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A Thousand Beginnings and Endings

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Sixteen extraordinary authors—including New York Times bestsellers Melissa de la Cruz, Renée Ahdieh, and Julie Kagawa—reimagine the folklore and mythology of East and South Asia in short stories that are by turns enchanting, heartbreaking, romantic, and passionate. This exquisite paperback anthology includes an original bonus story from Ellen Oh. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly called A Thousand Beginnings and Endings a “must-read.”

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.

Bestselling and award-winning authors explore the timeless themes of East and South Asian lore in sixteen original stories that will appeal to every reader. From fantasy to science fiction to contemporary, from romance to tales of revenge, these stories will beguile readers from start to finish. Edited by We Need Diverse Books co-founder Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman, this anthology contains stories from sixteen Asian and South Asian authors, including New York Times bestsellers and award-winners. In a starred review, Kirkus called it an “incredible anthology that will keep readers on the edges of their seats, wanting more.”


Renée Ahdieh, Elsie Chapman, 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, Alyssa Wong, and a new original story by Ellen Oh.

336 pages, ebook

First published June 26, 2018

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About the author

Ellen Oh

20 books963 followers
*Hi friends! I'm not often on Goodreads so if you want to keep up with me, the best place to do so is on instagram! I'm at elloecho!

Ellen Oh is a former adjunct college instructor and lawyer with an insatiable curiosity for ancient Asian history. She loves K-pop, K-dramas, and eating good food that someone else cooks for her. She is fueled by Diet Coke and Krispy Kreme donuts are her kryptonite. Ellen is a founding member of We Need Diverse Books (WNDB), a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing diversity in children’s literature. Originally from New York City, Ellen lives in Rockville, Maryland, with her husband, three children, two dogs, and has yet to satisfy her quest for a decent bagel.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,346 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,990 reviews298k followers
June 28, 2018
This is definitely one of the better YA short story collections I have read. As with all anthologies, some stories are much stronger than others, but I enjoyed far more than I disliked. Plus, it was just so great to see the exploration of mythologies we don’t often see in the mainstream. My average rating over the fifteen stories was 3.7.

A few years ago, collections like these might have just been a way for me to go on some literary tourism of other cultures, but it's now very important to me on a personal level. My two sons are mixed race - Japanese and British - and it is so so important to me that they see their Japanese heritage represented in all forms of art and media.

And, honestly, it's just so refreshing to see fantasy stories outside of the vaguely-Medieval Euro-centric books we've come to expect. There's a whole world of fascinating history and culture out there - it's time to explore it!

Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi - 5 stars
The collection gets off to a bang with this gorgeous Filipino fairy tale and love story. I didn't love Chokshi's first novel The Star-Touched Queen, but I have to say that her flowery, poetic writing works MUCH better in a short story. It's lush and vivid, raising goosebumps along my arms at its end. A goddess falls in love with a human man - oh, what could possibly go wrong?
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.

Olivia’s Table by Alyssa Wong - 4 stars
This was a little strange, but in the best possible way. Wong takes on the Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival in her story. A young girl who has lost her beloved mother makes it her duty to feed crowds of ghosts. It's a tale about grief, told in sweet, subtle interactions. There is something so wonderful and sad about this uniting of the living and the dead through food.
Don’t talk to strangers, Mom had said, over and over. And don’t trust the ghosts, especially not during the Ghost Festival.

Steel Skin by Lori M. Lee - 3.5 stars
If I was rating the ending alone, this would probably get five stars. It's a science-fiction story with androids, but also about grief and the loss of a loved one. There's the familial aspect: the narrator's relationship with her father hasn't been the same since her mother died; and also a mystery aspect: she teams up with a friend to uncover the truth behind the androids that were recalled. For the most part, I glided through the story, kinda enjoying it but not really loving it like the previous two. And then the ending happened. Perfection.
And now that she knew the truth, who would she decide to be?

Still Star-Crossed by Sona Charaipotra - 2 stars
It's a shame about this one because it took some interesting steps but stopped very abruptly and strangely. I turned the page and was shocked to discover that it was over! It's a Punjabi folktale retelling and the author's explanation for the story was really interesting, but I didn’t think her intentions came across at all. The main guy was pretty creepy, too.
You don’t know, Bebo, what you’ll do,” my mother says, a sudden anger simmering under her words. “You don’t know how 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.”

The Counting of Vermillion Beads by Aliette De Bodard - 4 stars
Like a lot of these stories, this one was quite weird. Though I found myself really liking it. I also found myself doing some reading into the Vietnamese story of Tam and Cam, which starts like something of a Cinderella tale, in which a jealous sister envies the other's beauty and it leads to tragedy. Here, Bodard rewrites it with a more positive spin, showing the power of sibling love above all else.
“So many precious places to discover. Come on, Lil’sis. Let’s go see them together.”

The Land of the Morning Calm by E. C. Myers - 5 stars
Aww. This was one seriously emotional, beautiful story about loss and gaming. As gaming is such an important part of Korean culture, it was great to see it explored here. And while I usually find video game-centred stories too light and silly, Myers did a fantastic job of showing how a game can be really important for someone. It can be a much-needed escape, a creativity outlet, or a doorway to an unending universe. I liked this story so much because it took something I don't usually love and did something new and deeply moving with it.
“I finally know how it ends.”

The Smile by Aisha Saeed - 4 stars
Well, I always like a good feminist fairytale! And I LOVE what Saeed did with this one. She takes a tragic love story and rewrites it to give a king's courtesan choice, freedom and agency. It's a gorgeously-written South Asian addition, and somehow both happy and sad. Happy, because it is about a woman finally getting to make her own choices and understanding what love really is. But sad, because much must be given up for the sake of freedom.
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.

Girls Who Twirl and Other Dangers by Preeti Chhibber - 3 stars
This was okay. I enjoyed the alternating between Hindu myths and a modern-day celebration of Navaratri, a holiday I had never heard of before. But, though educational, I didn't feel as much of a spark with this one as I did with the others. It was light, but fairly bland. It seemed a little too long, too.

Nothing into All by Renée Ahdieh - 4 stars
I really enjoyed this one! It's a retelling of the Korean folktale Goblin Treasure and I loved what the author did with it. A girl makes a trade for goblin magic so she can achieve her dream of going away to music school, but her brother becomes angry that she isn't using the magic to make gold that could benefit the family. It's a tale about siblings, forgiveness, the decisions we make and how bad actions can be hiding a good person.
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.

Spear Carrier by Rahul Kanakia - 2 stars
Too long and emotionless for my tastes. I felt like this story was droning on and on in parts, and I neither learned something new from it, nor experienced an emotional response to it. The protagonist goes on and on about wanting to be a hero, and about life and death, and I just took so little away from reading it.

Code of Honor by Melissa de la Cruz - 2 stars
There was a definite slip right around this later middle part of the book. My two least favourite stories were lumped together here. Melissa de la Cruz's work seemed to be a companion to her Blue Bloods series, which I have not read and don't particularly have any interest in. This story was about Filipino aswangs - vampire witches - and contained a lot of gore and gruesomeness, but not a lot of emotion. A potentially interesting concept that left me feeling cold.
“I almost murdered a girl yesterday.”

Bullet, Butterfly by Elsie Chapman - 4 stars
Gorgeous. Chapman retells the Chinese tale of the Butterfly Lovers - a "tragic tale of two young lovers kept apart by familial duty". Set during a war, this reimagining sees a boy posing as a girl and falling in love with another girl called Zhu. The author breathes new life into a very old concept - that of forbidden love and being torn between duty and what your heart truly wants. Beautifully-written with a touching ending.
“Promise me, Lin,” she said, “that wherever we end up stationed, we’ll stay alive long enough to find each other again, to be friends always.”

Daughter of the Sun by Shveta Thakrar - 4 stars
Inspired by two stories from The Mahabharata, this is a powerful feminist tale about sticking to your guns and putting your true passion first. Always. I loved reading about the two stories this was based on - about “Savitri and Satyavan” and “Ganga and Shantanu”. The theme of a smart woman cleverly tricking a god or demon or jinni seems to come up a lot in South Asian folktales and I must confess: I like it.
Together, her voice sparkling like diamond dust, his smooth as clove smoke, they ensorcelled the audience as they had ensorcelled each other.

The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon - 5 stars
Oh, I loved this! I'm not sure why but I sometimes love it when the narrator speaks directly to the reader with a conspiratorial wink (You can never out wait a goddess, Dear Reader. I have all the time in the world.). In this, Pon retells “The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl”, which is itself a wonderful folktale, but here becomes even more so. It's very romantic, definitely a love story, but it's a good one. The author gives a voice to the mostly silent weaver girl in this version, allowing her to tell the story from her perspective. I couldn't stop smiling as she tells us:
“All the storytellers get it wrong.”

Eyes like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa - 4 stars
I wonder if this story has anything to do with Kagawa's upcoming novel Shadow of The Fox because it is also about foxes (well, kitsunes, to be precise). Takeo, the protagonist in this story, is an extremely likable hero and we get pulled along for an adventure with one of Japan's most loved mythical creatures: kitsunes. Typically, human/fox shapeshifters. It's also a little creepy, too. Kagawa captures the eerie small-town setting perfectly and, let's not lie, there's something deeply unsettling about never knowing whether a human is really a human or something else.
Takeo never saw the fox again. But sometimes, on warm evenings when he was outside, he could almost imagine he was being watched.

Overall, this was a stunning anthology. I would really love to see more fantasy short story collections exploring mythologies around the world with own voices authors. If you like fantasy and you like short stories, I highly recommend these.

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Profile Image for Melanie.
1,172 reviews98.8k followers
June 10, 2018

ARC provided by HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.

This is the anthology I’ve been waiting my entire life for. As a Filipina woman, I have no words to express how happy my heart is to just read a collection of short stories that are all ownvoices. And at the end of each short story is an author note on why they wrote the story that they did. And, I think I cried reading at least 75% of the author’s notes. This anthology is so beautiful, so powerful, and it means more to me than I have word combinations to express.

“We fell in love with all those myths about powerful gods being vulnerable, about humans becoming heroes. Such stories taught us about mythology, about the beauty of folktales and legends, and about how stories of gods and goddesses are also stories about the human heart. But we never found similar compilations that were distinctly Asian.”

Friends, please preorder this and fall in love, too! If you’d like to get me a birthday gift this year, please just preorder this, read, and review this collection. Honestly, it’s the only thing I want in 2018. I’ll beg, I’ll plead, I’ll scream from the rooftops: please preorder this anthology and show the world that Asian stories can not only sell, but can also change lives. I will cherish this book forever and ever. (While also apparently rereading Roshani’s from my ARC copy over the phone to my grandmother 100 times!)

This collection honestly has so many amazing additions, but my personal favorites were Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi, Olivia’s Table by Alyssa Wong, The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon, and Eyes like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa. But my all-time favorite of the collection was The Land of the Morning Calm by E. C. Myers.

But I'm going to break down each short story with my thoughts, opinions, and individual star rating!

Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi - ★★★★★
“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.”

I am in tears writing this. Best opening story of any anthology ever. This is a version of the Philippine mythos of Maria Makiling that my grandma has been telling me stories of since I was a little girl. And Roshani’s take on it was beyond words beautiful. This opening story was enough for me to preorder three copies of this book. And I know I’m being completely biased, but this was nothing short of magnificent, and I’ll cherish it forever and ever. Roshani, thank you, with every bone in my body, thank you.

Olivia’s Table by Alyssa Wong - ★★★★★
“Can’t they see the ghosts all the time?” she asked. “Not like you and I can. The Festival is when ghosts are most themselves instead of what the living want them to be. Not everyone will like what they see tonight.”

Everyone knows I’m a huge fangirl of Alyssa Wong, but the reason for that is because she truly writes the best short fiction out there right now. There are so many amazing authors out there, but talent like Alyssa’s, where it just shows that she was meant to weave words together and craft these life changing stories, is so rare, but so awe-inspiring. She is such a blessing to the literary world, and I'm forever thankful. Every anthology collection I’ve read that includes a story from her ends up being ten times better for the inclusion. And her story always ends up completely stealing the show, my soul, and my heart, while also becoming my favorite. And Olivia’s Table was no different. This is a perfect story about a girl dealing with grief and depression but honoring her family by cooking at the Hungry Ghost Festival. And this was such an honor to read, and I know I’ll carry this tale with me forever. TW/CW: loss of a loved one, terminal illness, grief, and depression.

Steel Skin by Lori M. Lee - ★★★★
“The brain is just a highly complex circuit of electrical impulses, so it stands to reason that it can be artificially manufactured. Scientists have been trying to understand this process for decades. What. Makes. Emotion?”

