Mini #YA #Fantasy #BookReviews | Reclaim the Stars by Latinx authors and Bright Ruined Things by Samantha Cohoe

Bright Ruined Things by Samantha Cohoe

Forbidden magic, a family secret, and a night to reveal it all… The only life Mae has ever known is on the island, living on the charity of the wealthy Prosper family who control the island’s magic and its spirits. Mae longs for magic of her own and to have a place among the Prosper family, where her best friend, Coco, will see her as an equal, and her crush, Miles, will finally see her. But tonight is First Night, when the Prospers and their high-society friends celebrate the night Lord Prosper first harnessed the island’s magic and started producing aether – a magical fuel source that has revolutionized the world. With everyone returning to the island, Mae finally has the chance to go after what she’s always wanted. When the spirits start inexplicably dying, Mae realizes that things aren’t what they seem. And Ivo, the reclusive, mysterious heir to the Prosper magic, may hold all the answers – including a secret about Mae’s past. As Mae and her friends unravel the mysteries of the island, and the Prospers’ magic, Mae starts to question the truth of what her world was built on. In this YA fantasy, Samantha Cohoe wonderfully mixes magic and an atmospheric setting into a fantastically immersive world, with characters you won’t be able to forget..

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Bright Ruined Things by Samantha Cohoe is a Shakespearean-inspired tale for the modern YA reader. Told by Mae, a ward of the Prosper family patriarch, this tale is full of magic, spirits, greed, unrequited love, and tragedy. I enjoyed the setting inspired by The Tempest and all the other aspects that are very in keeping with the intent of Shakespeare’s plays which was to entertain the masses and allow them to see traits reflected exaggeratedly. The only character I felt sympathy for is Ivo, one of the many Prosper grandchildren. Even though Mae did not want to admit it, he is truly a tragic hero. He was caught up in a world that he disapproved of but felt powerless to change until the stakes became too high, and he could no longer look the other way. The other characters tend to be vain and selfish and the perfect foil to make Ivo’s actions stand out for his heroism. The first-person narration pulls you into this atmospheric tale and keeps the tension high and the story very personal, but I wish I could more easily tell that it is set in the 1920s. There is very little in the story that reflects the period. If you are looking for a different kind of YA Fantasy, Bright Ruined Things is just the book you are looking forward to as your next read.

I think this famous quote from The Tempest sums up Bright Ruined Things perfectly:

“Our revels now are ended. These our actors, 

As I foretold you, were all spirits and 

Are melted into air, into thin air: 

And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, 

The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces, 

The solemn temples, the great globe itself, 

Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve 

And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, 

Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff 

As dreams are made on, and our little life 

Is rounded with a sleep.” 

― William Shakespeare, The Tempest

Reclaim the Stars by various Latinx Authors (short stories)

One of Bustle’s Most Anticipated Books of 2022. From stories that take you to the stars, to stories that span into other times and realms, to stories set in the magical now, Reclaim the Stars takes the Latin American diaspora to places fantastical and out of this world. Follow princesses warring in space, haunting ghost stories in Argentina, mermaids off the coast of the Caribbean, swamps that whisper secrets, and many more realms explored and unexplored; this stunning collection of seventeen short stories breaks borders and realms to prove that stories are truly universal. Reclaim the Stars features both bestselling and acclaimed authors as well as two new voices in the genres: Vita Ayala, David Bowles, J.C. Cervantes, Zoraida Córdova, Sara Faring, Romina Garber, Isabel Ibañez, Anna-Marie McLemore, Yamile Saied Méndez, Nina Moreno, Circe Moskowitz, Maya Motayne, Linda Raquel Nieves Pérez, Daniel José Older, Claribel A. Ortega, Mark Oshiro and Lilliam Rivera.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Reclaim the Stars is a book containing seventeen Science Fiction and Fantasy short stories by Latinx authors representing Latin America diaspora and includes stories full of sexual diversity, Latinx culture, lore, and unique magic systems. I enjoyed the fantasy stories a bit more than the science fiction ones, but that might be because I love magic systems, especially ones that are unique to me. 

I noted three standouts, in particular, that left me wanting an entire novel based in the fictional world: Color-Coded by Maya Montayne, Rogue Enchantments by Isabel Ibañez, and Tame the Wicked Night by Zoraida Córdova (who is the editor of this anthology). The magic system in Color-Coded is a world where the hair of females changes color when they become of age (usually around 16). That color represents their particular magic, which also develops at that point. Rogue Enchantments reminded me, in minimal parts, of the movie Encanto, which I adored, and the magic system is very individualized and seems to rely on encantos (or spells/charms). Lastly, Tamed the Wicked Night reminded me (and perhaps is) of a retelling of a folklore story with gods and goddesses and a love-conquers-all theme.

Just as these three were standouts for me, the wide range of tales truly has something for everyone, such as space battles, different reflections on death and the meaning of life, following your path, and even a few reflections on environmental concerns. If this appeals to you, then this collection is one you won’t want to miss.

10 Replies to “Mini #YA #Fantasy #BookReviews | Reclaim the Stars by Latinx authors and Bright Ruined Things by Samantha Cohoe”

  1. I normally stay away from anthologies as I never seem to finish them, but I will look up the three authors you mentioned and give some of their work a try.

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  2. What a cool plot idea with Color-Coded. Anthologies are usually a mixed bag and it sounds like Reclaim the Stars kind of falls into that category.

    You know I’m not a huge fan of YA, but Bright Ruined Things had intrigued me. It’s a shame the time period isn’t more obvious. That was one of the things that intrigued me most about it.

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    1. I’m not sure why Bright Ruined Things was even set in the 20s, since it didn’t seem to add to the story but 🤷🏻‍♀️. And Color-Coded has such an interesting magic system. Would definitely love to see more of that world.

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  3. Terrific reviews, Tessa. Bright Ruined Things sounds so good. I love that art deco look on the cover.

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  4. Excellent reviews. I agree with you about the time period for Bright Ruined Things. I didn’t realize it was the 1920s until I reread the description. There isn’t much to indicate to readers what the time period is and it nearly could have been set at any time.

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