Monday, March 8, 2021

A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell - OPTIONAL

A Phoenix First Must Burn: Sixteen Stories of Black Girl Magic, Resistance, and Hope edited by Patrice Caldwell, 354 pages. SHORT STORY COLLECTION Viking (Penguin, Random House), 2020. $19.

Language: R (28 swears 7 'f'); Mature Content: PG13 (references to sexual assault and intimacy) Violence: PG13.



16 works by prominent authors tell magical stories of black experiences. Witches, mermaids, sorcerers, queens, vampires, lovers and more, some are about magic, some just touched by it. Alaya Dawn Johnson, Ibi Zoboi and Karen Strong retell folktales, while Amerie and J. Marcelle Corrie's stories are science fiction. Historical Fiction stories tell of a girl born on a plantation with special powers, or another girl, shot and left for dead who makes a deal with the desert to get revenge in the old west. Justina Ireland's tale about an apprentice trying to learn magic from a jealous sorcerer was one of my favorites, as was Dhonielle Clayton's story of a girl whose breakup was actually causing her heart to die.

Intended for a teen audience, these stories are about powerful, strong, resilient and magical women (and non-conforming individuals). I loved the diversity of the stories, they really reflected each author's unique style. There were a couple of High Fantasy, some urban legends and even some tech stories as well. While I didn't love them all, I'm certain there's plenty of content for varying tastes, with special appeal for those looking for a Black perspective.

Lisa Librarian

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