Review: “The Gilded Wolves” by Roshani Chokshi

The Gilded WolvesTitle: The Gilded Wolves
Series: The Gilded Wolves #1
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Publisher: Wednesday Books/Macmillan
Publication Date: January 15, 2019
Rating: ⭐⭐
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks

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ARC provided by the publisher as part of the PH Blog Tour hosted by The Royal Polar Bear Reads & Wanderer in Neverland.

A group of outcasts, mysterious, powerful relics, and a treasure hunt – Roshani Chokshi’s The Gilded Wolves takes readers on an adventure through the dark and dangerous side of Paris.

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

Have you ever delayed finishing a book? Deliberately read slower, stop after each chapter?

I have with The Gilded Wolves.

It’s so rare for me to intentionally delay finishing a book. Usually, I keep on turning the pages because I can’t wait to find out what happens next. Even for my most loved books, I just keep on turning until I get to the end. But, with The Gilded Wolves, it was different.

Readers will find a lot of things to love about this fresh new series. I will have to warn you, this review may easily turn into me just raving about how wonderful The Gilded Wolves was. So, to rein in my excitement and be as objective as I can I’ll try to list down all things I loved about this book and why, if you haven’t read it yet, you totally should!

  • Strong writing that lures you in.

The writing was so lush, you could almost taste it, feel it – both soft and romantic, sharp and cutting when and where it needed to. Roshani Chokshi created this dark, glamorous albeit dangerous magical world, and I just wanted to jump into the pages and spend some more time within it.

While the first part is loaded with information, it did not weigh down the story. It was necessary world-building, and if it weren’t put there, I think I would have been lost. I admit that it took me some time to fully grasp the rules of Forging, described in the book as a power of creation rivaled only by the work of God. Once I got my head wrapped around it though everything went down smoothly for me and I, once again, got lost inside Roshani’s world.

  • Historical facts that blend well with fiction

You know, I’m a history geek. I mean, how else would I explain the number of historical fiction books on my TBR? But the downside to this is that, like whenever anything medical is included in the story, I get a little bit picky. Creative license could only create so much leeway for you, and it is the author’s job to blend these two contrasting elements – fact and fiction – seamlessly.

Roshani does just that.

Yes, she took liberties here and there with dates and places (La Solidaridad was published in Barcelona & the Ilustrados were also there by 1889) but you know what got me? It was all still believable. Why? The rendering was natural, it just flowed.

I know some of you will say, but history doesn’t play a big role in the story. I’ll give you that, but it is where it was set and that influences the way characters move and act through their world. Also, if you decide to include a bit of history into your story, you might as well do it right.

This was an important element for me, and I’m very happy with what I got from this book. Plus, all those historical tidbits – the Exposition Universelle de 1889, the human zoos (sad and angering, but nevertheless true,) & all the other stuff Enrique throws in the whole length of the book – were simply delectable to this history geek.

  • Explores and challenges some really heavy topics

It’s may not be overtly stated, but, sprinkled throughout the pages of this book are some really important topics – gender identity and sexual orientation, racism, privilege, subjugation and colonialism. All of these were treated with utmost sensitivity and were challenged every time.

  • A diverse, fully-realized cast of characters

Now, I saved this for last because it is, I daresay, the best part of The Gilded Wolves. I fell in love with this band of misfits right from the very first page that by the time the book ended with that cliffhanger (!!!) I’m so into deep I swear I’ll adopt them if they ever come out of the pages.

Roshani Chokshi put together a group of characters from different backgrounds – all well-intentioned and flawed and so utterly human – but still find in themselves a family. It was so easy to love all of them, and good luck with picking favorites because you’ll find a little bit of yourself in each of these wonderful characters.

🍂 Séverin – The obvious leader of the pack. He’s bi-racial – an Algerian mother and French father – and it was implied in that this played a part in him being losing his title as heir of House Vanth. A rich hotelier, he gathered together his crew to help him reclaim his birthright. Sure it may have started like that, but he so obviously care for this little pack he’d made and will keep them safe for as long as he can.

