Out Now: Queer We Go Again! edited by Saundra Mitchell | Drumsofautumn ARC Review

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ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss

Out Now: Queer We Go Again! Is an anthology that clearly did not learn whatsoever from the criticism of its predecessor All Out.

This is an anthology that features queer stories throughout all kinds of genres but that is about where the variety with this anthology stops. I read and loved All Out but one of the biggest criticism about that anthology was that it did not feature enough different identities on the sexuality and gender spectrum and sadly this anthology was the same.

Especially knowing that the first anthology was so heavily criticised for it, it feels extra disappointing to look back at these stories and realize that we still got barely any representation on the asexual and trans/non-binary spectrum and (if I am not mistaken) no representation on the aromantic spectrum whatsoever.
And not only that, this story fails at intersectionality in general. I would’ve wanted more stories about queer characters of colour but what was almost completely missing from this anthology were queer disabled characters, characters with mental illnesses, characters with different religious beliefs and fat characters.

Apart from those issues, I also just genuinely was not a fan of A LOT of these stories. And while it is normal that some stories in an anthology will be hit or miss for you, this one had so many misses and stories that I genuinely just DISLIKED, that it really to me stands out as one of the worst anthologies I have ever read.
Victory Lap by Julian Winters was the story that positively stood out to me the most. It provided a lot of comfort and made me want to read more stuff from this author.

But as a whole I cannot really recommend this anthology and I’m also really disappointed by the inclusion of Meredith Russo in this anthology, who easily still could’ve been cut before release.
But here are my individual reviews for all the stories.

Kick. Push. Coast by Candice Montgomery ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I absolutely loved this! It was one of the shorter stories within the anthology but a very wonderful one about the fluidity of both sexuality/attraction and gender, which is something that I always deeply appreciate.


What Happens in the Closet by Caleb Roehrig ⭐⭐⭐

GAYNESS AND VAMPIRES! WHAT A COMBINATION! I didn’t have very many feelings towards this story, if I’m honest. I wasn’t really feeling the characters or the development of the story. But it was fun… because vampires!

“If there’s anything I’ve learned from my brother, it’s that I could die before my life even starts, and I like… I like kissing you. I don’t want to stop. I’m tired of being lonely.”


Player One Fight! By Eliot Schrefer

That was… uh… quite the questionable experience honestly. Like genuinely I do not know what to say about this story, it like.. didn’t really have much of a point and just made me cringe in several ways.


Lumber Me Mine by CB Lee ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This was such a lovely story and it featured an asexual love interest! I really was super invested in this one, completely forgetting I was reading a short story and not a full length novel at some point.

“Ash’s eyes are warm and brown and she’s standing close enough for Jasmine to see little f lecks of gold, and she’s so happy, right here in this moment, just the two of them smiling at each other, a moment stretching out into infinity.”


Follower by Will Kostakis ⭐⭐⭐

This was a cute story! There was a lot of talk on what being romantic means and the two boys in this story shared their experiences falling in love. It wasn’t anything special but I had a good time reading it.


Refresh by Mark Oshiro ⭐⭐⭐

Now this was an interesting story. It features two Latinx boys meeting for the first after they’ve talked on a dating app for a little while and it had some important themes packed into it. I can’t really say too much but while I personally wasn’t the biggest fan of one of the elements, I do very much appreciated that this talked about being a guy and plus-size, which is representation that we get so little, and also how that affects your dating life. This was a story that felt really intersectional and that made happy to see.


Victory Lap by Julian Winters: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This story was about a Black gay boy trying to find a date for the winter formal and having a conversation with his dad about it and I loved it so very much. I was really invested in this character’s story and his relationship with his dad and it absolutely warmed my heart. This story also mentioned a bunch of different identities (one of the side-characters is non-binary, they talked about a character potentially being bi, pan or questioning and in the conversation with the father) and while all that was very brief, I always appreciate when we get introduced to numerous labels within a story because it always makes me think that it might get readers to research those more and maybe find something that they identify with too! This was definitely one of the stand-out stories of this anthology for me personally and really made me want to check out Julian Winter’s novels!

“Everyone says it’s a parent’s job to protect their child, but why can’t I protect him? Why are there roles when it comes to protecting the ones we love?”


A Road of One’s Own by Kate Hart ⭐⭐

Oh man, this story was confusing and all over the place. I just had such a hard time keeping all of these characters apart and connect their stories to them. And this story also just felt really unnecessarily long while really not providing all that much content. Plus when I read one of the characters saying she is pansexual but she just tells everyone she’s a lesbian because people don’t know the label… I just personally felt incredibly uncomfortable about this. I loved that this story featured many people of colour (Indigenous love interest, a Latinx and Korean side-character) but too much of this story made me feel uncomfortable.


Seditious Teapots by Katherine Locke ⭐⭐

Another one of those stories that I am trying to appreciate because it had such an important discussion on identity and labels and pronouns plus it included anxiety and kinda potential depression rep but… I was just (once again) uncomfortable because this story was really based on someone completely overstepping their boundaries. It all ended up great and the person was just trying to be helpful but like.. YIKES IN SO MANY WAYS! Also the writing was a little bit messy, where I could barely decipher the text messages because they had no quotation marks or any other way to help you distinguish them. Keep in mind I read an ARC copy though, so hopefully changes were made.


Starcrossed in DC by Jessica Verdi ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This was definitely one of my favourite stories of this anthology, I loved the setting and important message! And this one also really worked for me because while we got a full story with a cohesive ending and beginning, there is still so much left beyond this story and I really enjoy when I feel satisfied with the story while still somehow craving more. That’s definitely not easy to achieve.

“My whole life, I’ve been in front of cameras and crowds, representing something big, something I didn’t choose. This moment is new. Scary. But I’ve never felt more myself.”


Floating by Tanya Boteju ⭐⭐

I am left a little bit confused by this story because I feel like it might’ve had a main character with autism but.. it’s just never quite clear? And searching through the Goodreads review, NOBODY MENTIONED THIS AT ALL. So I’m saddened by the fact that this might’ve been a story with disability rep (it could’ve been ADHD as well) but it is not actually clarified on-page, which I really would’ve appreciated, considering this anthology features little disability rep otherwise. This story sadly didn’t really draw me in in general.


The Soft Place by Hillary Monahan ⭐⭐

Okaaaaaaay, so.. the main character in this was high as fuck so this story was a little bit exhausting to read. It was a nice idea – describing getting high as it being the main character’s soft place and I liked the message this story tried to portray too but at the end of the day, it was just a little bit too wild as far the writing goes and it ended up not being very pleasant to read. Also it kinda felt like the author was trying to include the message of this story subtly.. but at the end of it I felt more like having been hit over the head with it. But at least it was a hopeful one.


A Pound of Flesh by Kosoko Jackson

I did not enjoy this story and thought it was all over the place and way too convoluted for a short story. I feel like I was supposed to be intrigued by this story but I wasn’t whatsoever because the origin of the curse of the main character was never made clear. Also you will be kinda lost if you don’t know Greek mythology well.. and my eye was twitching a little bit about what Athena was representing in this story. The underlying message in this was lost on me because the way it was written it really seemed like the police stood for justice.. eh. Really not a fan of this one.

“My brother loves you. But caring about someone and loving someone are two very different things. Love is a powerful emotion. Just like hate, or bloodlust, or valor. My brother feels all those things. But he cares only about war.”


One Spell Too Many by Tara Sim ⭐⭐

God, I was so looking forward to this story because I really like Tara Sim as a person and enjoyed her novel Timekeeper so much.. and the beginning of this story was so promising to me because I absolutely loved the concept. But honestly the writing didn’t really speak to me whatsoever, it just seemed really basic and a little bit like the fanfiction that I wrote when I was younger. I also did not enjoy the plot at all because it focused so heavily on miscommunication which is honestly a trope that I am so very sick of seeing and I think in 2020 we have progressed past the use of love potions in stories, even if you enforce boundaries with it.


Far From Home by Saundra Mitchell ⭐⭐

Oh man, I feel like these stories have been cursed for me a little bit since Jessica Verdi’s story because this was another one that I just did not enjoy whatsoever. I thought it was confusingly written in many parts and it was entirely too cheesy for me personally. I mean, I do not mind cheesy usually but when it is just a short story where I am not attached to the characters and their relationship whatsoever, it just doesn’t work for me whatsoever. The best aspect about this story was that the main character was non-binary.


Once Upon a Seastorm by Fox Benwell

I literally have absolutely zero fucking idea what I just read. Like I don’t even know what to say right now because I am left speechless with how.. nonsensical all of this was. I’m sure the author had a really amazing vision but sadly I did not understand what this story was trying to do whatsoever. Content Warning for this being a story about a trans boy who is pregnant!


