Hath No Fury

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Member Reviews

Wow, what a strange journey this book has taken. I remember when Hath No Fury was launched as a Kickstarter way back in 2016. It got caught up in the collapse of Ragnarok Publications, saw a few anticipated release dates go by, lost an editor, and then finally saw the light of day through Outland Entertainment.

I had landed an advance review copy in November of last year, and read it in anticipation of reviewing it for what was (at that point) an anticipated May release. When that got pushed out to August . . . well, I lost track of it. What can I say, it happens, especially with such a towering pile of review titles. Fortunately, I'd made notes as I went, but I still had to skim back through the book to flesh those notes out into a proper review.

The concept of Hath No Fury was one that excited me from the moment Melanie R. Meadors first brought it to my attention. An anthology of smart, resourceful, confident women who are warriors, heroines, and champions - about as far from the clichéd damsel-in-distress as you can get. The format is a bit odd, blending fictional tales with non-fiction essays (I'll be perfectly honest, I skipped the essays, so I won't comment), but I can appreciate what Melanie was trying to do with it.

As to the stories, I won't go into detail on them all, but instead call out the ones that were most memorable for me.

She Tore by Nisi Shawl stands out in my memory as one of the few diverse stories in the anthology, with non-binary, shape-shifting character standing out.

The Scion by S.R. Cambridge is a tale of post-apocalyptic survival, told by a young woman from a family where the women are known to die young. I didn't particularly care for the plot or the concept, but the characters were strong, and I think their relationships capture what the anthology is all about.

Casting On by Philippa Ballantine was a slow and subtle tale, without any real conflict or action, but well-told and almost reassuring in its humanity.
Burning by Elaine Cunnigham was a great concept, mixing telepathy and dragons, with some fantastic moments, but it felt rushed. There's definitely more story to be told here.

A Dance With Death by Marc Turner is one of my favorites, the story of an assassin targeted for death, and another of those stories I really wanted more of. Such a great character, and it was nice to settle back into Turner's style once again.

A Wasteland of My God's Own Making by Bradley P. Beaulieu is, not surprisingly, another exceptionally strong story from an author who writes powerful women very well.

She Keeps Crawling Back by Delilah S. Dawson was odd, with its mixture of monstrous crocodiles and massive killer robots, but I liked the two women, and I thought the reveals were well-done.

Craft by Lian Hearn is a story that sticks with me, not because of the writing or the characters, but because of what happens on the beach. Regardless of what follows, that decision is just . . . well, weird.

Reconciling Memory by Gail Z. Martin is a solid little story of revenge, with that unique narrative style that defines Martin's writing. I quite liked it.

Sadly, there were some true clunkers in here, stories that I am honestly surprised made the cut, but I respect it for taking chances. You can't have every story appeal to every reader, or else you're just going to get something average. Hath No Fury doesn't always excel, but when it does, it's a pleasure to read.
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Heaven has no rage, like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury, like a woman scorned.

The quote above is from The Mourning Bride by William Congreve and it's the origin of the quote everyone is familiar with, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." The quote from Congreve has been misunderstood and changed. In a similar way the importance of women has been misunderstood and changed over the years. It's laughable for many people living now to believe that women are simply good for cleaning, sex, and having/taking care of children, but not long ago that was the thinking. Hath No Fury seeks to put ridiculous stereotypes about women to bed by showing all types of heroines. Not all are warriors, but all fight for what's important.

The reviews below aren't for all the short stories, but rather some of the ones that caught my attention.

The Scion by S.R. Cambridge 

Chemical weaponry changed the world forever. Their use killed most infected by them, but those who lived were different. They believed they were special and chosen by God so others nicknamed them the faithful. Some settlements survived and fought off the faithful yet the war seemed never ending. Nika Zawisza is a ranger for one of those settlements. Her prospects for a long life are bleak especially when her family motto is, "the women in our family die young." Nika and her sister Kaja are sent to discover what happened to the power station that supplies their home.

The Scion isn't terribly original yet it scores some points on an emotional level. The story is filled with the common apocalyptic future tropes such as war that broke the world as we know it, survivors who aren't truly human anymore, and frightening changes to the remainder of society. The biggest one that caught my attention was the way the people made sure their babies didn't "turn out funny." Men are sent from different settlements to impregnate the women who wish it. It literally sounded as though women lined for these out of town men to attempt to impregnate them.

