A. E. Reads: A Phoenix First Must Burn [Book Review]

Hello everyone, A. E. here!

Today’s A. E. Reads post is on an YA anthology, A Phoenix Must First Burn, edited by Patrice Caldwell. A Phoenix Must First Burn features speculative fiction with young black girls as main characters focused at the center of all kinds of stories. For this A. E. Reads, I’ll review my three favorite stories out of the book.

My first favorite story is Melie by Justina Ireland. After reading this, I looked up her other works that I want to read, such as Dread Nation and Ophie’s Ghosts. So expect to see an A. E. Read’s post on these eventually. As for Melie, one of the reasons I enjoyed this story for how smooth of a read it was.

I also really liked that Melie was described as “too fat, with brown skin and thick curly hair.” Not to mention her description came by not looking into a mirror and describing herself. As for the story, it was a sweet small fantasy story featuring magic, sorcerers, mermaids and dragons. I really don’t need anything else!

Next one that was my favorite of this anthology is Letting the Right One In by Patrice Caldwell, who was also the editor of this book, and I ended up really enjoying her story within it. First, I loved the title reference to a Swedish vampire novel, that while I didn’t read the novel, I did watch the 2008 movie adaptation that I loved.

Letting the Right One In deals with dysfunctional families, mental health, vampires and queerness in a fun interesting way. The main character Ayanna prefers to read books than to talk to people and I can really relate to that!

And lastly, my favorite story was The Actress by Danielle Paige. After reading this story, I knew I had to read her other works, such as Promise of Shadows, Dorothy Must Die and Stealing Snow. One day all three of these will have their appearance as an A. E. Read’s post.

The Actress was a kind of meta read in which the characters are actors playing mystical characters on a TV while actually being said mystical characters in real life. Imagine if Buffy the Vampire Slayer was acting as a vampire slayer while Sarah Michelle Gellar was actually a vampire slayer in real life. It was very funny and had a surprising twist that I highly enjoyed.

Reading A Phoenix First Must Burn was a great way to kick-start myself into reading again and to start up the A. E. Reads posts once more. I really enjoyed these three stories and their authors. They were all engaging, funny, smart and featuring black girls as main characters. I highly recommend this book, these stories and the authors.

Hey Readers! If you liked this A. E. Reads post, why not read my other posts here on my author website? Try out any of my past A. E. Reads posts to see my book recommendations. My previous post I’m Back and my next post continues my series on World-Building: Time. If you want to keep up with my posts, consider following and get an email direct to your inbox each time I post! Hope to see you there!

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