Arc was given by St. Martin’s Press & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This review is being published before the release date (February 15th 2022)
Maybe we really should reclaim the stars! Friends, if you know me then you know I always get nervous reading anything that’s sci-fi, but oh, this anthology was a pleasant surprise. I always feel like I’m such a hard reviewer on sci-fi reads, but I really enjoyed my time within these pages and have found myself daydreaming about galaxies far, far away.
I’ll be honest, there were so many stories I fell in love with during my time reading. Trying to choose just one feels like an impossible choice. However, I think my two favorites were The First Day of Us by David Bowles and Tame the Wicked Night by Zoraida Cordova. Though there were many other stories in this anthology I deeply loved, these two in particular had me clutching my pearls. Maybe it was the romance or maybe the spark of the characters, but I just really loved these two stories best.
As always for my anthology reviews, I have mini reviews for all the short stories where I talk about my thoughts, feelings, and include content/trigger warnings.
➼ Reign of Diamonds by Anna-Marie McLemore ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk of death, violence, wounds
I won’t lie, I was pretty excited that this was the first story we get to read upon first starting. I’ve really enjoyed Anna-Marie McLemore’s work in the past and seeing their name on the list of authors had me really hyped up about this book. With that being said, this story didn’t disappoint. As always, McLemore writes characters that are so beautifully layered and contain multitudes that you can’t help loving the story, no matter how emotional it gets. I’m not saying I got soft and sappy over these two princesses, but they have my whole heart. And I lowkey wish this story got made into it’s own book.
“There was something heartbreaking at that moment, the two of us staring like that.”
➼ Flecha by Daniel José Older ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Content/Trigger Warnings: Mentions of a plague (Silent Cough), grief, loss of a loved one, mentions of genocide
This story had me absolutely sobbing, ugly crying everywhere. Maybe its due to some of the themes within this story or maybe it was due to how vivid the emotions emanated from these pages. Truly, this is one of those stories that stand out to me the most because of the impact it had. I really loved this and I can’t wait to see what other stories this author has written for us, the reader, to discover.
“I’ll become that arrow of Ochosi, launched for divine justice – sacred, razor sharp, unforgiving.”
➼ The First Day of Us by David Bowles ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Content/Trigger Warnings: Loss of a loved one, grief
Did I fall madly in love with this story because of a polyamorous relationship? Yes, yes I did and I don’t care who knows it! Truly, I wish there were more short stories, more stories in general, out there that normalize polyamorous relationships. I think this story was so well-done, so beautifully handled, and I loved the way how the feelings between each character manifested. Honestly, I wish this had it’s own book because I loved it so much and I feel that there’s so much more to discover about this world, these characters, and I just have a mighty need to know more about everything that was this short story.
➼ The Tin Man by Lilliam Rivera ⭐⭐⭐
Content/Trigger Warnings: Pandemic, natural disaster, grief, loss of loved ones
This wasn’t a bad short story, but this story hit my emotions so hard that I thought I was going to have to skip it entirely. You follow the perspective of a child, potentially young teenager, who’s not only trying to survive, but is coming to terms with the loss of their family. This story is beautifully written, easily to get emotional over, and a main character you want to see have the happy ending they deserve. The reason why I gave it three stars is just due to the fact that it caused me to go into a sensory overload and after that, it was very hard to maintain a lot of the details.
➼ This Is Our Manifesto by Mark Oshiro ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk of incarceration, mentions of death, brief mentions of police brutality
Another story that had me wrapped up in my feelings. Our story follows a character named Ramona coming across a manifesto. In this manifesto, we learn about these planets that holds those who’ve been incarcerated and the horrible treatment they’ve had to endure. This story hit close to home and left me weak in the knees. When I say the world melted away and there was only this story, I say it with my whole chest. Mark Oshiro has such a beautiful talent for taking serious topics that happen in the real world and manifesting it in literature, in such a poetic, emotional piece that leaves you with countless thoughts and feelings. And the way this story ends on a strong note, but also a kiss (yes, a literal kiss) is truly the icing on the cake.
“There is one thing we – the abandoned, the diminished, the harmed, the forgotten – want you to know. We will dismantle them all. And when we do, we are coming home.”
