Short story anthologies are always a mixed bag. However, Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft piqued my interest as it features stories about witches by several of my favourite YA authours. And while I’m not much of a fantasy, supernatural reader I thought this anthology would be a marvelous way to ease myself back into the genre.
Altogether, Toil & Trouble features various diverse and intriguing takes on what a “witch” truly is. The stories all feature strong heroines and I loved the positive representation of sisterhood and female relationships, both friendships and romantic ones. That being said, there were a few stories that truly stood out for me. The first one being, Beware of Girls with Crooked Mouths by Jessica Spotswood. I knew her from her Cahill Witch Chronicles series, and she brings it once again with this heartbreaking and emotionally powerful story, proving that stories about witches and sisters are truly her forte. Other favourites include Emery Lord’s The Gherin Girls which looks at one sister’s toxic romantic relationship and how it affects her family. I adored this one as it made me cry while also warming my heart plus it was just a wonderful story about sisters and sisterhood. And finally The Heart in Her Hands by Tess Sharpe was an incredible story as I appreciated the message of standing up for yourself and not giving up your love as a result of another person being “chosen” as your “soulmate”.
Readers coming into Toil & Trouble will appreciate the fact that the stories in this collection feature not only the stories and voices from various cultures but also includes a decent amount of positive LBTGQ+ representation. While not my favourite anthology, I would recommend Toil & Trouble as a perfect fall read to those looking for a collection of feminist, empowering and witchy stories.
Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.