Overall, this has definitely put me off from reading any more of Saundra Mitchell’s anthologies in the future, even if I enjoyed All Out. It is one thing to not like the individual stories, it is another if I feel like an anthology specifically including queer stories offers barely any intersectionality or doesn’t make any effort to include more underrepresented identities.

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Vampires Never Get Old: Tales with Fresh Bite edited by Zoraida Córdova & Natalie C. Parker | ARC Review

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ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss
Publication: September 22nd, 2020 by Imprint

Maybe vampires are getting old? I’m sorry, friends. This was just not the anthology for me. I feel like I might have had way too high of expectations going into this, based on the author list alone. Sadly, I felt like most of these stories just left you wanting more, but not in the good way. In the way of the actual short story felt very pointless. There were a few gems throughout, but for the most part this was a very lackluster and forgettable anthology for me.

My favorite story was easily In Kind by Kayla Whaley, and it was the only story that I gave a whole five stars too. It had everything that I wanted, and I can’t wait to read more by this author. It was spooky, it was so atmospheric, it was diverse, and it was beautiful.

I will say that I love how diverse this anthology is, and how much ownvoices rep is within these stories. We have ownvoices Black rep, Latinx rep, Native rep, Indian rep, disability rep, fat rep, a whole lot of queer rep (both sexuality and gender)! This truly celebrates so many different voices, and I loved that aspect so very much. Sadly, that was one of the only few things I did love about this collection.

Like always for my anthology reviews, I have mini reviews for all the short stories where I talk about my thoughts and feelings!

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Seven Nights for Dying by Tessa Gratton ⭐️⭐️⭐️
I won’t lie, I was most excited to start this anthology because the first story was Tessa’s and Tessa is one of my favorite authors of all time! I still really enjoyed this one, but it just wasn’t my favorite. We get to see a young girl slowly getting turned into a vampire over the course of seven nights with seven drinks. I really loved that she got to decide for herself if this is what she wanted, and that she had a week to do so! I loved seeing the glimpses of each day and night, and I really loved how sex positive this was! And the main character is pan or bi, which you know I love a lot! I also loved the themes of belonging, loss, grief, anger, and how teenage girls are sometimes expected to carry all of those things, and how society has forced teenage girls to adapt to those things. (I also loved the brief introduction of Henry, who is trans, and I am also ready to become a vampire for Sett all on my own!) There is also a bit of a sapphic relationship kind of going on here, which I wish I was able to see more, also it very much gave off polyamorous vibes!

TW: loss of a loved one, underage drinking, grief depiction


Mirrors, Windows & Selfies by Mark Oshiro ⭐️⭐️
Okay, this one is a hard one for me to rate, because I love the parallel attached to this story, and I love the premise of this story, but I didn’t love the actual story. This is about a young adult Latino vampire, forced to move around the country with his family, and never being allowed to get close with anymore. Because he feels so alone and isolated, he starts up a blog where we get to see him talk about his feelings, his struggles, and his want of finally being able to see himself for the first time,, because that is another thing his parents’ protectiveness has kept from him. There are a lot of parallels here about being queer, and feeling like you’re alone, and nobody else is like you, and then the feelings you get when you find out how much you really are not alone! And I loved that, truly. But Cicso’s parents’ secretiveness really didn’t make sense, and we never really learned why they kept him so isolated, so the story just wasn’t my favorite at all, sadly.

TW: blood, gore, violence, captivity mention, death


The House of Black Sapphires by Dhonielle Clayton ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Oh, this one is such a hard one to rate. Listen, if I knew I could get my hands on a full-length of this family, setting, and story eventually? I’d give it five stars. But the ending just made it feel… so unsatisfied. Yikes. This story is about a Black family of Vampires in New Orleans who are forced to move around a lot. And the women in this family aren’t just regular vampires; the Eternal Women have a much darker origin and are extremely powerful! In fact, only one thing can put them to rest which are Shadow Barons who walk with death. So basically, we get to see them move (through this really cool and magical gate system) and start back up with their family beauty pharmacy and apothecary, and it’s amazing. I loved this entire premise and set up so very much. And the family consists of five sisters who all have been given a different power by their mother. And a couple of the girls go to a ball with their mother (because they are summoned) in their new city, and our main character, Bea, gets to meet Shadow Barons, but one isn’t at all what she was expecting. And might be willing to risk it all for love, but we will never know because of the abrupt and disappointing ending.

TW: blood and mention of slavery


The Boys From Blood River by Rebecca Roanhorse ⭐️⭐️
Whew! Okay, the start of this? Set in a spooky diner, in a very small down, where our MC is a young Native boy who is being bullied for being Native and gay, and he is also preparing for his mother’s passing because of an illness. At the diner, him and another coworker (and the only person nice to him in this town) are getting scared when the jukebox is playing a creepy song all by itself. And legend goes, the last time this song played, an entire family was drained of their blood! How amazing does that sound, right? Like, I was INVESTED! But then…. we got… morally grey cowboy vampires. I am still a bit speechless. I still am questioning their motives. I’m still wondering what will happen in a few years to our MC. And I’m still asking myself what in the hell did I just read.

TW: bullying, abuse, and loss of a loved one.


Senior Year Sucks by Julie Murphy ⭐️⭐️
Listen, just because you mention a Buffy joke, it doesn’t mean your story doesn’t feel like a Buffy rip-off. Our main character is from Texas, where pageants are all the rage, and she is a cheerleader named… Jolene. Oh, and she’s a slayer. But she is just trying to enjoy high school the best she can, because of the life she is forced to have, but getting home from a game one night, she meets a vampire who is also just trying to learn what it’s like to be a normal teenage girl. I loved the fat rep and the sapphic ending, but sadly this just also left me wanting a lot more, while making the actual short story itself not feel of much substance.

TW: animal abuse mention


The Boy and the Bell by Heidi Heilig ⭐️⭐️
I really loved the atmosphere of this one, and I’ve always found historical burial fun facts to be rather interesting, but especially expecting the dead to ring a bell if they turn out to be not so dead! Our MC is a a trans boy trying to learn all he can while trying to go to school to become a doctor, but one night when he is gravedigging for corpses to learn from, he hears a bell ringing. Listen, I know this sounds great, and I appreciate that it felt like a full story once I read the last sentence (which seems to be my main complaint with this anthology so far), but it just felt a little pointless. Even though I’m always going to be here the course of action this MC took with a transphobe.

TW: misgendering & attempted blackmail (that would out our MC)


In Kind by Kayla Whaley ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Whew, finally, the first story I loved in this anthology. The power this one holds. First off, this story has a few articles/news casts helping present information and it was really expertly done. And in the first article, we learn that a 17 year old disabled girl was “mercy killed” by her father, but the body is missing. And you guessed it, she may be a vampire now! Her degenerative neuromuscular disorder makes it so that she still uses a wheelchair as a vampire, and I really loved that a lot. Because this entire story is about how this girl didn’t need to be “fixed” in any sense of the word, because her life is worth living, even if it is among the undead now. Truly thought this one was amazing and I loved it a lot.

TW: attempted murder (by overdosing), parental abuse, and ableism.


A Guidebook for the Newly Sired Desi Vampire by Samira Ahmed ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This short story is very impressive and very unapologetic and I read the whole thing with a smile on my face. Basically, this is told through an anonymous system set up in place for Indian vampires who are recently turned into vampires, and this one was turned against their will by a British tourist. We learn all about this new life these vampires will now have, and how it will work (yet also impact) their culture. And there is a lot of talk about biting colonizers, especially the ones that mock certain parts of your culture, while fully profiting from cultural appropriating other parts of it! This one doesn’t hold back against colonizers and all the microaggressions they love to still embrace in 2020, and we love to see. I didn’t love how the story was told, but I loved the entire contents within it.

TW: talk of colonization and mention of racism


Bestiary by Laura Ruby ⭐️
This one was just sadly (yet easily) my least favorite in the entire collection. This is about a young vampire girl living in a zoo and having a special bond with the animals. She really doesn’t have a place to call home after becoming a vampire and not willing to be around her abusive parents any longer. This story also for sure has themes of capitalism, while also trying to talk about what makes a beast and what makes a monster. Sadly, I just never cared, I never was invested, and the felt like the story was the most pointless of the whole collection.

TW: talk of domestic violence, underage drinking, attempted assault, and abandonment.