This is a sci-fi tale about a girl and her strained relationship with her father, who hasn’t been the same since her mother died (TW/CW: loss of a loved one, grief, and abandonment). But she and her friend soon start to unravel a mystery concerning the androids that were recalled long ago for being too intelligent. And this was such a beautiful story, with such an amazing ending. And the end note about this reimagining of The Woman and the Tiger, a Hmong folktale, completely made me fall even harder in love.

Still Star-Crossed by Sona Charaipotra - ★★★
“You don’t know how 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.”

This one wasn’t my favorite in the collection, just because it stars a young girl at a club with her friend when a strange young man appears and keeps following them. I mean, all the red flags, right? And even though his intentions always seemed good, it still made me uncomfortable to read. I did love the author’s note for this one, I just sadly didn’t love this vision. But oh my gosh, the atmosphere and the food descriptions? Perfection. Like, don’t read this if you’re hungry, because my stomach is growling just thinking about the food and drinks from this short story.

The Counting of Vermillion Beads by Aliette De Bodard - ★★★★★
“We can’t go home, but that doesn’t mean we have to be caged.”

I loved this tale about two sisters and that unconditional bond. This story felt so full, so atmospheric, so perfect. This story was inspired by Tấm and Cám, but the version that Aliette De Bodard created is so heartwarming and so inspiring. This is an empowering little tale, that truly emphasizes that we can be anything we want in this world, with whoever we are in this world, regardless of what others want to shape and mold us to be.

The Land of the Morning Calm by E. C. Myers - ★★★★★
“I finally know how it ends.”

I cried through 80% of this story. Easily, this was one of my new favorite short stories of all time. I will never forget this story for as long as I live. And I am immediately buying everything E. C. Myers has created. This is a story about a gwisin (ghost), and a girl that is still dealing with the death of her mother, five years later. It doesn’t help that she’s still living with her father and her mother’s father (her grandfather), who reminds her of her mother’s presence constantly. But it is undeniable when the MMO that was her mother’s life, and the reason her parents met, is being shut down forever, but has drawn Sunny into playing again. And Sunny has just found out about a new private server that will preserve the game, and maybe the memory of her mother. I loved this more than words. MMORPGs have meant so much to me during my life. I have played them since high school, and I have some of my very best friends and loved ones to this day because of them. And this short story is a love letter to video games and the impact they can make on your life. And video games are such a huge part of Korean culture, and the significance and importance shined through this story so very brightly. This story just had such a profound meaning to me, because it made me realize that one day I’m (hopefully) going to be a mom that is a gamer, and a con lover, and a writer, and so many of the things that Sunny viewed her mom as. Like, I promise, I was bawling through almost this entire story. This was beyond words beautiful. I have no word combination to string together to let you all know how perfect this was and how much this story meant to me. TW/CW: death, loss of a parent. And RIP to my favorite NPC of all time, Ephoenix (Ezra Chatterton).

The Smile by Aisha Saeed - ★★★★★
South Asian
“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.”

This was so beautiful, I couldn’t help but fall in love. I need a full-length of this story, I need to know what happens next, I need so much more. But I guess that’s the beauty of this tale; anything could happen next. This is an extremely feminist short story about a girl who serves a prince who is in love with her. But this story is about love, and how it should only be given freely and to those deserving. Seriously, this is such a treat of a story. I think this will be one that everyone who picks up this anthology will love.

Girls Who Twirl and Other Dangers by Preeti Chhibber - ★★★★
“There are three reasons I know fall is awesome: the most anticipated Bollywood movies are always on a fall release schedule, my mom starts practicing her delicious party dishes, and it means it’s time for Navrātri!”

I loved this adorable story that switched between Hinduism mythos, and to current time to a girl celebrating Navaratri at a party with her friends, while they also plot revenge on a boy that’s being rather rude. Navaratri is celebrated in honor of good defeating evil, and the battle of Durga and Mahishasura, a buffalo demon. And Preeti Chhibber does such a wonderful job transitioning and showcasing these two stories together. Also, I just loved learning about this Hindu holiday that’s so empowering to women. This was expertly crafted and such a joy to read.

Nothing into All by Renée Ahdieh - ★★★★
“Many years ago, a girl and a boy lived with their parents in a bark-shingled home near a flowing river’s edge.”

Oh, this was such a fun and whimsical read! This was a super unique spin on The Goblin Treasure, which is actually a story I grew up hearing, too. But Renée Ahdieh did such a wonderful job making me feel every single thing for this set of siblings. And there is such a wonderful message about how we all carry goodness and badness inside of ourselves, but how we choose our actions based on which is what is truly important.

Spear Carrier by Rahul Kanakia - ★★
South Asian
“When I’d agreed to his offer, it was because I had thought I’d be a hero.”

This is a long short story about what it truly means to be a hero, and if being a hero only means accomplishing what you set out to do or winning the battle you set out to fight. There are a ton of lighthearted pop culture references in this, but a ton of hard-hitting questions of war and what is worth losing one’s life for. I just thought that sometimes the writing was a little too harsh and a little too dry for me.

Code of Honor by Melissa de la Cruz - ★★
“I almost murdered a girl yesterday…”

Friends, I’m heartbroken. I was supposed to love this one! I just read the Fresh Ink anthology, and Melissa de la Cruz’s story was easily my favorite out of the entire collection! But this? This just didn’t work for me at all. It’s about a vampire that is living in hiding, but has lost her journal that has a spell attached to it, so no human can read it. But it is still causing her a lot of trouble. Also, TW/CW for sort of a graphic animal comment, since she feeds from them. One line in this kind of made me shudder upon reading, so use caution. But I think this might be a set-up or something for her series Blue Bloods, but it just really felt strange being a part of this anthology, and I really didn’t enjoy it as much as it pains me to say.

Bullet, Butterfly by Elsie Chapman - ★★★★★
“Don’t forget we’re only ever soldiers here in Shangyu, and soldiers never get to be the ones who wake up from a spell, or who even get to break a spell. We’re just the dragons guarding the gate, ordered to keep breathing the fire of those who cast the spell in the first place.”

I loved this so much. I loved this more than words. This is a reimagining of the Chinese legend Butterfly Lovers, and it was so beautiful and so impactful. The theme of loyalty to one’s family, but also to one’s heart and happiness is constant throughout this tale. And just all of the ways that war impacts every single person, whether they are forced to create, forced to fight, or forced to any duty against their true heart’s desires. This story was wonderful and made me such an emotional mess. For sure a highlight in this already amazing anthology.

Daughter of the Sun by Shveta Thakrar - ★★★★
South Asian
“She sang for her parents, for the hue-switching heavens, for herself. She read fairy tales, epics, and legends and imagined performing them on a stage draped in velvet. But it wasn’t enough. She longed for a friend.”

This was a beautiful story inspired by two of the stories in the longest epic poem in history, The Mahābhārata. One about Princess Savitri and Prince Satyavan, and one about Ganga and Shantanu. This was a moving story about destiny and sacrifice and how important it is to always follow your heart, regardless of the outcomes and/or circumstances. And I was high-key living for the feminist undertones that were expertly woven throughout this.

The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon - ★★★★★
“…whatever I might make for myself in this life: hearth, home, or family—they would mean nothing without you.”

Please, excuse me while I go buy more from Cindy Pon because this story was one of the greatest blessings of 2018. And this is her version of the Chinese folklore tale of Cowherd, and the magical girl who saw him first. I actually had never heard of this tale before, so I spent some time afterwards reading everything I could, and I am even more in love. This is for sure one of the best stories in this anthology, and Cindy Pon’s giving a voice to this magical, fairy, weaver girl is something so beautiful I don’t even have words for it. One of the most romantic short stories I’ve ever read too. All the feels, all the happiness, all the tears.

Eyes like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa - ★★★★★
“She could charm bears with that smile, Takeo thought. If he were a bear, he would lie down with his head in her lap and not move until the hunters came for him.”

I loved this with every fiber of my being. I loved this writing so much that I think I’m actually going to pick up everything I’ve been neglecting on reading from Julie Kagawa, too. Like, this was the perfect closing story. And it surrounded one of my favorite mythical creatures of all time: Kitsunes! Again, the writing was so perfect, I was instantly teleported into this small village. The main character, Takeo, was the sweetest little cinnamon roll. And this short story was honestly perfect in every way. And the ending of this was absolutely haunting. I would buy and read anything else about this heartbroken girl, and the small boy that missed so much because of evil men.

Out of a possible 75 stars (5 stars possible for each of the 15 stories) this collection accumulated 63 stars (84%). But I am giving this five stars regardless, because I loved it so much. The stories in this collection meant more to me than I have words for. And I truly hope you all pick this up upon release.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.5k followers
June 16, 2020
i have always actively avoided anthologies because short stories have never been my thing - im definitely the kind of reader who needs more than 30 pages to form a connection. buuuut, im interested in asian culture and i adore mythology, so i gave in and decided to give this a try.

overall, this wasnt as rough as i thought it would be. there are obviously some stories i enjoyed more than others, especially if i have read something by the author before. i do like being exposed to new myths and legends, so that was nice. but its only given me the desire to find full-length retellings, as short stories just dont give me enough satisfaction as a reader. so this book is a good stepping stone.

3.5 stars overall


forbidden fruit | maria makiling (filipino) | roshani chokshi | ★★★★
strong opening story, beautifully written and fable-like

olivias table | the hungry ghost festival (chinese) | alyssa wong | ★★★
the modern day setting kind of threw me off after the first story

steel skin | the woman and the tiger (hmong) | lori m. lee | ★★★★
super creative and i need this to be a full-length story asap

still star-crossed | mirza and sahiba (punjabi) | sona charaipotra | ★★★★
really interesting and another story i would love to be a full book

the counting of vermillion beads | tâ’m cám (vietnamese) | aliette de bodard | ★★★
not sure i understood everything to fully appreciate the story, but its not terrible

the land of the morning calm | chasa bonpuli (korean) | e.c. myers | ★★★
this is okay, dont really have much to say about this one

the smile | anarkali (south asian) | aisha saeed | ★★★★
really good, a traditional feel with modern relevance

girls who twirl and other dangers | navrātri (hindu) | preeti chhibber | ★★★
not sure i liked the telling of the actual legend mixed in with the retelling

nothing into all | goblin treasure (korean) | renee ahdieh | ★★★★
started slow but i liked the ending

spear carrier | the mahabharate (south asian) | rahul kanakia | ★★★
liked the meaning of the story more than the story itself as it poses some interesting questions, but the writing style just wasnt for me

code of honour | aswangs (filipino) | melissa de la cruz | ★★
underdeveloped, even for a short story, and easily forgettable

bullet, butterfly | liang zhu (chinese) | elsie chapman | ★★★★
very subtle mulan vibes

daughter of the sun | savitri and satyavan (south asian) | shveta thakrar | ★★★
decent, but nothing special, the world-building kind of confused me

the crimson cloak | the cowherd and the weaver girl (chinese) | cindy pon | ★★★★
super adorable with really lovely writing

eyes like candlelight | kitsune (japanese) | julie kagawa | ★★★★
classic JK in every way
Profile Image for chloe.
244 reviews28.5k followers
May 26, 2019
I really enjoyed most of the short stories & this was definitely my favourite anthology I've ever read. My absolute favourite was 'The Land of the Morning Calm' by E.C. Myers (based on Korean mythology). My heart 💕
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,738 reviews5,279 followers
October 7, 2019
We would have been overjoyed to have found this anthology, filled with characters with skin and hair and names more like ours, in our beloved libraries. It’s the book that was missing in our lives for far too long.

I have been so excited about this collection ever since I first heard about it. Ellen Oh is a wonderful woman (you may know her as one of the co-founders of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement!), and I knew that her co-editing efforts would lend to a perfectly wonderful anthology. I love retellings, but more than anything, I was obsessed with the idea of this collection being written singlehandedly by Asian authors, writing Asian stories. Honestly, this is the kind of diverse representation we need more of in the bookish world!

It’s hard to narrow down my favorites to just a few, but if I had to pick a top 3, it would go to:
Olivia’s Table by Alyssa Wong
The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon
Eyes Like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa

→ Forbidden Fruit — Roshani Chokshi ★★★★★ ←
They were beautiful in their fragility, disappearing as fast as a bloom of ice beneath sunlight.

What a stunning introduction to the collection! I’ve never read any of Roshani’s work before, but this made me immediately wish to do so. It’s the retelling of an old myth about Maria Makiling, a goddess associated with Mount Makiling in the Philippines, and her mortal lover. The writing felt so reminiscent of a classic, old myth or legend, in all the best ways, and I only wish it could have been longer!

