ARC Review: A Universe of Wishes edited by Dhonielle Clayton

Title: A Universe of Wishes

Edited by: Dhonielle Clayton

Publisher: Random House Children’s Books

Genre: Fantasy Anthology

Content/Trigger Warnings: For a list of potential content and trigger warnings, check out this book’s page on BookTriggerWarnings.com

Rating: ★★★★

Book Links: Bookshop::TBD::B&N::Amazon::
Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis

From We Need Diverse Books, the organization behind Flying Lessons & Other Stories, comes a young adult fantasy short story collection featuring some of the best own-voices children’s authors, including New York Times bestselling authors Libba Bray (The Diviners), Victoria Schwab (A Darker Shade of Magic), Natalie C. Parker (Seafire), and many more. Edited by Dhonielle Clayton (The Belles).

In the fourth collaboration with We Need Diverse Books, fifteen award-winning and celebrated diverse authors deliver stories about a princess without need of a prince, a monster long misunderstood, memories that vanish with a spell, and voices that refuse to stay silent in the face of injustice. This powerful and inclusive collection contains a universe of wishes for a braver and more beautiful world.

AUTHORS INCLUDE: Samira Ahmed, Libba Bray, Dhonielle Clayton, Zoraida Córdova, Tessa Gratton, Kwame Mbalia, Anna-Marie McLemore, Tochi Onyebuchi, Mark Oshiro, Natalie C. Parker, Rebecca Roanhorse, Victoria Schwab, Tara Sim, Nic Stone, and a to-be-announced debut author/short-story contest winner.


Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free e-ARC in exchange for an honest review! All opinions contained within are my own.

I always find it difficult to rate and review anthologies. This is because I have such different experiences with all the short stories! Which makes sense as they’re all written by different authors, but it makes it hard to talk about with anything approaching coherence 😂 Still, none of the stories in this wonderfully crafted anthology got less than 3 stars from me, so this is a winner for me.

A Universe of Wishes is an anthology that brings together diverse voices and stories in YA fantasy. I can praise enough how beautifully inclusive this collection is! And every story that was included was absolutely magical. Like I said, I definitely enjoyed some more than others, but I ended up liking all of them. This was such an enjoyable reading experience because of how many different lives we get to witness.

Now, I don’t want to dive into each, individual story too much because A) we’d be here forever and B) I feel like I would spoil these short stories! But I will give a list of all the stories contained within this anthology and my personal star rating. I’ll talk about my two favorites, as well, and try my best not to give everything away!

  • A Universe of Wishes by Tara Sims: ⭐⭐⭐
  • The Silk Blade by Natalie C. Parker: ⭐⭐⭐
  • The Scarlet Woman by Libba Bray: ⭐⭐⭐ (I admittedly might have enjoyed this one more if I knew anything about the Gemma Doyle series)
  • Cristal y Ceniza by Anna-Marie McLemore: ⭐⭐⭐
  • Liberia by Kwame Mbalia: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • A Royal Affair by V.E. Schwab: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Takeback Tango by Rebecca Roanhorse: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Dream and Dare by Nic Stone: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Wish by Jenni Balch: ⭐⭐⭐
  • The Weight by Dhonielle Clayton: ⭐⭐⭐
  • Unmoor by Mark Oshiro: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Coldest Spot in the Universe by Samira Ahmed: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Beginning of Monsters by Tessa Gratton: ⭐⭐⭐
  • Longer Than the Threads of Time by Zoraida Córdova: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Habibi by Tochi Onyebuchi: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Now, as I mentioned, all the stories had something going for them, but I found two that rose above the rest for me. First was the story written by Kwame Mbalia, Liberia. This was the only story in the whole anthology that had me tearing up at the end, which is a feat for something so short! The story focuses around a crew of teenagers travelling from a dying Earth to a new colony among the stars. The main character is a botanist who is tasked with preserving crops that can then be planted on their new world. I don’t know why this touched me so deeply, but the passion and heart that the main character displays was beautifully written. It got into my heart and I know I’ll be thinking about that story for awhile.

The other story that’s going to stick with me for awhile is the last one in the anthology, Habibi by Tochi Onyebuchi. The set up for this story is that two young men behind bars somehow discover they can magically transport letters to each other… by eating them and pooping them out. It’s a strange premise for what becomes a heart-wrenching tale. One of the young men is in the prison in the United States after getting swept up in the gang life. The other is a Pakistani who was arrested during protests in the Gaza strip. Watching them tell each other about their lives, what led them to their current incarceration, and their dreams really hit me right in the soul. This was a gripping and touching story that is going to stay with me.

Final thoughts: Do you like YA fantasy? Do you like short stories? Then I think you would enjoy this one! It has everything you could want from a fantasy anthology and more. The diversity, the inclusivity, is what makes this collection shine the most for me. Not every story knocked it out of the park like my two favorites, but every story had something to offer that made me enjoy it. It’s such an incredible mixture of authors, of cultures, and of people that I think anyone could find something to love in this wonderful book.

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