🍂 Laila – Baker, the person behind sought-after L’Énigme – she’s the “mom” friend of the group. She came from India to France in search of a mysterious book that could hold the answers to her existence. With her ability to read objects just by touching them, she’s an invaluable member of the group. There’s also this thing between her and Séverin, though they are both, for reasons you’ll find out once you read the book, holding back.

🍂 Tristan – Séverin’s brother in all but blood. Tristan and Séverin grew up together being bounced from one foster family to another. He’s a softie, loves his pet tarantula Goliath maybe a little too much (we don’t mind) and, with his Forging affinity, is a master botanis. Tristan is also behind some of the group’s weapons, concocting stuff from the plants he cultivates.

🍂 Zofia – The engineer, Zofia’s Forging affinity allows her to bend any kind of metal to her will. She came to France from Poland, leaving her sister there, to study, but she was kicked out of university because of an accident. She’s hoping that, with this big mission Séverin sets them on, she’ll get enough money to get her sister to France and fund her education so she could study Medicine.

🍂 Hypnos – Patriarch of House Nyx, he was a friend of Séverin’s when they were younger, but drifted of when the latter’s claim to his own House was forfeited. He’s unashamedly queer, flirtatious, and has this big personality that just fills whatever room he is in. I was suspicious of him at the start of the book, but as I read more I felt that he sincerely wanted to have Séverin assert his claim so he could also be in the Council with him because, even if Hypnos is already a patriarch, he is still an outsider because of his heritage.

🍂 Enrique – As the resident historian, Enrique guides and helps solve puzzles for the group. I may sound biased, but Enrique has a special place in my heart. He’s funny, making jokes especially when the group is in a tensed situation, but, while he does try to lighten things for everyone, he also hides behind humor and sarcasm. But deep inside he’s just trying to look for his place in the world.

Filipino and Spanish, Enrique straddles the line between two race and culture. He has joined the Ilustrados, a group of Euro-educated Filipinos lobbying for reform for their Spanish-controlled motherland. He also submits articles to La Solidaridad. Still, he can’t break into the group’s inner circle.

“It wasn’t his intellect that made him unwanted.
It was his face.”

I’m a full-blooded Filipino, but this still hits home. It’s hard to see printed within the pages of a book, but we have to admit that even within our group there are divisions. We may or may not be aware, but we judge each other and consider one person superior over another just by the way they look, and that only creates even more discord and harm.

🍂 🍂 🍂 🍂 🍂

There, I’ve listed down the things I loved most about The Gilded Wolves. I’m sure I could find more things to love about this book once I finish reading again. Captivating writing, diverse and nuanced characters, thrilling adventures, this book has everything I want and more. Thinking that this is only the beginning of what promises to be an amazing series only excites me more to get my hands on TGW#2. I cannot recommend it enough (I’ll probably be pushing this book to people the whole of 2019.) Doesn’t matter if you like Fantasy or not, I think there’s something in this book for everyone.

🍂 🍂 🍂🍂 🍂

About the Author:

SIC_0760-719x1024ROSHANI CHOKSHI is the New York Times bestselling author of Aru Shah and the End of TimeThe Star-Touched QueenA Crown of Wishes, and The Gilded Wolves. Her work has been nominated for the Locus and Nebula awards, and her books have appeared on Barnes and Nobles Best New Books of the Year and Buzzfeed Best Books of the Year lists. Chokshi lives in Georgia, but doesn’t have much of a Southern accent. Alas.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

 

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Also, check out the other stops of The Gilded Wolves PH Blog Tour hosted by Wanderer in Neverland and The Royal Polar Bear Reads.

The Gilded Wolves Blog Tour Banner

Tour Schedule

January 14, 2019

January 15, 2019

January 16, 2019

January 17, 2019

January 18, 2019

January 19, 2019

 

First Line Fridays: “The Gilded Wolves” by Roshani Chokshi

First Line Fridays is a weekly feature hosted by Hording Books.


Happy Friday! I hope you are all doing well. My week has been busy at work, but life at home has been good. We have three new puppies! All of them plus mama dog are doing fine, and we couldn’t be any happier. It’ll be another two to three weeks before their eyelids start to open, but I’m really excited to have them start seeing their new world, start to run and play around the house.