Origin: Filipino

→ Olivia’s Table — Alyssa Wong ★★★★★ ←
“If you honor everything I’ve taught you, then I promise that I will never leave you.”

Alyssa Wong is probably my singular favorite short story author, and she always writes these gorgeous, haunting tales (typically with some horror-esque or death-related vibes, and often a queer protagonist, which this story features both of). This did not disappoint at all. It’s about a Chinese-American teen who takes over preparing the Yu Lan (Hungry Ghost Festival) meal at a hotel in Arizona, after her mother—who had spent many years holding the task—has passed away. It not only displays the importance of remembering and honoring your ancestors and culture, but it also offers a brutally honest look into how it feels to mourn a lost loved one. I cried through probably half of this story, and now I just want to go hug my mom, but kudos to Alyssa for breaking my heart in the sweetest possible way, as usual.

Origin: Chinese

→ Steel Skin — Lori M. Lee ★★★☆☆ ←
Yer’s father was an android.

This sci-fi piece is a retelling of a children’s story, and in this rendition, Yer is a young girl who believes her father has been replaced by a coldhearted, emotionless android. I didn’t have any complaints about the story, but I wasn’t particularly sucked in, either—it was an interesting concept, but I thought the ending was kind of predictable, and it isn’t a story that I think will stick with me in any way.

Origin: Hmong

→ Still Star-Crossed — Sona Charaipotra ★★★☆☆ ←
“You don’t know how to choose until you’re right there, on the precipice, giving you’re your everything for something that may be real or may be a shadow, a ghost you’re chasing.”

Unfortunately, this piece didn’t work well for me, either. It’s a very loose retelling, and depicts a young woman who’s trying to learn how to press her parents’ boundaries through partying and letting loose, when she meets a young man who swears he knows her, though she can’t fathom why. There isn’t much I can say without spoiling the ending, but this was an odd story with an ending that I honestly found slightly disturbing (and not in a good way). I didn’t hate it, but I can’t say I enjoyed it much, either.

Origin: Punjabi

→ The Counting of Vermillion Beads — Aliette De Bodard ★★★☆☆ ←
But nothing gets through the wall. Not leaves, not birds, not girls—not the sister of her heart, the one who’s always had enough fire for both of them, dragging her into scrapes and trouble as if there were no other way to live.

Two young women have been taken to live in the Emperor’s Palace, working as accountants, but the Palace is surrounded by a massive wall that nobody can overcome, and they desperately want to go home to their families. I loved the bond between these two sisters, but the story itself didn’t hold a lot of interest for me. I thought it was a little bit jumpy and would have benefited from being about twice as long and having room for more explanation of what was happening to the girls.

Origin: Vietnamese

→ The Land of the Morning Calm — E. C. Myers ★★★★★ ←
I don’t believe in ghosts in the real world, but that’s the joy of the Three Kingdoms.

This story was so sweet, and sad, and precious. Sun’s mother passed away when she was 11 years old, and her biggest tie to her mother’s life is The Land of the Morning Calm, an MMORPG, which is scheduled to be shut down in just over a week. Sun revisits the game and finds a familiar spirit trapped therein. Not only is it a sweet reunion story, and a gorgeously modernized folklore retelling, but it also presented an interesting view into both sides of a popular debate: video games can be bonding experiences and create wonderful memories for families who play together, but all hobbies have to be kept in moderation, as we see through Sun’s lamenting over the times she didn’t get to spend with her parents because of their gaming habits.

Origin: Korean

→ The Smile — Aisha Saeed ★★★★★ ←
Belonging is not love. It never was.

This reads so beautifully like old folklore, with a brilliant young dancer who has found herself trapped in an unhappy relationship with a jealous prince. The depiction of the courtesan was so brave and empowering, and there was an incredibly authentic feeling in the darkness of the tale as she was forced to choose between her freedom or her life.

Origin: South Asian

→ Girls Who Twirl and Other Dangers — Preeti Chhibber ★★★☆☆ ←
Let the gods have their battles of good and evil. We were here to dance.

This installment was fun in that it paralleled the original story and the retelling, one piece at a time; on the one hand, we had the infamous Hindu legend of the battle between Durga and Mahishasura, while on the other, we had a story of three young girls celebrating Navaratri and seeking revenge on a rude boy from their community. I enjoyed how heavily inspired the story clearly was by the legend, and I liked how heavy-handed the Hindu references were (I had to look some of them up, admittedly, but it was a great opportunity to learn more about the religion and celebration). Unfortunately, my complaint is just that the writing felt so young—I think this story would’ve been better suited as middle grade than YA. It almost felt like a modern parable, which isn’t what I expected.

Origin: Gujarati

→ Nothing into All — Renée Ahdieh ★★★★☆ ←
But in truth the brother and sister were searching for something else entirely. Something they’d sworn to keep secret. Something they’d caught sight of only once, eight years ago: Goblins.

It’s no secret that I love stories relating to all manner of feyfolk, including coldhearted, greedy little goblins, so I knew I would like this one. I strongly believe whimsical fantasy is where Renee’s writing niche is, and I felt so sucked into this retelling of these siblings seeking goblins—one for simple magic in her life, the other for gold.

Origin: Korean

→ Spear Carrier — Rahul Kanakia ★☆☆☆☆ ←
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 genuinely hoped that I would not be 1-starring a single story in this collection, but this was awful. It’s about a kid who dreams his whole life of becoming a hero, so when a god randomly appears and asks him to join in some celestial warfare, he agrees without knowing what he’s signing up for. The stream-of-consciousness writing is not well done, the narrator comes across as very juvenile, and there are some downright insensitive quips about people who die for others or for the furthering of knowledge and science.

Origin: South Asian

→ Code of Honor — Melissa de la Cruz ★☆☆☆☆ ←
I almost murdered a girl yesterday. Literally.

I recently read a short story by this author that I adored, so I hoped I would love this, too, but this was definitely not my cup of tea. It’s hard to root for a narrator who feels this much like a mid-2000s Mary Sue protagonist, much less when she’s busy slaughtering poor baby animals to calm herself down from her “rages”. This story also just felt so weird and out of place to me, and after I learned that this story apparently ties into the author’s Blue Bloods series, it felt too self-serving for me to give it much merit.

Origin: Filipino

→ Bullet, Butterfly — Elsie Chapman ★★★★★ ←
The commanders keep telling us we’re so close to finishing the way, that it’s almost the end—but whose end?

This story was breathtakingly beautiful, and so sad. A retelling of “The Butterfly Lovers”, a two-thousand-year-old Chinese legend of star-crossed lovers, it depicts a China in which war has ravaged everyone, forcing young women to work in factories creating weapons for young men to utilize. When Liang is awaiting his station, he dresses as a girl to visit the factory, and falls in love with a young woman therein. The writing in this piece is so powerful, and I loved every word of it.

Origin: Chinese

→ Daughter of the Sun — Shveta Thakrar ★★★★★ ←
Savitri Mehta’s parents had named her for light.

I enjoyed this story so much, as it portrays a young woman—born with the light of the sun in her chest—who seeks a companion, finding it in a boy full of moonglow—a boy who’s been doomed to die in one year. This is such a gorgeous story, but more than anything, I loved the fact that, despite having been inspired by a mix of two stories instead of one, I could absolutely feel the resemblance to the Mahabharata. My favorite stories in this collection have mostly been the ones that felt like folklore to me, and this one is a shining example of that.

Origin: South Asian

→ The Crimson Cloak — Cindy Pon ★★★★★ ←
All the storytellers get it wrong.

I have never read Cindy Pon’s work before, but after this story, I absolutely must, because this was astoundingly beautiful. In the original story of “The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl”, despite the Weaver Girl being a goddess, she is given no real autonomy or dialogue; in Cindy Pon’s retelling, however, she is the one who makes the first move, who plays her charms, who gets her way. It is so empowering and sweet, and the bits regarding how fast her mortal loved ones’ lives flash before her eyes was tremendously poignant. Throughout the story, I kept thinking about how much I would adore a full novel or even novella extension of this little masterpiece.

Origin: Chinese

→ Eyes Like Candlelight — Julie Kagawa ★★★★★ ←
Takeo never saw the fox again. But sometimes, on warm evenings when he was outside, he could almost imagine he was being watched.

Julie Kagawa is another author in this collection whose work had been on my TBR for a while, so I was particularly excited about this story, and it definitely did not disappoint. I’ve always loved Japanese lore and stories about kitsune in particular, and I thought this piece had such a sweet, sad little twist to it. I especially loved the ending; even though it was sad, it went above and beyond to display the depth of emotions that Japan’s most infamous trickster spirits are capable of. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to scurry off and read Julie’s entire bibliography.

Origin: Japanese

Normally, I’d round this up to a solid 4/5, but honestly, there are so many gems and this collection feels so important that I didn’t hesitate to give this 5 stars. ♥

All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to Greenwillow Books for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

You can find this review and more on my blog, or you can follow me on twitter, bookstagram, or facebook!
Profile Image for Cindy.
407 reviews116k followers
May 20, 2019
While I appreciate the book's endeavor to promote more diversity and Asian stories in literature (especially with the cultural diversity of different Asian ethnicities featured), the anthology falls under the same issue that most do with many of the stories being quite forgettable or not as well written. I thought the second half was much stronger than the first, which goes to show the inconsistency of quality. My particular favorites were Spear Carrier by Rahul Kanakia, The Smile by Aisha Said, and Bullet, Butterfly by Elsie Chapman, and Eyes Like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa.
Profile Image for B.
120 reviews12.2k followers
May 22, 2019

I actually loved almost every single story in here. The only reason I’m knocking it down a half point was because there were a couple that just weren’t my cup of tea 🤷🏼‍♀️ but if all anthologies could be as good as this one, I’d read many many more!!
Profile Image for Hannah Greendale.
701 reviews3,351 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
July 23, 2018
DNF at 48%.

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings is a collection of short stories that re-imagine South and East Asian myths, penned by fifteen authors tasked with representing their culture. While the myths themselves are interesting, the re-tellings lack sparkle. Halfway through the book, the only alluring tale is found in its opening pages: 'Forbidden Fruit' by Roshani Chokshi. Chokshi conveys a bittersweet tale of love and heartache with colorful prose, though the moral of the story is delivered clumsily.
Profile Image for Natalie Monroe.
595 reviews3,584 followers
July 2, 2018
3.75 stars

I requested A Thousand Beginnings and Endings for one reason and one reason only: Julie Kagawa. Her Talon series crashed and burned, she'll always have a special place in my heart due to The Iron Fey series. To my surprise, I found myself enjoying the other stories just as much, some even more.

Anthologies are always a bit of a mixed bag, so I'm going to review them individually:

Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi — 5 stars

“Do not trust the fruit of Maria Makiling.”

Alright, I didn't enjoy The Star-Touched Queen, but this was just wow. It's about a semi-forbidden romance between a mortal and a diwata (mountain spirit). The writing is lush and just the right amount of purple. It has very distinct The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic feel, which I love. A Filipino folktale.

Olivia’s Table by Alyssa Wong — 2.5 stars

“Don’t talk to strangers,” Mom had said, over and over. And don’t trust the ghosts, especially not during the Ghost Festival.”

This one revolves around the Chinese Ghost Festival. I'm Chinese and live in Hong Kong. One of my earliest memories involves around my mom telling me not to pick up the yellow paper money scattered on the ground because it’s for ghosts. Even though the theme is familial and revolves around coping with loss, it failed to make an emotional impact on me, partially because I'm too close to it in a way. There is another Chinese-inspired tale in this anthology that I quite liked though, so maybe it's not my thing.

Steel Skin by Lori M. Lee — 2 stars

“She has this memory. Only a chaotic set of images and sounds, but vivid, like neon scripts streaming across a black screen.”

Illuminae does it better.

Steel Skin takes place in the future where androids have been banned because they gained sentience and rebelled. The protagonist suspects her dad has been replaced by an android. The what-it-means-to-be-human plot is old and tired, this story was just too short to really do anything with it or hit the right emotional notes. A Hmong folktale.

Still Star-Crossed by Sona Charaipotha — 2.5 stars

“You don’t know how 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.”

There's really not much to say about this one without giving away the ending. Taara meets a beautiful, seductive stranger who seems to recognize her. It could have been longer because it ends abruptly without any closure. An Punjabi folktale.

The Counting of Vermillion Beads by Aliette de Bodard — 3.5 stars

“At night, it sings—a quivering, warbling sounds that rises in her dreams, becomes her sister’s voice. It wouldn’t be so bad, if the bird spoke of cryptic wisdom, or of the dream Tam had, the one that started everything, but instead it’s small, everyday things, the kind of talk they had before Tam changed.”

