Thank you to Samira Ahmed; Sona Charaipotra; Sabaa Tahir; Sayantani DasGupta; Tanaz Bhathena; Sangu Mandanna; Olivia Chadha; Naila Azad; Tracey Baptiste; Naz Kutub; Nikita Gill; Swati Teerdhala; Shreya Ila Anasuya; Tahir Abrar; Preeti Chhibber, HarperCollins Children's Books, HarperTeen, and Netgalley for this free advanced reader copy of "Magic Has No Borders" for an honest review.
I've been on a kick in the last few years for diverse short stories, poetry, and essay collections, so that moment I saw the topic on this (not to mention the amazing author list!!) I had to jump at it. I was not disappointed in the slightest. While the two names that made this pop up on my list, Sabaa Tahir & Nikita Gil, rocked out of the water their pieces, I loved so very many of the other ones as well.
South Asian magic and mythology of kinds you know and will be brought into anew will be found in these pages, as well as lives and beliefs you know and don't. I absolutely recommend this for people of all ages, who are going to find themselves in these pages and also the wonder of the world they don't know, that they can still recognize the joys, griefs, longings and dreams of in themselves and the world around them.
Truly a fantastic collection of works by different South Asian authors. I think this is my favorite anthology that I've read so far. I requested it for Sabaa Tahir, and was pleasantly surprised to find that I thoroughly enjoyed stories from the other others as well.
Mood: South-Asian retellings and mythology with goddesses and mythical creatures (peri). Mood: Star-crossed lovers!
Honestly with a such a large collection of stories, you're likely to find something in your wheelhouse. This is the first time I've come across chudalis, and I really need to up my game when it comes to the mythology these stories draw from. For that reason my review focuses mostly on my enjoyment of the story, writing style, and over all collection of story.
I adored the prose over all, each story feeling like a new voice had sat down -- as it should-- so each story felt unique while being cohesive. To end with Hiba's ending, gave me chills. I adore these stories.
An entire anthology of magical South Asian tales? Yes please. Like any anthology, there were some stories I liked more than others (and some I didn’t really care for) but overall I thought this was a really strong lineup of voices that covered a range of South Asian authors. I loved seeing the different takes on the myths and cultures, but also just everyday life whether they took place in America or across Asia.
My favorite stories were:
Infinite Drift by Olivia Chadha
Mirch, Masala, and Magic by Nafiza Afad
What the Winds Stole by Sabaa Tahir
If you’re looking for a fun fantasy anthology, I would highly recommend this one!
Magic Has No Borders is a collection of South Asian tales celebrating diversity and myth edited by Sona Charaipotra and Samira Ahmed.
I really enjoyed the idea of this short story collection. I always love to explore cultures that I haven't learned about before and I think this book was a great way for many authors to share their histoy and culture with the reading community.
I loved how unique the stories felt because I hadn't heard the myths they were based on before! And even if I had I think each author brought something unique to the tales and I enjoyed the diversity!
If there was anything I wished for more of with this novel were for some of the stories to be longer! I think some of them could have done with more fleshing out and some of the worlds created I didn't want to leave! I guess I just have some new authors I need to check out though, because I haven't read the majority of these before.
All in all, I think Magic Has No Borders is a great collection of YA fantasy and science fiction tales centered around South Asian culture and I would definitely recommend to to those who want to explore new topics or who knows the tales well!
Thank you to HarperTeen and Netgalley for an eARC of this novel. All thoughts and opinions contained within this review are my own.
A charming collection of South Asian tales filled with love and gods and goddesses and magic and trouble and life and culture.
Like with most anthologies, I didn’t love everything about it, but I learned so much about mythology and how it intersects with everyday life that I also didn’t think there was a dud in the bunch. I think just about anyone who can appreciate the fantastic and mythical in life will like this book.
More like 4.5/5, but I rounded up.
Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book to review.
A big thanks to NetGalley and HarperTeen for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
NEW SABAA TAHIR CONTENT? IN 2023? WE HAVE BEEN BLESSED!
Magic Has No Borders by a slew of famous authors, is a YA anthology of lush South Asian folklore folklore, legends, and epics reimagines stories of old for a modern audience. Featuring authors like Sabaa Tahir, Swati Teerdhala, and many others.