Vampires Never Say Die by Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker ⭐️⭐️
Okay, I feel like this is the story that is going to be a bit on the controversial side. Basically, this is a story about a bunch of vampire Instagram influences who are hiding they are vampires. But one vampire who has been around for 200 years, started talking to a 15-year-old human girl who she really likes. The story takes place two years after they first started talking, so the girl is now 17 and throwing a big party in NYC for her Instagram pals and so that she can meet them for the first time. You can see where this is gonna go, right? But like, I just felt so uncomfortable with one of the MCs being fifteen and easily manipulated by people who aren’t being honest with her. I thought this had major sapphic vibes, even if it kinda tried to make it a “bff” thing. I don’t know, I just couldn’t enjoy it because I was uncomfortable, but I think many people will enjoy this one and maybe I’m being too sensitive.

TW: blood and…. grooming feels


First Kill by Victoria “V. E.” Schwab ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Maybe I’m just back to three starring everything by VE now again. Brb, gonna go cry. Okay, this one had a good twist that I really enjoyed, but I feel like if I say anything it will ruin the story a bit for you. But, we get to see two girls having crushes on each other, while also trying to figure out the other one’s motives. Has the sapphic angst, and also 60 seconds in a closet that really changes things for both of these girls. This one will for sure leave you wanting more, and I did enjoy the format that it was told in by seeing both girls’ POV over two days! I just wasn’t ever too invested, and again, I feel like not much happened, besides it just leaving the reader wanting to know how the actual story will play out.

TW: talk of murder & panic and anxiety deception.


TOBICgi
I gave Vampires Never Get Old: Tales with Fresh Bite two stars overall, because out of a possible 55 stars (5 stars possible for each of the 11 stories) this collection accumulated 29 stars (52%)! But, if half stars were a thing, I would totally give this 2.5 stars, because it is almost exactly that when you tally all the stars up!

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Buddy read with DestinyMaëlys, & Lea! ❤

 

Snow in Love by Melissa de la Cruz, Nic Stone, Aimee Friedman, & Kasie West

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Snow in Love is a heartwarming holiday anthology that just came out at the end of 2018! This is a collection of four short stories, but I truly only recommend two of them. Seriously, this is a wild break down of two five star reads, and two one star reads. But I truly loved two and I hated two. Yet, I also truly believe the Kasie West and Nic Stone’s stories are so good that it would be worth it to pick up this collection, especially if you are in need of a little holiday cheer!

Snow and Mistletoe by Kasie West – ★★★★★

“I got you something…”

Holy shit, this was actual perfection for me. Again, I’ve never read anything by Kasie West before, but this was the most heartwarming holiday story I’ve read in a long time. Yes, it was a bit predictable, but I actually think that aspect sweetened the story and made it even more precious. And this story just had too many things that I personally love in literature; besides being adorable, it is a traveling story, with a snowed-in element, featuring a strong sibling relationship, with a scene in Vegas, and a hotel scene, that is all Christmas themed! Ah, friends, this story just makes me smile so big thinking about it! But the basic premise of this story is that a seventeen-year-old girl named Amalie is stuck in the Denver airport, while surprising her family for Christmas because she realized that studying abroad isn’t for her. But then she sees a familiar face from her old high school, who offers her a ride back home, even though it will take a few days. (Sawyer is high school boyfriend goals, by the way!) I loved this with my entire heart and soul and now I want to read everything by Kasie West!

Working in A Winter Wonderland by Aimee Friedman – ★

“It was a freaking Hanukkah miracle.”

Oh my gosh, this was such a letdown, especially after that last short story. The only really good thing I can say about this is that the main character is Jewish and celebrates Hanukkah. Besides that, yikes. Basically, the main character, Maxine, wants to buy an expensive dress for her best friend’s party, and a guy who she has had a secret crush on since high school, tells her that his father’s department store has an opening. Little does she know, that opening is to be a Christmas Elf. But Maxine is just rude, and negative, and honestly insufferable. Which would be fine, but this is supposed to be a happy holiday feel good book and it just made it feel like a chore to get through. I really disliked this one.

The Magi’s Gifts by Melissa De La Cruz – ★

“But she was prettier than the whole lot of them put together…”

Actually, this short story was the worst! How did this happen? What editor decided to put Kasie West’s story first? Maybe I’m just too damn old to be reading about superficial high schoolers? Maybe the Lord is truly testing me? This didn’t give me any holiday feelings at all. Plus, like… combs and hair are a lot different than motorcycles and family heirlooms. Reading about catty girls and high schoolers who think their significant other is their soulmate, while not respecting their wishes to not show PDA, is just not my idea of a good time. I hated every second of this story.

Grounded by Nic Stone – ★★★★★

“Maybe this is exactly what Leigh needed: to get grounded. Literally and otherwise.”

I just want to stay in this happy bubble after reading this story forever. Holy perfection. Nic Stone blows me away with everything she writes, and this short story was no different. It is ownvoices, about two Black girls stuck in ATL airport. We follow Leigh, who is also Jewish, and who has just came out of a break up because she has finally realized that she is a lesbian, and she has known that she was attracted to girls since she was fourteen, when she was on a cruise with another girl who was a family friend. Well, that girl is also snowed-in at the airport, and they are texting and decided to play a game that is like a crossover between I Spy and Hide-and-Seek. This story is told mostly by text messages between Leigh and Harper, but also between Leigh and her best friend, Niecey, who is encouraging her on. But this sweet start to a sapphic romance? I was swooning so hard, so damn hard. And Nic Stone also seamlessly weaves in important themes and topics like systemic racism, and internalized racism. Friends, this was amazing, and I completely recommend it with my whole heart.

I know that these ratings are so polarizing and wild, but they are honest, like always. Maybe there is a way just to purchase the first and last stories of this collection? Because that would be the true holiday blessing! But I gave Snow in Love three stars overall, because out of a possible 20 stars (5 stars possible for each of the 4 stories) this collection accumulated 12 stars (60%)!

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❤⛄ I read this for #TistheSeasonAThon!

 

Ghosts of the Shadow Market (Stories 1 – 8) by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees, Maureen Johnson, Robin Wasserman, & Kelly Link

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1.) City of Bones ★★★
2.) City of Ashes ★★
3.) City of Glass ★★★
1.) Clockwork Angel ★★★
4.) City of Fallen Angels ★
2.) Clockwork Prince ★★★★
5.) City of Lost Souls ★★★★
3.) Clockwork Princess ★★★★★
6.) City of Heavenly Fire ★★★★★
*.) The Bane Chronicles ★★★
*.) Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy ★★★
1.) Lady Midnight ★★★★★
2.) Lord of Shadows ★★★★

Hey, friends! Okay, so I am just too hyped to keep talking about all things that involve the Shadowhunter world, with Queen of Air and Darkness coming out in TEN DAYS! Holy moly, the blessings! I honestly haven’t been so excited for a new release in years. You all also know that I have been reading everything in this world for the last six months, so I know this book is going to literally be the cherry on an already delicious cupcake! (And your girl is hungry!)

I do want to say that Ghosts of the Shadow Market is scheduled to come out in June of 2019, and will include ten stories in total, but only eight have been released singly so far! Therefore, I am not going to give this collection a total star rating, I’m just going to let you know my individual star rating for each story separately, then come release I will do more in-depth and full review, that will also include the two stories that haven’t been released yet! But I hope this post gets you all hyped, because I can’t wait to read the final Dark Artifices book with the entire community in just a few more days!


Son of the Dawn – ★★★★

“Every world contains other worlds within it.”

It is official, The New York City Shadow Market is the coolest one we’ve seen so far? Abandoned theater? Ahhh, the aesthetics. But this story takes place in 2000, and I will be honest with you all, I sure in the hell wasn’t expecting a story about how Jace came to join the Lightwood family. Damn, my emotions are all over the place, because seeing Raphael alone makes me weep. Also, I think it was really smart for Cassie Clare to show us a “good” side of Robert Lightwood, especially after finishing Lord of Shadows. Also, all that talk of parabatai bonds? Lord, help us all. But I think my sappy self cried hardest over two initials. Okay, I know this brief review is all over the place, but this was such an unexpected treat and I was smiling while reading this entire story. From Izzy watching Alec discover who he is, to me crying even more over Max, to Jace being Jace even at a young age, to Lily Chen actually making me laugh out loud, to me screaming at seeing Raphael confirming that he is ace, I love all of this. And even just seeing Raphael come to Brother Zachariah for help and to go on what ends up being such a meaningful adventure, that really impacts all their lives eventually, it was just amazing. I really loved this short story and I think it was such an amazing glimpse at the past, that really makes you appreciate the future so much more.


Cast Long Shadows – ★★

“Old sins cast long shadows.”