Asian folklore is speckled with stories of men and women transforming into animals. The Counting of Vermillion Beads is a beautiful story of sisterhood. Tam and Cam are forcibly escorted from their village to be census girls for the palace. One night, trying to climb over the wall and escape, Tam falls and transforms into a bird. A Vietnamese folktale.

The Land of the Morning Calm by E.C. Meyers — 2.5 stars

“Harabeoji says my mother is a gwisin. That’s the Korean word for ghost.”

A quirky millennial spin on Korean myths. The Land of the Morning Calm is a multiplayer RPG that the protagonist's mom used to play all the time before she suddenly passed away. Like Olivia's Table, it's a story about grief and moving on. It dives into gaming culture too.

The Smile by Aisha Saeed — 5 stars

“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.”

I loooved this one. Gimme your feminist fairytale retellings. Saeed weaves a gorgeous narrative about freedom and choices with a peasant girl-turned-courtesan and the prince who invited her to the palace after he saw her dance. A South Asian folktale.

Girls Who Twirl and Other Dangers by Preeti Chhibber — 1.5 stars

“This whole holiday is about good defeating evil, right? Dinesh is not going to magically get what’s coming to him. So, it’s on us.”

My least favorite in the entire anthology. It's just really silly. Three girls team up to punish a rude boy, which parallels Navratri, a Hindu holiday. It's based on a myth that champions the physical manifestation of divine female energy to defeat a demon. I like the portrayal of female friendship, but that’s all.

Nothing Into All by Renee Ahdieh — 4 stars

“As the leaves fall/As the sky turn to night/Summon the magic/To turn nothing/Into all”

I still have issues with Ahdieh's writing (“...words of rebuke flowing past her lips like water from a steaming kettle”; I mean, come on), but this compact story appealed to me far more than anything else of hers I've read. Inspired by a Korean fairy tale called The Goblin Treasure, a sister is granted three wishes by goblins, but her jealous brother plots to steal it. Sibling rivalry is a traditional fairytale framework, though here it works perfectly.

Spear Carrier by Rahul Kanakia — 2 stars

“When I’d 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.”

An interesting story about war from the perspective of a statistic—an ordinary person, out of millions on a battlefield, who dreams of becoming a hero. It didn't make me feel much though. A South Asian epic.

Code of Honor by Melissa de la Cruz — 2 stars

“I try not to let myself get angry because that’s when I most desire human flesh.”

Another story that has a fascinating concept, but left me feeling hollow. This Filipino-inspired tale
touches on immigrants—an aswang (vampire) travels to America to flee prosecution in the Philippines.

Bullet, Butterfly by Elsie Chapman — 3 stars

“Don’t forget we’re only ever soldiers here in Shangyu and soldiers never get to be the ones who wake up from a spell, or who even get to break a spell. We’re just the dragons guarding the gate, ordered to keep breathing the fire of those who cast the spell in the first place.”

Each tale is followed by a short essay by the author explaining the inspiration behind the story. Bullet, Butterfly is a retelling of one of the most famous Chinese folktales, the Butterfly Lovers. They are kept apart by familial duty. Here, Liang disguises himself as a girl and sneaks into the armory for a bet, but ends up falling for Zhu, one of the workers there. A queer romance along the lines of Mulan.

Daughter of the Sun by Shveta Thakrar — 3 stars

“She yearned for someone who didn’t fear her brilliance.”

This one is very weird. It's set in modern times yet has a strong fairytale vibe. Maybe it's the purple-drenched writing—a girl with a heart that glows like the sun who falls for a boy with a heart as silver as the moon. Based on a South Asian epic called Mahabharata.

The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon — 5 stars

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

The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl is another popular Chinese folktale. The star-crossed lovers are only allowed to meet on the seventh day of the seventh month each year when a bridge of magpies form the Milky Way. Pon puts a fresh spin on it by granting the usually silent weaver girl her own voice and reshapes certain events. I've read Pon's contribution to the villain anthology Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy and honestly, her writing is top-notch. I seriously need to pick up one of her novels soon.

Eyes Like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa — 3.5 stars

“Yuki met his gaze, eyes glowing a subtle gold in the candlelight, the tip of a bushy tail peeking behind her robes.”

Best for last, I suppose? Ironically, I didn't like it as much as a few of the others mentioned. Nonetheless it's an enjoyable read with all the elements I've come to anticipate from Kagawa's work—solid writing and a forbidden romance between a mortal and a supernatural being. In this case, it's the well-known kitsune which appears time and time again in Japanese popular culture.

Ultimately, there were highs, there were lows. But the highs are worth it.

ARC provided by Edelweiss
Profile Image for Alyssa.
1,069 reviews842 followers
June 16, 2018
5 stars. My heart is full. Special shout-out to the South Asian stories, including Sona Charaipotra's, Aisha Saeed's, Preeti Chhibber's, Rahul Kanakia's, and Shveta Thakrar's. <3 All of the stories in this anthology are lovely, but I have to especially appreciate the South Asian ones. =)

***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: June 26, 2018
Rating: 5 stars
Source: Review copy sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

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: Renée 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.

What I Liked:

It's the final days of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and I'm sneaking in this review just in time! This anthology has to be one of my favorites of all time. I've read several anthologies over the years, and I think this one is quite possibly one of the best that YA authors have to offer. I was introduced to many new Asian myths and legends, but also recognized some of the South Asian ones. I'm incredibly proud to see an anthology of Asian stories, written by Asian authors. This is the #ownvoices representation that YA - and lit in general - needs.

I read the stories but I'm only going to highlight a few, which were my favorite. You won't need much convincing, trust me. All of these authors are true storytellers, with excellent writing. You'll recognize powerhouse names like Renée Ahdieh and Roshani Chokshi, and you'll see some "new" names, like Alyssa Wong and Preeti Chhibber. Regardless, these authors all have fantastic stories to tell. This anthology contains retellings of Asian myths and legends. It is structured such that the retelling is presented, and then in the page after the story's end, the author gives a little background information about the original legend(s). This was really cool, because I didn't know about most of the legends, and reading the retellings made me want to know more.

Below are some of my favorites. Please note that all of these stories are worth reading. I just really want to gush about these in particular. If I discussed all of them, this would be a very long and boring review (if it isn't already!).

Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi (Filipino)

This story is a loose retelling of the story of a Filipino goddess, Maria Makiling, who is associated with Mount Makiling. In this retelling, the Mountain falls in love with a human male, and loses her heart to him. It ends up being a tragic story, and in quite a heartbreaking way. I found the retelling absolutely fascinating, and the legend itself was quite intriguing as well. Roshani Chokshi has a way of weaving a story together. There was a quiet lull to this story, and then things escalated in the final pages. Amazing story, lush writing, fascinating legend.

Still Star-Crossed by Sona Charaipotra (Punjabi)

This story is based on the tale of Sahiba and Mirza, two star-crossed lovers. If there is one thing I know about Indian lore in general, it is the fascination with star-crossed lovers. You see it in old-school Bollywood movies all the time! (I say "old-school" and refer to basically anything pre-2010). The legend involves Sahiba who falls in love with Mirza, a famed archer, but she is to marry a stranger. On the night of her arranged wedding, she runs off with Mirza. But the tale doesn't end there, and I won't spoil it. The retelling is set in modern times, with Taara at a dance in the beginning of the story. Taara meets a boy who calls her Soni and claims to know her, but she has never seen him before. Still, something tugs her to him. This story ends like I expected - the twist is somewhat predictable especially if you're familiar with the culture or old tales. But I loved this story. There was something so familiar about it to me - both the original legend, and the retelling.

The Smile by Aisha Saeed (South Asian)

It isn't specified, but I believe the original tale is Pakistani. The legend is the story of Anarkali, a courtesan for King Akbar of the Mughal Empire in the 1500s. The retelling is a little different from the original story - in that it binds together two potential versions of the original story. (The original legend is very old and there are several interpretations to the story.) This in itself was really cool. But in any case, I loved the retelling. The heroine is a courtesan to a prince, and the prince is so in love with her. But the courtesan knows that while she adores the prince, she does not love him, and her life is completely controlled by him, even if she is not a prisoner. One smile of hers breaks the illusion and she realizes just how little control of her life that she actually has. The ending of this story is actually really "happy" and I loved it. I was completely hooked on this story and I was rooting for one thing, but then I realized that I wanted the story to end differently. And it did. This was such a cool story and I love that the author chose to retell such an old one, and made it her own.

Nothing Into All by Renée Ahdieh (Korean)

This retelling was so cool. I feel like I've said that several times now, in this review. But it was! The retelling is the story of Charan and her young brother Chun. Charan and Chun visit the forest often, because they've seen goblins. They'd been doing this since they were children. They got older, and Charan is getting ready to leave her family to go to music school, even though she has caught the eye of a young man in the village, and the match would be advantageous for the family. Chun is not happy about this, because he thinks his sister is being selfish by not staying the village and going through with the match. One day, Charan falls through a hole and meets the goblins. They give her an enchanted club and two wishes. Chun, in a fit of jealousy, steals the club and goes to meet the goblins. All he wants is what is best for his family, unlike what he thinks his sister wants. But things do not end the way Chun wants them to. You'll have to read the story to see what happened. The original legend (a Korean fairy tale) is called The Goblin Treasure and it involved two brothers, one with a good soul and one with a disquiet soul. Anything with goblins is awesome to me, but Renée Ahdieh's retelling of the legend is especially riveting.

Daughter of the Sun by Shveta Thakrar (South Asian)

This story had me going through a roller coaster of emotions. It is based on The Mahabharata, which is the longest epic poem in recorded history. One of the tales is that of Princess Savitri and Prince Satyavan, and this is where the author's retelling comes from. The retelling is slightly different from the original story. In the retelling Savitri saves Satyavan, a cursed so of Chandra, the lunar lord. But even though she saved him from death, Satyavan is on borrowed time. Still, Savitri brings him back and they get to know each other. But Satyavan remembers nothing of his near-death, or even his being a son of the lunar lord. He knows nothing but Savitri. What happens when his borrowed time is up? You'll have to read the story to find out. This was a heartbreaking and also very lovely story. And surprisingly, the ending was very positive. I love the themes that the author wove into the story. I also loved the romance. With short stories, oftentimes the romance is tragic or nonexistent. The romance in this story was lovely.


Those were my favorite stories, but please, read the anthology in its entirety!

What I Did Not Like:

Nothing to say here!

Would I Recommend It:

I highly recommend this anthology, whether you read YA or not, whether you're Asian or not. Many of these tales read like fiction (not specifically YA fiction), so I'd encourage adult fiction readers to check out the book. There is a wide range of Asian representation - Punjabi, Filipino, Chinese, Hmong, Korean, Gujarati, Vietnamese, and more. My heart was so full, to see these authors and these cultures represented. But my heart was even more full when I read these stories and was swept away by the amazing tales and lovely storytelling. These authors wrote some quality stories. Don't just read this book because it's an Asian-written anthology of Asian stories (although, that's an excellent reason to read the anthology, don't get me wrong); read the book because the stories are incredible.


5 stars. My hat goes off to Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman for putting together this project. And of course to the amazing authors who came up with these stories. A specific thing: I didn't grow up seeing many South Asian MG or YA stories in the library, and to see so many in this anthology was heartwarming. Thank you, authors.
Profile Image for l..
491 reviews2,134 followers
January 11, 2022
i thought it was high time for me to get back into short stories, so here we are!

1. forbidden fruit by roshani chokshi
based on a Filipino myth of maria makiling; roshani chokshi’s writing is so immersive, i almost wish this could have been longer (and could have ended in a way that didn’t have my heart weep in misery).

2. olivia’s table by alyssa wong
based on a traditional Chinese festival 盂蘭盆節; a beautifully written and heartbreakingly tender story.

3. steel skin by lori m. lee
based on a Hmong folktale The Woman and the Tiger.

4. still star-crossed by sona charaipotra
based on a Punjabi folktale, Mirza and Sahiba.

5. the counting of vermillion beads by aliette de bodard
based on a Vietnamese folktale, Tấm Cám.

6. the land of the morning calm by e.c. myers
based on a Korean epic myth, The Chase Bonpuli. the mother-daughter relationship had me tearing up a few times, i won’t lie. also, this is everything that a certain book series i won’t name could have been ………… a minute of silence for that.

7. the smile by aisha saed
based on a South Asian legend, The Story of Anarkali. ooh i liked this one. if this were picked up and written into a book, i’d be into that.

