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Review: Toil & Trouble

Name: Toil & Trouble

Author: Multiple Authors

Type: Anthology, Short stories

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Family, Magic, Witchcraft

Overall the stories were interesting and captivating. I didn't seem to understand the real "witchcraft" theme in some of the stories. However, I think the story choice at the end were amazing.  Star song by Tehlor Kay Mejia 2 stars  Maybe we were just two people chasing numbness because we didn’t know what the stardust inside us was for. A cute story that mixes the LGBT and LatinX community. I loved the diversity and the cuteness of the whole story. It talks about Luna, a young girl and bruja who gets paid to basically read the stars for people. I loved the writing, but I felt the story was cut off short. I am aware it is a short story but I just didn’t get enough of the story to deeply feel it. The writing is impecable and I wish there could have been a little more plot rather than rambling. Afterbirth by Andrea Cremer 4 stars  I know not where this journey will end, only that it will be a place in want of a midwife and healer. Somewhere that welcomes a young mother, named Deliverance, and her daughter, called Miriam. The story and writing were interesting. The stage is New a England in the 1600s and it is told in a mixture of “interviews” and narration of the events that followed a servants death during child bearing. As soon as the baby was born, her mother died and she birthed another infant or deformed glob. The midwife is soon accused of murder and of witchcraft. I have always enjoyed the stories regarding the Salem Trials and witchcraft hence I knew this historical fiction piece was on I would enjoy.  The Heart in Her Hands by Tess Sharpe  2.5 stars  Except she had birthed a daughter who had her Hands, but not her temperament. An interesting premise and idea, however the story is very complex for a short story and thus I felt it was a little bit rushed. I liked the fact that there was a clear beginning middle and end to it but it all was jumbled up into a fast story that didn’t end up making you feel for the characters or their lives. I feel this book expanded into a larger story would be really good. Didn’t enjoy the narrator.  Death in the Sawtooths by Lindsay Smith 4 stars  A PERSON CAN tell you anything, but bones—those tell the truth. I liked the story and the background. I found the narrator to be very interesting and the setting was great. I feel we entered the story in the climax and hence when it finished there was a very good plot line for the short story. There didn’t seem to be anything missing. I really enjoyed the darkness of the world or the main character, the atmosphere reminded me of Jay Kristoff’s Nevernight due to the eery and dark way the story is told.  The Truth About Queenie by Brandy Colbert 2 stars  For a moment, Webb was mine. And it was strange and wonderful and wrong all at once. I did not understand the point of the story. I love romance so I’m not going to say I didn’t enjoy the love aspect of the story because in some ways I did. However, the anthologies are supposed to be filled with witches and witchcrafts and the aspect this story has of those themes are very weak. All we get is a very diverse read which I enjoyed about a girl who digs into his powers for a guy she likes to please him as she saves his almost dead girlfriend. Did not enjoy the end or the point of the storyline. The Moonapple Menagerie by Shveta Thakrar 1.5 stars  I don’t think I understood the story at all. It was way too complicated for a short story and it didn’t seem to make sense. These covers of witches were making a play we have one “witch?” That is unsure of herself and calls a kind of monster? Honestly I didn’t get it at all. Maybe if it was a well developed story and it was written with more pace and background it could’ve been cool as the writing is good.  The Legend of Stone Mary by Robin Talley 4 stars lot of folks seemed to think I was like one of the rare flowers we grew in our greenhouse. Exciting and dangerous all at once. I enjoyed this story. It was fast and to the point, it carried a real sense of witches and witchcraft. It wasn’t over complicated that when you reached 5e end you were stuck with so many questions. Overall it reads like a legend of sorts and I am a sucker for legends or stories about curses that get told from generation to generation.  The One Who Stayed by Nova Ren Soma 4 stars If Mirah could have stopped to take a picture of this moment, to remember this feeling and keep it forever, she would be a blur of color, a litter of flowers, a pile of smiling faces with dancing, drunken hearts instead of eyes. Enjoyable fast read. It is told in two perspectives which allows for the story to be expressed really nicely and understood well. The story is sad and yet the voice is haunting enough for you to become entrapped in the fairy tale that turns horrid pretty fast.  Divine Are The Stars by Zoraida Cordova  2.5 stars  She wanted to speak to the stars like her mother, before the stars stopped speaking back and she wasn’t strong enough to bear the silence. A magical realism story that weaves folklore, witches and magic. Magical realism is lovely yet when the story is supposed to be Hispanic as the Montoya’s were I always feel they’re trying to mimic Hispanic magical realism and in English sadly the language doesn’t translate as well as it does in Spanish. For example 100 years of solitude or any other book written by Marques is better in its native language because the stories are based on Hispanic cultures and the language is magical in itself. Emily Henry narrates many stories that use magical realism but because the story is based in the United States with their culture it just reads differently. This was my issue with the story. Although great I feel there was a great barrier that could’ve been improved.  Daughters of Baba Yaga by Brenna Yovanoff 1 star The sacred mysteries didn’t stop being mysterious just because the world changed and got fast internet, and there’s magic in the little things, even if my dad doesn’t see it. Another story about bullying and revenge. Although this one includes lots of blood and butchering with a sloppy writing style.  The Well Witch by Kate Hart 3 stars  “I may not be a good man, but those two are downright bad, and I won’t leave my problems here for you to solve.” I think the story was good, short and well written. I did however think it took to long for it to reach the climax and the fun part of the story hence the beginning felt a little tedious and boring. As soon as our protagonist realizes she’s in love and she gets trapped in her own house the action allows the story to mold into something better, before it’s just descriptions and explanations about the setting.  Beware of Girls with Crooked Mouths by Jessica Spotswood 5 stars  You cannot survive together, Mam had said. But it’s not so easy surviving apart, either. Ugh. I wish this was a book. I loved the tale and story about the sisters. The idea that they love each other but it is in their blood to kill each other. I wish I could read all about it and see their story come to live. I loved the setting of the story as well and how interested it kept me until the end.  LoveSpell by Anna Marie McLemore 5 stars She will always see the love we carry in our hearts long before we understand it to be there. I found this story to be perfect and cute. It was the perfect short story because it didn’t leave me wanting for more, it was able to complete the story in a few pages with enough detail and dialogue that you enjoyed the characters and was able to see their feelings and emotions as well as their development. The Gherin Girls by Emery Lord 4 stars  And that, of all things, is what quiets the static in Rosie’s mind. Her sisters would kneel on the old pine floors beside her. They’d miss their flights. They’d plead with her to let them in, but they’d never, ever kick her door down. They’d whisper her name back when she’d lost it, place the missing pieces back into her hands. A strong read of sisterhood and toxic romance. There isn’t a very big focus on witchcraft, the main point behind the “witch” characterization is that all the sisters have gifts. One of them can cook based on what you need, the other one can plant very well basically, and the youngest one case feel your emotions. Even though the main aspect of the story wasn’t the witches it was still very interesting to see the connections between the sisters ( this is what the story is really about).  Why They Watch Us Burn by Elizabeth May 5 stars Every woman is never enough; she’s always too much. We angered someone, somewhere, for our too muchness. If to be too much is to be a witch, then I am a witch, and we are all witches. I love Elizabeth May so I knew this one was going to be a killer and it was. It reminded me of the collections of poems called The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One, but with way more sense and point to the whole story. It was empowering and sad and spoke about women aggression and how that in turn, just being women, aids to a world and a life of injustices.  -- Overall rating: 3 stars --