➼ Creatures of Kings by Circe Moskowitz ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Content/Trigger Warnings: Death, talk of death, mentions of cancer, scene of homocide
This is the first short story in this anthology that had me really questioning how I felt about this story. And I have to admit, I’m a little bias towards stories that involve gods of death, grim reapers, etc… I just really enjoy those type of stories, like a lot. However, I felt a lot of confliction with this story due to the mother in this book. Our story follows an mc who can’t die and whose mother refuses to tell her the truth. I was really curious to see how this story was going to unfold. Honestly, I know why the mother acts the way she does, but I really didn’t like her and her behavior (no matter the circumstance) just painted her as a terrible person/neglectful parent. That aside, I did enjoy the story and I was invested to see how everything would unfold. However, I still have many questions and I’m still asking myself what the hell did I just read.
➼ Eterno by J. C. Cervantes ⭐⭐⭐
Content/Trigger Warnings: Death, hospitalization, car crash, mentions of terminal illness, manipulation
Much like the story before this one, I was very conflicted on my thoughts of how I felt with this story. Again, this is another story that involves gods of death or grim reapers except this time they’re called eterno and things are anything but peaceful. Also, this short story is told in then and now flashes. Ultimately, I liked the story, but at times it felt like it was a lot of information to keep track of between flashbacks. Like, I was INVESTED in the mc and their romance! And then… it hit a point where my brain dumped all the information, my eyes glazed over, and my brain just goes, “Yup… Nope. Can’t keep up with this.”
➼ White Water, Blue Ocean by Linda-Raquel-Nieves-Pérez ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Content/Trigger Warnings: Dead naming, misgendering
Okay, the concept of this story had me clutching my blanket because it was so good! A curse has been placed upon the Garcia family by an ocean goddess, making them unable to lie without emanating a terrible smell. We follow Gabriel, a non-binary teen returning to their family, who refuses to accept them for who they are. I was completely captivated by the whole element of everyone in this family being unable to lie. What I think I loved most about this story was the subtle bond between Gabriel and their father. It’s not a main focal point of this story, its very subtle, but its there and those moments were very wholesome. And the way Gabriel constantly keeps coming back to the ocean, their love for it radiating through the pages so much. It fills my heart with a lot of warmth.
➼ Leyenda by Romina Garber ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Content/Trigger Warnings: Sexism
I want to state that I’m not fully sure if this short story has any relation to Lobizona, but there did seem to be hits towards it in some of the parts of this short story and it is set in the same world. So if you haven’t read Lobizona yet then you might want to skip this short story. Let’s talk water witches! Yes, the mc of this story is indeed a water witch. She is a force to be reckoned with and I absolutely adored her. She has no problem standing up for what she believes in, but when she does, there are those who are very displeased with her. I always enjoy the characters that Romina creates and the abilities given to those characters are always fascinating to watch unfold. If I’m being honest, anything Romina writes, I feel invested in. I wish we got the chance to see more of Zaybet and their story especially with the way this story concludes. I’m so invested and I need more!
➼ Color-Coded by Maya Montayne ⭐⭐⭐
Content/Trigger Warnings: Abandonment
I was really interested in premise of this short story. In this world, when women hit puberty, they start to develop a magical abilities. Some ladies develop the power of flight, someone may set things on fire, or even obtain abilities relating to plants or creatures. However, our MC is terrified of this happening to her after having a terrible experience with a loved one. Honestly, I was really excited to see where this story would go. I think the premise of getting magical abilities when you reach maturity/puberty is a really interesting element to loop in. However, I wasn’t in love with this story. It feel like some things were missing and personally, I just didn’t like the MC. The MC spent large portions of this story whining, throwing fits, and due to that, it felt like a lot of excitement I had about the story ended up dying down a lot. And it doesn’t help that the MC’s mindset doesn’t start to change until near the end of this story.
➼ Magical Offerings by Nina Moreno ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Content/Trigger Warnings: Displacement
I was pleasantly surprised and caught off guard by this story. This is story of a girl coming to terms with who she is, what her abilities are, and finding out the place you can call home has been right there all along. Honestly, I was really surprised on how much I enjoyed reading this. The atmosphere as it starts to build to the climax of this story was just chef’s kiss. I think the part I loved the most was watching the MC truly discover who they were and what they were capable of. Seeing the MC come to terms with that and how happy they felt was just one of the best elements of this story.
➼ Rogue Enchantments by Isabel Ibañez ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Content/Trigger Warnings: Loss of a loved one, harassment
I’m so hyped to read more from this author! I loved so many elements about this book, the atmosphere, the brief mention of dragons, just so many things I fell in love with in this story. Our story follows an MC who just took over her abuelita’s stall to sell magical brushes and paints. However, since the start of their first day, things seem to be quite amiss from what they originally thought. With sabotage a foot, our MC has to get crafty to seek out the truth and put a stop to all of the harassment. Again, I loved this. It’s a very atmospheric read and I constantly wondered if the MC was going to get the justice they deserve.