8. girls who twirl and other dangers by preeti chhibber
based on Navaratri, a Hindu Festival.

9. nothing into all by renée ahdieh
based on A Goblin Treasure, a Korean fairytale.

10. spear carrier by rahul kanakia
based on the Mahabharata, a South-Asian Epic.

11. code of honor by melissa de la cruz
based on Aswango, a Fillipino folktale.

12. bullet, butterfly by elsie chapman
based on The Butterfly Lovers, a Chinese story.

13. daughter of the sun by shveta thakrar
based on Savitri and Satyavan, a South-Asian Epic.

14. the crimson cloak by cindy pon
based on The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl, a Chinese legend.

15. eyes like candlelight by julie kagawa
based on Kitsune, a Japanese myth.

this turned into a spontaneous br with ju, and i’m not mad about it at all.
Profile Image for joanna ☽ vee.
134 reviews104 followers
June 9, 2018
as in filipino
like me!!!!
i am crying actual tears of joy right now! i've never felt truly represented in any books before and this feels like such a huge step. i love the publishing industry. i love everyone. if you're reading this, i love you

so guess what i'm reading next
Profile Image for CW ✨.
669 reviews1,712 followers
December 14, 2018
My full review can be found on my, The Quiet Pond.

Reading A Thousand Beginnings and Endings is, quite frankly, a dream come true for me.

Growing up, I never read mythology or stories about my culture - apart from the occasional viewing of Sun Wukong or Mulan. So, not only was reading this anthology validating, it was also gave me a sense of relief because, with this book, Asian teenagers, adults, and children alike will be able to read stories about them and that have characters that are like them.

Thank you so much to the writers and the editors of this anthology, for putting these stories together, for retelling stories from our cultures, giving them a voice, and for putting a little piece of you in these stories too. I cannot wait to share this anthology with all my other Asian friends, and to pass these stories onto my children one day.

- The stories are a blend of science-fiction, fantasy, mythology, history, and allegory.
- I liked all the stories in this anthology, and given that the stories are from a diversity of cultures, I feel like it does no justice to rate each individual story. Some stories were for me, some were not - but true for all stories is that each story has a little piece of the writer in it. To me, that is so special and transcends a simple rating.
- However, my favourites were The Land of the Morning Calm by E. C. Myers - for its blend of SFF with MMO gaming and themes of loss and family - and The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon - because I unconditionally adore the tale of The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl (I did my high school art project on it!) and Pon's voice for Weaver Girl was heart-rendering and profound.
- Absolutely adored the author's notes following each story. My heart felt so full after reading each.
Profile Image for Sara (sarawithoutanH).
512 reviews3,459 followers
April 30, 2019
Reading anthologies is always an iffy experience for me. I just can’t seem to enjoy them as much as I like traditional novels. My ratings for anthologies almost always sit around three stars. I loved the inspiration for this anthology, but I didn’t enjoy all of the writing. This is definitely a five stars for rep but three stars for the actual stories situation. My favorite part was the authors' notes after each story explaining the myth/folklore that inspired their tales. I could read those in-depth explanations all day. I love when people explain their culture and give me the inside meaning to things.

Also, special thanks to Melanie for including the origins of the stories in her review. Since I don’t own a copy and I listened to this on audio, I couldn’t remember all the details of each author’s background. I’ve followed her example and included them below so that you may know the representation for each story. Please check out her review! She’s always 100000x more eloquent than me anyway.

1. FORBIDDEN FRUIT by Roshani Chokshi - ✮✮✮

I really liked this opening. It felt very much like a folk tale and I liked the story. I found it quite pleasant and Roshani’s writing is always very poetic.

2. OLIVIA’S TABLE by Alyssa Wong - ✮✮✮✮

This was one of the stories I liked the most. The concept of the ghosts and loss was very interesting. It made me very hungry for Chinese food!

3. STEEL SKIN by Lori M. Lee - ✮✮

I’m not a big fan of sci-fi so this retelling didn’t really work for me. I also kind of predicted the twist. I enjoyed the author’s note much more than the actual story.

4. STILL STAR-CROSSED by Sona Charaipotra - ✮✮

This story made me a bit uncomfortable due to the nature of how the male character keeps stalking the girl. The descriptions of food were the best part of the story. I wanted to immediately eat all the the things. Another case where the author’s note was better than the story. 

5. THE COUNTING OF VERRMILLION BEADS by Aliette De Bodard - ✮✮✮✮

I discovered that the stories I liked best in this book were the ones that still felt like folklore. The more modern stories just didn’t click with me as much as the ones like this. I liked that the author put her own spin on the original story and made the sisters supportive of one another.


I liked the sentiment of this story but I didn’t connect with it as much as I would’ve liked. I didn’t love the writing style and I’m not very familiar with online role-playing games so the concept didn’t click with me.

7. THE SMILE by Aisha Saeed - ✮✮✮✮
South Asian 

This was one of my favorite stories in the book. I loved the main character’s resolve and how she chooses herself over everything.

8. GIRLS WHO TWIRL AND OTHER DANGERS by Preeti Chhibber - ✮✮✮

I liked the parts of the story that were actually describing the Hindu mythology but didn’t love the present day perspective as much.

9. NOTHING INTO ALL by Renée Ahdieh - ✮✮✮✮

This story was very whimsical and I enjoyed the middle grade feeling it had. It felt like a traditional fairytale.

10. SPEAR CARRIER by Rahul Kanakia - ✮
South Asian 

My least favorite story in the book. I think it explored some interesting themes, but the actual story and writing missed the mark entirely for me.

11. CODE OF HONOR by Melissa de la Cruz - ✮

The writing in this reminded me of vampire books I used to read in high school. I just was not into it at all. This might’ve been the weakest writing in the whole anthology.

12. BULLET, BUTTERFLY by Elsie Chapman - ✮✮✮✮✮

This was my favorite story in the anthology. It actually made me cry and was quite beautiful. It felt very Romeo & Juliet and I’d love to know more about the Chinese legend it originated from.

13. DAUGHTER OF THE SUN by Shveta Thakrar - ✮✮✮
South Asian

One of the more interesting retellings in this anthology. I would like to read a longer version of this. I think I’d like a full novel even more.

14. THE CRIMSON CLOAK by Cindy Pon - ✮✮✮

This story was nice and romantic. The writing was decent.

15. EYES LIKE CANDLELIGHT by Julie Kagawa - ✮✮✮✮✮

Actually, this might’ve been my real favorite of the anthology. I now would like to read more of Julie Kagawa’s writing. This was super interesting and heartbreaking.
Profile Image for Delirious Disquisitions.
448 reviews185 followers
May 6, 2020
A Thousand Beginnings and Endings is a collection of short stories or retelling of lesser known Asian folktales and mythologies. Written by Asian writers, the stories cover a wide variety of genres such as sci-fi, fantasy, horror, etc. Each story in the collection is distinctive in the writer’s style and take on a particular tale. But there is also an overall theme of loneliness, melancholy, identity crisis, filial piety, and morality connecting these stories. I had a hard time reading through this collection. There are some really terrible stories in here. But the brilliant ones sprinkled among the bad are really worth it! Below is a breakdown of my individual ratings without giving away any spoilers:

Forbidden Fruit: retelling of a Filipino story about Maria Makiling the mountain.This is a story of forbidden love and heartbreak. The mythology was one that I wasn’t very familiar with but was drawn towards for its classic folktale-esque writing style complete with a moral. I thought the ending was a little abrupt, but maybe that was just me wishing we would linger within the story a little more. 3.5/5

Olivia's Table: can only be described as a contemporary Chinese-American ghost story. Olivia’s Table was one that deals with food, respect for our dead, the importance of customs and traditions. The story is very atmospheric with a lingering sense of melancholy, loss, and love permeating throughout. Of all the stories in this collection, this is one that affected me the most. It's also one that I suspect would stay with me long after I’ve forgotten the rest of the stories. 5/5

Steel Skin: nice sci-fi take on a Hmong folktale which I thought was very interesting but ultimately, predictable. 2.75/5

Still Star-Crossed: seriously cliched take on the classic Punjabi “Mirza and Sahiba” folktale. I really hate reading South Asian stories when they are written for a western audience. Authors rarely do justice to these stories without giving in to the temptation of name dropping random Hindi words/metaphors in between to give it that desi flavor. This one is a classic example. It did not feel genuine or sincere to me and honestly I cringed through the whole thing. 1.5/5

The Counting of Vermilion Beads: Vietnamese retelling. As the beautiful title suggests, this one is just a wonderful story full of imagination, poetic language, and alluring imagery. Written in the classic folktale style, I really liked this take on the traditional Tấ’ M Cám story. By focusing on the sisterly dynamic the author gave the characters more depth and nuance than the original source material. It does tend to get a little bit weird and confusing at times though, specially for those not familiar with the story. 3/5

The Land of the Morning Calm: contemporary take on classic figures of Korean mythology like the Gwishin, Jeoseung Chasa, Kumiho, etc. I appreciate how the author translated these classic characters into their contemporary gaming counterparts. The core mother/daughter narrative was very well done as well. However, I just wish we had more of an immersive take on one or two mythical figures instead of a mismatch of famous story characters. 2.57/5

The Smile this is probably my all time favorite retelling of Anarkali! Mughal-e-Azam has on nothing on Aisha Saeed who so lovely crafted this story and its central character with the sort of depth and nuance that we seldom get to see of a court dancer. I loved this rendition of the story and really wish this could have been a full length novel. Although very detailed and distinctive in its mood, the story felt a little rushed due to length constraints. But that is a minor grievance compared to how much I loved this story! Now this is how you do a retelling of a South Asian story. 4.5/5

Girls who Twirls and Other Dangers: as juvenile as the title suggests, this is a retelling of the Gujarati story of Navratri. The story alternates between its mythological roots and the contemporary celebration of the festival. I liked the mythological parts well enough. Ma Durga’s portrayal was particularly badass and I wish we had continued on that story. As it stands, the contemporary bits were just too childish, equating divinity and justice to a petty revenge and morality tale. 1/5

Nothing into All: Korean Goblin mythology retold as a traditional myth with a moral. It's one of those classic fables about the consequences of selfishness and the price of magic. Underlying is the story of siblings and familial bonds. I really wish I knew what the sister used for her last wish though. 3/5

Spear Carrier: arguably the absolute worst story in this collection. Another contemporary retelling of a South Asian story, this time it's the epic Mahabharata. Ambitious and entirely unnecessary. I don’t get the point of this story. Told in first person narrative style, which is fun till you are stuck in the mind of a condescending, douchebag, fake woke asshole. It was entirely too long, and utterly boring to boot. There was just so much detail and inner monologue that could have just been edited out. I didn’t care about anything or anybody. 1/5

Code of Honor: OMG, this snowflake! How special do you have to be to be a vampire/shifter/daywalker/witch combo??? This was a retelling of the Aswangs, terrifying Filipino mythological vampire/banshee creatures with “blood frothing at their mouths and wild hair and bare breasts.” Which is all way more interesting than the paranormal teen drama-esque story we got about a special snowflake outsider girl who's terribly lonely. For once I would like a book about vampires who don’t naturally have the absurd inclination to return to high school. Or a book about a vampire chick who doesn't get riled up by puny humans! Can we please have some badassery here? Melissa de la Cruz took these horrific creatures and defanged them! All in an attempt to somehow connect this to her Blue Blood series. Unoriginal and just plain lame. I hated it. 1/5

These last four stories are so damn good, they are some of my favourites in the entire anthology!

Bullet, Butterfly: so, so good! Twist on the classic Chinese tale of forbidden love in a war ravaged time. I just fell in love with this story. It is beautifully written, deeply evocative, and powerful in its simplicity. It's a story if love, loss, and devastation in the time of war and about national loyalty and pride. I need to scour Goodreads for more books on Elsie Chapman's because man I think I just fell in love with her reading this. 5/5

Daughter of the Sun: Modern take on two Mahabharata stories. It is well written fusion of mythology with more modern sensibilities. There is an element of theatricality to the entire story that is very reminiscent of the dramatic folk reenactments of classic Hindu stories. Very atmospheric. 4.5/5

Crimson Cloak: feminist retelling of the Chinese Cowherd story, but this time with a spunky Goddess as the narrator! Wonderfully written, I just had so much fun reading this story. Cindy Pon's retelling puts the Goddess front and center in her own story, giving her agency and voice in a typically misogynistic tale. Its charming and sweet and I loved reading this! 4.5/5

Eyes like Candlelight: I dearly hope this is a prelude of things to come because if Julie Kagawa's upcoming book is anything like this I will be eating it up like desert! Very intriguing take on Japanese story about Kitsunes. I love Kitsunes, they are one of my absolute favorite mythological creatures so it's no surprise that I adored this one. I always like it when mythologies focusing on such creatures turn dark because that justifies the caution attached to these tales. Kagawa takes uses that to simultaneously tell a tale of caution while making us sympathize with these otherworldly creatures. I’m so looking forward to Shadow of The Fox if it's anything like this! 4/5
Profile Image for Emma☀️.
332 reviews333 followers
May 9, 2020
3.75 stars
This was a lovely anthology! It’s not often that you see Asian characters in YA fantasy, and I’m glad more and more diverse books are emerging.