Book-wise it’s been slow. I was able to finish Emma Rous’ The Au Pair but haven’t yet started a new read. So, this week I’ll be sharing the first few lines of a recent read that’s coming out soon.

The Gilded Wolves

Fléctere si néqueo súperos Acheronta movebo.
If I cannot move heaven, I will raise hell.
– Virgil

Once, there were four Houses of France.
Like all the other Houses within the Order of Babel, the French faction swore to safeguard the location of their Babel Fragment, the source of all Forging power.
Forging was a power of creation rivaled only by the work of God.
But one House fell.
And another House’s line died without an heir. PNow all that is left is a secret.

 

I know I’ve said it before, but I am sooooo in love with The Gilded WolvesThis beauty’s coming out next week and I couldn’t be more excited. I already got the notification from Book Depository that my pre-order has been dispatched from their UK warehouse. I waited almost a year for this book and I’ll finally have this lovely next week.

The Gilded Wolves comes out January 15 published by Wednesday Books. You can still pre-order it. Trust me on this, you need this book!

Pre-order links:

IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks

Another thing…

The Gilded Wolves Blog Tour Banner

The Gilded Wolves PH Blog Tour, hosted by Wanderer in Neverland and The Royal Polar Bear Reads, starts on January 14. My blog tour stop is on the 18th, but you can check out the other blog stops and read the raves of other awesome book bloggers for this book. You can see the blog tour schedule here.

💗💗💗

Rachel

let's chat

Come and join in the fun. Visit Hoarding Books to see what other FLF bloggers has to share.

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: “The Gilded Wolves” by Roshani Chokshi

Can't Wait Wednesday

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted Tressa at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted Jill at Breaking the Spine.


Hey, hey! Happy 2nd day of 2019!

I’m really excited for this year because there are so many great books and authors having their debuts, so many books coming out from already established authors. 2019 really promises to be a really exciting year.

I’m going to be sharing to you one of the books I’m super, super anticipating. I love YA, book series, historical fiction and fantasy — and this book combines it ALL.

39863498
Title: The Gilded Wolves
Series: The Gilded Wolves #1
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Publisher: Wednesday Books/Macmillan
Release Date: January 15, 2019
Pre-order: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks

goodreads-badge-add-plus-d700d4d3e3c0b346066731ac07b7fe47

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

I’ve already read The Gilded Wolves and it was AWESOME!!! It has everything – adventure, a found family, strong friendships, humor – you name it, this book has it! I cannot gush about it enough.

Another thing I’m really excited for is this…

The Gilded Wolves Blog Tour Banner

My blog tour stop is on the 18th, but you can check out the other blog stops and read what all these amazing book bloggers have to say about The Gilded Wolves. You can see the blog tour schedule here.

I’m really excited for to be a part of The Gilded Wolves street team and to be a participant in its Philippine blog tour. And, of course, I just couldn’t wait until our reliable and friendly mailman delivers the book on the 15th. (Could you hear my squeeing??? Because I am squeeing!)

💗💗💗

Rachel

let's chat

What book/s are you excited for this week?

 

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: “The Gilded Wolves” Roshani Chokshi

Can't Wait WednesdayCan’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted Tressa at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted Jill at Breaking the Spine.


There are a ton a books coming out in the last 2 1/2 months left in this year, but today my pick will be from the forthcoming 2019 releases. This one is one of my most anticipated books next year.

39863498Title: The Gilded Wolves
Series: The Gilded Wolves #1
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: January 15, 2019
Pre-order: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks

goodreads-badge-add-plus-d700d4d3e3c0b346066731ac07b7fe47

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

I haven’t read much of Roshani Chokhi’s work, though I have a copy of Star-Touched Queen all but waiting for me to crack it open. But I loved her short story Forbidden Fruit, a story about Maria Makiling, from the A Thousand Beginnings and Endings anthology, and this book’s premise just sounds so ultra delicious that I pre-ordered it already (my bank account screaming “NO” the whole time, but what bookworm listens to it.)

