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Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft edited by Tess Sharpe & Jessica Spotswood (ARC) - Review

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I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft is a YA anthology of short stories featuring contemporary, historical, and futuristic stories featuring witchy heroines who are diverse in race, class, sexuality, religion, geography, and era. History tells us women accused of witchcraft were often outsiders: educated, independent, unmarried, unwilling to fall in line with traditional societal expectations - bold, powerful, and rebellious. From good witches to bad witches, to witches who are a bit of both, this is an anthology of diverse witchy tales from a collection of diverse, feminist authors. The collective strength of women working together - magically or mundanely - has long frightened society, to the point that women’s rights are challenged, legislated against, and denied all over the world. This collection delves deep into the truly diverse mythology of witchcraft from many cultures and feminist points of view, to create modern and unique tales of witchery that have yet to be explored.

I was so excited when I was approved for this YA short story anthology all about witches. I mean, it's edited by Tess Sharpe and Jessica Spotswood and features stories by them as well as Brandy Colbert, Zoraida Córdova, Andrea Cremer, Kate Hart, Emery Lord, Elizabeth May, Anna-Marie McLemore, Tehlor Kay Mejia, Lindsay Smith, Nova Ren Suma, Robin Talley, Shveta Thakrar, and Brenna Yovanoff. I'm familiar with the work of some of these authors, but others are entirely new to me. Either way, I've had quite a bit of good luck lately with YA short story collections even though they aren't my go-to and I was hoping that would be the case here, too. Unfortunately, I found this to be slightly underwhelming as a whole. The first couple of stories weren't quite my thing, so it took me a bit longer than I was hoping to get into the swing of the anthology. I will say, though, that I particularly enjoyed the following stories: "The Legend of Stone Mary" by Robin Talley, "The One Who Stayed" by Nova Ren Suma, "Divine are the Stars" by Zoraida Corova, "Daughters of Baba Yaga" by Brenna Yovanoff, "The Well Witch" by Kate Hart, and "Why They Watch Us Burn" by Elizabeth May. Of those favorites, May's story is easily the standout of the entire collection.

Finally, Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft is a unique YA witchy anthology featuring complex and diverse characters. While I wasn't the biggest fan of every story, there were still some truly great tales in this collection. Some of these stories really gave me a great taste of the author's work and have made me want to try more of their writing, and perhaps wish that some of these stories were expanded into a full novel. If you are interested in bold witches of YA, you may want to give this collection of stories a try.

I read this ARC from August 21 - 23, 2018 and my review is also on GoodreadsToil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft will be released on August 28th, 2018.


  1. Sorry it was underwhelming. I was excited about this one, too. I haven’t read it yet, but all the reviews I’ve seen so far have been “meh.”

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    1. There are highlights, though, on the whole it wasn't so great.

      Thanks for coming over, Aj.

  2. You know who would have been great for this anthology? Libby Bray!

    1. Ooh, yes! Her contribution could have been amazing!


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