I am Asian myself and seeing my culture’s folklore being retold in a YA anthology made me so happy. I enjoyed most of the stories but I did find some average and forgettable (and even too short). Each story was whimsical and mysterious, with an eerie undertone. I was entranced and captivated throughout.
Overall, this was a breath of fresh air and I really enjoyed this collection!

These are my favorite stories in the collection:
∙ Bullet, Butterfly - Elsie Chapman
∙ The Crimson Cloak - Cindy Pon
∙ The Land of Morning Calm - E.C. Meyers
∙ Eyes Like Candlelight - Julie Kagawa
Profile Image for Carol.
329 reviews914 followers
June 3, 2018
Ellen Oh, author and founder of We Need Diverse Books, and Elsie Chapman, author, are the editors of this anthology of young adult short-story/retellings of Asian folk tales. The authors are either from, or are second-generation Americans whose parents hale from, Japan, the Philippines, China, India, Korea, or Vietnam. Following each story is a short essay penned by the applicable author in which she identifies and explains the folk tale or story upon which her contemporary retelling is based. I loved these afterward essays, even when I was less than enthralled with the contemporary work.

As with many collections of short stories by different authors, the quality is inconsistent. The best story in A Thousand Beginnings and Endings – by a mile -- is Eyes like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa. In the next tier down are the following stand-outs: Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi, Olivia’s Table by Alyssa Wong, Nothing into All by Renee Ahdieh, Bullet, Butterfly by Elsie Chapman. My rating is a balancing act – there’s a substantial gap between the success of the aforementioned stories, the stories that were fine but not memorable, and the 5 stories that were lacking in multiple areas: writing quality, authenticity of dialogue, plotting and characterization.

No matter what, find this anthology and read Eyes Like Candlelight. It is just that good.

Thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss+ for providing a free ecopy to me for review.
Profile Image for Aila.
911 reviews32 followers
January 24, 2018
Every story was absolutely amazing.

These are the stories of my childhood, the stories that are rarely explored in Young Adult fiction.

15 short stories, 15 #ownvoices reads...

From mountain spirits to mischievous devils to ancestral ghosts, each story brings alive a vastly unique and refreshing folklore dug from the roots of Asia. Each author adds a short explanation of the original story and why they chose to write what they did at the very end. The settings also range from present-day America to the palaces of Asia. A Thousand Beginnings and Endings is glorious and spellbinding - any lover of legends and folklore needs to pick this one up.
Profile Image for sarah.
404 reviews267 followers
June 22, 2021
A Thousand Beginnings and Endings is an anthology featuring fifteen different stories reimagining classic folktales and mythology from different asian cultures. They range from modern day contemporary settings to otherworldly fantastical tales. Asia is diverse place in itself, and as such I really appreciated that the stories in this collection reflected that. It featured tales from many different cultures and mythologies and was told by authors who shared those identities to ensure they were authentic and sensitively done.

➽Forbidden Fruit
by Roshani Chokshi ★★★★.5
This was the perfect story to begin this collection. Roshani Chokshi truly excels at writing mythological retellings, perhaps because of her gorgeous prose and descriptions. This was inspired by the Filipino myth of Maria Makiling, which I had previously never heard of. You will see that this is a trend for the entire anthology, as I quickly realised that I was nowhere near as familiar with Asian mythos as I am with nordic, greek, roman etc. That is something I want to change, though! This story in particular was so rich and vibrant that it made me wonder what else I am missing out on.

➽Olivia's Table
by Alyssa Wong ★★★.5
This story was centred in China at the Hungry Ghost Festival. I don't typically enjoy stories about ghosts, but this one proved to be the exception! Perhaps it is just that I don't like western books about ghosts- I will have to do further research. Olivia's Table did a brilliant job at transporting me to the scene. It described the customs of the festival in a clear, yet intricate way. Everything was described perfectly, from the food to feelings of grief and loneliness, to the ghosts themselves. An overall solid addition to this collection.

➽Steel Skin
by Lori M. Lee ★★.5
This was a sci-fi retelling of The Woman and the Tiger, a common children's folktale in the Hmong culture. Perhaps because I haven't read the original, I couldn't fully appreciate the Easter eggs and nods to it in this reimagining. It was a fine story in its own right, but wasn't quite as fleshed out as I would have liked it to be. I prefer my sci-fi to have a more complex world and deeper layers to it, but that is probably just a me problem.

➽Still Star-Crossed
by Sona Charaipotra ★★
unfortunately this was one of least favourites in the anthology. As a whole, I didn't jive as much with the contemporary settings some of these were written in, and this was no exception. It almost felt to me as if this was written for white readers, and conformed to a more western style to achieve this, with the odd Hindi word thrown in to remind readers of the setting. I could be completely wrong on this, but it just felt more flat and lifeless than others in the collection and I feel that could be a major reason why. That being said, it was well written (especially the descriptions of food!)

➽The Counting of Vermillion Beads
by Aliette De Bodard ★★★.75
This Vietnamese tale was gorgeously written and fixed the issue I had with the previous story, but in doing so made a little too confusing for me. Now obviously, this is not the fault of the author. My unfamiliarity with the original Tâ'M Cám is my fault and my fault alone. However, I cannot pretend that it didn't make the process of reading this less enjoyable. I was quite confused at times, particularly because I listened to the audiobook and couldn't easily reread passages to get a better idea of what was happening. All that being said, I can appreciate its qualities while also not fully understanding everything that is happening, and I still enjoyed the ride.

➽The Land of the Morning Calm
by E. C. Myers ★★
This story seems to be many people's favourite of the anthology, but unfortunately I found it to be just okay. The Land of the Morning Calm drew heavily from Korean mythology but transposed it into a modern day setting using a video game. I enjoyed the different inclusions of mythological creatures throughout, but wish that we had spent more time on a few of them, rather than short cameos of many that led to a vague idea of them with not as much depth as I would have liked. I loved the mother-daughter relationship in here, too!

➽The Smile
by Aisha Saeed ★★★★.5

The Smile was an absolutely gorgeous retelling of Anarkali, a South Asian tale. Aisha Saeed's writing fit so perfectly with the tone and atmosphere of the story that it felt complete standing on its own. I thought the message behind it was important, but not preachy. Overall, one of my favourites in this entire collection.

➽Girls Who Twirl and Other Dangers
by Preeti Chhibber ★.5
This was... not my thing. I feel bad for rating it so low, but just based on my enjoyment I couldn't justify giving it any higher. Honestly, I think this story wasn't the best fit for this particular anthology. It read too young and simplistic, especially when bookended by such mature and complex works. The only redeeming quality I found was the mythological section and the author's note. I think this could work better for younger readers, but I definitely found it to be one of the weaker stories in this collection.

➽Nothing into All
by Renée Ahdieh ★★★★★

I adored this story, but what else could I have expected from Renee Ahdieh? It felt like one of the most fairy-tale like out of the anthology, a parable told with the backdrop of Korean mythology and goblins. It had a complex sibling dynamic and discussions of what it means to be good or evil, and if we are ever just one of the two.

➽Spear Carrier
by Rahul Kanakia ★.5
This was yet another reminder that I don't like the contemporary-set stories as much as the others. the pop-culture references felt out of place and jarring to read. The first person perspective also didn't quite work for me. It was overall a forgettable and sub-par story.

➽Code of Honor
by Melissa de la Cruz ★★.5

Say it with me: the modern day settings were not my thing. This had the potential to be an amazing story of badass vampires, but instead it felt like a CW show. The juvenile tone brought down what could have been a mature and nuanced story. Overall, not the worst of the anthology- but far from being the best.

➽Bullet, Butterfly
by Elsie Chapman ★★★★★

This. This story was what I wanted from the anthology. A beautiful reimagining of the Butterfly Lovers, a Chinese legend. The themes were brilliant, setting vivid and characters complex. Perfection!

➽Daughter of the Sun
by Shveta Thakrar ★★★★.5
Daughter of the Sun was Shveta Thakrar's take on two of the stories in The Mahabharata, the longest epic poem. This one hit the mark with gorgeous atmospheric prose that weaved the stories together effortlessly. I don't have much else to say other than I loved it!

➽The Crimson Cloak
by Cindy Pon ★★★★.25
The penultimate story in A Thousand Beginnings and Endings, The Crimson Cloak was a feminist take on the Chinese legend 'Cowherd'. It is retold through the goddess's eyes, which I think was the perfect choice to refresh and modernise the story, while allowing it to stay true to its roots. An emotional and romantic story that you won't want to miss out on!

➽Eyes like Candlelight
by Julie Kagawa ★★★★
The final story, Eyes Like Candlelight drew from Japanese mythos and involved Kitsunes. We view the mythological creatures from the eyes of a human boy, allowing us to see their majesty, but also their flaws. This has made me reconsider whether I might actually want to pick up her 'Shadow of the Fox' trilogy, if it is anything like this.

All in all, this anthology was a mixed bag of stories good and bad, modern and traditional, from folklore all over south and east Asia. I would definitely recommend if you are looking to broaden your horizons and learn more about eastern mythology. Or if you already know a lot, I am sure it can be equally, if not more enjoyable. If I could only recommend a few, I would say to read Forbidden Fruit, Bullet Butterfly and Nothing Into All.
Profile Image for N..
152 reviews314 followers
Want to read
June 6, 2018
"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."

Short stories written by authors of Asian descent that are based on East and South Asian mythology and folklore?



Profile Image for Stephi.
581 reviews69 followers
September 13, 2020
A Thousand Beginnings and Endings is a collection of fifteen magical tales based on East and South Asian myths and folklore. Halfway through the second story, I realized that I had read this anthology before and completely forgotten about it.

Forbidden Fruit - 4 stars

“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.”

This was a solid start to this anthology, with lush writing and a melancholy atmosphere.

Olivia's Table - 3.75 stars

"And don’t trust the ghosts, especially not during the Ghost Festival.”

A very sweet story, but did not make an emotional impact on me.

Steel Skin - 3.5 stars

“She has this memory. Only a chaotic set of images and sounds, but vivid, like neon scripts streaming across a black screen.”

A cute, but not particularly memorable story. Sci-fi isn't really my preferred genre, so that also affected my enjoyment.

Still Star-Crossed - 2.5 stars

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

Rather confusing and a very loose retelling of the original myth. I don't think I would have understood the plot if not for the author's explanation. I loved the writing, though.

The Counting of Vermillion Beads - 4 stars

“We can’t go home, but that doesn’t mean we have to be caged.”

I enjoyed the whimsical atmosphere and the unconditional love between the two sisters. Also a very loose retelling.

The Land of the Morning Calm - 4.75 stars

“Harabeoji says my mother is a gwisin. That’s the Korean word for ghost.”

This story was the perfect blend of melancholy and hopeful.

The Smile - 5 stars

“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.”

I love how power dynamics were addressed, as well as the exceptionally strong female protagonist.

Girls Who Twirl and Other Dangers - 3.5 stars

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

A cute story, but it doesn't really match the tone of the others. I liked how the author showed the parallel to the original myth, but the character's actions all seemed a bit petty.

Nothing Into All - 3 stars

“Many years ago, a girl and a boy lived with their parents in a bark-shingled home near a flowing river’s edge.”

I just wasn't a huge fan of the characters or the sibling rivalry, but I liked the fairytale nature of the goblins and the three wishes.

Spear Carrier - 2.75 stars

“When I’d agreed to his offer, it was because I had thought I’d be a hero.”

Very existential and not terribly compelling.

Code of Honor - 1 stars

“I almost murdered a girl yesterday…”

This was my least favorite short story in this anthology. You would think with that opening line, that the story would be more interesting, but no. The writing and characters feel juvenile and petty and the world-building just wasn't well done.

Bullet, Butterfly - 3.5 stars

"We’re just the dragons guarding the gate, ordered to keep breathing the fire of those who cast the spell in the first place.”

A beautiful retelling of “The Butterfly Lovers” that I didn't really connect to.

Daughter of the Sun - 3.5 stars

“She yearned for someone who didn’t fear her brilliance.”

