Thursday, October 5, 2017

Historical Heroines • A Tyranny of Petticoats

Allow me to preface this review by telling you that I don't read a lot of short story collections. While I've always admired the folks who manage to condense a story into such a short format (as my stories tend to go on and on and work best as longer fic or series), I just find that it's very difficult to entice me into reading short story collections. There are clearly exceptions to this rule, however, and A Tyranny of Petticoats is one such exception. I was immediately interested in the idea of a series of stories set in a variety of historical time periods that were about a variety of heroines, and it was a no brainer for me to snap up a copy of this one. 

I'm really glad I ended up reading A Tyranny of Petticoats. While I didn't necessarily love every single story, I definitely appreciated the variety in settings, characters and writing style. I learned new things about cultures and time periods that I might not necessarily have known about before; I also came away with some great new heroines that I rooted for and truly cared about. In general, it's a pretty solid collection - though I was admittedly a bit discomfited by the fact that these stories are really only about a particular moment in a character's life and that some of these tales had a surprising fantastical element to them. (Yep, there were hints of fantasy here and there, folks.) I'm pretty pleased with the collection overall, and I'm glad it has a place on my bookshelf. (I'm also quite looking forward to the next collection The Radical Element.) 

If you're interested in my thoughts on each particular story, there are brief impressions listed below.

  • Mother Carey's Table - This little tale gave me very strong Pirates of the Caribbean vibes, and since I'm a fan of the franchise, that appealed to me. I took a while to make sense of the events, and it ends abruptly, but it was definitely an interesting way to dive in to this collection. 
  • The Great Land - I was instantly fascinated by the culture and the setting (and got some Avatar: The Last Airbender vibes, but only very vaguely). It was a fun combination of magic and reality, and I think it resolved a little better than the previous story.
  • Madeleine's Choice - I must confess, first of all, to not being quite as familiar with the nuances of this era in New Orleans history. But this was a fascinating thing to read, and the sweet romance in it was just my cup of tea.
  • El Destinos - This is one of my favorite stories in this entire collection! The author does a very impressive job of tying together the idea of the Three Fates with Mexican culture in Texas, effectively rendering a tale both beautiful and compelling. (I also had very strong Josefina, of American Girl fame, vibes from this.)
  • The Red Raven Ball - Lizzie was totally a main character I could root for, especially because she decided to truly stand up for what she believed in. However, I was a little let down by the fact that it had a promising set-up but ended up being a little bit flat.
  • Pearls - This story gave me such strong Little House vibes, particularly reminding me of the book The Long Winter. I also admired Helen for her tenacity in pursuing a life that she wanted for herself, no matter what it took to get it.
  • Gold in the Roots of the Grass - It's always fascinating to see Chinese culture and how it would be a part of the Old West, since I've always had a primarily American impression of that because of the films I've seen. I also think this is one of the few tales that felt like a complete story, as opposed to just a snippet of one.
  • The Legendary Garrett Girls - I would happily read an entire novel about these two sisters! It was another of my favorites from the collection, since it was cheeky, compelling and altogether a very fun read with a very satisfying ending too.
  • The Color of the Sky - I really liked this story as well, as it had an interesting premise and historical figure in it (who I hadn't known about before, but now want to find out more about for myself). I like that it definitely ended on a hopeful note that made me feel warm and fuzzy.
  • Bonnie and Clyde - I was so amused by this story. I'm always in when it comes to stories about cross-dressing girls who take their destiny into their own hands, and the main character of this one is so great! I had so much fun reading her story.
  • Hard Times - I got very strong Boxcar Children vibes from this one. It's heartbreaking, but it does end on the promise of a hopeful future, which is always a nice thing.
  • City of Angels - I've not really encountered too many stories about riveters and the efforts of women during the war, so this was an interesting read! I like that apart from learning more about the time period, I also got to read about a character who grew into herself.
  • Pulse of the Panthers - It's really quite fascinating to encounter a tale about a moment when someone finds themselves set alight by one chance encounter. It could mean a change in perspective, a change in goals, or some other kind of change, but no matter what it is, it's usually interesting.
  • The Whole World is Watching - This title though. Ahem. It's the most intense and terrifying of these stories, and it's likely because it's still relevant to a lot of things happening in the world today. I thought it was solidly written and a powerful choice to end with.


A Tyranny of Petticoats edited by Jessica Spotswood
with stories by Jessica Spotswood, J. Anderson Coats, Andrea Cremer, Y.S. Lee, Katherine Longshore, Marie Lu, Kekla Magoon, Marissa Meyer, Saundra Mitchell, Beth Revise, Caroline Tung Richmond, Lindsay Smith, Robin Talley, Leslye Walton, Elizabeth Wein
Series: A Tyranny of Petticoats #1
Publisher: Candlewick Press | Publication Date: March 8, 2016
Source: Bought the hardcover


Can you believe we're on our ninth read for the Picky Pledge Reading Challenge? It's awesome, but also, this year is just flying by. As always, Hannah and I will be answering a couple of questions alongside our reviews.

1) How long has this book been on your TBR? I added this book to my list in October of 2015, and acquired the actual book in March 2016. So, yeah, this has been languishing on there for a while... I'm glad I finally read it!

2) Why did you want to pre-order this book? Two reasons, really. First, the concept sounded utterly fascinating to me. Second, there was a cool preorder incentive!

3) Did you get any pre-order goodies? Yes! There was a pre-order print that had a few of the characters, and my book came in signed by some of the authors.

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