Okay, I’m still hyped for The Last Hours though, but I think it is mostly for James Herondale, even though Matthew Fairchild is such a little sweetheart. I loved seeing him interact with Brother Zachariah, and loving him just because so many of his loved ones love him. I love that feeling, and I think that’s something in life that I experience a lot that books rarely depict. But in this short story takes place in London 1901, and we get to see Matthew dealing with something that’s really bothering him, while willing to do anything to find out the truth. Oh, and Alastair Carstairs is such a little jerk, but I know Cassie is going to give him a homelife (and a father, I think) that is going to make us feel a lot of empathy toward him. But why the hell is Sophie (my queen, still) and Gideon’s kid friends with him? Yet, I love seeing Henry’s disability rep, I love seeing Charlotte say fuck your misogyny to the Clave, and I just love seeing all these glimpses at old friendships that we already love, but also all the new glimpses at what is to come. And seeing Jem, Will, and Tessa living their lives after Clockwork Princess will never not equal parts break my heart and heal my soul. And yeah, I’m still crying over that staff. Lord, help me.


Every Exquisite Thing – ★★★★

“Foolish people say so many things. But we know who we are…”

Anna Lightwood deserves the entire galaxy and all the stars within it, please spread the word. Like, the child of Cecily and Gabriel is a true blessing to the Shadowhunter universe. And the end of this made me happier than any other Shadowhunter short story I’ve ever read. In short, this story is love letter to nonbinary people, and we get to follow Anna embracing being a genderfluid lesbian. Even though everyone knows that queer people existed all throughout history, this story highlights how it was harder to come out back in the 1900s. But seeing Anna live their best life was everything and it warmed my heart so very much. And, again, Cassie Clare is just being more and more inclusive and she impresses me so very much. And there is f/gq romance in this story, too! But the heart of this story is identity and being the person you are on the inside on the outside, too. Okay, I’m done gushing; this story we also get to see Anna and Matthew explore the London nightlife and meet a woman named Leopolda in a club and bring to ask a few questions. And soon, them and Brother Zachariah are trying to figure out what she’s up to. And I think that we are soon going to get a lot more background story on Tessa, and I cannot wait for The Last Hours, friends. It is going to be so amazing, and now Anna is going to make me even more excited!


Learn about Loss – ★★★★

“I want you to give them both a span of time. Both of them in a time and place where they can be young and happy and together.”

Current mood: Forever weeping over the masterpiece that is the end of this short story. You all, Will and Jem will always be best friend goals, and honestly are the definition of platonic unconditional pure love. (I mean, I won’t go into my polyamorous wants because Cassie Clare didn’t bless us!) But friends, this story just has a lot in it that I really appreciated. And I loved this dark carnival Shadow Market. This story is set in 1936 Tennessee, during the end of the Great Depression, and not only do we follow Brother Zachariah, but also the soon-to-be Iron Sister, Emilia, who easily stole my heart. And Sister Emilia’s promise? Goosebumps. Perfection. Also, I think these stories are really going to make an impact for QoAaD.


A Deeper Love – ★★★

“…those two twin souls, the only souls she had ever loved.”

Friends, I was not expecting a WWII story set in London that starred Tessa Gray and Catarina Loss working as nurses. But oh my gosh, it was so beautifully and hauntingly unexpected. And there is still a Shadow Market that they bargain at, but even the paranormal war is impacted (both positively and negatively) by war. And Brother Zachariah just happens to be at the Shadow Market, where bombs are dropping from the sky, while he gets into his own altercation with a fae who thinks he is meddling in affairs that do not involve him. And I believe the point of this story was that we get to see that weapon poison that Julian and Emma deal with in Lady Midnight. I also cried for probably a third of this just because Brother Zachariah and Tessa both dealing with loss, while healing and living with love, just guts me every time. It’s so pure, and so hopefully, and just gives me all the feelings under the sun. The power of love is something so strong, and this story just left me in awe, honestly.


The Wicked Ones – ★★★

“They’d both given a piece of their hearts to a Herondale. And they both loved someone they could not have.”

Oh, boy. So, this story is set in 1989 Paris, where we meet a young girl named Céline and get to see the uprising of Valentine. Céline has constantly run away from her abusive home, and the parents that torture her and call it love. And when she was eight years old, she ran away and felt safe and at home for the very first time – at the Paris Shadow Market. But in this story we see her almost ten years later, and she is desperately trying to feel welcome with Valentine and his elite crew. And she is also realizing she is completely and utterly in love with Stephen Herondale. But while this is going on, Brother Zachariah is in search of a lost necklace and a lost child. This story really dives deep into how manipulative people can gaslight to get what they want, and will always try to isolate people and convince them that what they are doing is in their best interest. It is always really interesting to see the rise and fall of Valentine Morgenstern, but this story just made me feel really sad for Amatis and for another child who has yet to be born.


The Land I Lost – ★★★★★

“Your voice is the music I love best in all the world.”

First and foremost, it is very obvious that Lily Chen is not straight, but Cassie Clare confirmed on Tumblr that she is pan! The blessings. The actual blessings. Also, hello, my new favorite character. Lily is half Japanese and half Chinese, and was made a vampire under the saddest of circumstances. And her love for Raphael Santiago warms my black heart like nothing else in the entire Shadowhunter world. And even though I could go on forever about my love for her, this story is more about her and Alec going to the Buenos Aires Institute together because Jem and Tessa are in need of help, and someone requested Alec personally. This story is actually pretty dark, so content and trigger warnings for abandonment, captivity, sex trafficking, sex slavery, and war themes. Nothing is graphic, but it is very much talked about, so please use caution. But Alec soon finds out that the Buenos Aires Institute is being heavily influenced by Horace Dearborn, and they are allowing children whose parents were killed in the Dark War to be orphans living on the street, just because they are Downworlders. Alec then comes across a Shadowhunter child who they are also unwilling to help, and the other Downworlders are too scared to bring in, therefore he must take action. You all, this novella was heartbreaking and heartwarming. Seeing Magnus and Alec be such good fathers to Max, and then adopting their second child, Rafe, it is something I don’t even have words for. And they are allowing their children to be whatever they want to be, Warlock or Shadowhunter, and will never stop giving them unconditional love. Even just seeing glimpses of Jace and Izzy being an uncle and an aunt had me smiling so big! It is a joy to read, pure joy. But we learn so much during this longer addition to the anthology, too. All the information we got of/from Mother Hawthorn? Damn.


Through Blood, Through Fire – ★★★★

“But we bear so much that seems unthinkable. The only truly unbearable burden is living without love.”

Okay, I won’t lie, even though I have loved watching Brother Zachariah go on this quest of finding the lost Herondale, I feel like it is my least favorite aspect of this anthology. And even though this short story gave us major insight on Rosemary and Jack, it wasn’t a big surprise after reading The Wicked Ones. But then, once the story catches up to the events at the end of Lady Midnight, and Tessa drops the REAL information of this story. You all, my jaw dropped. And my eyes? The tears won’t stop coming after that last paragraph. Wow, the blessings. The happiness. The everything. Queen of Air and Darkness can’t come soon enough.



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Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, & Robin Wasserman

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1.) City of Bones ★★★
2.) City of Ashes ★★
3.) City of Glass ★★★
1.) Clockwork Angel ★★★
4.) City of Fallen Angels
2.) Clockwork Prince ★★★★
5.) City of Lost Souls ★★★★
3.) Clockwork Princess ★★★★★
6.) City of Heavenly Fire ★★★★★
*.) The Bane Chronicles ★★★

With the way that City of Heavenly Fire ended, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy! I thought this was going to be everything, but sadly I was a little let down. I mean, a few of the stories in here are the best I’ve read from this universe ( Bitter of Tongue & Born to Endless Night) but most just felt boring to me, if I’m being honest. I know that sounds horrible, but I just feel a little let down, I guess.

This anthology follows Simon during his time in the academy that spans two years and I’m assuming catches the reader up to date for Lady Midnight. But we also get to see so many other beloved characters, both from past and present. But most importantly, we get to see Simon be the person who he wants to be, after so much was taken from him in The Mortal Instruments.

Simon is my second favorite Shadowhunter character. He is Jewish, he is nerdy, he is funny, he is a good friend, he is selfless, and he is so very easy to love. And he really has been through so damn much in his life; none of it he asked for but was just thrust upon him. Him and Izzy are also my favorite ship, even though I think she was a little questionable during some of these stories, too. I feel like a lot of people couldn’t empathize with everything that Simon was struggling with, and it just made me sad every single time.

Overall, I had a lot of fun reading this, but again I did think that most of the stories were a little lackluster and left a lot to be desired. Yet, I still had a lot of fun while reading this! But I am going to break down each short story with my thoughts, opinions, and individual star rating!


Welcome to Shadowhunter Academy – ★★

“He waved good-bye to all these people he barely knew and somehow loved anyway, and he hoped they could not tell how relieved he was to be going.”

