I love tales of prophecies and visions of the future! Always have, always will. Maybe I love them so much because they’re one of the few supernatural/paranormal bits (ghosts, vampires, the Chupacabra, etc.) I can wholeheartedly say I believe is real and can happen. I will swear on the lives of all five of my cats that I had visions of the future when I was younger; I knew one specific friend of mine was going to get hurt in a very specific way (and it did come true) and those visions of graded tests sure made US History in eighth grade easier. In this anthology, fourteen authors offer their own takes on predictions and prophecies, ranging from a cult leader’s prediction of the end of the world to a princess’s prophecy that comes true mostly because everyone defaulted to heterosexuality.
“Gentlemen Send Phantoms” by Laini Taylor: 3.5/5. In this adorable story, three girls set out specially made cakes and go to bed in hopes the phantom of the man they’re meant to be with will come to visit them. Taylor’s prose is as beautiful as ever and the story is strange as all her stories are (women, when their death is approaching, can make the choice to turn into animals), but it bogs down the story in places and I don’t have positive feelings about how the girls who didn’t get visited by the phantom of the man they wanted suddenly fall for the men whose phantoms did come to them. A little too insta-love for me.
“Burned Bright” by Diana Peterfreund: 5/5. A cult leader’s prediction of the end of the world comes to pass and his most devoted daughter, left behind for some reason, strikes out with another abandoned teen in what is most likely my favorite story. Bright, the main character, is so devoted to her father’s religion that she even shoots someone because she thinks they’re a–well, I’ll let that be a surprise. Intense, a little strange, and incredibly memorable.
“The Angriest Man” by Lisa McMann: 2/5. Too repetitive, and I didn’t care for the narrative voice of the young man who carries the evil of the angriest man ever just because he got stung by a bee who got nectar from the flower at the angry man’s grave. If you’re asking “Wait, what?”, that situation is exactly as it is in the story. You just have to go with it.
“Out of the Blue” by Meg Cabot: 3/5. In this story about fraternal twins, the strange blue moles on their arms, and what they have to do with extraterrestrials, Cabot delivers the same sort of fun, fluffy story that has made her so famous. Cliche characters who aren’t fleshed out, narrative voices that start sounding the same after a bit, and people kissing each other and doing things like that for little to no reason made the fluff a little hard to enjoy, though.
“One True Love” by Malinda Lo: 5/5. This story is why no one should ever default to heterosexuality when there’s a prophecy concerning someone’s true love. The king immediately decided his daughter’s true love had to be male and because he didn’t consider she might be a lesbian, his prophesied downfall came. The prose carried the story and made me not mind that the characters didn’t have much personality and I liked the shades of King Henry VIII and Oedipus Rex I saw too. This story also makes me want to see more LGBT royalty, like MtF transgender queens and bisexual princesses.
“This Is a Mortal Wound” by Michael Grant: 1/5. If you hated Holden Caulfield’s narrative voice in Catcher in the Rye, run far away from this story because Tomaso’s voice is just as annoying. His story of being kidnapped by a former teacher and forced to do schoolwork without the benefit of the Internet and the Link and stuff was supposed to be funny, but it ended up being pretty dumb.
“Misery” by Heather Brewer: 3.5/5. This story, not unlike the eponymous, monochrome town itself where everyone gets a Gift once per year, is a little bland and difficult to understand. Brewer’s writing is fantastic and it makes me want to check out her novels (I’ve been thinking about getting Soulbound for a while, but this push helped me a little), though I still wish this story had more clarity to it.
“The Mind Is a Powerful Thing” by Matt de la Pena: 2/5. As one paranoid girl counts down to catastrophe on her sixteenth birthday, a few things really brought down the story for me. The red herrings are obvious, there’s something off about the third-person narrator’s voice, and the stereotypical portrayal of teenage girls irritated me. I’m also a little disgusted that a gruesome message carved in the naked bodies of her dead mother and sister turns out to mean absolutely nothing. If it has no meaning, why include it? Joanna could have been just as rightfully paranoid without it.
“The Chosen One” by Saundra Mitchell: 4/5. I loved the bond of the sister princesses and how the prophecy of who would find the Fabled Cup had a different twist put on it. I had a hard time putting together an image of the heroine until all her scars were detailed, at which point I decided she looked like Freddy Krueger. Also, it bugged me that the crown princess Lucia was called “Her Majesty” when that is what one calls the queen. “Her Royal Highness” is how one should refer to Lucia. ARC error, hopefully?
“Improbable Futures” by Kami Garcia: 2/5. This story of a fake carnival psychic and how her predictions are suddenly coming true was nicely written in some places and badly written in others, like when the POVs switched to show what happened to some of the people she told her fortunes to. Also, calling girls skanks on the second page? Giving two girls bad fortunes while implying she did it because the girls’ shirts were too low-cut? Really? I’m starting to figure out that I’m not a fan of anything Garcia writes.
“Death for the Deathless” by Margaret Stohl: 2/5. I like this story’s take on Nostradamus and his prophecies (he never existed and it’s a bunch of immortals putting out the predictions), but otherwise, I don’t care one link about this story. The narrators’ voices blended together and the gratuitous French gave me a headache. Same situation as with her writing partner Kami Garcia: I’m quickly figuring out I don’t like things Stohl writes.
“Fate” by Simone Elkeles: 3/5. This small story of two teens finding love in the RV park they both live in was cute and fluffy, but not particularly remarkable. They had a little insta-love going on: too much feeling with too little development. Funny thing is that while their personalities were vastly different, Carson and Willow’s narrative voices share a lot of similarities.
“The Killing Garden” by Carrie Ryan: 4.5/5. A new style of execution: the condemned races against the executioner, aka the Gardener, and if they get to the platform first, they’re merely banished. If not, they die. Tanci, who replaces her father as the Gardener who trims the court when the Emperor condemns someone to a race with her, is a great character and I felt bad for her. The relationship she had with one of the condemned developed well. My only problem is that I wish it hadn’t taken another man to make Tanci realize she had nothing to prove as a female Gardener coming in after a long history of male Gardeners.
“Homecoming” by Richelle Mead: 3.5/5. It’s the story all Vampire Academy fans have been waiting for since the author first brought it up: Dimitri and Rose go back to Russia together and see his family! They also go hunt down a Strigoi nicknamed the Blood King. Knowing this takes place after Last Sacrifice gives me an instant distaste for Rose due to what she did in that book and how she doesn’t even think on any of it here, but a few times, I smiled despite myself. I still like Vampire Academy, but I have a boatload of issues with it–so many that according to my headcanon, Rose never escaped the illusion at the end of book four and everything that happens after it is in her head. That’s how much I hated the last two books.