Maiden, Mother, Crone: Fantastical Trans Femmes

Edited by Gwen Benaway. Bedside, $15 trade paper (120p) ISBN 978-1-988715-21-6
This wildly uneven but thematically focused anthology of 11 original short stories brings together a mix of new and experienced writers to explore the “many parallels between the lives of trans femmes and fantasy heroines.” Several pieces in the high-fantasy genre, such as Benaway’s heavy-handed “Mountain God” and Ellen Mellor’s comedic “Freeing the Bitch,” spend too much energy on building whole worlds with dense exposition, only to abandon them in favor of exploring their protagonists’ gender interactions. “Potion and Practices” by gwynception is one of several simplistic pieces dreaming of alternate realities where being trans is normalized and magic smooths the mechanics of transition. Nevertheless, some gems do emerge, including Lilah Sturges’s “Undoing Vampirism,” which works themes of outsider’s vision and the power of escaping the habit of self-denial into a punchy bit of horror, and Crystal Frasier’s “Perisher,” a tight tale about a gumshoe whose ghostly assistant comes from her pretransition time as a soldier. Benaway deserves credit for encouraging new writers to bring their identities into their artistic vision and for featuring their voices, though many of the stories are frustrating to read. This anthology offers trans readers opportunities to see themselves represented and cis readers to see trans characters centered as heroes; for some readers, that will be more than enough. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 08/09/2019
Release date: 10/01/2019
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror
Paperback - 152 pages - 978-1-7070-2205-2
Paperback - 152 pages - 978-1-0961-6615-3
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