I just need more Sabaa Tahir in my life.
"Magic Has No Borders" is an anthology that will appeal to those looking for stories drawing from the cultures and myths of Southeast Asia.
Many of the stories dealt with breaking ongoing cycles and healing the past. These themes added a unity to the collection that I think helps the anthology work as a whole. I personally found that the more I read the more I enjoyed. I'm not sure how much is the fact that many of the works in the second half of the collection simply resonated more with me and how much was the enjoyment of seeing those themes told and retold with different characters through different voices.
I did feel that multiple stories in this collection would have been better served by a longer format. Some of them left me wanting more background, more space for the characters to develop their relationships, or simply a bit more time to flesh out the endings. I think that some of the stories assumed a deeper understanding of the cultures being depicted than many young adult Americans may bring to the tales. While I hope that this might spark a desire to read and learn more about the people of the area for some readers, I worry that it might instead just lead to confusion in others. For those who do have a deep familiarity with the area (or who already have an interest in developing such a familiarity) I think these tales will be a true treasure chest.
I have to point out three stories in particular that deeply resonated with me. I think that they show the range of the anthology--from sci-fi, to cozy fantasy, to epic fairy tale. I would be eager to read more by these authors, which is always something I want to leave a short story collection saying!
"Infinite Drift" uses time travel to show a powerful glimpse of the heartbreak of war. The fact that the main character is a time traveler allows the author to give the background necessary to understand the nuances of the story in a way that enriches the tale and allows the mystery to unfold without ever seeming like an info dump. I really appreciated how this piece dealt with the individual emotions of the characters against the background of larger story. Inspired by an actual battle from 1897, this piece reminds readers that battles claim people and their futures, not simply army units and territories.
"Mirch, Masala, and Magic" takes the everyday enchantment of food and family and shows just what happens when that magic becomes Magic. The family of a mistreated young wife teaches her in-laws a lesson that they won't soon forget through the power of cooking. One is left hoping that the young ex-husband will be able to apply what he has learned and grow into a better person while enjoying the well-earned revenge meted out against his cruel family. This is a humorous, cozy fantasy that I think will resonate with a wide audience. It certainly had me wanting to pull out a cookbook and go hunting for recipes online!
The anthology ends with the exquisite "What the Winds Stole." This is a beautifully written tale of justified rage, healing, and the sacrifices of friendship. A magical creature, a peri, has had much of her power and self stolen away by others. My heart ached for Hiba, whose literal form had been wrenched away and her spirit cursed. A human shows up and undertakes a years long quest to recover the things that had been taken from her. While in many fairy tales the focus would have been on the young "hero" and his daring adventures and sacrifices, it was touching to find a story where we spend the most time alongside the character who has been harmed.
I have to finish by pointing out the beautiful cover of this book! The colors are just amazing and the details are so fun to dwell on and tie back to the stories inside. I was also excited that my advance copy had some interior art as well and I am curious to see what the final version will look like! I deeply love illustrated works and so I was delighted that some of the stories here had a picture to go with them.
Many thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Children's Books for an advance e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
I received an ARC via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
I love that this anthology explored the richness of South Asian folklore. From different Hindu to a few Muslim traditions, I liked seeing how authors from distinct backgrounds told these stories, and demonstrated that being South Asian is not a monolithic identity with a single culture, in spite of sharing a geographic region. Some stories stand out more than others, and I admit I preferred reading the authors I was familiar with, but this is a solid collection to dip into for a dose of magic.
Thoughtful premise, but this fell fairly for me. I did not enjoy it as much as I thought I would.
Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for this review copy
Thank you NetGalley for an advanced copy. I read a few of the short stories, but I’m not a fan of LGBTQ characters. What I read wasn’t explicit, but I already know I cannot recommend to is book due to the profanity. I didn’t finish all the stories.
