I love anthologies. I love that I can curl up with a good story and be through start to finish in thirty minutes. The Phoenix Fiction Writers do anthologies really well. They are a collection of spec-fic writers who write mostly clean stories (I'm a member, but did not participate in this anthology due to extenuating circumstances) and tackle themes that most authors shy away from. This anthology, as its name suggests, centers around myths and magical beasts. I've given short reviews below, in no particular order. This anthology also crosses age and gender gaps, so if you are a fan of many different types of spec-fic stories, and enjoy everything from YA to NA to middle grade, you'll enjoy this collection of tales.
The Boy Who Listened by Kyle Robert Schultz - A delightful tale of a nonverbal autistic boy (allllll the feeeeeeeels), and the power of really listening and true friendship. It challenges the reader to rethink labels and how we judge people based on what they have to offer a society that isn't tailored to them. 5/5 stars. Absolutely loved this one.
Mistakes Were Made by Hannah Heath (I've reviewed her other works here and here) - A fantasy based on Mexican folklore. A college girl finds her deadline quickly approaching for an assignment, but a pesky Chupacabra messes up her plans. With the help of a friend, she manages to make her deadline before her homework is eaten. 3/5 stars. This wasn't really to my tastes, and differs a lot from previous works by this author, who I usually love.
The Gods of Troy by EB Dawson (I've reviewed her here) - a fascinating take on the aftermath of the battle of Troy, except in space. It tackles the subject of the cost of pride. 4/5 stars. Really unique, and I wished it had been longer. I really hope the author dives more into this setting.
H.E.R.O. by Beth Wangler - a provocative story that challenges the reader to face their fear and see the brokenness that lies beneath suffering. A truly powerful look at the good that can come from stepping out of ones comfort zone to come to the aid of others that are in trouble. 5/5 stars. A phenomenal read, that really challenged me personally. One of my favorites in this anthology.
The Eyes of the Barghest by JE Purrazzi (I've reviewed previous works here, here, and here) - a moving tale of two sisters and a monster, who isn't quite what it seems. It delves into processing grief in a powerful way. 5/5 stars, and another of my favorites in this anthology. It takes a hard look at how we view suffering in death, and how everyone processes grief differently.
The Unicorn Tamer by C. Scott Frank - a perplexing tale of cute furry creatures on a quest. I couldn't quite get a feel for this one, and skipped it after a few pages. 2/5 stars.
The Staff of Callewhyr by Deck Matthews (he is a new to me author, but has been reviewed on Booknest here) - an academic is sent on a journey that was supposed to be simple, but turns into a fantastical adventure with a battered soldier who has a secret. It addresses the difference between true understanding and just having mere knowledge. 4/5 stars, and intriguing enough to make me want to read more by this author.
Lamp of Silver by Grace Crandall - a pirate is trapped and forced to listen to a the tale of an old man, and not is all as it seems. A genie who isn't a genie helps with the discovery that death is a truth that can't be ignored. 3.5/5 stars for creativity and uniqueness.
Aura by Nate Philbrick (I've previously reviewed his middle grade book here) - complete with more adorableness that this author is known for, this story follows the tale of two young lovers - one with a gimp leg the other with tuberculosis - as they take on a dangerous mission to find a cure for their ailments. They encounter more than they expected. It touches on the price of true love and how the end doesn't always justify the means. 4/5 stars, with a touching ending and it has my favorite 'beast' out of them all.
Grab this anthology if you like eclectic spec-fic and deep themes of redemption.