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A Phoenix First Must Burn: Sixteen Stories of Black Girl Magic, Resistance, and Hope

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  2,186 ratings  ·  554 reviews
Sixteen tales by bestselling and award-winning authors that explore the Black experience through fantasy, science fiction, and magic.

Evoking Beyoncé’s Lemonade for a teen audience, these authors who are truly Octavia Butler’s heirs, have woven worlds to create a stunning narrative that centers Black women and gender nonconforming individuals. A Phoenix First Must Burn will
Hardcover, 354 pages
Published March 10th 2020 by Viking Books for Young Readers
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Patrice Caldwell Hii!! Lots of romance! Nothing more than kissing. They’re short stories so some have romance at the center, and for others the character is in a roman…moreHii!! Lots of romance! Nothing more than kissing. They’re short stories so some have romance at the center, and for others the character is in a romantic relationship but it’s not the main story. And then some have no romance at all as we wanted a range!(less)
Sara Weather 1. Science fiction specific
2. Black Boy sff
3. Horror…more
1. Science fiction specific
2. Black Boy sff
3. Horror(less)

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Average rating 4.02  · 
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Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The World
My most anticipated YA Anthology of 2020 did not disappoint. This is definitely one of the most unique collections I have ever read.

A Phoenix First Must Burn features 16-short stories full of diverse SFF elements, black girl magic and lyrical storytelling.

This is a book everyone should be reading!!!

I always find it difficult to review anthologies. As with any collection, there were some stories I enjoyed more than others.

However, with this being said, there is something for every Reader within
🍋 read this review and others on my blog, pages left unread

WE'RE NOT GONNA TALK ABOUT IT (yes we are . . .).

So, A Phoenix First Must Burn is a YA speculative fiction anthology centered around Black girls, and I’ve been anticipating ever since spring of last year. But it was thankfully released late this March and was able to get my hands on a finished copy of it, and since I was so excited to read it the only right choice concerning this would to be review it here and shout about it as much as I
Ellie (faerieontheshelf)
Taking its title from the Octavia Butler quote, "In order to rise from its own ashes, a phoenix first must burn", this collection of speculative stories brings together a selection of Black authors for sixteen different tales full of bravery, resistance, love, hope and healing.

> "When Life Hands You A Lemon Fruitbomb," by Amerie (4 stars)
I've heard of Amerie but not read anything written by her, so this short story was my first experience. Her writing style is really lovely. The actual concep
Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)
Well, I tried. I’ve enjoyed maybe two YA anthologies but I just keep trying new ones despite that. I read 6 stories before I decided this wasn’t the collection for me. I think any other year I might have pushed through, but I genuinely only liked one story I read (Elizabeth Acevedo’s) and one of my goals in 2020 was to be more willing to dnf the stuff that isn’t holding my interest.

I think plenty of people will like this, particularly if you’re a fan of anthologies, but this wasn’t for me.
Ms. Woc Reader
Feb 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
"In order to rise from it's own ashes, a Phoenix first must burn"- Octavia Butler

I've been hyping this book since February 2019 and I wanted an arc as soon as I saw them circulating. Thank you Penguin Teen for giving me an arc in exchange for an honest review.

Anthologies can be so hit and miss and I had yet to read one I really enjoyed so I was a little nervous going into this. But I was excited to read because I follow so many of these authors on social media but had yet to read their work. A s
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This anthology is solid gold! My favorite stories are (in no particular order):

THE RULES OF THE LAND by Alaya Dawn Johnson
LETTING THE RIGHT ONE IN by Patrice Caldwell
ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD by Charlotte Nicole Davis
THE WITCH'S SKIN by Karen Strong
I’ve only read Kindred by Octavia Butler but I can totally see how much of an influence she must have had on budding readers and writers, especially young Black woman and I thought this collection of stories was a fitting tribute to her. Mostly fantastical tales with a bit of sci-fi and dystopia thrown in, these stories take their inspirations from various different cultures, folklores, historical as well as contemporary events and give us a glimpse of the different ways in which young Black wom ...more
Mar 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: black-authors
A Phoenix First Must Burn offers a collection of speculative short stories from a diverse group of Black women and gender non-binary authors. The stories range from high fantasy to urban fantasy, historical fantasy, and science fiction, all centering Black girls. Themes include love, family, oppression, standards of beauty, and structural racism, among others. I think it is well worth picking up. I generally enjoyed my time with the collection and thought all of the stories were good, even if I ...more
Six stories in, this is most definitely my favorite f/sf anthology I've read since A Thousand Beginnings and Endings. The focus is on stories full of empowerment and magic, and the title comes from a really powerful Octavia Butler quote (from The Parable of the Talents): "In order to rise from its own ashes, a phoenix first must burn."