➼ Sumaiko Y La Sirena by Vita Ayala ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Content/Trigger Warnings: Mentions of slavery, loss of a loved one, hostage situation, manipulation, brief depictions of blood, death, murder
Who doesn’t love a good story about sirens? This story is sure to deliver a love story you won’t forget! This story was so sad, but so beautiful. And this is the first time I’ve seen sirens told in this way. I won’t spoil it for you, but it was really good, enough to make me go, “Damn! The plot thickens!” This stories follows our MC who once was a siren, but has been stranded on land. When one night, after singing to the ocean, another siren reveals themselves. But, after the MC’s father passes away, terrible things will begin to happen. This was such a captivating story. The atmosphere is so good with setting the tone especially in the more climatic scenes. However, I adored the connection between our MC and the siren she becomes close with. I loved the way their friendship built and way it slowly blossomed into something more.
“It is said that on clear nights, two glowing shapes shapes can be seen frolicking in its water, the laughing sound of their joyous song carried for miles on the wind.”
➼ River People by Yamile Saied Méndez ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Content/Trigger Warnings: Loss of parents (in the past), grief
What an atmospheric read! I can’t decide what I enjoyed more; watching the story as a whole unfold or the MC blowing me out of the water. Truly, this was a really good read. We follow an MC who can talk to ghosts and not only ghosts, but can speak with the river god of the Paraná River. This gift comes in handy when one day the river god tells the MC that her older brother is in terrible danger. Thus, our heroic MC does everything she can to save her brother before it becomes too late. This was a really good short story. I was so sad when the story finally ended because I wanted more. This was such an easy story to get caught up in because the pacing starts of slow, but once the pace picks up, you’re just along for the ride and the ride is fantastic!
➼ Moonglow by Sara Faring ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Content/Trigger Warnings: Mentions of sex, illness, abortion, abuse, physical violence
Let me just say that this story… this story was a wild ride and I’m still asking myself what the hell I read. I don’t know if I walked away from this story shell-shocked or in the midst of processing everything, but I sure wasn’t expecting the story to unfold that way it did. One of the key elements of this story is it’s told in diary entries which adds a bit of ominous atmosphere and leaves us, the reader, wondering what the next entry will hold. We follow an MC who talks about about her love and the things happening within her household, from the mischievous to the more unfortunate events. I was hooked, hanging off the edge of me seat waiting to know how this story was going to conclude. Though I haven’t read anything by this author before, this honestly has me excited to look into more of their writings.
➼ Killing El Chivo by Claribel A. Orlega ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Content/Trigger Warnings: Mentions of loss of parents, brief mentions of starvation, mentions of abandonment, depictions of blood, death
Okay, this should come as no surprise by how much I adored this story. How each word had me hanging by a thread, wondering what was to come next. I love the way Orlega writes; the way she creates worlds and characters always has me excited. Okay, so maybe I was a little bias going into this, but truly, at the core of it, I do enjoy the stories this author writes. We follow an MC who is learning magic to help assist the remaining people of this world stop El Chivo. Many people have already left or have died, but our MC with her sister and aunt have devised a plan on how to put an end to all the tragedy that has been plaguing their homeland. I was fully captivated by this story and maybe it was how quickly the pace picked up, but oh, I couldn’t consume this story fast enough. I think my favorite part had to be the way it concluded. The ending just felt so powerful and after day of finishing this anthology, I still think about this ending relentlessly.
➼ Tame the Wicked Night by Zoraida Córdova ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Content/Trigger Warnings: Minor war themes
Have I maybe, kind of, sort of fallen in love with this story because a mortal falls in love with a fallen goddess? – Yes, yes I have and I have zero regrets about this! I think I just loved everything about this story. From the MC who’s been gifted an ability with plants to the way the relationship blooms, thinking back on reading this story, I don’t have a single complaint. With my whole chest, I adored this story. We follow an MC who refuses to marry and choose to stay true to himself, and so he’s sent into the mountains to tame The Night. The Night is said to be a fierce beasts that takes no prisoners, and anyone who dare enter the mountain never returns. Yet what our MC finds is so much more than what they could have expected. And there’s a goat. A very charming, quirky goat with his own little attitude and little chime ins! I know I’ve said it a lot, but I really loved this short story and this is probably my first piece by this author that I’ve had the pleasure of reading. This has me excited to see what other pieces this author has created.
I gave Reclaim the Stars: 17 Tales Across Realms & Space four stars overall, because out of the possible 85 stars (5 stars being possible for all 17 stories) this anthology accumulated 71 stars (83%)!
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.