Tuesday, January 8, 2019

A Thousand Endings and Beginnings by Elsie Chapman and Ellen Oh Review

Title: A Thousand Endings and Beginnings
Editors: Elise Chapman and Ellen Oh, various authors
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Anthology/Short Story Collection
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

                This gorgeous short story collection has been sitting at the top of my library stack for a while; I had to do a library rehaul and decided I didn’t want to take it back without reading it, so, as soon as I was finished with The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, I pushed it to the top of the stack. This lovely little book contained 15 retellings of Asian myths and legends, and for the most part, I really enjoyed them! As there are fifteen different stories, I will pick my favorites out of the volume and review them individually, as well as give an overall rating for the whole collection. I was really excited about this book; I love short stories and retellings, so it was really exciting to be introduced to myths and stories from Asian cultures.

                Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi: 5 out of 5 Stars. I loved this one! Romantic, melancholy and heartbreaking, this was one of my favorite stories in the volume. The Mountain, a beautiful goddess, falls in love with a human and plans to elope with him. But when his fellow villagers become convinced that he is hiding something from them, the goddess’s heart is shattered. Lyrical, beautiful, and bittersweet, I loved this doomed love story.

                Olivia’s Table by Alyssa Wong: 5 out of 5 Stars. This one was beautifully written, telling of a late chef’s daughter whose duty to the dead is the only thing she clings to after her mother’s tragic death from cancer. I really liked this one; the descriptions were beautiful and sad, and by the end of it, I was in tears. A story of forgiveness, legacy, and moving on, I loved it so much. Amazing!

                Still Star-Crossed by Sona Charaipotra: 4 out of 5 Stars. I’m such a sucker for star-crossed lovers! A girl goes to a party and is greeted by a handsome stranger who insists that he has seen her before. Freaked out by the strange encounter, she returns home, only for her mother to tell her a story that tells of a forbidden love from her past. The writing was beautiful, lyrical and hypnotic, and the ending had my jaw on the floor! Amazing!

                The Counting of Vermillion Beads by Ailette De Bodard: 4 out of 5 Stars. I loved this story; it’s one of my favorites in the collection. A fairy tale of two sisters who long to escape the tedium of their lives working for the emperor, one turns into a bird and the other is given a coveted position of being a counter in his own household; the writing was lush, lyrical, and enchanting, and I loved the ending!

                Nothing Into All by Renee Ahdieh: 5 out of 5 Stars. I loved this story! Sibling rivalry, magic, goblins! A pair of siblings long for different kinds of freedom; one longs for gold and fiscal security, while the other wants her own life outside of her village and family. When the sister is blessed by a goblin, the brother grows jealous and quickly covets what she has. But be careful what you wish for, for you never know just how it will turn out…

                Daughter of the Sun by Shveta Thakrar: 5 out of 5 Stars. I loved this story; it was so beautiful and lyrical, and it read like a fairy tale. The daughter of the sun, hidden from all, falls for a man who is drowning in a river and saves his life, never mind that his life had an expiration date before they met her. It was bittersweet and heartwrenching, and I really enjoyed it. Absolutely gorgeous and unforgettable.

                Eyes Like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa: 4 out of 5 Stars. Kitsunes! Forbidden love! A twist ending! This story is one of my favorites in the whole volume; a boy is rescued from starvation and thirst by a mysterious family hidden in the mountains. He stays with them for a while, never realizing that his generous hosts are a family of magical half-fox demons, one of whom feels just slightly more familiar than the rest. I loved the ending, and I really enjoyed the bittersweet love story that took center stage in it.


I really loved this gorgeous, diverse and ranged short story collection, and I’m so happy that I was able to read it before returning it. Like all anthologies, there were a couple of stories that really weren’t my cup of tea, but overall, I very much enjoyed it! One of my favorite books of 2018 for sure. I’ve been waiting for this collection my whole life, and I’m even more curious about the original myths and legends that inspired them! The bottom line: A diverse, ranged and timely collection of short stories inspired by Asian myths and legends, I loved A Thousand Endings and Beginnings, and it’s become one of my favorite books of 2018! Next on deck: Pulp by Robin Talley!

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