The first story, "When Life Hands You a Lemon Fruitbomb," by Amerie, is a thought-provoking SF adventure. The second story, "Gilded," by Elizabeth Acevedo, is a s
Thistle & Verse
Short story anthologies are a great way for readers to learn about a variety of authors in a brief period of time. Anthologies like Reading the Bones and Dark Matter have been especially helpful for me in finding Black sffh authors, and I'm glad that this is now available for a younger audience. I loved that so many stories featured sapphic characters. I had read many of the author's novels, and it was interesting to see how my predictions for the stories and how much I would like them held up. ...more
Aug 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars but deserving of rounding up.

as with all anthologies, especially by more than one author, there where great stories and ones i didn’t enjoy at all.

i loved the diversity in this book. we really got it all!
from myths retellings to folklores to historical fiction to futuristic story.
it was all there and beautifully done.

no story felt the same or as if a specific tone or topic had to be discussed!
they all said their own things and did it wonderfully!

again personally i enjoyed some sorties
Feb 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, arc, favorites
Those of us who enjoy short story anthologies know how hit and miss they can be. It's a rare treasure to find one that's brimming with well-written, powerful, moving stories, beautiful descriptions, and a cohesive theme.

Imagine my delight to find exactly all of those things in A Phoenix First Must Burn! It's an anthology of sixteen #ownvoices stories "that explore the Black experience through fantasy, science fiction, and magic." EVERY SINGLE STORY in this anthology was worth reading!!

A few espe
May 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 STARS!

I haven't read an anthology in a long time and though I enjoyed 6 out of the 16 stories in this book, some of the stories seemed like the same ones being told over and over. But I would still recommend it, especially for my two favorite stories "Gilded" and "Melie", I need full on novels for those stories ASAP. :)
This book was such a lovely concept, but I didn't feel that these stories were the strongest I had read by the authors I was familiar with, and hoped that was the same for the authors I haven't yet read anything else by - so may great ideas, but overall an unfinished feeling about the whole. ...more
May 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As a big fan of Butler's work, I am beyond happy I found this book (it was recommended to me).

The stories are brief but intense, significant, pleasant.
☆ Anushka ☆ (on semi hiatus)
A Phoenix First Must Burn is a YA anthology featuring speculative fiction centred around young, Black girls with myriads of stories - from folktale retellings to space operas and everything that falls in between, written by women and non-binary authors whose voice needs to be heard; who interlace words to conjure beautiful worlds; and whose characters are subtle and nuanced. Like I said, there are stories for every kind of reader. It was such a delight to read the first anthology of my life and ...more
Aug 19, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kathy Trithardt
I enjoy but also I wish they would have a litte diffent styles (most stoires are wirtem in first person or third Preston, only one was in the seacond person), and also some diasbed or queer stoires (they are some but zero about tran women) . But here my favorite stoires in here: - Wherein Abigail Fields Recalls Her First Death And, Subsequently, Her Best Life by RebeccaRoanhorse
- Letting the Right One In by Patrice Caldwell
- All The Time In The World by Charlotte Nicole Davis.
I might unhual soon
Sierra Elmore
Loved this! Favorite stories:
🖤 GILDED by Elizabeth Acevedo
🖤 LETTING THE RIGHT ONE IN by Patrice Caldwell
🖤 TENDER-HEADED by Danny Lore
🖤 KISS THE SUN by Ibi Zoboi
This was a wonderful anthology! The only thing that bothered me was that in the summary this claims to center gender non-conforming individuals, but there was only one non-binary character (and they weren't even the narrator) so I'm confused to as why it's marketed that way. Almost all of the characters do their best to smash the patriarchy though, which I wholeheartedly approve of.