The strength of the story comes in the relationship between the Zawiska women particularly Nika and Kaja. Nika is the point of view character and she recounts the women in her family that she knew including her mother and aunts. It seems they all die young. Kaja seems to be the exception because rather than being a fierce warrior she's scholarly. She didn't become a ranger like the women in her family, she apprenticed with the settlements biochemist unfortunately Kaja was still known as "Kaja, who hasn't a use." The sisters time together just felt realistic and somewhat touching. 

The Scion was a good short story that feels like an excerpt of something bigger. 

3.5 out of 5 stars

Casting On by Philippa Ballantine 

A group of women in a war torn land sneak away to an abandoned library to sow. One day these women unexpectedly find a wounded man who was barely alive. The only problem is that he's an enemy solider. These women having lost husbands, sons, fathers, and brothers to the war effort decide to help him anyway.

Casting On was a touching story on the strength and resolve of women. These ladies could have reported the soldier or simply pretended not to see him yet they all decided as a group to fix something rather than helping others destroy. Such resolve was impressive and it felt realistic overall. My only complaint is that the story feels like the beginning of a much larger and more engaging tale, yet it ends before it can get to that point.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Burning by Elaine Cunnigham 

Burning is a hard story to give a synopsis for as I'm not entirely sure what all just happened. From what I can tell the world in which burning exists has magic. The most notable magic is telepathy and dragons. Some of the telepaths reach a higher rank which earns them the title of Torch. Torches have the power to control dragons with their minds. This story is about Rue, a powerful telepath who has recently been bestowed the title Torch.

3 out of 5 stars

A Dance With Death by Marc Turner 

Jenna is an assassin and it seems someone wants to kill her. Considering her line of work, she probably deserves it.

A Dance With Death reads as though it's literally the beginning of a larger book. Just as things begin to get really interesting it's over. This story is the book equivalent of telling someone how hungry you are and them giving you a single cracker.

2.5 out of 5 stars

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I loved some of the short stories and liked others. It was a mixed bag of stories that was both fast and kept my attention. If you like anthologies that focus on women this is a good one to add to your collection!
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Anthologies are always tough to rate. No matter how many writers or stories you have, there are always going to be some that stand out above the rest. Unfortunately, in this particular anthology, the number of stories I loved was far smaller than I had hoped. This is particularly disappointing because I love female protagonists, especially angry female protagonists. I think my main problem with short stories is there’s just not enough time to delve into the nuances of female anger. As a result, a lot of the stories feel surface-level. 

The stand-out stories: 

“The Scion,” by S.R. Cambridge. This was masterful.  In a very short time, Cambridge made me care about the main character and her sister. It was interesting, surprising, and poignant. I don’t want to say much more because it’s very easy to spoil a short story, but reading this was a pleasure.

“Casting On,” by Philippa Ballantine. I liked that this one was unexpected. The protagonists were older women whose main focus was knitting. Not only did Ballantine show that women don’t have to be young to be badass, but she also successfully made their weapon knitting, something that’s very female-coded.

Of course, I’m not saying that the other stories were bad. They simply weren’t to my tastes or, if they were, they felt too short and underdeveloped. 

One odd thing was that the anthology includes short biographies of admirable women. In theory, I like the idea, but the biographies are short and blandly written. They break up the flow of stories and ultimately take more away from the collection than they contribute, almost like they’re fillers to pack the table of contents. However, I did like the inclusion of non-fiction essays even if, again, most of them were too short to pack much of a punch. It was an interesting attempt to merge what we read in fiction to how we relate to those stories and help bring them to life, both as writers and readers. 

I’m sure anthologies, because of their nature, are hit-or-miss for most readers. If the subject matter interests you or you’re a fan of any of these writers, I’d say give it a shot. I think it’s a book best read in small doses, though, rather than straight through.

Thanks to NetGalley and Ragnarok Publications for an e-copy of this in exchange for an honest review.
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This rating is the average of all the ratings I assigned for the individual stories (and those ratings varied widely. I had some of each star ranking, from one to five, with most being about 3).

