I like short story collections. I like having a sample of several different authors in one volume. A Thousand Beginnings and Endings includes fifteen short stories by various authors that reimagine myths and folklore from East and South Asian cultures. There are stories from India, China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam, and more. It’s a beautiful collection, both inside and out, and each story is paired with a short note from the author about the original story they used and some of the changes they made. Here’s what I thought of each individual story.
“Forbidden Fruit” by Roshani Chokshi: This story was absolutely beautiful. And devastating. The details were breathtaking and the ending just hits your right in the feels.
“Olivia’s Table” by Alyssa Wong: This story was intriguing and one of my favorites from the collection. The details of the food, the ghosts, and the main character’s memories truly brought this tale to life in a magical way.
“Steel Skin” by Lori M. Lee: I had a hard time connecting with the main character of this one, but I loved the details of the futuristic world. This story also has an amazing plot twist, which boosted my opinion of it.
“Still Star-Crossed” by Sona Charaipotra: I didn’t want this short story to end. I wish it could be a whole novel because I would gobble up all those details and beautiful writing.
“The Counting of Vermilion Beads” by Aliette De Bodard: For me, this story lacked an emotional connection and I didn’t care much for the main character. But I loved the emphasis on the sister relationship. After reading about the original myth, I definitely appreciated what the author did with this one.
“The Land of the Morning Calm” by E.C. Myers: This story was very moving. I loved the details and concept of the online game hosting actual souls. Plus, the ending was perfect. One of my favorites from the collection.
“The Smile” by Aisha Saeed: The writing in this story was stunning, but as a whole, it felt a bit short. I would have liked a longer narrative and more connection with the characters.
“Girls Who Twirl and Other Dangers” by Preeti Chhibber: The details of this story were amazing, but I couldn’t connect to the characters or plot. While I understood the whole “out for revenge” part was supposed to be fun, it left a bad taste in the experience. I didn’t think the sections about the actual gods added anything to the story. This was probably one of my least favorites, but it was still well-written and a good story.
“Nothing Into All” by Renee Adhieh: This one was too short for me. I want more to the story. I liked the spin she took with the original myth, though.
“Spear Carrier” by Rahul Kanakia: At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of this story. But it’s full of philosophy and weird aliens and cool references, which was fun. Plus, it made me think.
“Code of Honor” by Melissa De La Cruz: I wasn’t too keen about this one because it came across predictable and cliche (even if it does connect to her vampire series). But I like the spin on a vampire from a different folklore.
“Bullet, Butterfly” by Elsie Chapman: This was one of my favorites from the collection, if not the favorite. The details of the world were atmospheric and the love story was tragic and beautiful. And that ending! Wow.
“Daughter of the Sun” by Shveta Thakrar: This story felt too long and too easy. I couldn’t follow it completely, but the writing was phenomenal.
“The Crimson Cloak” by Cindy Pon: Another least favorite in the collection. I thought the main character was annoying and I couldn’t connect to the story.
“Eyes Like Candlelight” by Julia Kagawa: I waited the whole book for a Japanese story, and this one did not disappoint. I love the fox legend and just the beautiful details of this story.
Overall, A Thousand Beginnings and Endings is the perfect short story collection to dip your toes into East and South Asian myths. I loved this collection, and I am so glad Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman made this happen!
~I checked out a copy of A Thousand Beginnings and Endings from my local library and chose to write this review out of my own free will. All opinions are my own.~