Yikes, we aren’t off to a good start. Okay, this anthology picks up right after the events of City of Heavenly Fire, but Simon still doesn’t remember everything that happened, but he is now enrolled at the New York Institute. We get to meet so many new students, since the Shadowhunter world is in desperate need to replenish their fighters! I already love George. I already hate Jon. I will say that at first, I was so happy with Izzy’s declaration of love for Simon, but the more and more I kept thinking about it, I kept realizing that I was showing double standards, because if a dude would have done that to a girl I would have really disliked it. I will say that I always appreciated that Simon is the *nerdy one* and Izzy is the *popular one* and how Cassie Clare really plays that opposite trope up to perfection, but Izzy’s speech was a little too much even for me. I want good angst, not forced angst.


The Lost Herondale – ★★★

“We all have our own story of the Dark War. All of us lost something. Some of us lost everything.”

We get to see Simon and twenty of his classmates try and kill their first law breaking Downworlder, but it happens to be a vampire that new Simon before his memories were lost. We get to learn a story about Tobias Herondale, the younger brother of Will, and it is heartbreaking. This story really shows how there are always two sides to a story, and in this case three. I love Catarina so very much, and I really enjoyed the message about how you have to be the person you want to be, and to always listen to your heart. Also, Jon is such a little shit. Also, also, I’m not here for the Izzy pity party, especially with everything Simon has had to go through since he got thrust into this world even though he never asked for any of it. Also, also, also there is an uncharted Herondale line? Lord, help us all.


The Whitechapel Fiend – ★★★★

“The trick to falling is not to fall…”

Oh, my word, there was a lot to like about this one! Not only do we get to see Jace training Shadowhunter kids to jump out of trees, we also get to see Tessa, Will, and Jem solving… get ready for it… the Jack the Ripper murders in 1888 London! Like, I was for sure not expecting to wake up and read that today! But what a gift!


Nothing but Shadows – ★★★★

“James Herondale was the son of angels and demons,” she said softly. “He was always fated to walk a difficult and painful path, to drink bitter water with sweet, to tread where there were thorns as well as flowers. Nobody could save him from that. People did try.”

My favorite thing about the Shadowhunter world? Seeing all these family trees! Like, it is a little hard to keep straight, especially with the Lightwoods, but it just gives me all the warm and fuzzies. Also, seeing James Herondale and Matthew Fairchild become friends gave me all the feels. Again, if you couldn’t tell by my review of The Bane Chronicles! I need The Last Hours immediately! But I also love the growing friendship between George and Simon, too! Also, that letter he wrote to Izzy? Ah, my heart!


The Evil We Love – ★★

“He just knew, on a level beneath reason and memory, that some part of him belonged with Isabelle.”

Easily one of my least favorite short stories set in the Shadowhunter world. Simon and still struggling with his memories, and Izzy is being unnecessarily cruel about it, in my opinion. Then her dad, Robert Lightwood (yuck), and her come to teach the new academy kids an important lesion, while Izzy just goes out of her way to try to lash out and hurt Simon constantly. And Robert gives the kids a flashback to 1984 when Valentine is starting to show his true intentions, but people choose to follow him anyway, for many different reasons. TW for murder, torture, and homophobia.


Pale Kings and Princes – ★★★★★

“This is how a faerie loves: with a gift.”

Easily one of my favorite short stories set in the Shadowhunter world. Summer is over, and Simon is back at the academy for his second year! But Helen Blackthorn and Aline Penhallow mean more to me than 99% of the characters I’ve spent all of 2018 reading about nonstop. But, can we please kill off professor Mayhew already? Like, I’m begging. What an insufferable asshole. But the Institute brings Helen to force her to tell the story of her half fae parentage, while humiliating and belittling her constantly. But she does it so that she can marry the love of her life, who has stuck by her side even when she was exiled to a cold island just because of how she was born. But the reason I loved this story so much was because the true story that even Helen doesn’t know about her mother and Faerie. Like, it was perfect. Everything I’ve ever wanted. Oh, and Simon and Izzy finally make up, but it for sure didn’t mean as much to me, because the last story was so damn painful to read! Like, can Helen and Mark just have their own anthology? Please. I loved this.


Bitter of Tongue – ★★★★★

“I got distracted making out with a boy, and then locked up by a goblin”

Is anyone really surprised that I loved the story about a sapphic marriage between a fae girl and an Asian girl? I have loved these two since their introduction and… their ceremony was everything! Also, this was so amazing because we got to see more of the fae court! Seriously, all I want is more of Mark and Kieran and the Hunt! Please, Cassie Clare, I’m begging you! I honestly just think the Blackthorns are my favorite family. Plus, seeing Izzy and Mark both try to save Simon in very different ways was pretty perfect. This is also the first story that made me feel like Sizzy was back, and it warmed my heart and made me so excited for the final three stories!


The Fiery Trial – ★★★

“True parabatai are linked long before the ceremony takes place.”

This one I feel really on the fence about. Like, drugging people, even with good intentions, isn’t cool. Basically, this is the parabatai short story! We get to see Julie and Beatriz decide to become parabatai. We get to see Emma and Julian become parabatai. And then we get to see Simon and Clary discuss if they want to be parabatai. And… I thought I would like it more than I did. First off, Maureen is the character in this entire Shadowhunter universe that makes me the saddest. Then, add in the drugging situation. Lastly, the feeling weirdness because you know that Emma and Julian are obviously going to eventually have a forbidden romance (even though they are only fourteen in this… yikes!) I don’t know, I am excited to see Simon and Clary become parabatai, but this story wasn’t that great itself.


Born to Endless Night – ★★★★★

“Obviously you would call them Malec,” said Beatriz. “Are you stupid, Simon?”

Best Shadowhunter story ever! EVER! Seriously, this was probably my favorite thing in all of Shadowhunter history. Besides absolutely loving Magnus with everything that I am, seeing him be able to achieve things he never thought possible, even with his immortal life, is just so damn pure and wonderful. I also really appreciated Catarina and Lily in this story, too. Even though I really am dying to know everything about Tobias Herondale’s baby and the past. But yeah, this story was pure joy to read, and really just celebrate the love and honor for family; both blood and found.


Angels Twice Descending – ★★★

“That they would drink from the Mortal Cup. That they would, like the first of the warrior race, Jonathan Shadowhunter, sip the blood of an angel. That they would, if they were lucky, be transformed on the spot into real, full-blooded Shadowhunters.”

The character death in this was just so… pointless. It completely ruined the story for me and ruined all the previous happiness that happened on Magnus’ couch. This is the final story in the anthology, and it concludes Simon’s two-year journey of being in the academy. All the enjoyment that I had from the start of this one just really just fell flat by that ending. And I think it really left the entire collection off on a bad and sour note, if I’m being completely honest. I don’t even know how I feel about him honoring the last name. Yikes.


I gave Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy three stars overall, because out of a possible 50 stars (5 stars possible for each of the 10 stories) this collection accumulated 36 stars (72%)!

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The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, & Cassandra Jean

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1.) City of Bones ★★★
2.) City of Ashes ★★
3.) City of Glass ★★★
1.) Clockwork Angel ★★★
4.) City of Fallen Angels
2.) Clockwork Prince ★★★★
5.) City of Lost Souls ★★★★
3.) Clockwork Princess ★★★★★
6.) City of Heavenly Fire ★★★★★

I clutched my pearls so very tightly when I found out that there was an anthology that starred Magnus, my favorite character in all of Cassie Clare’s works. Magnus is the bisexual, Asian, warlock of my dreams, and I love him with every bone in my body. I truly believe he is one of the best characters in all of literature.

(Art from the tenth anniversary edition of City of Bones!)

I was a little apprehensive going in to this, because I didn’t realize that all of the stories were cowritten with other authors. But honestly? They blended together very well and read just like all the other Shadowhunter novels thus far. Each of these stories are about fifty pages long, but it was so much fun to dip my toes into all these different cities, years, and adventures.

The Midnight Heir was easily, hands down, without question, my favorite story in this entire collection. And I am willing to grovel, beg, plead, maybe even commit a minor felony, to be able to learn more about James and Grace. (Oh my gosh, my lovely friend Lance just told me about The Last Hours and I’m happier than I’ve ever been!) But I am going to break down each short story with my thoughts, opinions, and individual star rating!


What Really Happened in Peru – ★★

“Humans did not live forever. They could only hope what they made would endure.”

