A Universe of Wishes: A We Need Diverse Books Anthology
Authors : Dhonielle Clayton, Samira Ahmed, Libba Bray, Zoraida Córdova, Tessa Gratton, Kwame Mbalia, Anna-Marie McLemore, Tochi Onyebuchi, Mark Oshiro, Natalie C. Parker, Rebecca Roanhorse, V.E. Schwab, Tara Sim, Nic Stone, Jenni Balch
Publication Date : December 8th 2020
Publisher : Random House Children’s Books
Genre : Anthology
Pages : 416
From We Need Diverse Books, the organization behind Flying Lessons & Other Stories, comes a young adult fantasy short story collection featuring some of the best own-voices children’s authors, including New York Times bestselling authors Libba Bray (The Diviners), Victoria Schwab (A Darker Shade of Magic), Natalie C. Parker (Seafire), and many more. Edited by Dhonielle Clayton (The Belles).
In the fourth collaboration with We Need Diverse Books, fifteen award-winning and celebrated diverse authors deliver stories about a princess without need of a prince, a monster long misunderstood, memories that vanish with a spell, and voices that refuse to stay silent in the face of injustice. This powerful and inclusive collection contains a universe of wishes for a braver and more beautiful world.
AUTHORS INCLUDE: Samira Ahmed, Libba Bray, Dhonielle Clayton, Zoraida Córdova, Tessa Gratton, Kwame Mbalia, Anna-Marie McLemore, Tochi Onyebuchi, Mark Oshiro, Natalie C. Parker, Rebecca Roanhorse, Victoria Schwab, Tara Sim, Nic Stone, and a to-be-announced debut author/short-story contest winner
*** Disclaimer : I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to PRHGlobal for free copy. ***
A Universe of Wishes was fantastic collection of 15 YA, LGBTQ, fantasy, sci-fi, own voice, and diverse stories that covered many themes and layers with mind-blowing different worlds that I enjoyed diving into.
Synopsis said it’s fourth collection. I haven’t read previous ones but after reading this anthology I would love to read those previous anthologies. Before I started this book, I expected stories would be short. I knew it’s 400 pages long but I was expecting more stories and I made a mistake in guessing I can read this collection in no time. I made almost 15 pages long notes in diary as I was reading 1 or 2 stories at a time and that’s why it took me around 10 day to finish this book but that made it perfect to read simultaneously with other books.
None of the stories felt short or too short. All authors described world and characters of their story impeccably. There was so much in each story and at the end of each one I wished it was full novel and didn’t just end there. Most of the stories were brilliant. Only few were hard to get into or I couldn’t understand the world but that might be just me.
Here is a bit of each story and what I rated them individually–
A Universe of Wishes – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ – This was perfect opening story. It was about loss, grief, magic and wishes, belief, love and justice. I fell in love with Thorn and Sage’s story, their love, Thorn’s gift of collecting wishes and Sage’s three wishes. It was powerful and emotive and brought happy tears at the end.
The Silk Blade – ★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2 – Competition between warriors to consort Bloom (king) of Everdale? So good. I loved Willador and Rabi’s connection they found in just few hours of competition, description of characters world and competition. It was perfect until the end. It broke my heart and I wanted to know what main character decided at the end and what happened next.
The Scarlet Woman – ★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2 – It was fascinating story of 3 friends- Felicity, Ann, and Gemma, told from Gemma’s perspective. The world and their story were revealed slowly. I enjoyed knowing the afterlife realm and how these three were connected with it and mystery of Scarlet Woman was engaging. Again, same feeling, the end left me hanging wanting to know more, at least unravel the mystery of Scarlet woman, have some identity.
Cristal y Ceniza – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ – It was amazing Cinderella retelling where main character lived in a village going under forced correction and seeking help from rulers of neighbouring kingdom. I don’t think main character’s name was revealed here. I loved MC’s dilemma and her feelings, descriptions of world, kingdom, prince, and elites attending celebration. I felt so good for MC for finding what her mothers had at the end.
