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

Ed. by Patrice Caldwell. Viking, $18.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-984835-65-9
Lovers of Octavia Butler will find her spirit in this smoldering anthology of 16 short stories that center black female and gender nonconforming characters within fantasy and speculative fiction. Written by authors of varying backgrounds, including Elizabeth Acevedo, Justina Ireland, and Rebecca Roanhorse, the stories cover timely themes such as colorism, mental health, ancestry and tradition, and sexual and gender identity. Alaya Dawn Johnson’s folkloric “The Rules of the Land,” about the child of a sea entity and a human, considers bearing the weight of a parent’s decisions. Ibi Zoboi’s “Kiss the Sun” and Ashley Woodfolk’s “The Curse of Love” explore self-love and self-preservation amid sacrifice. Some are lighthearted, such as Ireland’s “Melie” and Danielle Paige’s “The Actress,” while others skew heavier, such as the editor’s “Letting the Right One In,” which calls upon queer black women to embrace and explore their identities. Caldwell writes in the introduction, “Black people have our pain, but our futures are limitless. Let us, together, embrace our power.” These stories do, exploring the beauty, bravery, fear, history, and empowerment of being black. Fiercely fantastical and achingly honest, this book delivers a more inclusive means of self-discovery. Ages 12–up. Agent: Pete Knapp, Park Literary. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 02/20/2020
Release date: 03/10/2020
Genre: Children's
Book - 978-1-9848-3566-6
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