Review: “Foreshadow: Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading and Writing YA” by Emily X. R. Pan and Nova Ren Suma

Release Date: October 20, 2020
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Genre: Anthologies, Young Adult

Description

“Created by New York Times bestselling authors Emily X. R. Pan and Nova Ren Suma, Foreshadow is so much more than a short story collection. A trove of unforgettable fiction makes up the beating heart of this book, and the accompanying essays offer an ode to young adult literature, as well as practical advice to writers.

Featured in print for the first time, the thirteen stories anthologized here were originally released via the buzzed-about online platform Foreshadow. Ranging from contemporary romance to mind-bending fantasy, the Foreshadow stories showcase underrepresented voices and highlight the beauty and power of YA fiction. Each piece is selected and introduced by a YA luminary, among them Gayle Forman, Laurie Halse Anderson, Jason Reynolds, and Sabaa Tahir.

What makes these memorable stories tick? What sparked them? How do authors build a world or refine a voice or weave in that deliciously creepy atmosphere to bring their writing to the next level? Addressing these questions and many more are essays and discussions on craft and process by Nova Ren Suma and Emily X. R. Pan.

This unique compilation reveals and celebrates the magic of reading and writing for young adults.”

My Thoughts

ForeshadowStories-cover

Of the stories in the anthology, I’d already read “Risk” by Rachel Hylton, “Escape” by Tanvi Berwah, and “Monsters” by Adriana Marachlian on the FORESHADOW website. The first two of which I thought were so striking that I featured them in my monthly short fiction spotlight at Tor.com. Several other stories published online that I read last year didn’t make it into the printed anthology, so reading the book gave me the opportunity to check in on some I missed. Of those, there were two that particularly stood out.

“Flight,” the story by Tanya Aydelott that opens the anthology, expands over the course of a young woman’s childhood. She watches her mother become new versions of herself, sometimes to please men and sometimes to try and please herself, but always hiding her true self away. That fear and trauma passes down to her daughter in unexpected ways. It’s a story that feels delicate yet dense, like a memory once thought to be funny that upon reflection becomes dark and ominous. Beautiful in its breadth and depth and heartbreaking at the same time. Just gorgeous.

“Sweetmeats” by Linda Cheng is exactly the kind of horror story I would’ve loved as a teen. It’s vicious and bloody and unforgiving in its feminism. Two best friends, Mei and Marlie, are captured by a witch and taken to her candy house deep in the woods. They escape (or are let go?) and return to their normal lives, but nothing seems to fit anymore. Everything they once settled for they now rebel against. They have seen too much of the world to fit neatly into the tiny boxes they used to occupy. I won’t spoil the ending, but suffice it to say that when the girls become their new true selves, it is spectacularly violent. I want to read everything Linda Cheng has ever written.

Besides the stories, all the extras are great for young writers exploring the craft. There are writing prompts and guides, detailed discussions about the stories, all kinds of helpful and well thought out additions. This is a great collection for a school or classroom library especially, and would make a particularly useful gift for teens interested in writing.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy.

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