💗💗💗

Rachel

let's chat

What book/s are you excited for this week?

 

Review: “A Thousand Beginnings and Endings” edited by Ellen Oh & Elsie Chapman

35430013

Title: A Thousand Beginnings and Endings

Editors: Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman

Publisher: Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins

Publication Date: June 26, 2018

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Pre-order it:

IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Books-a-million

(Digital ARC graciously provided by publisher via Edelweiss)

As a child, I learned about the myths and lore of both my own country and peoples alongside those from foreign lands. I’ve read about Hercules and Bernardo Carpio, Helen of Troy and Malakas at Maganda at school, but somehow, whenever I browse through the shelves of my favorite local bookstore, there are so few books about the latter – books with characters with similar names to mine, characters who physically resemble my black hair and brown eyes and brown skin.

It was a sad state.

Even now, at a time when authors and publishers seriously take into account diversity in their works and books, there’s still a big gap. So, you can just imagine how happy I was when I heard that Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman, both from #WeNeedDiverseBooks, were coming out with a collection of short stories based on South, East and Southeast Asian myths and folklore.

Star-crossed lovers, meddling immortals, feigned identities, battles of wits, and dire warnings. These are the stuff of fairy tale, myth, and folklore that have drawn us in for centuries.

Fifteen bestselling and acclaimed authors reimagine the folklore and mythology of East and South Asia in short stories that are by turns enchanting, heartbreaking, romantic, and passionate.

Compiled by We Need Diverse Books’s Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman, the authors included in this exquisite collection are: Renee Ahdieh, Sona Charaipotra, Preeti Chhibber, Roshani Chokshi, Aliette de Bodard, Melissa de la Cruz, Julie Kagawa, Rahul Kanakia, Lori M. Lee, E. C. Myers, Cindy Pon, Aisha Saeed, Shveta Thakrar, and Alyssa Wong.

A mountain loses her heart. Two sisters transform into birds to escape captivity. A young man learns the true meaning of sacrifice. A young woman takes up her mother’s mantle and leads the dead to their final resting place. From fantasy to science fiction to contemporary, from romance to tales of revenge, these stories will beguile readers from start to finish. For fans of Neil Gaiman’s Unnatural Creatures and Ameriie’s New York Times–bestselling Because You Love to Hate Me.

Goodreads

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings successfully introduces narratives from countries that don’t get much mention in mainstream literature. Each author brings forth their own interpretations of south, east and southeast asian myths, legends and folklore. From contemporary to sci-fi to fantasy and paranormal – the authors versions were creatively and widely varied. There’s something for everyone! Also, there are author notes at the end of each story that gives readers a bit of background about the myths and lore the short story was based on, so if you’d want to find out more about their origins you could easily search for it.

It was tough to pick which stories I loved the most, but narrowing it down, I’d have to say Roshani Chokshi’s “Forbidden Fruit”, E.C. Myers’ “The Land of the Morning Calm” and Aisha Saeed’s “The Smile” were my favorites among the 15 short stories. All of them were great though, so I’ll try to review each story as well as I could.

🍂 Forbidden Fruit – Roshani Chokshi | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Origin: Filipino

It was an ill-fated thing to claim that a heart is safe. Hearts are rebellious. The moment they feel trapped, they will strain against their bindings.

Forbidden Fruit is based on one of the many myths a Maria Makiling, the goddess guarding Mount Makiling in the Philippines. Maria, or Dayang (meaning princess) as she is fondly called by her father, falls in love with the mortal Bulan. But as is the case with a goddess and a mortal falling in love, it doesn’t end well.

This was beautifully written and was an apt opener for this collection of short stories. Chokshi’s prose is lyrical and captivating, and it just set the right tone for this tragic story.

🍂 Olivia’s Table – Alyssa Wong | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Origin: Chinese

“If you honor everything I’ve taught you, then I promise that I will never leave you.”

Olivia’s Table centers around Olivia who takes on her mother’s role of feeding the dead during The Hungry Ghost Festival or Yu Lan.

