I received a digital arc of Toil & Trouble from NetGalley. I have really been feeling the witch vibes this Fall from other books like The Casquette Girls so I was looking forward to a whole mess of witchy tales! Unfortunately, I found the stories more messy than interesting. There were a few standouts that I enjoyed, keep reading to find out which ones!
Click here for the Synopsis!
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.
The last item promised in the synopsis are stories of witchcraft that are unique and different. I didn’t really find that to be the case. A lot of these witchy tales proceeded exactly how I expected them to with pretty stereotypical characters and plot lines. It was interesting to read about witches from a lot of different time periods. Sometimes, I had a hard time figuring out exactly when a story took place though. There were some short stories I thought suffered from a severe lack of witchyness as well. The first one was especially grating to me and gave a dramatically oversimplified look at a meaningful discussion of modern witchcraft.
Not to dwell on the negatives! The stories I really enjoyed were Death in the Sawtooths, and The one who Stayed. Both of these took a look at established covens of witches and their communication with larger, almost cosmic, forces. It’s hard to say much about any story without giving things away, but if you choose to read just a couple stories from Toil & Trouble, these are the two I would recommend.
In general, I think the anthology is good but I really wanted each story to have more depth. Most were superficial for my taste, and especially when talking about witchcraft I did have the expectation of more depth. With such short stories, it’s understandable that there can’t be a ton of character development, but I think the premise for some stories could have been stronger.
Do you have any witchy recommendations? I would love more to read this Halloween!