A Thousand Beginnings and Endings Reviewed | Definitely Worth the Read

Published: June 26 2018

Pages: 336

Format: Hardcover (Library copy)

Tags: Short stories, Compilation, Young Adult, PoC, Diverse, Re-tellings

| Synopsis From the Publisher |

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.

| Book Review |

– Content –

I’m usually on the fence when it comes to short story compilations, but this compilation was a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed nearly every story within it and, what’s more, they were all re-tellings of folk/fairy tales, which I tend to gravitate to. I enjoyed this particular collection of re-tellings because many of them were new to me.

This book asked authors of Asian and South Asian descent to pick stories from their own cultures to retell. So many of the stories were not ones I’d read the original of before. It was, therefore, really enjoyable to get to read these stories and learn more about the variety of cultures represented in this book. I really enjoyed being able to read so many stories that were about and by people of color. It makes me happy that this book exists, because now I have a book that I can recommend that is diverse and presents a multitude of perspectives.

The sheer number of cultures represented was also a positive of this book. There were stories from China, from India, from South Korea, and more! It was a tapestry of cultures and each of the stories brought something different to the table, which kept this book from feeling stale or been-there-read-that. I also appreciated that after each re-telling, the author included a basic summary of the original story and also why they chose it and what it meant to them. This was a really nice touch.

– Literary Value-

It’s difficult to comment on the literary value of a book that holds so many authors. Rather than address each author and their story, I’ll just generalize and say that, overall, this book is full of well-written stories that held my attention, that gave me strong, interesting characters, and that I enjoyed the majority of them.

I particularly enjoyed Still Star-Crossed by Sona Charaipotra, Bullet, Butterfly by Elsie Chapman, and The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon. I’d say definitely check those out of you’re looking for what I enjoyed the most in the literary sense with this compilation.

– Entertainment Factor –

This book was definitely an enjoyable read! I finished it rather quickly, which is always a sign, to me, that I’m enjoying a book. While I didn’t love every, I still enjoyed getting to read stories from other cultures, stories I wasn’t familiar with or hadn’t read before. I also enjoyed the variety of genres represented. It kept things fresh and since I enjoy multiple genres, I was able to get a little bit of everything that I usually enjoy!

– Cover Art –

I think this is a pretty great cover! It’s dark, but it’s got some really interesting imagery going on. I like how each of the images portray each of the stories.

It really is a clever cover. It’s whimsical and playful and I enjoy the limited color palette. I do wish that it was more eye-catching. I think it’s an overall subtle cover, and while I enjoy it, it might be a bit too subtle to entice.

| My Rating |

Definitely Worth the Read

I can definitely say that I wanted to like this book when I picked it up to read, and I’m so thrilled that it met my expectations! It’s so difficult, I think, to produce a short story collection from multiple authors, because you run the risk of either the talent being uneven or of readers not liking some of the authors included. I hadn’t read anything by most of these authors (which is a whole nuther problem entirely!), but I’m so glad I got to read a sampling of their work in this collection.

Honestly, even if you’re not a fan of short stories, this collection is probably still a good pick, because it’s mostly like reading a collection of fairy and folktales. Each story offers a taste of another culture, and even if your culture is represented here, there are so many others included! It also has a wide sampling of genres, so there’s a wider appeal there as well. It’s diverse, it’s mostly female authors, which is great!, and it provides a glimpse into the folkloric backgrounds of cultures outside of the Western pantheon, which aren’t often represented. I really enjoyed getting to read stories based on those I hadn’t read or heard of before.

Would I recommend this book?

For sure! I think it’s got a lot going for it. I would definitely hand this to anyone who is looking for a diverse read, but isn’t exactly sure where to start. This book has a wide range of authors represented, as well as a variety of genres, so it’s got something for everyone. You don’t even have to read every story if you don’t want. Even if you just pick and choose, this book has a lot going for it and I would definitely say check it out!

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