A PHOENIX FIRST MUST BURN by Patrice Caldwell
Kirkus Star

A PHOENIX FIRST MUST BURN

Sixteen Stories of Black Girl Magic, Resistance, and Hope
edited by
Age Range: 14 & up
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Sixteen #ownvoices authors offer up fantasy and science fiction short stories centering black girls.

In her introduction, editor Caldwell extols the importance of representation and storytelling in black communities and asks “Where is my fantasy, my future? Why don’t Black people exist in speculative worlds?” The diverse contributors to this vibrant and varied collection include acclaimed YA authors such as Elizabeth Acevedo, Dhonielle Clayton, Justina Ireland, Rebecca Roanhorse, and Ibi Zoboi. Their stories run the gamut from lighthearted to intense. Some use fantastical or SF elements to explore relevant and timely issues such as colorism, violence against black communities, and abuse of minority groups. Multiple stories are delightfully queer. There’s the girl working as an alien interrogator on another planet who’s starting to think things might be more complicated than she realized in Amerie’s (editor: Because You Love To Hate Me, 2017, etc.) “When Life Hands You a Lemon Fruitbomb.” In Alaya Dawn Johnson’s (contributor: Three Sides of a Heart, 2017, etc.) “The Rules of the Land,” the daughter of a sea woman makes a deal with her powerful and enraged kin to save her people. All these well-spun tales are enjoyable and accessible to readers of any background. Magical and real, this collection lives up to its goal with stories as diverse as the black experience.

#BlackGirlMagic indeed. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: March 10th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-9848-3565-9
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2020