This one was incredibly touching. It’s a story about grief – of letting go and moving on. I found so many allusions in the story, putting in parallel Olivia’s grief to the freeing of the ghosts stuck in the old Arizona town where it the story is set.

🍂 Steel Skin – Lori M. Lee | ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Origin: Hmong

For eleven glorious months, she had been a daughter. A girl. A friend. And now that she knew the truth, who would she decide to be?

Yer is the star of this short story which is set, seemingly, in a future where androids have rebelled. Her mother is killed during the android recall, the government’s answer to the android rebellion. Together, Yer and her father managed to escape to a remote town far from the city where they used to live.

This one is very sci-fi. It was a fun read even though I kind of suspected how it will end. I breezed through it, enjoyed reading it but, unlike the first two stories, didn’t quite love it.

🍂 Still Star-Crossed – Sona Charaipotra | ⭐️⭐️

Origin: Punjabi

“You don’t know hot to choose until you’re right there, on the precipice, giving away your everything for something that may be real or may be a shadow, a ghost you’re chasing.”

Based on the Punjabi folktale of Mirza and Sahiba, Still Star-Crossed is one of the few stories in this collection that I didn’t quite like. It was beautifully and hauntingly written, but the elements used in the story – the young man following the female protagonist, oddly showing up wherever she goes – just didn’t work for me. It was, honestly, disturbing.

🍂 The Counting of Vermillion Beads – Aliette De Bodard | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Origin: Vietnamese

“We can’t possibly leave…,” Cam starts slowly, desperately.

 “Can’t we?” She holds out a hand, her eyes dark and shadowed.

The Counting of Vermillion Beads was based on the Vietnamese folktale Tám Cám, whose storyline is similar to the more popular and familiar Cinderella. But the author turned this around, wanting to write about sisters who “stuck together in spite of the odds” and it totally worked.

I loved the way the author wrote the two sisters, the contrasts between them. Tám is free-spirited while Cám is duty-bound but not matter their differences, their unconditional love for one another prevails in the end.

🍂 The Land of the Morning Calm – E.C. Myers | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Origin: Korean

..but whether I recall every detail or not, those moments are part of me. They made me who I am and will always influence who I become.

This was easily one of my favorites in this anthology. It made me laugh and cry, especially through the last parts of it.

With elements of a paranormal story, The Land of the Morning Calm is a deeply moving story about grief and acceptance. I loved every bit of this story – Myers’ use of an MMO game, one that has meant so much for the main character’s parents, to show a historical Korea, the extended family structure very common to Asians. Of course, the last part killed me, when Sunny, in a way, guided her mother to the gates of the Underworld.

🍂 The Smile – Aisha Saeed | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Origin: South Asian

The prince always said I belonged to him. I had thought this word protected me and kept me safe, but now I understood. Belonging meant he could place me wherever he liked, whether in his bed or in this dank tower. Belonging is not love. It never was.

The Smile tells the story of a young, talented dancer plucked from family by a jealous, controlling prince. She serves the prince the best she can becoming his confidante and lover. But when an important merchant provokes his jealousy, the prince banishes her in a tower to be buried alive.

In her author’s note, Aisha Saeed expressed that she wanted to give the original story a different ending in her re-telling. She questioned how a girl made into a courtesan could have an equal and consensual relationship with a prince. The new ending she gave this story totally worked for me. The Smile was an incredibly powerful and feminist story, one that I would re-read over and over again.

🍂 Girls Who Twirl and Other Dangers – Peeti Chhibber | ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Origin: Gujarati

Let the gods have their battles of good and evil. We were here to dance.

This was really cute, but I think it lacked the substance I found in the previous short stories. Girls Who Twirl and Other Dangers is basically a story about good versus evil. I like the alternating narration as it gave me more insight into who the goddess Durga is, while the by Jaya, the story’s main character, kept it light and fun.

🍂 Nothing into All – Renée Ahdieh | ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Origin: Korean

“I know this not my fault. It is not my responsibility to make amends for my brother. It is Chun’s fault he has become a thief. But please let him have the chance to make it right. Give him the chance to become a great man.”

