Rating: Four stars out of five
After downloading this book for free a few years back, it waited in the depths of my Kindle for me to remember it. When I noticed it had a red cover and would fit the needs of the #ReadThemAllThon, I knew it was time for me to pick up the book.
This anthology, published by Tor Books, consists of five short stories, with four of those accompanied by previews to the authors’ works. I had already read one of the short stories (Glitches by Marissa Meyer – I did not count the pages of this short story for the #ReadThemAllThon), which is still my favorite in this small collection.
I rated only the short stories, not the previews that came along with it. I rate anthologies by rating each story individually and using the average for the overall rating.
- Legacy Lost by Anna Banks (3 stars): This short story is about mermaids, based on the series The Syrena Legacy. I found the protagonist to be very unlikeable in this story; for someone supposedly in love, he often thinks violent thoughts about his betrothed, at least at the beginning. Dialogue tags were often confusing, as new statements by new characters did not often start new paragraphs. The dialogue was dramatic, but that’s to be expected from a love story with teenagers/young adults.
At first, the story made me want to read the main books, until I read the preview for the first book, Of Poseidon. Within the first few pages, the main character’s black best friend gets on her nerves, so the protagonist jokes to herself about pulling out her weave. This is the type of casual racism that keeps me away from certain books. There are also instances of a sexist aspect of mermaid society that is apparently overlooked: getting married – mated – without the woman even being present or asked for her consent.
- The Witch of Duva by Leigh Bardugo (4 stars): My second favorite story in the series. Based on Russian fairytales, this short reminded me of Cinderella and Hansel and Gretel. A macabre storyline, this read was sad, but light. Even though it’s based on the world of Shadow and Bone, the ending wrapped up nicely, and the reader does not need to read the aforementioned book for background context. This story creeped me out in all the best ways (one word: gingerbabies), with a surprising plot twist in the end. This is by far one of my favorite short stories.
The preview showed that the main book is not to my liking. After researching the series more, I discovered the many inconsistencies of Russian lore and culture. The main character seemed superficial, and I did not find myself engaged in the preview.
- Prophet by Jennifer Boswell (4 stars): While I liked the story about a religious cult overall, it was too short for the rules of the story’s world to align. The story held my interest, and the plot twist was intriguing, but the events and reactions felt forced to carry the story along. Some actions were unbelievable. Within the first few pages, the main character is planning an escape; he hears a voice in his head that is likely God’s, and he chooses to stay.
The preview was for Struck, and while the beginning of the preview seemed interested, the protagonist felt like a Mary Sue. A girl addicted to getting struck by lightning and had scars from the experiences all over her body ~*except*~ her plain-but-pretty face? I’ll pass.
- Dress Your Marines in White by Emmy Laybourne (3 stars): I could not connect with this story at all. The premise of the flashback-to-disastrous-science-experiment was intriguing, and the suspense was evenly paced. Answers to the science experiment and the background of the story were answered throughout the flashback. However, the main character – a scientist involved in the experiment – was unlikeable due to his shallow nature. Early in the book, he described his actions of pulling covers over his head like that of a 4-year-old; a few pages later, the story reads “Freckles on a full-grown man always made James feel sad, somehow. Like didn’t that guy know his childhood was over?” Shallow and hypocritical. (If a female character had similar thoughts in this scenario, she would be labeled as catty.) I could also not ignore the use of the G slur.
The casual racism bled into the preview as well, in the first chapter of Monument 14, this time apparently at Native Americans. While it is not straightforward, the preview links Native American stereotypes with racial features: “People called Niko ‘Brave Hunter Man,’ a nickname that fit him just right with his perfect posture, his thin, wiry frame, and his whole brown-skin-brown-eyes-brown-hair combo” (Location 1858). There is also a scene in which a bus full of kids is thrown to its side in a devastating accident, and apparently no one screams during this scene, which I found unbelievable. It ended on a cliffhanger, but I was not interested in what happened next.
- Glitches by Marissa Meyer (5 stars): A short story that portrays partial backstory to the main character of Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles. Part of the retelling of Cinderella, this short story shows how Cinder came to live with the Linh family, and is my favorite in the series. This is the only story in the anthology that is not paired with a preview.
Overall, this anthology full of mermaids, witches, fairytales, and science experiments was simultaneously entertaining and disappointing. While the short stories themselves may have enticed me to purchase some of the books they are based off of, the previews themselves convinced me otherwise. When there are instances of casual racism and inconsistencies within the first few chapters, I will avoid it (unless I’ve paid money for the book and am far enough into it to finish). While the short stories excited me and made me want to purchase their respective books, the previews disillusioned me. I’m glad to have read it, but I’m also glad to put it away back into the digital recesses of my Kindle.
Since this book has a red cover, I have now earned the Flame Badge for the #ReadThemAllThon!
I had to get creative for the page number conversion, as the ebook ran on Kindle locations rather than page numbers. It was a legit math problem: If there are 2261 Kindle locations and 182 total pages, then location 1927 is roughly page 155. Thus, I earned 15 CP, plus the CP for finishing the book, posting a blog, and various tweets.
Here is my updated Trainer Card: