Book Review: A Thousand Beginnings and Endings

Hello Everyone!

Today’s review is on A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh and

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Since this is an anthology, I am going to do a review of each story and then give a quick overall review at the end.

Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi 

This story was inspired by Filipino Folklore and was a beautiful, lyrical tale about a mountain goddess who falls in love with a mortal and the complications that happen with that. I really felt that this was a strong start to the collection, even though I found the beginning a little bit confusing. 3.75/5 Stars

 
Olivia’s Table by Alyssa Wong 
Inspired by Chinese culture and folklore, this was also an interesting story, although not as good as the previous one. It is about a woman who serves food to ghosts once a year in a small town in Arizona in order to appease them. I did like how the author took this tradition and made it her own by referring to her mixed-race heritage (Chinese-America) and set it in Arizona which according to the author’s note was known to attract a lot of Chinese settlers. 3/5 Stars
Steel Skin by Lori M. Lee (Hmong) 
This was an interesting story set in the future. I like how the author explains the whole story that this is based after and how she went about making it her own, because it is a very interesting twist on it. 3/5 Stars
Still Star-crossed by Sona Charaipotra (Punjabi) 
This story was confusing until I read the author’s note about the myth is based after. It is kind of like a Punjabi version of Romeo and Juliet, except where Juliet is the main character and Romeo is a ghost (?) and thinks that her daughter is his long lost love. 3.5/5 stars
The Counting of Vermillion Beads by Aliette De Bodard (Vietanamese) 
This was a weird story that I never fully understood and I kept having to go back and read what I had read before. It had good ending, but it was too confusing, even after reading the author’s explanation about what inspired it. 2.5/5 Stars.
 
The Land of the Morning Calm by E. C. Myers (Korean) 
An interesting story where the main character visits the after life in the form a computer game that her mother used to play. I liked the concept and feel like it should have been longer to further explain certain things in the story. It was also hard to keep track pf when the story was in the past or the present. 3.75/5 Stars
The Smile by Aisha Saeed (South Asian) 
This was yet another interesting story in the collection, I liked how it kind of touched on how oppressive South Asian culture could be historically. 4/5 Stars.
Girls Who Twirl and Other Dangers by Preeti Chhibber (Gujarati) 
I liked learning a little bit more about a Hindu festival that I have never heard of before (Navrati) and how the story of why it is celebrated has some parallels to the main characters revenge plot in the present day. However, it also seemed drawn out at points. 3.5/5 Stars
Nothing into All by Renee Ahdieh (Korean)
I really enjoyed this story and how it read like a fairy tale. I also liked how Renee Ahdieh changed the original tale up a little bit to make it her own. I wish I could read more about what happened after the end of this story. 4/5 Stars.
Spear Carrier by Rahul Kanakia (South Asian) 
This was a weird story, and it was only towards the end that I kind of understood what was going on. However, it wasn’t until I got to the end that I realized it was a take on the events that happen in the Mahabharata (from which we get the Bhagavad Gita) and the author taking a look at why someone would or would not fight with Krishna and Arjuna. 2.5/5 Stars.
Code of Honor by Melissa de la Cruz (Filipino) 
This story was short and simple. Unlike some of the previous stories I easily understood this story. It is about a lone vampire who is trying to find a coven of vampires that is rumored to be in New York City. 3/5 Stars.
Bullet, Butterfly by Elise Chapman (Chinese) 
This was an interesting story that really needed more world-building in order to help readers understand more of what was going on. I felt like I was just thrown into the middle of a world a barely started understanding when I got to the end. I did find it interesting that this was based on a Chinese folktale that is similar to Romeo and Juliet. 3/5 Stars

Daughter of the Sun by Shveta Thakrar (South Asian) 
An interesting combination of two South Asian stories taken from Mahabharata told with magical realism. Again, this was hard to follow at first and it is definitely something that needed more than 30 pages in order for the reader to understand it. 3/5 Stars.
The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon (Chinese) 
For some reason I never wrote a review for this story when I finished reading it, but I do remember that I liked it. 3/5 Stars.
Eyes Like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa (Japanese)
The same thing that happened with The Crimson Cloak happened with this one, I can’t remember much of this story but I liked it. 3/5 Stars.
Overall: 
I really liked this anthology, definitely one of the better ones that I have read. I enjoyed most of the stories in this collection. All of these authors were new to me, and they are ones that I definitely plan on reading more of their works. I also appreciated the authors’ notes at the end of each story because it helped me understand some of the stories a bit better. I liked how each of these represented a different facet of the East Asian cultures that they represent. Definitely worth the read! 4/5 Stars.
Happy Reading,
Janelle L. C.

 

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