Based on the Korean fairy tale Goblin Treasure, Renée Ahdieh’s contribution to this collection tackles good and evil, and how it could exist in the same person. She used brother and sister Chun and Charan to illustrate her point.

This was a signature Ahdieh story. The lyricism so typical in her longer novels was very much present in this short story set in a fantastical Korea. She focused on Chun and Charan here – the siblings’ relationship to one another, Charan’s selflessness and love for her mischievious brother. I enjoyed reading this, but did not quite love it as much.

🍂 Spear Carrier – Rahul Kanakia | ⭐️

Origin: South Asian

When I agreed to his offer, it was because I had thought I’d be a hero. But a hero wouldn’t be so lonely and so afraid. A hero wouldn’t shout for help, and then, hearing only silence, go back to his trench and cry.

I’ll admit to quitting on this entry halfway through the story. It was long and it meandered, the narrator of the story going on a tangent for most parts of the half I read. There were lovely quotable lines though, like the one I picked, but, personally, it didn’t give me enough reason to finish reading the story.

🍂 Code of Honor – Melissa de la Cruz | ⭐️⭐️

Origin: Filipino

I had been lost to the bloodline for years, but now I was home.

I really wanted to love, or at the very least, like this story, but I just can’t. Aswangs (or vampire witches, but that’s too light a term for these monsters) starred in many of my nightmares (blame the horror flicks I watched just before bedtime). They’re easily one of the scariest entities in Filipino folklore, so I had high expectations for this short story. I felt like Melissa de la Cruz could have done so much better instead of this short story which could easily be inserted into any of her Blue Blood novels.

🍂 Bullet, Butterfly – Elsie Chapman | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Origin: Chinese

“That’s why we chose it, I suppose. Because what do either of those things – freedom, love – matter when it comes to this war, for us here as its soldiers? They don’t, at all.”

Again, another one of the best stories in this anthology. Set in a war-torn China, Bullet Butterfly is a tragic story about two young lovers kept apart by their duty to their land. Forbidden love is a troupe that has been used over and over again, but Elsie Chapman managed to make her re-telling fresh and original. (Also, that ending is just gorgeous!)

🍂 Daughter of the Sun – Shveta Thakrar | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Origin: South Asian

Hers, they promised, was a heart meant to be shared with one who could not only bear her light but would even reflect it back at her.

Daughter of the Sun was inspired by two South Asian stories from the Mahabharata – Savitri and Satyavan, and Ganga and Shantanu. I loved this story’s female MC. She knows her own mind and sticks to her guns. She cleverly tricks Rambha, the nymph tasked with delivering Satyavan to his father Chandra, the lunar lord, making her extend boy’s stay with Savitri and, ultimately, restoring his life at the end of the story.

🍂 The Crimson Cloak – Cindy Pon | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Origin: Chinese

Despite how the legend goes, the truth of the matter is, Dear Reader, I saw him first.

I don’t know why this re-telling reminded me of Jane Eyre. Could be the “dear reader” part, but, whatever, I love that it addresses the reader directly. It made me feel more a part of the story.

This was one of the happier tales in this collection. A re-telling of the Chinese folktale The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl, The Crimson Cloak gave voice to the weaver girl Hongyun, letting her tell her own story in her own way.

🍂 Eyes Like Candlelight – Julie Kagawa | ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Origin: Japanese

Gazing into the eyes of a girl and wishing that, be it illusion or fantasy, he would never wake, and the night would go on forever.

Eyes Like Candlelight features one of Japan’s most prominent (and probably their favorite) mythical characters: the kitsune’s. This was bittersweet, and the gorgeous writing even made it more so. The ending was beautiful even though it was sad. This story was the perfect closer to the anthology.

Conclusion:

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings is an important book. It takes a big step, bringing Asian stories to the fore. More so, getting Asian authors to tell their own stories. This book meant a lot to me as an Asian reader who has longed for her own stories to be told and to be represented properly in literature, TV shows and movie. I cannot urge all of you enough to pick up this book.

Final rating: 5/5

(The actual computed rating is 3.7 but this is a gem of a collection, so I’m giving it a perfect 5)