This follows Magnus and many of the different years that he spent in Peru. In 1791, with Ragnor Fell, and taverns, and monkeys, and pirates! Then we get to see Magnus in 1885 with Ragnor and Catarina, where Magnus is accepting a mysterious job. Then we jump to 1890 when Magnus meets Imasu and we get to see him drinking, riding magic carpets, mentioning people from TID, and falling in love. This was my favorite year, because there is just something so pure about seeing three very different warlocks coming together to talk about their lives, their demon fathers, and the expectations that have been placed upon them just by living a life that they didn’t ask for. Lastly, we see the year 1962, where Magnus meets a person named Kitty who is also a con-artist, a thief, and someone who is looking for love and adventure. And even though these little glimpses were fun, I was still just let down that we don’t truly know why Magnus was banned from Peru.


The Runaway Queen – ★★★

“A count! Named Axel! A military man! With black hair and blue eyes! And in a state of distress! Oh, the universe had outdone herself.”

This short story follows Magnus in Paris during the French Revolution in 1791. And apparently Paris is the place to be if you’re a vampire (which I highkey love, actually). Magnus attends a party with Henri de Polignac, then meets Axel von Fersen and accepts a difficult mission to smuggle Marie Antoinette and her family out of the city, before the desperate people take matters into their own hands. Of course, nothing goes as planned, and Magnus somehow acquires a pet monkey that he names Ragnor, but it was still a really enjoyable story and adventure.

Vampires, Scones, and Edmund Herondale – ★★★★★

“I was born to be a warrior, and I was born to be with her.”

Holy shit, all the stars! ALL THE STARS! I loved this one so much! Not only did we get to see Will’s parents, Edmund and Linette (which broke and warmed my heart), we got to see Woolsey’s older brother, Ralf, a baby Charlotte, Benedict Lightwood (yikes), some Morgensterns, and Camille herself (who I have honestly always liked)! This story surrounds a meeting were the downworlders are trying to make a treaty with the shadowhunters; but like always, the shadowhunters are shitty to them. But seeing so many faces, and so many relatives, of people that we know and love from TID – ahhh, I just loved it so much! This was perfection, and give me all the 1857, London Institute, stories with Magnus going on adventures with these people and fighting demons. Also, this story beautifully emphasizes the power of unconditional love and how it is always worth everything.


The Midnight Heir – ★★★★★

“…For one Herondale to be saved by love, and another Herondale dammed by it.”

Oh my gosh, I loved this one so much, too! I mean, the Tessa, Will, and Jem cameos were perfection all on their own, but seeing their descendants? It still makes me feel equal parts heartbreak and love. Also, ever since finishing City of Heavenly Fire, I have been obsessed with wanting to know more about the Blackthorns! In this story, Tatiana Blackthorn has called upon Magnus to do a terrible job, but before he finds his way to her abandoned garden estate, he finds a young James Herondale and has to escort him back to the London Institute. Friends, I’m not crying over this beautiful co-parenting triad; I’m weeping the happiest of tears. I loved this story so much, and my only complaint is that I hope we get more James and Grace in the future. Also, why does every Herondale just break my heart over and over again? I honestly do not understand.


The Rise of the Hotel Dumort – ★★

“Nothing is permanent,” Magnus said. “I know this from experience. But you can get new things. You can meet new people. You can go on.”

I loved how this short story was set in 1929 New York, while Magnus is trying to run a speakeasy. And seeing his magic camouflage this secret pub into a tea party was pretty much the best thing ever. Sadly, that’s all I truly enjoyed about it. I mean, I guess seeing Hotel Dumort almost become a portal to Hell was pretty cool, too. But this story, and the new characters, just didn’t win me over as hard in this one.


Saving Raphael Santiago – ★★★

“Love did not overcome everything. Love did not always endure. All you had could be taken away, love could be the last thing you had, and then love could be taken too.”

My heart, my poor broken heart. This literally felt like torture to read after finishing City of Heavenly Fire. Raphael Santiago was also a character that didn’t hide his pain and anger; and I always respected that. But everything he had to go through? Man, oh man. I will say that this story got pretty dark and trigger warnings for kidnapping, murder, and maybe even pedophilia. Louis is for sure the most evil person I’ve seen in the Shadowhunter world yet. Basically, in 1953, Magnus is a private detective, and Guadalupe, Raphael’s mother, hires him to find her son. This story just made me feel every single emotion. I also enjoyed seeing Hotel Dumort start to become the vampire lair. But the shining star of this book was obviously Raphael and his mother and the unconditional love that a mother should always have for her child. Ah, I didn’t ask for these tears all over again.


The Fall of the Hotel Dumort – ★

“Because in the end nothing is worse than seeing the fall of one you loved. It was somehow worse than losing a love. It made everything seem questionable. It made the past bitter and confused.”

This was easily my least favorite in the collection. Like, it read like I was back in elementary school watching police officers tell us about the D.A.R.E campaign. Basically, this one is set is 1977 New York, and Camille and her vampires are getting high from drinking the blood of humans on drugs, and they get really addicted. I did enjoy the ending with the memory spell, but that was about it.


What to Buy the Shadowhunter Who Has Everything (And Who You’re Not Officially Dating Anyway) – ★★★★

“This was love, new and bright and terrifying…”

Firstly, I will say that it’s really skeezy that Alec was indeed seventeen when he and Magnus started at least kissing one another. I don’t want to make light of that whatsoever, and I completely think it was wrong. But if you ignore that, I really loved this short story and seeing a glimpse in the Shadowhunter world before everything went down in TMI. I also really loved the scene with Izzy and Magnus; it was pure, perfect, and everything I’ve ever wanted. Also, I love how this heartfelt story was going on with a blue demon just hanging out in the apartment.


The Last Stand of the New York Institute – ★★★★

“It was one of the few things he had to believe in, the possibility of beauty when faced with the reality of so much ugliness.”

The start of this novel and the homophobia really surprised me. I actually loved how Cassie Clare blatantly brought it up, rather than using metaphors with the oppression of the Downworlders, even though it hurt to see. But this short story also made me fall even more in love with Catarina, who is working at an HIV clinic because even people in the medical field can hold hateful prejudices. But the middle of this story, we got to see the behind the scenes start of Valentine and his (mostly) brainwashed circle. But the end of this story was the shining light! Seeing Tessa accept Clary with literal open arms made me tear up. Seeing her talk about her loves, her losses, and giving Jocelyn’s child a new start was really beautiful and made me very emotional. I loved this one, friends.


The Course of True Love (And First Dates) – ★★★★

“And silver, though few people knew it, was a rarer metal than gold.”

Oh lord, this was adorable. This story shows Magnus and Alec’s first date and it was pretty sweet. Again, I will say that it is incredibly not okay that a 300+ year old warlock is dating a seventeen-year-old, but if you take that away from the equation then it was a really sweet and realistic depiction of an awkward and messy first date. Well, besides going to bar and having to fight a werewolf together.


The Voicemail of Magnus Bane – ★★

“Please don’t ever tell Jace I said he was a badass.”

This short story is just a transcript of voicemails that the Shadowhunters left for Magnus after the end of City of Lost Souls, when he and Alec broke up. It just wasn’t enjoyable and was a lot of harassment even though I know that it was coming from a place of good. I just, thought this was honestly a bit pointless, but I know it was supposed to be heartwarming. I will also say that I think it was a really poor choice for a concluding story, because it for sure finished the entire anthology on a low note.


I gave The Bane Chronicles three stars overall, because out of a possible 55 stars (5 stars possible for each of the 11 stories) this collection accumulated 35 stars (~63%)! But I really do think this is such an important addition to this world, and I very much feel like it is a necessary read. Even if it just means that you get to meet James Herondale.

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Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction edited by Irene Gallo

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ARC provided by Tor in exchange for an honest review.

Tor is celebrating their 10th anniversary this year and are coming out with this anthology that showcases some of the best short stories written this decade! Happy birthday, Tor! Tor is my personal favorite publishing house. Not only have they always been amazing to me, they are putting out some of the most diverse, important, world changing literature on the market right now. I’m honored to help them celebrate with this beautiful anthology!

Many of these stories I have already read throughout the year, but many were completely new to me! My personal favorites were from N. K. Jemisin, Tina Connolly, Marie Brennan, Leigh Bardugo, Alyssa Wong, and Haralambi Markov! But my absolute favorite of the entire collection was The Devil in America by Kai Ashante Wilson.

Since this is a massive collection of forty stories, I’m going to try to only do brief breakdowns with my thoughts!

“Six Months, Three Days” by Charlie Jane Anders – ★★
Lord, I feel so bad doing this. But I really didn’t like the first story of the collection. It’s about two clairvoyants who are thinking about dating. Yet, Doug and Judy know all the possible outcomes for what is yet to come. But, like, I really didn’t like some of the cultural references in this, and… I just hated Doug if I’m really being honest here. I sort of appreciate the message of “fate vs actions and the fall out from them” but I just really didn’t like this one.

