Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft
Author: Various authors, edited by Jessica Spottswood & Tess Sharpe
Publication date: August 28, 2018
Genre: YA Anthology/paranormal
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
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.
* A note before the review the ARC says 16 tales but there will only be 15 tales in the finished copy. I only read and reviewd the 15 stories that will be included.
When I first saw this title I was so excited because I love witches, they are one of my favourite things to read about. Everyone has a different interpretation of what a witch is and I was really interested in seeing how other people view them. I was also interested because this is all a bout women written by women. Reading the title it gives off a tiny bit of a spooky and mysterious vibe and I was really excited to maybe read a dark and twisted story or two but I was very disappointed when I started this book.
I think if you go into this anthology with ZERO expectations you’ll really love the book. If you go into it with a certain idea of what a witch is and the type of story you’re hoping for you’ll be sorely disappointed. If you just want to read some diverse feminist stories with a little bit of magic filled with strong, brave and beautiful women written by a cast of diverse feminist authors then you will love this book.
This anthology is full of diversity. Many stories feature POC, different cultures, different sexuality, different types of witches and so much feminism your feminist heart will burst. I can see the appeal of why so many people absolutely loved this book.
Most of the stories are contemporary I think there were 2 or 3 with historical settings, I would really have loved to see a few more historical settings instead of contemporary but that’s just my personal preference. Most of the stories were pretty light and fluffy, there were a few that dealt with some hard hitting topics such as abuse, sexual assault and bullying so keep that in mind if you plan to read it.
For the most part the stories were all well written but there were a few that were far too juvenile for me and a few that were not fast paced enough, the plot was a bit lackluster and dull or the story was downright confusing. My ratings for the stories ranged between 2-4 stars, nothing over 4 and nothing under 2. However, there were a few that stood out to me:
- Death in the Sawtooths by Lindsay Smith ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- The One who Stayed by Nova Ren Suma ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Beware of the Girls with Crooked Mouths by Jessica Spottswood ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
These three stories were my favourite and were all 4 stars. They all held my interest, were a little bit darker than all the other stories and I really enjoyed the characters. I could have easily read a few more pages of all three of these.
For the most part this book was nothing special to me but I do know a lot of people will really connect with it and absolutely fall in love with the stories. If you’ve ever felt like an outcast, a little weird and eccentric there are a few stories you’ll really be able to connect with.
I would have liked to see one or two dark and twisted tales of powerful witches because that’s the type of witch I personally prefer to read about. I’m always draw to more of the dark, twisted and spooky stories so if that’s what you’re hoping to get out of this book you wont find it. They are all pretty light and fluffy.
The one thing I did enjoy about the majority of the stories were the different types of witches. Not every witch needs to cast spells or make potions (there are a few of them in here) they can use feelings, touch, emotion, the earth and the elements. There are endless possibilities of what makes someone a witch and I really enjoyed reading how each author interpreted this.
Overall, this was an alright book, like I mentioned above if you go into with with zero expectations you might really love it.