Liberia – ★ ★ ★ ★ – It was set on colony ship about Kwevu Aboha trying to save what her ancestors, generations of farmers were working on so the colony won’t go through another starvation. I struggled getting into this. I couldn’t figure out what was going on until almost 50% of the story but once I reached the end, I could understand it better. It was heartfelt story.
A Royal Affair – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ – Definitely best story in whole book. I can see now why fantasy lovers are in love with Schwab books. Set in the world of Shades of Magic, a tragic and sad love story of Prince Rhy Maresh and Alucard Emery. It started with Alucard returning to London after 3 years, telling his history with Prince, how his and prince’s affair started and what made him go away out on sea. I wish I could keep reading this. It was mesmerising and enchanting, loved every bit of this short story.
The Takeback Tango – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ – It was lovely heist story took place in space. A story of Violet, her destroyed planet, her revenge heist against elite city planet that destroyed her home, and unexpected meeting with Val. It was all perfect.
Dream and Dare – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ – Another favourite story. As title says it was story of Dream and Dare. It was Interesting to read Dream’s story, how she knew Dare- the princess- who went missing 2 yrs back and mystery of what happened to her and if Dream could find her or not. What I wasn’t expecting was a perspective of Monster in the woods and who it really was. It was about gender inequality, sexism, people’s judgement, cruelty and harassment against girls wearing pants or showing skin, and being different than what society approved.
Wish – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ – Retelling of Jinn of Arabian Nights but here the Jinn was a 17 yr old boy, Lane. The idea of Lamp not a cramped space for Jinn but a portal was brilliant. I liked reading how Lane explained his world and how it’s different from stories of wisher, and his connection with Ariadne who summoned him for a wish. I liked the ultimate message of the story how it’s worth living the deepest desire, a wish, even for a second, even though consequences are dangerous.
The weight – ★ ★ ★ ★ – I loved the concept of weighing heart against magical sarcophagus (that made me picture Anubis weighing soul) that told the story of heart, list of people s person loved, who person loved most, past lovers, heartbreak and even oldest and new love. It was kind of loyalty test in which you cannot hide what’s in your heart. It was cool and yet terrifying. I didn’t like main character.
Unmoor – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ – This was story of heartbreak. Felix wanting to unmoor the memory of his lover from places he needed to revisit by help of mage. This showed how hard it is to get over young, first love. Unmooring memories was a bit extreme but enjoyed the concept and reading this story.
The Coldest Spot in The Universe – ★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2 – This was alternative third person narrative from MCs belonging from two different era- 2031 and 3027. This was sad and tragic story. It took me time to understand what was happening in 2031 while I could easily understand the present 3027 narration. But as I read more, things made sense. Names of MC were revealed much later in the book. I enjoyed the message of hope, dream, connection, and true concept of archaeology.
The beginning of Monsters – ★ ★ ★ 1/2 – Title was fitting but those ‘an, ans’ words, I might be wrong but I think, they were for he, him/his were distracting. I didn’t know what the world was about until much later. It was too slow and I wished to skim pages often.
Longer Than Thread of Time – ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ – This was sad and heartbreaking Rapunzel retelling. I felt for Danae, locked in enchanted tower for decades and then meeting Fabian, a Burjo, not powerful but had a sight and could see Danae in her tower. An attempt of interaction quickly turned into new feelings, love, and also a heartbreak. It was sad to read Danae’s story but I didn’t like what she did at the end even though it was realistic. It just broke my heart.
Habibi – ★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2 – Interesting closing story of two prisoners, one from California and other from Gaza, miles away from each other found a way to connect and interact through letters they received – through a channel/portal – from each other. Their stories were sad and heartfelt, about country at siege, police brutality, injustice, and ill-treatment of prisoners.
Overall, A Universe of Wishes was well written diverse collection that everyone can enjoy, can have different experience and different opinion and yet find a story to relate to.
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