Review of Toil and Trouble: 15 Tales of Women and Witchcraft

Posted October 20, 2018 by Lizzy in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

As soon as I saw that Toil and Trouble had a story by one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth May of the Falconer trilogy, I knew I had to have it. Even if the subject matter hadn’t been one of great intrigue and interest to me, I would have bought it for that alone! Then it turned out to also have a story by Zoraida Cordova, which was also awesome.

Review of Toil and Trouble: 15 Tales of Women and WitchcraftToil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft by Tess Sharpe, Jessica Spotswood, Brandy Colbert, Zoraida Córdova, Andrea Cremer, Kate Hart, Emery Lord, Elizabeth May, Anna-Marie McLemore, Tehlor Kay Mejia, Lindsay Smith, Nova Ren Suma, Robin Talley, Shveta Thakrar, Brenna Yovanoff
Published by Harlequin Teen on August 28, 2018
Genres: magical realism, Young Adult
Pages: 405
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

A young adult fiction anthology of 15 stories featuring contemporary, historical, and futuristic stories featuring witchy heroines who are diverse in race, class, sexuality, religion, geography, and era.

Are you a good witch or a bad witch?

Glinda the Good Witch. Elphaba the Wicked Witch. Willow. Sabrina. Gemma Doyle. The Mayfair Witches. Ursula the Sea Witch. Morgan le Fey. The three weird sisters from Macbeth.

History tells us women accused of witchcraft were often outsiders: educated, independent, unmarried, unwilling to fall in line with traditional societal expectations.

Bold. Powerful. Rebellious.

A bruja’s traditional love spell has unexpected results. A witch’s healing hands begin to take life instead of giving it when she ignores her attraction to a fellow witch. In a terrifying future, women are captured by a cabal of men crying witchcraft and the one true witch among them must fight to free them all. In a desolate past, three orphaned sisters prophesize for a murderous king. Somewhere in the present, a teen girl just wants to kiss a boy without causing a hurricane.

From good witches to bad witches, to witches who are a bit of both, this is an anthology of diverse witchy tales from a collection of diverse, feminist authors. The collective strength of women working together—magically or mundanely--has long frightened society, to the point that women’s rights are challenged, legislated against, and denied all over the world. Toil & Trouble delves deep into the truly diverse mythology of witchcraft from many cultures and feminist points of view, to create modern and unique tales of witchery that have yet to be explored.

The fifteen short stories in Toil and Trouble vary widely. They all have a couple common elements, as one might guess from the subtitle – all involve women, most of them amazingly strong, vibrant characters, and all involve “witchcraft” as defined by each particular author. Some I enjoyed more than others, namely the ones by Elizabeth May, Jessica Spotswood, and Emery Lord. I will definitely be finding books by the latter two and reading them, as somehow I had never come across their work before. For a more detailed review individually, check out The Sassy Book Geek’s review. She has an absolutely AMAZING overview of each story in this anthology!

The relationships that many of the stories showcase – and in such a short few pages – are beautiful, and heart-wrenching. There are sisters, lovers, friends, mothers and daughters and grandmothers. Reading these made me realize how much I need to value the female friends and caring family members I have in my life, as well as feel a little jealous of a few of them! The sister trio in Emery Lord’s story really pulled at my heart strings.

“She’d tell her daughters someday: ‘If you don’t feel safe enough to yell back, you’re not safe enough. My babies, that is not love.’” ~ Emery Lord in Toil & Trouble

If you are looking for an atmospheric collection of stories, this is definitely it! If you are looking for horror, this is NOT it. The hair-raising factor in these is due to the “unnatural” powers and magic, not anything particularly grotesque.

Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review! 

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