This story was set in modern times, but has a very fairytale-esque atmosphere. Cute, but not mind-blowing.

The Crimson Cloak - 4 stars

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

A solid retelling that finally gave the female protagonist a voice.

Eyes like Candlelight - 4.25 stars

"Some have seen a girl. Others have seen a small orange fox."

The writing and atmosphere were rich and haunting, a perfect end for this anthology!

Mathematical Average - 3.53
Profile Image for julianna ➹.
207 reviews268 followers
May 20, 2021
if this cover came up to me and just 👊 👊 🤛 i would let it. (also the cover depicts illustrations from specific stories !! that's so COOL)

average rating: 3.33

favorite story: The Counting of Vermillion Beads!!! e.c. meyers i'll be on the LOOKOUT FOR YOU

overall thoughts: honestly i feel like the majority of these stories don't feel fulfilling as stories, and rather read as compacted versions of Larger Tales, but i still nevertheless enjoyed them! also think that a lot of these would benefit from Sad Endings, because i think that using a sad ending leaves a more resonant feeling within the reader, you know??

my favorite feeling was when the story actually felt like a fable, like The Counting of Vermillion Beads & Nothing into All :')

→ 1. Forbidden Fruit by roshani chokshi ★★★★★ (filipino)
off to a good start :')) love that my heart is broken and that at the end i was like "what" and had to reread it bc i didn't fully perceive . anyways... currently wondering how to turn roshani chokshi's writing into a physical entity so i can keep it with me forever??? tips & tricks on how i might do this?

→ 2. Olivia's Table by alyssa wong ★★★★★ (chinese, lesbian mc)
i REALLY liked the tone of this and the presence/characterization of the main character's dead mother; also the pining for the ghost :')) anyways if i become a ghost PLEASE direct me to the table mentioned here

→ 3. Steel Skin by lori m. lee ★★☆☆☆ (hmong)
this one had me... a little bit confused... also generally did not care for the main character OR her boyfriend. cool steampunk theme though? reminded me of cinder, but worse (i actually like/d cinder)

→ 4. Still Star-Crossed by sona charaipotra ★★☆☆☆ (punjabi)
tell me why the main character was flirting with her mom's old lover... 😐

→ 5. The Counting of Vermillion Beads by aliette de bodard ★★★★★ (vietnamese)
this one actually felt like a fairy tale and it was GREAT (although i feel like it could've benefitted from a sad ending) and even though i reread the passages multiple times to comprehend what was happening, oh my godd the concept and the writing,,, i loved it (i think this is my favorite)

→ 6. The Land of the Morning Calm by e.c. meyers ★★★★★ (korean)
at first i wasn't sure if i liked this... but i think that this is such a cool concept & honestly just wish it was made into a full-length novel or something. also gamer rep 😎

→ 7. The Smile by aisha saeed ★★★★☆ (south asian)
this gave me some "The Lady, Or the Tiger" vibes and... really really enjoyed this! i think it would've been better with less overt messaging? and also again, if it had a sad ending LMAO

→ 8. Girls Who Twirl and Other Dangers by preeti chhibber ★☆☆☆☆ (gujarati)
the teenagers in this didn't feel all that relatable to me. i mean, spite? relatable, BUT like Actually Enacting Revenge from 8 years ago and a very minor incident? not that relatable!!

→ 9. Nothing into All by renée ahdieh ★★★★☆ (korean)
this was so interesting and honestly i would be DOWN to read a full version of this. goblins ?? acorns ?? very cool, even if i found it a little bit anticlimactic (but also... a lot of the short stories in this kinda were)

→ 10. Spear Carrier by rahul kanakia ★★★☆☆ (south asian)
speculative fiction ?? we love to see it!! this was a super interesting take on a holy war, but i think personally i don't vibe with speculative fiction that much. very Contemporary style writing

→ 11. Code of Honor by melissa de la cruz ★☆☆☆☆ (filipino)
this was boring :/ also again, anticlimactic?? felt very vampire academy-y, but worse, because i actually loved vampire academy (when i read it). i don't know, i feel like i would've enjoyed some of these stories a lot more if they extended into novels (and i wish that some of the ones i loved actually did!!)

→ 12. Bullet, Butterfly by elsie chapman ★★★☆☆ (chinese)
yeah i love the butterfly lovers story but... sometimes i feel like MORE is needed to properly establish a relationship and make me ✨care✨ about it, you know?? interesting mecha-type setting though & reference to war!!

→ 13. Daughter of the Sun by shveta thakrar ★★☆☆☆ (south asian)
this relationship felt super. weird to me? like the male lead felt kinda infantilized if that makes sense, while the main character was kinda "conniving" and it felt lowkey imbalanced. Did Not Ship them, but the sun concept was super cool!

→ 14. The Crimson Cloak by cindy pon ★★★★☆ (chinese)
oh this was a really interesting story! this was really easy to read (i have had Concentration Issues for the majority of these stories) and i kind of liked the romance? even though again, not a fan of manipulation~ to try and captivate the other person...

→ 15. Eyes like Candlelight by julie kagawa ★★★★☆ (japanese)
LOVE the kitsune mythology within this. also love the ending and lowkey think that more endings should take an ending like this?? anyways, did feel like this could have been extended to be less unfulfilling but whatever

when lily asks u to do a spontaneous br with her (she is already 50% through with the book)... you obviously say yes

(also an ily to jackie for gifting me this for christmas ❤️ even if you will see this never)
Profile Image for Caz (littlebookowl).
301 reviews40.2k followers
January 21, 2020
Rating: 3.5 stars

As I often find with anthologies, there are stories I love and others I didn't care for quite as much. Overall enjoyed, but my rating is an average of my enjoyments across every story.
Profile Image for Nemo (The ☾Moonlight☾ Library).
641 reviews301 followers
October 15, 2019
This review was originally posted on The Moonlight Library

I was really interested in reading this book because of #weneeddiversebooks and #ownvoices, so when the audiobook came up as available at my local library, I pounced.

It’s really hard to review an anthology as a whole, but here goes:

Most of the stories were phenomenal. Not only because they were taking stories I was unfamiliar with, but because you can identify elements of Western fairytales in them as well with common themes among all cultures. There were gods who meddled in the affairs of mortals, there were lots of ghosts, there were star-crossed lovers.

I think my favourite story was right near the beginning: Olivia’s Table by Alyssa Wong, a story about the Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival. I loved that it took an old tale and made it modern, and I enjoyed the characters and the way their traditions were woven into their lives. There was a bit of mystery there, too, which I really enjoyed.

Some of the other stories that seemed to be straight retellings fell a little flat for me. I love fairytale retellings, but I do prefer that an author bring something new to the tale, whether it’s a modern retelling or a major twist. I felt the same way about Grim, so I know it’s just my personal preference. So there was one story in particular that I feel did this really well, it was called Steel Skin by Lori. M. Lee, and it took a story that is traditionally about a tiger impersonating a human and made it a futuristic sci-fi about androids – and still managed to add in a major twist. I was really glad that a brief version of the original stories were added after the retellings so that I could identify what they were.

There were definitely more enjoyable retellings than less enjoyable ones. In fact, for me, there was only one I didn’t like, and it was a strange story of a modern day man pulled into a timeless war among the gods and then talking his way out of it despite all this nattering on about wanting to be a hero. It was so weird and I felt like it didn’t bring anything new.

Overall this was a really enjoyable read that helped expand my knowledge of some cultural stories I was previously unaware of, and it was well worth the time to listen to this audiobook.
Profile Image for The Nerd Daily.
720 reviews345 followers
June 27, 2019
Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Nathalie DeFelice

It’s rare to see Asian characters in YA fantasy. Like in TV, characters of colour are often cast as side characters, or placed in roles easily forgotten, but young adult authors are changing the game, and one of their responses to this is A Thousand Beginnings and Endings. Edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman, they feature fifteen stories told by various young adult authors concerning folktales, myths, and legends of Asian roots. It features some big authors in YA fantasy like Renee Ahdieh, Melissa De La Cruz, Julie Kagawa, Roshani Chokshi, and others. Each author takes their own contemporary spin on a story, weaving new depth and meaning to characters and stories that they grew up with, or that had a heavy significance in their lives. The stories selected range from cautionary tales and love stories, to tales of loss and redemption.

Although each story was short, they pulled you right in to their world, and I feel that everyone will leave this book with a favourite retelling of their story. What I also feel this book gives to the reader is that while the authors have retold this story to also how they’ve explored the characters, it seems that the reader is able to interpret them as they would like. After each story, the author summarises the original tale and their reason for choosing it, something that I really enjoyed reading. It feels like you’re able to make a deeper connection with the author as well. This is an excellent novel for young adults and teens who are interested in Asian mythology and folklore retellings, with a great list of young adult authors that they can look up if they like a particular story.

Now, let’s get into some of my favourite tales in this gorgeous anthology, although all of these stories are amazing, but I am excited to see what stories others might fall in love with. My personal favourite was The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon, a funny and sweet tale about the seventh daughter of the Jade Emperor, and her chance sighting of a young man and his ox. What ensues is a hilarious tale of magic, romance, and talking oxen, and I love that the story is retold as a memory, directly addressing the reader.

If you’re looking for something a little more heart wrenching, Eyes Like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa tells the story of Takeo and the Yuki the kitsune. After saving a fox as a young boy, he encounters the little fox again as a young man. It’s a cautionary tale of love and loss, with mystical elements added into the story and I would definitely have my tissues ready for this one. It’s beautifully written, and makes a fitting end to the anthology. The anthology also starts in a similar manner with Roshani Chokshi’s Forbidden Fruit story. This is the tale of the spirit of the mountain, and what happens when she gives her heart to a man.

The tones in this anthology all have a hauntingly and mythical quality, I really felt like I had entered another world as I read these stories. Steel Skin by Lori M. Lee and Olivia’s Table by Alyssa Wong were stories that gave me chills as I read through them, both for different reasons. Steel Skin is set in a dystopian future where androids were recalled, while Olivia’s Table is the story of a young girl who makes food for those not on this earth anymore. I cannot emphasise enough just how talented each of these authors are, and if you’re familiar with their works already, you’ll fall in love with these stories too.

Something that I interpreted in these stories were how the women in these tales faced some hardships, yes, but more importantly, it is how they overcame and conquered their struggles that I feel is especially empowering for women. These women (mythic or not) forged their paths within their respective stories, which I admired. These are not the wilting wallflowers from love stories of old, but these are the women who’ll kick some ass and take some names as you sit in awe of their fearsome beauty.

No story in this anthology was the same and you never know what will happen from one page to the next. Stories are set in both the past and present day, and dystopian futures. Readers will get a range of genres, so there’s a little something for all appetites. There’s nothing explicit about these stories, so I think that the anthology would be good for a range of ages, not just for teens or young adults. The only downside to the anthology are that the stories are short, but that won’t stop the reader from enjoying them. I was able to enjoy this in an afternoon, but they would definitely make good stories to read before bed. There wasn’t a story that I didn’t enjoy in this anthology, and my rating for this anthology is 10/10!
Profile Image for Nicay.
259 reviews91 followers
July 29, 2018
Review also posted HERE

I don’t remember when the last time I read an anthology book, and I think that last time made me realize that anthologies were not my cup of tea. But, as I saw the synopsis of this book, it made me think again that “I will try this time.”

And then I’m happy to announce that from the first story of this book made me continue to read it until the very end. I enjoyed every story and myths in every part of the world. Those stories want to convey that myths were not meant to be forgotten. And that time, I realized that the myths here in the Philippines are legendary, and the others also.

For the reading experience, I really enjoyed it, though there were other stories that were not good for me. It was still an okay, but not on the same level as the others.

I cannot give them the ratings one by one, because the important for me was the full reading experience I felt before, during and after reading it.

And I am glad to say, that I am recommending this book to everyone!
Profile Image for Stephanie.
Author 70 books999 followers
February 21, 2019
Ack, how did I never review this until now? This is one of my very favorite anthologies I've ever read - it was just so much FUN and such a pleasure to read, from beginning to end.

I read it last year, loved it and raved about it on Twitter even though I forgot to review it here until now. But here are some of the notes I made about it as I read, which I just found in a file.

Roshani Chokshi's "Forbidden Fruit" is a gorgeous, lush jewel of a fairy tale; Alyssa Wong's "Olivia's Table" is hauntingly emotional and beautiful and made me want a whole book about Olivia's further adventures; Lori M Lee's "Steel Skin" is a wonderful science fictional twist on a fairy tale with a great setting and a perfect ending; and E.C. Myers’s “The Land of the Morning Calm” was a story about mothers and daughters and loss that made me cry. So, so good!