A few notes to begin with:
The blurb notes that the anthology contains "approximately 20 meaningful stories". There are actually thirty pieces here, and they include short biographies of historical women, creative nonfiction, and scifi/fantasy short stories. I didn't realize that going in, so I was caught off guard to suddenly be reading basically an except from a textbook about Harriet Tubman when I thought this was a fiction anthology. That's more of a problem with the blurb misrepresenting the book, though.

I wouldn't have minded these nonfiction bits so much, once I got used to them, except that the biographies tended to be, well, boring. They weren't written to be extremely detailed, so if you already know about these women (and I had read about most of them before, in more detail) they don't offer anything new. They also weren't written to tell their histories in entertaining ways; they were simply dry. They might offer more interest to a reader who hadn't studied any of these women before. The creative nonfiction pieces were more promising, and I did enjoy some of them.

I won't review each short story individually here, but as an overall review, I will say that they varied widely in quality. Some were original and well-written, others felt like something I'd read plenty of times before, and still others were wildly creative but written with no skill or explanation for anything (shapeshifting half-snake dragon-riding Cleopatra??). And the book seemed to crawl by at a snail's pace. I feel that some of these stories should have been weeded out.

The book has strongish bent toward diversity and representation, which it should as a self-proclaimed feminist anthology, but I probably wouldn't read it specifically seeking representation. For example, while there were a few stories about gay women, not many ended with both of those women alive.

Rather than end on a negative note, I'll pick out my favorite pieces here so everyone can bask in their glory.

Riding Ever Southward, in the Company of Bees by Seanan McGuire: in a dystopia where bees are all but extinct, guarded caravans of the last surviving hives cross the country to sell pollination for a profit.

A Wasteland of My God's Own Making by Bradley P. Beaulieu: a gifted warrior is tortured by the hunger of a god trapped inside her, punishment for a childhood mistake.

She Keeps Crawling Back by Delilah S. Dawson: a young woman arrives in a New York City ravaged by giant crocodiles and even huger killer robots and befriends a trainer with a haunted past — but neither women is exactly as they seem.

The Unlikely Turncoat by Michael R. Underwood: a genre-hopping secret agent must prevent a tear in the very fabric of the universe by thwarting a betrayal in Cold War-era Copenhagen.

This Is Not Another "Why Representation Is Important" Essay by Monica Valentinelli: the only creative nonfiction piece to make it onto my favorites list, and a good start for explaining the movement for diverse books to people who havn't thought about it much
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I mean. I have reviewed quite a few anthologies this year, all of which tend to have some kind of theme and this was the first one where that theme called to me 100%. It's no secret that I adore female characters and stories that are women centric. This was a wonderful addition to my reading schedule and I need everyone to read it.

I have to add that this is a fabulously diverse collection as well. It's clear that the editors have considered an intersectional approach which is another thing an anthology like this needs to have. 

My favourite story of the whole collection, and one which I cannot stop talking about, is the first story: Seanan McGuire “Riding Ever Southward, In the Company of Bees”. Imagine Mad Max: Fury Road but instead of fast cars, explosions and chastity belts (I laughed so hard at that part of the film. Chastity belts- pah!) it's bees! It's the most wonderful concept and the writing is phenomenal and I cannot fathom how it is not an entire book for me to devour at once! 

There are some other wonderful stories in there too, there's an elderly circle of knitters who...let's just say have more potential than they think, there are epic shootouts and Cleopatra retellings. Not every story is a winner, as is true of pretty much every anthology, but there are definitely more good stories than there are bad ones. 

Normally at the end of an anthology I breath a sigh of relief, finally finished. With this one I found myself begging for more. I'm going to have to look up each and every one of these authors and read everything they've ever written. Oh my poor TBR! 

My rating: 4/5 stars

By the way, I received a digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
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This anthology is not only fiction, but also little biographies, creative nonfiction, and short stories. I loved their idea behind this mixture: to present heroines in both real life and imagined - to show us the role models all around us. But unfortunately it lost me a little in the pacing with the varying types of writing -mostly the biographies. I greatly enjoyed the pieces of fiction (even though my interest and enjoyment fluctuated as with most anthologies).
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