Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women and Witchcraft

 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
808 0
Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women and Witchcraft
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.

Editor reviews

1 reviews

An intellectual Halloween staple
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
WHAT I LOVED:
The two stories that tie for the best of the anthology are Tess Sharpe’s “The Heart in Her Hands” and Elizabeth May’s “Why They Watch Us Burn” because WOW. Both stories are f/f as well. Sharpe’s story, in which a young witch meets her soulmate and rejects him for the girl she’s always loved, dissects the idea of soulmates and what that means for free will. Meanwhile, May’s highly allegorical tale draws powerful parallels to how the media and awful people treat women who speak out against men who abuse them. In a labor camp where she’s been sent, the heroine falls for a fellow witch-prisoner and all the girls imprisoned there reclaim both their names and their powers in a blaze of glory. It’s amazing.

That’s not to say those are the only good stories because they aren’t. If your jam is closer to magical realism, Zoraida Cordova’s “Divine Are the Stars” (in which a matriarch’s heirs come to collect their inheritance and contend with a mother tree) and Tehlor Kay Mejia’s “Starsong” (in which a Latinx girl’s business of making star charts from her star-related abilities brings her into contact with a cute but skeptical girl) are both vivid, intelligent delights. I could dig into most every story and tell you why I like each one of them, but I just don’t have the time.

But the book’s strongest draw is its diversity. It’s a diverse set of authors with a diverse set of characters, yeah, but each story draws on a different magical tradition from across different cultures the world over. In the United States, people tend to think of the Salem Witch Trials or popular but very white examples from popular media. Think Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Hocus Pocus and the Harry Potter books. Toil & Trouble disrupts that narrative and gives the readers brujas, girls connected to Baba Yaga, a Comanche girl who can feel water like it’s part of her. Witches and magic aren’t just for white girls and it also digs into the role of sexism in why women face specific persecution as witches.

Even one of the weaker stories, “Death in the Sawtooths” by Lindsay Smith, isn’t bad so much as it is not suited for being a short story. The worldbuilding that goes into this mystery and the idea’s potential is large enough for a novel, but trying to compress all of that into a few dozen pages makes the magical abilities of the characters and the events of the story confusing. If Smith ever wants to expand this story into a full book like Ibi Zoboi is doing with her own story from the Black Enough anthology, I’m game for it.

WHAT LEFT ME WANTING:
Just two of the stories, “Daughters of Baba Yaga” by Brenna Yovanoff and “The Love Spell” by Anna-Marie McLemore, failed to leave an impression on me, so I consider them the weakest by default even if they’re not necessarily bad. I genuinely have NO memory of what was in either story.

FINAL VERDICT:
Though I read the book in February and March 2020, it’ll be a fun book to break out again when Halloween comes around and the tide of witch stories comes back in. One of the most varied anthologies out there in terms of who took part, what stories they’re telling, and what their inspirations draw from.
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

User reviews

There are no user reviews for this listing.
Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

The Hollow Inside
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Seventeen-year-old Phoenix has spent much of her life drifting from...
Spells Trouble (Sisters of Salem, #1)
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
Double double, twins spell trouble… ...
10 Truths and a Dare
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
It's Senior Party Week, that magical in-between time after...
The Promised Prince
 
4.3
 
5.0 (1)
Perfect for fans of the Selection series by Kiera...
Indivisible
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
This timely, moving debut novel follows a teen's efforts...
The Other Side of Perfect
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
For fans of Sarah Dessen and Mary H.K. Choi,...
Counting Down with You
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
In this sparkling and romantic YA debut, a reserved...
Gutter Girl (Twin River High, #1)
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
Star football player Jace Rovers has a secret. And...
Secondhand Dogs
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A heartwarming—and heart-tugging—middle grade novel about love, loyalty, and what...
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series: The Road Trip
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Join everyone's favorite Wildcats from the Disney+ smash hit original...
I'll Meet You in Your Dreams
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A heartwarming text honoring the ever-evolving relationship of a parent...
Colors of Habitats
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
The brand-new sequel to a well-reviewed bestseller that has been...
Noble Thief (Fantasy and Fairytales Book 6)
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
A prince of two kingdoms. A woman fighting against the...
All These Bodies
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Sixteen bloodless bodies. Two teenagers. One impossible explanation. ...
The Beautiful Ones
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
They are the Beautiful Ones, Loisail’s most notable socialites, and...
I Am the Shark
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
What makes the great white shark (one of) the greatest...

Latest Member Reviews

Secondhand Dogs
 
5.0
"Gus is the pack leader at Miss Lottie's house, and has kept the peace well with excitable Roo, loyal and..."
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series: The Road Trip
 
4.0
"HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL: THE MUSICAL: THE SERIES: THE ROAD TRIP is a fun book that compliments the show by diving..."
I'll Meet You in Your Dreams
 
5.0
"I'LL MEET YOU IN YOUR DREAMS is a gorgeously illustrated picture book about parental love that spans space and time...."
No Adults Allowed (Super Sidekicks #1)
 
4.5
"This is a cute read! No Adults Allowed is the first book in a new series from author Gavin Aung..."
The Last Fallen Star (Gifted Clans, #1)
 
5.0
"THE LAST FALLEN STAR is a thrilling epic fantasy. Riley Oh is a saram, a person without magic, adopted by..."
I Don't Want to Go to School
 
3.5
"I DON'T WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL features Dinosaur and Mouse, who are both scared of their first day of..."
The Mother of Monsters
 
4.5
"‘The Mother of Monsters’ by Fran Parnell, illustrated by Sophie Fatus, tells the story of Ntombi, the chief's daughter. She..."
Grim, Grunt and Grizzle-Tail: A Story from Chile
 
4.5
"‘Grim, Grunt and Grizzle-Tail’ by Fran Parnell, illustrated by Sophie Fatus, is great for younger elementary readers and anyone who..."
Baseball Baby
 
5.0
"BASEBALL BABY is a delightful board book about baseball. The book begins with heading to the park to play baseball..."
I Am Not a Penguin
 
4.0
"I AM NOT A PENGUIN is a silly picture book that manages to teach young readers about pangolins. A pangolin..."
Sam Can't Sleep
 
4.5
"SAM CAN'T SLEEP is a fun picture book read that introduces the concept of nocturnal animals. It's nighttime, and all..."
Welcome to California
 
4.0
"WELCOME TO CALIFORNIA is a fun picture book of facts about the state. It covers topics from the state capitol..."