One of the very best parts of my job here at Outland Entertainment is working on our anthologies. While I've co-edited several of them myself, I've also really enjoyed getting to work on anthologies that other editors have curated, including our current book on Kickstarter, To Root Somewhere Beautiful, edited by the amazing Lauren T. Davila. Despite the theme of nature's anger—and vengeance—against humanity for crimes against the planet, the collection comes through as warm and hopeful, and I can't wait for you all to read it!
In honor of this latest Kickstarter project, I wanted to highlight some other fantastic anthologies. Some of these are a little older, some have recently been released, and a few publish imminently (and I can't wait!).
Spoiler alert: I am a huge Arthurian Legend nerd. So when Swapna Krisha and Jenn Northington released this anthology that drew on—and transformed—Arthurian legend, I knew I was going to love it. Readers, I was not disappointed. Some of the tales stick very close to the source material, while others make it almost unrecognizable, but still hit that same core of emotion that the old legends capture. Divided into three sections—Once, Present, and Future—the anthology reimagines these old tales, set within the Arthurian time frame, recast in a modern AU, or thrust into a future where humanity still faces those same problems of temptation threatening to topple an age of wonder. The opening story by Ausma Zehanat Khan brings an Islamic Qadi, a jurist, to Camelot to judge whether Guenivere is indeed guilty of adultery. The reframing works beautifully, and sheds a deeper light—and a more personal tone—to how Camelot's downfall began. Nishi Shawl recasts the Lady of the Lake as a Ugandan sorceress with albinism, studying under an untamed Merlin in "I Being Young and Foolish." In the present day, Maria Dahvana Headley's "Mayday" reveals the fall of a modern Camelot through the items in an estate auction. The heart wrenching and beautiful "Jack and Brad and the Magician" by Anthony Rapp captures a modern Merlin through the eyes of a man watching his partner move steadily toward his death at a hospital. These are just some of the standouts—the whole collection is lovely, taken in small bites or all at once.
I picked up Girls of Might and Magic through a vendor at VirtuousCon, and I'm so glad I did! This indie collection from Diverse Books with Magic (which started as a Facebook group!) features stories from E. M. Lacey, Amanda Ross, Nicole Givens Kurtz, and more authors I encountered here for the first time. The collection isn't just about encountering supernatural powers, but of heroes finding the power within themselves. If you like coming of age YA tales, full of diverse protagonists, this is absolutely one you should pick up.
Given the number of awards this book has collected, Africa Rising hardly needs me to mention it! I had this on my TBR list since before its publication, and then I was super excited when the book club I'm in on Fable, led by Jaysen Headley, selected it as a monthly choice as well! This is a huge collection with 32 original stories by African authors and writers from the African diaspora. With both fantasy and science fiction tales inside, there are so many stories to love! (At this point, anything from these editors—Sheree Renée Thomas, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, and Zelda Knight—is on my do-not-miss list. They select excellent stories.)
I randomly discovered this title at the library, and I'm so glad I did! I knew a couple of the names before picking it up (Emery Lee and Sonora Reyes among them), but I've now added several writers to my watch list of people whose stories I love. While Transmogrify is absolutely a collection that focuses on trans and nonbinary characters (written by trans and nonbinary authors), part of what I love about the anthology is that the focus of the stories isn't just about identity. Some of them aren't about identity at all—except in the case of what it means to be a magical person in a world where magic is hidden, which does have some resonance! There's a lot of diversity here among the voices, and in the gender expressions and experiences of the characters, making this a really strong anthology, especially for YA fans.
I cannot express how excited I was about getting The Book of Witches after hearing Amal el Mohtar read just the first part of her short story, "John Hollowback and the Witch," at a Zoom reading months before its publication! The agony of waiting! But it is finally here, and it is excellent. Jonathan Strahan always produces strong anthologies (he's also behind The Book of Dragons), and this one features some truly great stories by awesome writers—P. Djèlí Clark, C. L. Clark, Andrea Stewart, Fonda Lee… the list just keeps going on! (Whittling down the names to drop here was practically impossible.) It's also a very hefty book, weighing in at nearly 500 pages with around two dozen stories, so get ready to sink in.
From the team that brought you Vampires Never Get Old comes a fresh new spin on mermaid tales! This book came out on Tuesday, so I haven't grabbed a copy yet, but I'm so excited to see what Zoraida Cordova and Natalie C. Parker put together! As in the previous collection, the YA stories in Mermaids Never Drown draw on different folktales and mythologies to create a diverse whole.
Our Shadows Have Claws, edited by Yamile Saled Mendez and Amparo Ortiz—who has a fantastic story of revenge in To Root Somewhere Beautiful—also hit bookstore shelves this month, and I'm looking forward to tracking it down! This monster collection is full of creature features by authors across the Latin American diaspora. Vampires, shapeshifters, ghosts, and brujas fill these tales that offer shivers, but also empowerment.
This one was recommended to me by @kelsybishop over at Outland's Instagram! (Follow us over there for more giveaways!) The Disney "Twisted Tale" series has played what-if with a lot of the traditional princess stories, and the short story anthology brings several of those authors together with smaller explorations. The Twisted Tales do tend toward creepy, making this a great release for the spooky season! Watch for it to appear on bookstore shelves October 3!
What are some of your favorite anthologies? Tell us here, or over on our social media! And don't forget to back To Root Somewhere Beautiful on Kickstarter.
-Alana Joli Abbott is the Editor in Chief at Outland and the co-editor of Where the Veil Is Thin, Bridge to Elsewhere, and Never Too Old to Save the World. She loves the power of a short story to say a lot with just a little.