, but it was quite bland – it missed emotion and fun, in my opinion.

Overall: 2 stars

Bullet, Butterfly by Elsie Chapman (A Chinese Folktale – The Butterfly Lovers):

This tale is a more intense one… Set during a war, we have young love torn between doing what is right for the country and their families and what their hearts tell them. It’s a very touchy and intense story that stole and broke my heart into a million pieces. It shows us how war changes people’s lives and how much family means (especially in those times), even if one’s desire is to follow their heart. I’m in tears.

Overall: 5 stars

Daughter of the Sun by Shveta Thakrar (A South Asian Epic – The Mahabharata): 

This one is actually inspired by two stories belonging to The Mahabharata – the tale of Princess Savitri and Prince Satyavan, and the tale of Goddess Ganga and King Shantanu. I loved getting to know these two tales and especially the retelling that is beautiful! It has a feminist vision to it and it talks about destiny and love. It’s the story of a girl that manages to trick an apsaraIt was both inspiring and beautiful!

Overall: 4 stars

The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon (The Chinese Legend – The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl):

This one was utterly beautiful! My heart feels like it will explode with emotions. I feel like crying… It was so heartbreaking and so beautifully written! It tells the story of “The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl”, which is beautiful and I didn’t know about and gives voice to the weaver girl, to tell her side of the story, the true story. It’s a beautiful and emotional love story that although slightly bitter-sweet, made me incredibly happy!

Overall: 5 stars

Eyes like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa (A Japanese Myth – Kitsune): 

I absolutely loved this one! I always tend to have a soft spot for Japanese myths, tales, culture, anything really, they just always manage to steal my heart! This is the story of a peasant boy and a kitsune. It contains amazing and lovable characters, a lot of emotions both sad and happy, and the perfect setting! I could totally visualize the setting and it felt extremely Japanese to me. Kitsunes are foxes that have the ability, among others, to shapeshift into humans. I love the idea of kitsunes existing because while a bit creepy, it’s just absolutely amazing, right?! This was a heartbreaking story that completely stole my heart and I will treasure it forever!

Overall: 5 stars

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What’re your favorite anthologies? Have you read this one? What did you think of it? Let’s discuss it in the comments!

3 thoughts on “A Thousand Beginnings and Endings

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