Sci-fi and fantasy are two genres that, for the most part, throughout my life, have not worked for me. The sci-fi and fantasy lovers in my life know that I hold out hope and keep looking for exceptions to the rule. This forthcoming story collection, an anthology of “magical South Asian tales” by a star-studded array of South Asian authors who drew on the subcontinent’s rich narrative heritage for inspiration, seemed like a promising possible exception. I’m not sure that it quite got there for me—I don’t know how to describe it, but there is something about the normative narrative and writing styles in this genre that puts me off and is present here—but I’m glad I read this, and really enjoyed some of these stories! If you’re more into these genres, I absolutely recommend it.
This is going to sound like a snarky comment, and I promise I don’t mean it to be, but my favorite parts were the author’s notes. I loved how Ahmed framed the collection in the context of colonialism and the ways it has flattened “the subcontinent’s brilliant and beautiful diversity.” When the individual authors included brief notes on their inspirations, they were always well-written and captivating. In general, I enjoyed the stories that hewed more realist or closer to their inspiration the most. I particularly liked Nikita Gill’s “Chudail,” which surprisingly reimagines an element of the Mahabharata in a hill station, and Nafiza Azad’s “Mirch, Masala, and Magic,” which showcased folk magic by way of cooking in a Fijian Indian family.
I read this book slowly, one story every night like a bedtime story, which was a fun way to consume it. A lot of the art wasn’t finished in this eARC, but the final copy is sure to be a beautiful object with accompanying illustrations for each story. If you are any more of a sci-fi and fantasy person than I am, check this out! And I am going to keep trying on that front.
I don't know what I was expecting from this collection, but I don't think this was it. I was hopeful that rich culture would emerge from the multiple stories showing the depth and diversity of the area, not all be so tied to religious mythology. Nearly all the stories have queer story lines, have sexual assault and content, are Hindu centered, and Samira Ahmed doesn't even have a story in the collection she's co edited, I read the entire book, and tried to be open minded with all the reimaginings of Hindu gods and goddess, but I never really got comfortable with the liberties taken of what I presume are characters central to religious doctrine for practicing Hindus. Of the few Muslim leaning inclusions: one story had a jinn and a gay main character, but really the only stories that I genuinely enjoyed were the other two by Muslim authors: Mirch, Masala, and Magic by Nafiza Azad and What the Winds Stole by Sabaa Tahir, neither religious focused but culturally rich with magic and a peri. The Chudrail story was mediocre, but the rest did little to hold my attention with the instant gay romances and weak world building. The 14 stories over 352 pages is marketed as YA, but I don't know what purpose it would serve: it doesn't celebrate South Asian folklore to me, it doesn't provide insight to a vibrant culture, and the majority of the stories just aren't engaging and memorable.
DNF. I really liked the premise but the writing did not work for me at all. I really love some of these authors (Mandanna and Tahir) but their short stories were underwhelming. It wouldn't be fair to the collection if I finished reading and gave it a low rating.
Magic Has No Borders is an incredible anthology of short stories inspired by South Asian folklore. The collection is made up of stories by South Asian authors. There is beautiful artwork present at the start of each chapter. Samira Ahmed and Sona Charaipotra did an amazing job editing this anthology. Highly recommended!
This is a delightful, diverse, and ethereal collection of short stories.
Although not every story was built the same, and some I really didn’t care for, others were amazing and quite captivating. I really enjoyed this overall, and I hope to see more anthologies published in the future. I’ve recently become a short story fiend!
Some of the stories in this collection I loved; they were like dark and twisted fairy tales I’d read each night. But others missed the mark for me entirely and didn’t hold my attention. I did like when the stories included author notes about the inspiration for the short story and seeing the artwork illustrations that were at the opening of each short story.
It is hard to give a solid review of this because I have realized short story collections are not for me. Therefore it's hard to know if my critiques are valid or just because it's not my form of art.
I didn't feel very connected to any of the characters in the stories, which is hard when you know it's only lasting a few pages. Only one of the stories really stood out to me and stayed with me after I finished reading. Because it's a collection of authors, there wasn't a consistent voice throughout and they felt very disconnected. Further, the fact that the theme was merely South Asian authors, which is broad, meant that it didn't really seem to make sense why these stories were published together. I appreciate the sentiment, and fully support authors celebrating their culture, it just seemed that there was too little of a theme for the stories to make sense as a complilation.