“Damage” by David D. Levine – ★★★
I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest military sci-fi fan in general. But this story is told from an AI ship’s point of view during a space war, and I thought it was pretty unique.

“The Best We Can” by Carrie Vaughn – ★★★★

“The greatest discovery in all of human history and funding held it hostage.”

This is such a sad, but honest, look at what could happen if we truly found other life in our galaxy. The discussion in this is so important, and I was honestly in awe while reading this from first to last page. I completely recommend this first contact story with extraterrestrial intelligence, as depressing as it is.

“The City Born Great” by N. K. Jemisin – ★★★★★

“…poor kid, should’ve eaten more organic; should’ve taken it easy and not been so angry; the world can’t hurt you if you just ignore everything that’s wrong with it; well, not until it kills you anyway.”

All the stars, always, to every masterpiece that my SFF queen creates. This is a story about a young, homeless, queer, black boy in New York City, doing everything in his power to survive. But the cities in this world? They are actually born, and sometimes even born anew. And the cops? They are for sure the villains. You all, this story is important and speak volumes, just like everything Jemisin writes. She seamless weaves topics that need to be heard today into her fantasy. And I loved this. And like, I need more from this world and from this character. And the time skip at the end has given me hope.

“A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel” by Yoon Ha Lee – ★★★★★
I have loved everything I’ve read by Yoon Ha Lee, and this was no different. I loved reading all these brief vignettes, describing different cultures that have developed different ways to travel intergalactically. I loved the different species, I loved the short glimpses, and I honestly just love Yoon Ha Lee and his beautiful mind! And the ending was perfection.

“Waiting on a Bright Moon” by JY Yang – ★★★★★
Friends, I loved this. This is a tale about a group of magical women (ansibles) that are able to create portals and send magical messages, but they are forced to serve the government. But this is a story about rebellion, and fighting back, and doing whatever it takes to protect yourself and the ones you love. Also, there is a f/f romance in here that actually gave me life. This story goes from so heartbreaking to so heartwarming in a mere instant, and it just feels so perfectly balanced and woven. Also, the incorporation of Chinese language was a perfect addition, in my opinion.

“Elephants and Corpses” by Kameron Hurley – ★★
I’ll be honest, I didn’t like how some of the gender aspects of this were handled. Especially when it comes to people who literary jump into other bodies to live. I don’t know, it just made me uncomfortable, honestly.

“About Fairies” by Pat Murphy – ★★★★★

“My name is Jennifer. I am on my way to a toy company in Redwood City to have a meeting about fairies.”

I went into this thinking it was going to be a really fun read about fae, but it ended up being a really harrowing tale about death and illness of one’s parents. This was unexpectedly hard hitting, and it really made me feel a lot of unexpected emotions. Plus, Peter Pan, cats, magic, and fae? It’s always going to be a good combo.

“The Hanging Game” by Helen Marshall – ★
TW for death and miscarrying. This is about a girl who reminisces about “the hanging game” she used to play with her neighbors when she was young, which is exactly what it sounds like. And one of them was killed. Then we get to see her ten years later, paying for it. But, like, also paying for all the other adults that would kill bears? I get that we have to “pay for the sins of our fathers” but this was just too much for me. You all, I don’t know. I just hated this one, honestly.

“The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu – ★★★

“The water that falls on you from nowhere is freezing cold. I slip on the couch, but it just follows me. When it’s this much water, it numbs you to the bone.”

This is about a Chinese man trying to come out to his family before marrying his boyfriend. I didn’t dislike it, even though I hated the sister with a fiery passion, but it just felt a little bit pointless. And it didn’t feel SFF-like to me whatsoever. But the writing was so very beautiful.

“A Cup of Salt Tears” by Isabel Yap – ★★★
This was a sad little story, centered around grief and the different stages we go through trying to fill the void of loss. And how every generation will go through the feeling of loss, inevitably. And one day in a hot tub, our main character is greeted by a mythical river spirit that has done some pretty terrible things, yet still has found room for love.

“The Litany of Earth” by Ruthanna Emrys – ★★★
I’ve never read, nor do I know a lot about Lovecraft’s Cthulhu, but I think if I did I would have appreciated this a lot more. Yet, I still thought this was really well written and I did enjoy it, and really thought it had a lot of important things to say about xenophobia.

“Brimstone and Marmalade” by Aaron Corwin – ★★★★

“All Mathilde wanted for her birthday was a pony. Instead, she got a demon.”

This is the perfect Halloween read! And this was also hilarious! But this is also just a story about growing up, getting new responsibilities, and sometimes getting a lot more than you bargained for. I did finish it feeling a little sad, though, and very much in need of my own personal demon.

“Reborn” by Ken Liu – ★★★
This is the first in a series that Ken Liu has started based off illustrations by Richard Anderson. This entire story poses the scary question are we ourselves because of who we just are or is it based of the memories of everything that has happened to us?

“Please Undo This Hurt” by Seth Dickinson – ★★★

“So much hurt to try to heal. And the healing hurts too much.”

This is a story about an EMT that has to see some pretty heartbreaking things every single day. Yet, this story is also about breaking up, moving on, and seeing the person you shared a piece of your heart with moving on, too. This is also a story about people who feel like no one cares about them at all.

“The Language of Knives” by Haralambi Markov – ★★★★★

“You hold your breath, aching to lean over and kiss him one more time—but that is forbidden. His body is now sacred, and you are not.”

I’ll be honest with you, this one was a little strange for me. It is also told in second person, which is always a tiny bit jarring for me, especially when “you” are preparing your husband’s dead body, and your daughter is helping. This is a story about honoring and loving your culture, but it’s also a story about death and getting older and realizing that your kids are their own humans. And this was easily one of the most beautifully written short stories in the entire collection.

“The Shape of My Name” by Nino Cipri – ★★★★

“Two small words could never encompass everything you have to apologize for.”

This is going to be considered a spoiler, but this story stars a transman and it’s used as a plot device. I still really enjoyed the story, but it needs to be said. This is a story about love and acceptance and how sometimes it’s very hard to get those two things from your family. This is a sad story, but also a beautiful one about identity, and I really did enjoy it a lot.

“Eros, Philia, Agape” by Rachel Swirsky – ★
I’m going to be brief but – being single in your thirties is completely fine. But instead this woman, who had been sexually abused by her father, builds an android and then they have a child together. Oh, and then the android has a midlife crisis and leaves them. And the rest of the story starts to not even make sense. This just wasn’t for me. I would have preferred this story to just be about Ben and Lawrence.

“The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal – ★★★★
This won the 2014 Hugo Award for Best Novelette, so I was a little excited and nervous to read it, but I was overall super impressed. This was able to evoke so much emotion from me in 20 pages too. This is a wonderful little sci-fi tale about the love between two people, but also the love that they have for their separate passions.

“Last Son of Tomorrow” by Greg van Eekhout – ★★
I’ve said it before, but I’m just not a big superhero fan, especially in my literature. This is a new take on Superman, it just wasn’t for me. I’m sorry.

“Ponies” by Kij Johnson – ★★★★
I can’t believe I’m giving a My Little Pony story a glowing review, but here we are. In this world, the little girls go to a party where they have to cut two of three things off their pony if they want to be part of the group, but our main character soon realizes that the more you give in to peer pressure, the more and more people will take from you. This is a story about conformity and doing what you know is right inside your heart and soul, not what people in power tell you is right. Damn, this really does feel like a My Little Pony episode.

“La beauté sans vertu” by Genevieve Valentine – ★★★
Oh man, this was a loud message to the fashion industry, because this is a story about models who routinely go under the knife to replace their limbs from younger people. We follow a nineteen-year-old girl, who really shines a spotlight on trends and the things we will do for the sake of what is considered beauty by society.

“A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers” by Alyssa Wong – ★★★★★

“If I could knit you a crown of potential futures like the daisies you braided together for me when we were young, I would. None of them would end with you burning to death at the edge of our property, beaten senseless in the wash behind the house by drunken college boys, slowly cut to pieces at home by parents who wanted you only in one shape, the one crafted in their image.”

Full disclosure: Alyssa Wong is my short story queen. I think I have five starred every single thing I’ve read by her. This is about two sisters (one named Melanie *fangirls forever* and one named Hannah) who harness the power to turn back time. Yet, Hannah can’t seem to use it to save her sister. This is a story about how her sister dies each time, regardless of what is different. But all the TW for death, suicide, parental abuse, one misgendering comment, and sexual assault/rape. Also, it is very subtly written, but I’m very confident that Melanie was a transwoman. So, obviously that can be really hard for people to read, so please make sure you are in the right headspace. But this is a story about trauma and grief and how sometimes you can’t save people, no matter how much you feel like losing them is literally feeling like ending your own world. This short story holds so much heartbreak in its pages, but its such an important tale about feeling responsible for things that are not in our control. Alyssa’s prose is nothing short of magic, I fall in love with every character she crafts, and each story means more to me than the rest. I loved this with my entire heart and soul.

