In this collection, seven fantasy authors release their stories in collaboration with Amazon as part of their first Original Stories collection.
The Garden by Tomi Adeyemi
Years after her mother disappeared in search of a mythical place called the Garden, Yuliana is determined to uncover the truth.
This was one of the weakest stories in the collection. The Garden follows Yuliana travelling in Brazil with a guide to a mythical garden, hoping to find what her mother couldn’t. It sounds promising, except all we’re given is a tourist misbehaving, as the writer tries to convince you otherwise. This story was meant for a bigger stage, but even within these pages, Adeyemi couldn’t convince me. I like the concept of alternating prose and poetry, but what does it say when the prose reads better than the poetry?
Persephone by Lev Gossman
Young Persephone hides within herself, especially since her father’s disappearance five years ago, but when the school bullies go too far, she discovers a power that might be the key to everything.
Without giving too much of the plot away, I was surprised by the turn this story took. But Persephone’s voice drips with the stereotypical behaviour of a Disney Channel teen protagonist. I found the plot rather intriguing, but the tone of voice felt dejected and separate from the girl we see on the page.
The Six Deaths of the Saint by Alix E. Harrow
Spared from death to fulfil a destiny, can the girl who became a weapon find her worth under the watchful eyes of the Prince?
You have probably already seen this short story makes its rounds through social media, and for once, a story lives up to the hype. Six Deaths is a beautiful short story, speaking directly into the desire of the girl who has been told repeatedly to sacrifice everything for the empire’s good. Harrow evokes every emotion possible in such a short amount of words; what a bitter-sweet tale for a girl who deserves so much more.
“I would rather love a coward than mourn a legend.” It was 2 am, and I was on the floor.
What the Dead Know by Nghi Vo
Maryse poses as a medium when she can channel the spirit world and comes face to face with a secret that might unravel a small town.
Nghi Vo reminds me again why I’ll always reach out for one of their stories time and time again. Maryse and Vasyl are a travelling duo searching for their next paycheck, but when a blizzard forces them to be stuck in a girls’ school, Maryse has trouble ignoring the voices of death. I was still determining Maryse’s passive nature, to begin with, but as the story goes on, it worked well; it felt like the ghost were stringing Maryse along as they begged for the truth to be told. An eerie tale that I would definitely love to see Vo delving into another story like this one.
Undercover by Tamsyn Muir
Lucille enters an isolated gang-run town and takes on a role no one wants: a bodyguard… to a ghoul.
I definitely had to read this twice because my mind couldn’t comprehend what I was reading. I felt like I was bouncing off the walls in a weirdly good way. I didn’t understand what was happening, but at the end, I was like… okay… I get it (I think). I’ve never read a Muir work before, but this felt like a great taster for what is to come if I ever did.
The Candles Are Burning by Veronica G. Henry
An ancient spirit threatens the lives of a young widow and her daughter as they navigate life after the death of her husband.
This was the last of the collection I had read; by then, I was already feeling burnt out. But this one made me perk up. Maggie is a grieving woman trying to do her best to help her daughter and keep a roof over her head. She even moves into a downtrodden home in a graveyard, where all her problems begin. She begins seeing ghosts that have her fearing for her safety, but who can she trust when the dead haunt her every second? I adored this one.
Out of the Mirror by Garth Nix
A scandal threatens a movie set when the lead actress falls into a deep sleep, and Jordan Harper is the only one who can solve this.
There wasn’t anything precisely disappointing about this, and while I didn’t find myself invested in the cast, the concept was powerful. I enjoyed the setting and the paranormal aspect, and it does feel very fleshed out, but it still ranks very low against the rest of the collection.
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