Kiss Me Goodbye – 1 star. Rushed, no backstory, and asinine. I know this is a short story, but I was still lost on the backstory here and why all this was taking place. Was she fated to do this? Cursed? She claims to be doing it because she's a goddess and must be remembered; it's her right and her due, but that doesn't really explain why Lakhinder and Behula and why murder is the only way to make anyone remember her. Anyways, this is set in a modern high school and Manasa is a goddess in a teenage girl host body but never once does she come across as anything but a slightly-more-than-average homicidal teenage girl. She's dramatic, annoying, and drooling over a boy's ass. Spare me. I liked the aspect of the girls deciding to just stop this endless game of hunting and killing, but they have no idea if it will “reset”. And what about the humans remembering them part? It's implied they will find a (less murderous) way to do that, but couldn't they have done that from the get-go? And then to cap this all off, we get slammed with literally the most instantaneous insta-love I've ever had the misfortune of reading.
Chudail – 3.5 stars. Girls have been going missing for centuries, always precluded by a sighting of the Chudail. The quality of writing was good, and I liked the eerie spookiness of it all. I do wish we would have been told what exactly the not-Chudail was though. Reminded me a little tiny bit of Elatsoe.
A Goddess of Fire and Blood – 2 stars. The beginning was a lot of into-dumping, and then became hard to follow as we switched which girl we were talking about so seamlessly I had to go back three times to make sure I was following the name and backstory changes. The story of escaping their prison was compelling, but the goddess storyline completely lost me.
Infinite Drift – 3 stars. A girl appears in the desert, out of time, on an unknown mission. Concept was unique, but I wish there had been more backstory or info on the Drift Riders. I liked that it was her brother though! Author notes were interesting.
Dismantle The Sun – 4 stars. Good story. I liked the almost father-daughter relationship, and the decision our MC made at the end; her realization she could do better and the determination to do so.
Shamsuddin-Jalal – 2 stars. Would have been good but for the overwhelming woke agenda permeating the entire story.
The Collector – 2 stars. Very confusing. The author's note informs us that it is part of a larger story, and gives some background to said story, but on it's own, it has little merit.
Unraveled – 2.5 stars. A hostage of a mythical and revenging bird-man, our MC finds that her experience there leads her to a change of heart and a discovery of her own worth. Tantalizing enough to want to know what the history was there, but suffered from a lack of background and answers. Her boyfriend was worthless, but it was upsetting that there was no forewarning that he would be so until the end of the story.
She Who Answers – 3 stars. I appreciated seeing this goddess giving her all to help the boy and his mother as they pray to her. Good story.
The Hawk's Reason – DNF. Gay insta-love. Not my thing.
Poetry of Earth – 3 stars. A little simplistic in the telling, but a good story overall. An Aspera is sentenced to live a year with the humans, and learns that her dislike of them maybe isn't as warranted as she thought. Author's note helped it out a bit.
Mirch, Masala, and Magic – 3.5 stars. A family uses magic in cooking to get back at the family that hurt one of their own. The way the food, and the magic within, was described was excellent. Liked the close-knit main family, but it was strange that the whole family of in-laws was so awful.
Daughter of The Sun – 2 stars. Just not my thing. Mostly confused and didn't care for the writing.
What The Winds Stole – 3.5 stars. I really liked the prose, the overall story, and that Peri lived up to her name. Her character arc was lovely, really. But I couldn't get past the insta-love, Sule's motivations (why did he come in the first place?), or the ending, which was anti-climatic.
This was a really great anthology! Some of the references I recognized immediately while others I didn't have much knowledge of, that only emphasizes the vast amount of cultures and traditions in South Asia. As with all anthologies, some were much better than others but there was nothing I absolutely hated just a few where I was slightly confused with what was going on; the one I probably disliked the most would have been the high school romance/god killing one, the relationship came out of left field. Some of these stories did feel underdeveloped which can happen in short stories but one author did mention their story was a mini "prequal"(this one was just fast not underdeveloped) to their full story which I'm excited for. Sabaa Tahir is absolutely amazing as always and definitely my favorite story. I do wish that we got all of the art but I guess that incentivizes going out and buying it later!
Thank you very much to the publisher and Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book. All of my opinions were made unbiased by the free copy and are my own words.