I made all of those notes when I was only about a third of the way through the book. Now I wish I'd made notes on more of the stories while I'd read! I do remember thinking what a smart, powerful sisters-story Aliette de Bodard had written as her piece - and I don't remember NOT liking any of the stories at all (which is quite rare in any anthology!) - but I don't have any more specific notes at this point...

...except to say that every time I think back to this book, I feel happy. And not remembering more specifics at this point is a great excuse to re-read the whole book! :)

Profile Image for Dani ❤️ Perspective of a Writer.
1,512 reviews5 followers
June 22, 2018
Check out more reviews @ Perspective of a Writer...

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.

The short review...

Upfront... I'm not a fan of short stories... I ADORED THESE! I never felt the writing ranged in quality. It quite literally was enjoyable from start to finish. I didn't just read them I consumed them! And I really wanted several of them to go on and be developed into a full length book! I think that says a TON about the quality of this anthology. Part of why the stories were so good is because you could FEEL the love each author had for the mythology they portrayed. It came from a place of love and respect... so, so gorgeous!

I quite enjoyed the fact that we heard from each author about where the mythology or folklore came from and why they chose it! That really enriched the reading experience for me. Part of what really worked for me was the order of the stories... it was thoughtfully considered to contrast well with one another. I would consider another Asian anthology if these two authors edited it again! And I highly recommend picking up a copy for yourself... it is the type of book visitors can pick up and flip through and next thing you know they are curled up on your couch reading!! (How beautiful would that be?!)

If you take a an average of my ratings for each story my overall rating should be 4 stars... but you know as I wrote this review I realized WE NEED MORE! We need to shine a light on Asian literature and this anthology does so in an incredible way. I would even re-read it which is one of my highest of compliments!

Cover & Title grade -> B-

I will admit the title drew me to read the premise more than the cover... It's design is dark and not easy to see smaller, though I appreciate that I can read the title at least! Up close the cover isn't ugly by any means but its the topic (Asian mythology) and the fact this was an anthology made it appealing to me NOT the cover (which totally should have pushed me over the edge! I do understand though that they didn't want your typical pagodas as this is a cross section of different cultures.

The stories are full of everything promised...

Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi
I loved that we started with a culture I don't know a lot about! And I have to say we NEED more Filipino rep. I totally was sucked into the story; it truly felt like a mythical tale about a goddess.

Olivia’s Table by Alyssa Wong
This was so good that I instantly went and looked up Alyssa Wong to see if she had any full length books (I was disappointed to learn she is a major short fiction writer.) It was layered and gorgeous and the Chinese folklore woven into the present day so well!!

Steel Skin by Lori M. Lee
I adored how we suddenly went sci-fi and androids with this story... but it wasn't obvious about it because grief and loss was woven in so beautifully. I was quite started to learn it was a Hmong folktale and was just blown away by the author's creativity!

Still Star-Crossed by Sona Charaipotra
This is one that felt like the beginning of a story and I wanted more! I was mystified and loved how the girl reacted at first... if fact, we are left in suspense and I loved that! But I LOVED her mother and the Punjabi connection was just delicious... I NEED MORE!

The Counting of Vermillion Beads by Aliette De Bodard
I loved this tale of sisters and how they each had their own paths... I’m not sure if Vietnamese kings really took in peasant girls to do accounting but, either way, super cool! This was a favorite.

The Land of the Morning Calm by E. C. Myers
I ADORED the fact we learned about Korean culture to do with how they see ghosts (gwisin). Her hareaboji was a major family member in this and I loved that... We got a contemporary story right when we needed it (and it featured a MMORPG, which is sooooo great!)

The Smile by Aisha Saeed
We don't get many stories from southern Asia... and this one intrigued me so much. Many YAs could learn a lot about choice and happiness from it. It was feminist and empowering in this subtle way that we need more of! (Another I could do with an entire novel of...)

Girls Who Twirl and Other Dangers by Preeti Chhibber
I found this one hard to get into even though it had a lovely message. I even skimmed a few paragraphs... Part of it was simply how it was laid out I think. I certainly wanted to learn more about the Gujarati mythology but not in such a heavy handed way. If you love dancing though this short is for you... I swear its a love letter to dancing!

Nothing into All by Renée Ahdieh
The start was a little abrupt but I love Korean goblins and the siblings in this story just make the entire read so enchanting! The sister reacted to unexpectedly... I loved this about these stories... you don't go in knowing how they would end... some are sad and some are happy.

Spear Carrier by Rahul Kanakia
For some reason I felt a bit of dejavu reading this short... It was crazy in a good way and I liked that there was a guy MC... and the crab guy was too funny! I found it a little pointless even though it had good themes and a nice message. It was trying a little too hard.

Code of Honor by Melissa de la Cruz
This had the feel of an already established world that I liked. Vampires aren’t my thing but this was perfect for the goal of the character! It did feel like the author was sneaking in a plug for a series she's published?! I expecially enjoyed the Filipino folklore!

Bullet, Butterfly by Elsie Chapman
I was beginning to worry that all the really impactful stories were at the beginning when I started this Chinese tale... and this became one that I could ue a full book for! Seriously... cross dressing, a weapons factory, a soldier’s duty and disease. And that end seriously hurt my heart!! I need more from Elsie Chapman for sure.

Daughter of the Sun by Shveta Thakrar
I seriously need more books labeled "southern Asia" because they have the most fascinating myths! This one is magical realism and I enjoyed that fact, even though the different parts didn’t quite make sense together, I still loved the feminist aspects of the story!

The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon
I enjoyed this more than I thought I would at first... I was surprised to learn it was Chinese because I would have thought Indian of some kind. I did fall in love with the weaver girl and the magic ox was pretty funny and cute.

Eyes like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa
Since I am part Japanese I was seriously looking forward to this story about kitsune, one of my all time favorite Japanese creature! And it was so, so good... I didn't see that end coming at all and it about broke my heart with its truthful beauty.

As a Writer...

I could see right away which authors I clicked with and which I didn't. I think a major benefit to an anthology both as a writer and a reader is to get your style out there into readers' hands so you as the reader and read and sample and find new authors.

I know I found new authors to look out for in A Thousand Beginnings and Endings and you will too! Now I'm going to say something HUGE about this book... wait for it... Even if you despise short stories I seriously recommend you at least READ them! Seriously, we need more anthologies like this one filled with #ownvoices and passion for culture.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Authenticity
⋆⭐⭐⭐⭐ Writing Style
⋆⭐⭐⭐⭐ Plot & Pacing
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ World Building

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. It has not influenced my opinions.

You can find this review and many others on my book blog @ Perspective of a Writer. See my special perspective at the bottom of my reviews under the typewriter...
Profile Image for Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd).
1,224 reviews255 followers
June 29, 2018
Average rating 3.67 stars
“I finally know how it ends.”
I love anthologies and mythology-based stories, so when I heard of A Thousand Beginnings and Endings - an anthology filled with own voices mythology retellings by South and East Asian Authors - it became on of my most anticipated releases of the year. These stories were all so beautifully crafted and utterly captivating. It confirmed my love for a few authors, and introduced me to some who I desperately want to read more from. This is a can’t miss 2018 release.

Most Excited for: Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi; Nothing Into All by Renée Ahdieh; Eyes Like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa

Favorite Stories: Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi; The Smile by Aisha Saeed; Daughter of the Sun by Shveta Thakrar; The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon

Least Favorite Stories: Still Star-Crossed by Sonia Charaipotra; Spear Carrier by Rahul Kanakia; Code of Honor by Melissa de la Cruz

Forbidden Fruit by Roshani Chokshi (Filipino) | ★★★★★
I love when an anthology has a strong start and this was such a beautiful story and was one of my favorites. Roshani’s writing is fluid and lovely and fits perfectly with the story. I love personified nature in mythology stories and this was no exception. It’s all about forbidden love and protecting your heart and it’s such a wonderful start to this anthology!

Olivia’s Table by Alyssa Wong (Chinese) | ★★★☆☆
Olivia has taken over her mom’s job working at a Arizona ghost festival, serving a feast to sooth the spirit’s souls so they can move on. I liked the focus on family and respecting those who have come before us, but I didn’t really care about the flachbacks to younger Olivia and didn’t connect to any of the side characters.

Steel Skin by Lori M. Lee (Hmong) | ★★★★☆
This was a cool science fiction story about life after the robotics revolution where all androids were decommissioned as dangerous. Yer’s father, Meng, is an engineer and has grown distant since his job has become obsolete. I really liked this story - there were some great relationships explored that pulled me in.

Still Star-Crossed by Sona Charaipotra (Punjabi) | ★★☆☆☆
I really loved the destined feel that this story had, but I just didn’t love the execution. Taara is at a club celebrating Holi with her friends, when she meets Nick who is certain that he knows her and they belong together. The romance was a no for me and I felt like the story was really short. I could have been on board if there was more time to explore the delicate nature of the relationship.

The Counting of Vermillion Beads by Aliette de Bodard (Vietnamese) | ★★★☆☆
This is a fantasy story about two sisters who are taken after their mother’s death to be census girls for the Everlasting Emperor. Tam is older and bolder and wants to escape, while Cam is determined to work her way out. This was a beautiful story that showed the complexities of sibling relationships and rivalry and how that doesn’t define the relationship.

The Land of the Morning Calm by E.C. Meyers (Korean) | ★★★★☆
This was a great heartfelt story. I love the connection between the main character and her mom - and how she’s determined to save her mom’s gaming legacy by getting her game character to the Underworld. I like that the mythology and the story fit together so seamlessly.

The Smile by Aisha Saeed (South Asian) | ★★★★★
I was just completely taken in by this story. Yasmine is a courtesan of Prince Kareem and she’s a very talented dancer who’s supposed to help secure a deal with a merchant. Kareem grows jealous and imprisons Yasmine and Yasmine begins to learn about the freedom in love and loving yourself. It was just so empowering and lovely.

The Girl Who Twirls and Other Dangers by Preeti Chhibber (Gujarati) | ★★★★☆
I’m not going to lie, this one was a little confusing, but I still really liked it. Jaya’s favorite holiday is Navrātri and she goes to a dance with friends. But at the party a guy is mean and rude, so Jaya and friends decide to pull a little prank to even the score. The myth was weaved into the story beautifully and showed the morals clearly.

Nothing Into All by Renée Ahdieh (Korean) | ★★★★☆
This was a great goblin fantasy story that was filled with Renée’s beautiful writing. It was a story about siblings and respect and the duality that resides in all of us. It further cemented my need to read more from Renée Ahdieh.

Spear Carrier by Rahul Kanakia (South Asian) | ★★☆☆☆
This story was all about heroism and their legacy. It also brought up some interesting questions about what makes a hero and if a person is only a hero is they “win.” I liked the inspiration for the story and not only the questions it posed but the challenges to heroism as well - like recognizing that you’re story is only a small piece of the larger universe. It’s not to demean or diminish, but to humble. But I didn’t love the writing style and was a little confused about the timeline through the story as well.

Code of Honor by Melissa de la Cruz (Filipino) | ★★☆☆☆
This is so lowly rated because it was one of the most forgettable stories to me, I didn’t really dislike it, I just didn’t remember it. It’s a story about a vampire, Aida, who loses her spelled journal no human can open. I didn’t particularly care about Aida or anyone else in the story.

Bullet, Butterfly by Elise Chapman (Chinese) | ★★★☆☆
This was a story about the difficulties of following your heart or following your duties. It’s a classic dilemma that was tackled beautifully within a war-torn country and the possibility of finding your true love or creating a lasting peace.

Daughter of the Sun by Shveta Thakrar (South Asian) | ★★★★★
This was another absolutely beautiful story about following your heart and the power of destiny and sacrifice. It was about putting other above yourself and the selflessness and power that you from it.

The Crimson Cloak by Cindy Pon (Chinese) | ★★★★★
This was just such a magically captivating story and I was moved by it. It was a powerful story that gave a voice and truth to a young girl and allowed her to be to voice of her own story. It was so lyrical and I need to read more from Cindy Pon ASAP.

Eyes Like Candlelight by Julie Kagawa (Japanese) | ★★★★☆
This was a bittersweet story that highlighted the importance of kindness. It was such a beautiful story and a perfect closer.

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings is a standout anthology filled with rich stories and captivating characters about the complexities of life, love, and family. I loved the author’s notes at the end of each story and it made everything seem so much more personable and easier to connect with the stories. Getting to experience these different cultures from such incredibly talented authors was a gift and made this a must read.

I received a copy of the book from the Harper Collins via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
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