Each of these stories had some kind of magic to offer. I enjoyed every single one of them. But a couple faves dese

This was a wonderful collection of short stories to start off the new year right. I don't read a lot of short story collections or anthologies and I have no idea how to rate them when there were some that I liked more than others, I tried to average it out for all individual stories and 3/6.81 seemed fair *shrug*. I loved the overall themes of this book and how those themes continued into each story. I had no idea this was going to have so much queer/sapphic representation going into it
Kate (GirlReading)
Jun 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5* As it usually goes with anthologies, there was a mix of hits and misses within this collection but overall this was a very solid collection of fantasy short stories.

However, The necessity and importance of this being collection of stories exploring the Black experience (with many stories also starring LGBTQIAP+ characters) is paramount and Patrice's indroduction only solidified this.

My favourite story from the collection has to be Justina Irelands, which filled me with so much joy. But I a
Jun 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anthologies are always difficult to review because I find the stories in them so hit and miss! For me this book had stories that I didn't want to end and stories that were difficult to get into. It's a mixture of modern and historical, fantasy and science fiction.

It opens strongly with a story about aliens and time, which definitely blew me away. The second story I loved was about a sorcerer's apprentice who realises her master isn't what he seems (very sexisit). My favourite was a cute romance
I love this collection of short stories - sci-fi and fantasy written by Black women with Black women and gender expansive individuals at the center of them! This book is perfect for fans of speculative fiction, and for those checking out the genre for the first time. There is something for everyone is this collection - vampires, witches, goddesses, time and space travel, revolution, broken hearts, queer love, magic, and super-human abilities. Several of the stories left me wanting more (especial ...more
Apr 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well I’ll be damned.

I actually found an analogy that I actually like 😂

Then again, based on the premise, based on summary, based on the writers part of this project, it was bound to stand out from others and deliver.

It was really good. There were stories I loved more than stories. Stories I seriously want to be made into full-length books, including a cool vampire one.
Cora Tea Party Princess
Jun 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing

Review to come.
Drew's ambitious reading
This was really good and it took me 3 days for me to read this one! Review to come once I write all of my raitings down inside my book on a sticky note!(:
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs
It's 4:32 am and i am so shooketh right now...

Lisa Mandina
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was very excited to read it because of all the hype around it, as well as how I believe it is something perfect for the students at my school.

Overall it was a really good book. As to be expected, there were some stories that worked more for me than others. Here are my thoughts over the stories:

The first story was When Life Hands you a Lemon Fruitbomb by Amerie. I did really like the story, although it had a bit of a jump at the beginning of the story that was a bit confusing based on how it wa
Elvina Zafril
Mar 18, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pansing
A Phoenix Must First Burn is a collection of 16 short stories about the Black experience. First of all, I would like to say the cover of this book really is pretty!

Have you ever read a book that is diverse? What I mean is features a lot of things in one book? For example, this book has fairytales, folktales and retellings. It also touches on topics such as love and betrayal, strength and resistance.

I enjoyed reading some of the short stories. But some of them didn’t quite attractive. I especial
Luke Reynolds
A solid collection of fantasy and science fiction with Black power and great representation across a multitude of eras, genres, and prose styles.

"When Life Hands You a Lemon Fruitbomb" by Amerie-3 out of 5 stars: A teen girl attempts to secure the safety of her and her uncle in an underground village by applying for a mission that will allow her to survey and study the orcs that took over Earth. But her friend Santos reveals that not all is as it seems, and the crew has transported to the start
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Patrice Caldwell is a graduate of Wellesley College and the founder of People of Color in Publishing–a grassroots organization dedicated to supporting, empowering, and uplifting racially and ethnically marginalized members of the book publishing industry. Born and raised in Texas, Patrice was a children’s book editor before becoming a literary agent.

She’s been named a Publishers Weekly Star Watch

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  Kerine Wint is a software engineering graduate with more love for books than for computers. As an avid reader, writer, and fan of all things...
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“No. You can, but hearts are your own to keep. They’re to keep you alive. Give your affection. Give your love. Give your time, but nothing so vital to your own survival. Be careful with giving away parts of yourself before you understand them fully. You’re free of the stars now, so choose wisely in the future. After you know yourself. Love is not supposed to poison your own well.” 0 likes
“Don't let love take too high, 'cause you'll be a kite without a tail, and before you know it, caught in a storm cloud. And lightning ain't kind. Love ain't worth being electrocuted for.” 0 likes
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