Book Review

A Phoenix First Must Burn: Stories of Black Girl Magic, Resistance and Hope Review

A Phoenix First Must Burn: Stories of Black Girl Magic, Resistance and Hope


Evoking Beyoncé’s Lemonade for a YA audience, these authors have woven worlds to create stunning narratives that centre Black women and gender nonconforming individuals.
With fantasy, science fiction and magic at their core, the stories are sharp, atmospheric and visual explorations of histories, relationships and alternate universes that you can’t help but to get lost in.
It will take you on a journey from folktales retold to futuristic societies and everything in between. Filled with stories of love and betrayal, strength and resistance, trauma and heroism, this collection contains an array of complex and true-to-life characters in which you cannot help but see yourself reflected. Witches and scientists, sisters and lovers, priestesses and rebels: the heroines of A PHOENIX FIRST MUST BURN are unforgettable and shine brightly.

Contributors:Elizabeth Acevdeo, Amerie, Patrice Caldwell, Dhonielle Clayton, Jalissa Corrie, Somaiya Daud, Charlotte David, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Danielle Paige, Rebecca Roanhorse, Karen Strong, Ashley Woodfolk, and Ibi Zoboi

My Review

Perfection in 16 short stories and 337 pages.

I could do with reading about 1500 more books like this one, and that would only be the start.

I preordered this in the UK and then like about 98% of my Preorders,  it went on the shelf to be read, someday, somehow, at some point…Well luckily for me though it was on a shelf where it was in my eyesight every day most of the day.

I can’t handle that kind of temptation, so, I picked it up and fell in love.

I don’t know about you all, but I actually tend to read anthologies at a slower rate than I would read books, I want to ‘digest’ each short story, they’re giving us so much in so few pages that I want to make sure I have really read and thought upon it.

That being said, I still binge read the like last four stories, so sue me.

What I loved most of this was the range and diversity of the stories within this book, we have romance, cautionary, revolutionary, queer [incl. nonbinary], scifi, fantasy, urban fantasy, vampire amazingness….I could keep going, but this is to give you an idea of what sort of stories you’ll come across.

Btw, I think I need probably at least half of these as Netflix series or their own seven-book series.

I actually want to say that if I had to pick favourites I would have given 14/16 like 5 stars and the other two 4 stars.

There was so much hope, love, and truths from family to relationships, prejudices and revolution as stated earlier in my small list of what you’ll get in reading this.

If you’re a fan of SFF and like short stories, I would, HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend this, especially if you’re trying to diverse your shelf, this is a perfect book to add to it.

Also, as I stated, it’s perfection, so it’s a perfect book for your shelf regardless.

Too often we focus on wanting to categorize books by Black Authors into boxes, not letting them have their rightful place in Scifi or Fantasy realms, shortchanging them constantly from getting published at all, to paying them, to marketing.

Luckily the last few days have shown some true attempt to change this systematic oppression, giving us a new wave of Civil Rights, that if we keep up the diligence, should truly change the corrupt system from government to publishing. This book was written in min to lift up Black Girls, to give them stories that many of us had always had on shelves. Scifi, fantasy, Black Girl Magic, for those who for too long only saw their faces on stories used as teaching devices about history, and even then, glossing them over. Patrice Caldwell gives a beautiful introduction on this.

5/5 Cups of Coffee from me, please add it to your shelves if you get the chance.

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