A Thousand Beginnings and Ending Edited by Ellen Oh

A Thousand Beginnings and Ending Edited by Ellen OhA Thousand Beginnings and Endings by Ellen Oh, Elsie Chapman
Narrator: Kim Mai Guest, Vikas Adam
Published by Greenwillow Books
Published on 26 June 2018
Genres: Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Format: Audiobook
Source: my local library
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RRP: $17.99
4 Stars

Star-crossed lovers, meddling immortals, feigned identities, battles of wits, and dire warnings: these are the stuff of fairy tale, myth, and folklore that have drawn us in for centuries.

Fifteen bestselling and acclaimed authors reimagine the folklore and mythology of East and South Asia in short stories that are by turns enchanting, heartbreaking, romantic, and passionate.

Compiled by We Need Diverse Books’s Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman, the authors included in this exquisite collection are: Renée Ahdieh, Sona Charaipotra, Preeti Chhibber, Roshani Chokshi, Aliette de Bodard, Melissa de la Cruz, Julie Kagawa, Rahul Kanakia, Lori M. Lee, E. C. Myers, Cindy Pon, Aisha Saeed, Shveta Thakrar, and Alyssa Wong.

A mountain loses her heart. Two sisters transform into birds to escape captivity. A young man learns the true meaning of sacrifice. A young woman takes up her mother’s mantle and leads the dead to their final resting place.

From fantasy to science fiction to contemporary, from romance to tales of revenge, these stories will beguile readers from start to finish. For fans of Neil Gaiman’s Unnatural Creatures and Ameriie’s New York Times–bestselling Because You Love to Hate Me.

I was really interested in reading this book because of #weneeddiversebooks and #ownvoices, so when the audiobook came up as available at my local library, I pounced.

It’s really hard to review an anthology as a whole, but here goes:

Most of the stories were phenomenal. Not only because they were taking stories I was unfamiliar with, but because you can identify elements of Western fairytales in them as well with common themes among all cultures. There were gods who meddled in the affairs of mortals, there were lots of ghosts, there were star-crossed lovers.

I think my favourite story was right near the beginning: Olivia’s Table by Alyssa Wong, a story about the Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival. I loved that it took an old tale and made it modern, and I enjoyed the characters and the way their traditions were woven into their lives. There was a bit of mystery there, too, which I really enjoyed.

Some of the other stories that seemed to be straight retellings fell a little flat for me. I love fairytale retellings, but I do prefer that an author bring something new to the tale, whether it’s a modern retelling or a major twist. I felt the same way about Grim, so I know it’s just my personal preference. So there was one story in particular that I feel did this really well, it was called Steel Skin by Lori. M. Lee, and it took a story that is traditionally about a tiger impersonating a human and made it a futuristic sci-fi about androids – and still managed to add in a major twist. I was really glad that a brief version of the original stories were added after the retellings so that I could identify what they were.

There were definitely more enjoyable retellings than less enjoyable ones. In fact, for me, there was only one I didn’t like, and it was a strange story of a modern day man pulled into a timeless war among the gods and then talking his way out of it despite all this nattering on about wanting to be a hero. It was so weird and I felt like it didn’t bring anything new.

Overall this was a really enjoyable read that helped expand my knowledge of some cultural stories I was previously unaware of, and it was well worth the time to listen to this audiobook.


About Nemo

A lover of kittens and all things sparkly, Nemo has a degree in English Literature and specialises in reviewing contemporary, paranormal, mystery/thriller, historical, sci-fi and fantasy Young Adult fiction. She is especially drawn to novels about princesses, strong female friendships, magical powers, and assassins.

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