“A Kiss With Teeth” by Max Gladstone – ★
This story was so difficult for me to read. I didn’t connect with the writing style whatsoever, and it felt ungodly longer than the rest of the stories in this collection. This story focuses on a modern-day version of Vlad the Impaler, where he is trying to live a normal life, and raise a normal son, while also trying to control his urge to function as a vampire. He becomes obsessed with his son’s teacher and begins to literally stalk her. To drink from? To kill? To fuck? Who knows, but it is supposed to be a “you can work out your problems if you love each other enough, while still being able to be who you are” story, but it didn’t work in the slightest for me. Also, I’m just personally so sick of Vlad the Impaler retellings.

“The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections” by Tina Connolly – ★★★★★
Saffron is an official food taster for a Duke who everyone wants dead. Yeah, not an ideal job. But the Duke makes her take it because her husband, Danny, is the pastry chef! And no good husband would poison his wife, right? But the Duke soon sees that Danny puts magic in every bite. I loved this, and I loved the shining light on memories and not only what they mean to us, but how they also impact our lives forever.

“The End of the End of Everything” by Dale Bailey – ★★
This was a gross one! Like, I’m surprised at how much horror is in this collection, honestly. But basically, this is a short about the wealthy seeing impending doom coming, so they go to a lavish party each night, where the host will end the evening by killing themselves. And since it’s the apocalypse, people are leaving the world in some really graphic and mortifying ways. I was completely captivated while reading, and I do think the meaning of the story, about value and the price we place on things, was good. But, this was a little too much (sexual and dark) for me.

“Breaking Water” by Indrapramit Das – ★★★
I loved so many things about this but was also bored with so many things about this. I honestly just felt like it went on too long. But I love that it’s set in India, and I love the fresh take on zombies, when our main character finds a body in the river. And I loved the discussion on our responsibility to humankind.

“Your Orisons May Be Recorded” by Laurie Penny – ★★★
This was VERY different! Angels and demons coming together after a merger. And we get to see prayers get answered through a call center, even! And I for sure think this is trying to be funny, which it was, but wanting to sleep only with human men? In 2018? I’m about to phone in a prayer.

“The Tallest Doll in New York City” by Maria Dahvana Headley – ★★★★★
Be still, my heart! This was so amazingly unique! I loved it! This story is set in New York, where the tall buildings and structures move on their own. This tale is told on Valentine’s Day, and the storyteller is a waiter in a club that works high up inside one of these moving buildings. I loved seeing all these iconic structures choose one another and pair up for Valentine’s Day. And the story is told so beautifully, whimsically, and romantically, that you can’t help but fall in love with it.

“The Cage” by A.M. Dellamonica – ★★★★
I loved this f/f story! This is a sapphic romance between two humans, but this is for sure set in a paranormal world with werewolves, and evil monster hunters. Jude meets Paige while she is newly raising her sister’s baby, who just happens to be part werewolf! And the two girls come together to not only defeat evil, but to establish a found family and find love.

“In the Sight of Akresa” by Ray Wood – ★
I hated this f/f story! Also, this story is about a slave girl who gets their tongue taken, and I had a really visceral reading experience while reading the opening scene, so use caution, friends. Then, her “owner’s” daughter starts to have feelings for her and puts her fingers in her mouth like constantly (ew). And the entire story is told in second person about their relationship through the slave owner’s daughter’s eyes. And… it’s just depressing and wasn’t enjoyable to read at all.

“Terminal” by Lavie Tidhar – ★★★
This is a story about people who choose to take a one-way trip to Mars, because they are dying. But this book is about the journey going to Mars, where we see different people and what they are leaving behind. This is emotional and powerful, but it left me feeling helpless and hollow.

“The Witch of Duva: A Ravkan Folk Tale” by Leigh Bardugo – ★★★★★

“There was a time when the woods near Duva ate girls.”

I can’t recommend you read it enough, because this short story actually shook my entire world. This is such a perfectly woven and absolutely haunting tale about a village who is mourning their lost girls, while also trying to endure very hard winters. And the ending of this story is beyond words, and turned me into a crying, melted, weeping, puddle on the floor. Also, this one should probably have a few trigger warnings for abuse (physical/sexual) and just violence in general, even though these things are very vague in the story they are still there, just woven in quietly.

“Daughter of Necessity” by Marie Brennan – ★★★★★

“He is on the island of Kalypso, prisoner and guest. The nymph sings as she walks to and fro across her loom, weaving with a shuttle of gold.”

In case you didn’t read my review for Circe, Greek mythology is my actual kink and I will always have the softest spot for Odysseus. This is a short story about Penelope, alone, raising her son, all while Odysseus is missing. And, friends, I loved this with the sum of my being.

“Among the Thorns” by Veronica Schanoes – ★★★★

“They made my father dance in thorns before they killed him. I used to think that this was a metaphor, that they beat him with thorny vines, perhaps. But I was wrong about that. They made him dance.”

This wasn’t an easy read, but it’s now one of my favorite tales of vengeance. This story is a retelling of the Grimm Brother’s “The Jew in the Thorns”. But this is also a story about love, and Itte’s character is one that will stick with me for quite some time.

“These Deathless Bones” by Cassandra Khaw – ★★
Heavy TW for animal abuse with this one. This is horror short story about a little boy growing up and his stepmother, who is a witch and is the only one that sees him for what he really is. I think this is an eerie, spooky, unique read, but I never enjoyed reading it.

“Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch” by Kelly Barnhill – ★★★
Never did I ever think I would read a story about a Sasquatch wearing a fedora, but here we are. But this was a wonderful story about what it means to be happy and how everyone has a different idea of what happiness is. And how some people will live their entire lives living other’s happiness and never their own. After the death of Mrs. Sorensen’s husband, she is in search of the happiness she was ignoring while she was married. And even though her husband was a good man, he wasn’t the right man for her and she was never able to accomplish her dreams. And now she has a chance to live her life for herself and her own happiness, regardless of what a judgmental town of people think. And this entire story is told from the point of view of the town’s priest, who is also questioning his life and his happiness.

“This World Is Full of Monsters” by Jeff VanderMeer – ★★★★★

“I had not been alone. The story-creature had always been there, silent beside me, breathing beneath me, waiting for me to wake to its presence, to understand where I really was. But I would never understand. How could I? I had not understood the story to begin with.”

I’ve never read anything by Vandermeer before, but this made me instantly want to rectify that. This writing isn’t going to be for everyone, but it was completely and wholeheartedly for me. It’s so strange, and so out there, but so beautiful. This story feels like a spell is being cast, like pure magic is being woven, and I really loved it.

“The Devil in America” by Kai Ashante Wilson – ★★★★★
Use care going into this one, friends. This is a very dark and horrific tale, but if you are in the right mindset, please give this one a read. This story accurately depicts American slavery, and is set right after The Civil War, and Easter is a black child living during the horrors. This story will leave you unsettled, and even though this is fiction and set in the 1870s, filled with magic and the paranormal, it still shines a light still on what it means to be black in America today. The author said what sparked their inspiration for this story was an interview with Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mother: ”Trayvon Martin’s murder was only the latest iteration of a very old pattern: someone in America, black and innocent, killed by someone else, white and manifestly guilty of unjustified murder. Of course I’d seen it before, and we all know how this thing works.” If you can read only one short story from this collection, please pick this one. This is one of the best short stories I’ve ever read in my entire life.

“A Short History of the Twentieth Century, or, When You Wish Upon A Star” by Kathleen Ann Goonan – ★★★
This was a nice closing story about a girl wanting to become an astronaut and rocket scientist, while growing up in a world that doesn’t believe she can. And I really did enjoy this one, but I kind of feel like there was too much going on, and her dad started stealing the show a bit. And, it didn’t necessary feeling like an SFF story, but more a literary science one.

Out of a possible 200 stars (5 stars possible for each of the 40 stories) this collection accumulated 138 stars (69% *winky face*).

Overall, I completely recommend it! And if you’ve stayed this long – 1.) I love you and 2.) you can read most of these stories for free on Tor.com! Seriously, just type the title in the search engine if any of these intrigue you! But I really do think that this is a collection worth purchasing, and I believe with my whole heart that Tor is a company worth supporting.


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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.