Anthology · Fantasy · YA

Toil & Trouble – Tess Sharpe and Jessica Spotswood

5 Stars

It’s a rare thing to come across an anthology where every story is as strong as the last. Toil & Trouble is a witchy YA anthology packed with 15 stories as strong as the young women contained within the pages.

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Cover from Goodreads

Scorn the witch. Fear the witch. Burn the witch.

History is filled with stories of women accused of witchcraft, of fearsome girls with arcane knowledge. Toil & Trouble features fifteen stories of girls embracing their power, reclaiming their destinies and using their magic to create, to curse, to cure—and to kill.

A young witch uses social media to connect with her astrology clients—and with a NASA-loving girl as cute as she is skeptical. A priestess of death investigates a ritualized murder. A bruja who cures lovesickness might need the remedy herself when she falls in love with an altar boy. A theater production is turned upside down by a visiting churel. In Reconstruction-era Texas, a water witch uses her magic to survive the soldiers who have invaded her desert oasis. And in the near future, a group of girls accused of witchcraft must find their collective power in order to destroy their captors.

This collection reveals a universal truth: there’s nothing more powerful than a teenage girl who believes in herself.

Toil & Trouble is an anthology that feels necessary. It fills a gap I didn’t know was there, and it fits in with today’s young adult culture as if it were custom made (which of course it was.) Toil and Trouble is full of stories of different kinds of love, power and women. No two stories are alike, but they’re all cut from the same cloth of strength.

Each story explores a different problem, magical and mundane and through those issues, explores power both figurative and literal and the relationships our protagonists have with those powers. Each story is exquisite.

Even in an anthology as strong as this, I can’t help but have favorites. My two favorites were “Death in the Sawtooths” by Lindsay Smith and “The One Who Stayed” by Nova Ren Suma. Both of these stories spoke to me in different ways.

“Death in the Sawtooths” left me wanting so much more of the universe that Lindsay Smith has introduced. I found the world fascinating.

“The One Who Stayed” was perfection in length and completeness. This story’s strength is in its completeness and in the raw power of women supporting other women.

Toil and Trouble is on sale now and is not to be missed.

Thank you to Harlequin Teen for providing me with an eARC in exchange for my honest review. 

 

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