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Strange Waters

4.70  ·  Rating details ·  33 ratings  ·  25 reviews

Join Princess Kamynosa as she sails the legendary Labyrinth competition to win her own hand.

Let the Backpack Boy melt your heart as he battles his way across a fearsome island to rescue Mum from pirates.

Smuggle yourself on Dr. Barnaby Brown’s archaeological expedition in order to earn a little extra credit.

Be insp
Published October 19th 2019 (first published October 13th 2019)
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Average rating 4.70  · 
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Finally contributing my own review of this awesome anthology. Is it self-aggrandizing of me to call it that when I wrote one of the stories in it? Perhaps, but given that most of it is by other people, I don’t think so.

Let’s take these one by one:

Backpack Boy

I was very much not okay after reading this story. But in a good way. Which makes no sense, but it’s very often the effect that Nate Philbrick’s writing has on me. He has a truly remarkable talent for pulling on a reader’s heartstrings witho
Hannah Heath
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I am so incredibly proud of this anthology. Because I'm one of the Phoenix Fiction Writers, I got a lot of behind-the-scenes looks at what each of us went through to write our contribution to this anthology and let me tell you: We went through a lot. And now our stories are out in the world and I think my heart is going to explode. Before that happens, let me give you a quick review of all of the incredible stories in this collection:

Backpack Boy by Nate Philbrick - This story will break your h
Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I keep saying it and it doesnt make it any less true. I am so so proud to be part of this anthology. We as a group have been through a lot this year. I have been truly blessed to have the prayers, the support, and the love of each of these PFW members in my life, above and beyond just the aspect of my writing and my business.
Watching how we grew and thrived this year has been mind-blowing to me, and I don't know how I would have gotten through things without them.
That, of course, doesn't ef
Erin Dydek
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: phoenix-fiction
Overall Rating and Review: 5 out of 5

From the heights of surviving the toughest trials to the depths of overcoming the sharpest pain, the 2019 Phoenix Fiction anthology will challenge you to see with a fresh perspective and navigate through the strange waters of life. Be prepared for an emotional ride that will leave you satisfied at the end of each tale. I loved reading stories from authors whose works I had previously had the opportunity to read, but I also enjoyed a wonderful introduction to
Bethany Fehr
Oct 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've been looking forward to another Phoenix Fiction anthology pretty much since I finished reading their last one, and I was thrilled to recieve an advanced review copy. The title Strange Waters is very fitting: all of the stories feature characters exploring uncharted territory and take place in settings where bodies of water play a prominent role.This collection has also introduced me to uncharted waters within the imaginations of all the Phoenix Fiction writers. I've been introduced to the w ...more
Julia Garcia
Oct 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My heart is overflowing with so many emotions after finishing this wonderful anthology; I have no idea how I'm going to sleep tonight.
I laughed, cried, gasped in horror, nearly fell off the edge of my seat with suspense and cheered as I read these nine stories. I want to get several copies and share them with my family because they need to read it too.

Here are my thoughts on the stories contained:

"Backpack Boy" by Nate Philbrick

A clever, sweet story about difficult things from a child's point
Deborah O'Carroll
STRANGE WATERS features nine sci-fi and fantasy stories from nine different authors. These tales range from intense to all the feels to hilarious and they're all original and well-written!

A couple of them were too scary for me personally, but kudos to all these authors for writing such captivating stories in such a short space, all incredibly different even though they all feature the image on the cover! I had a blast reading this!

Here are some brief thoughts on each story. :)


Backpack Boy - b
Katelyn Buxton
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I had the tremendous pleasure of receiving an ARC of this wonderful anthology, and while I missed the boat on the “advanced” part of this review copy (college has a knack for running you over like a freight train), I still enjoyed every minute I spent inside its pages.

Backpack Boy
Nate Philbrick

I don’t think I expected the first story to be such a tear-jerker, but it was. I hardly ever cry over books, and yet this quiet little tale of boyhood courage struck home. What at first appeared to be a no
R.M. Archer
*squeals* This anthology was so good! Thank you so much to PFW for the ARC. :D

The Backpack Boy: This story was so well-written and endearing. It so perfectly captured the imagination of a little kid, the interactions between the elephant and the backpack boy were so sweet, and the twist was wonderfully executed.

Finer Things: This is one I struggled to connect with. From what I can tell, it's set in the same world as Frank's Echoes in the Black series, and I probably would have been more invested
Laura Grace
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing

This anthology is phenomenal!!!!

I was deeply impressed and was caught off guard by the tears I cried when reading (especially that first story)! These authors are superbly talented and I'm sad I'm done reading. If there goal was to share more stories, but also entice us readers to check out their other books, mission accomplished. I WANT MORE!

It's so hard to say which story was my favorite because each story tugged at my heart or made me laugh or ma
Grace T
Jan 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Hopefully I will remember to come back and do individual mini-reviews because all these stories were quite enjoyable. If not, let it at least be known that Nate Philbrick made me cry, E. B. Dawson writes excellent banter, Hannah Heath I think also made me cry, and Kyle Robert Shultz is inimitable and amazing as always.

Shoutout to Lilian S for gifting me this book in her Christmas book exchange!!
Nate Philbrick
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
It's tough to review an anthology that you're a part of, so I'll make this short. Now...not every single story here might suit my personal taste. But I've witnessed the creation of this anthology from start to finish. I've seen how much work and meticulous care and love has gone into each story, as well as the hardship and obstacles going on behind the scenes for many of them. After this anthology, I have a newfound respect for each of my teammates.

Keep an eye on the Phoenix Fiction Writers. So
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Actual Rating Averaged: 3.7, rounding up

Strange Waters is an anthology of short stories by indie authors that I was sent for review. Below you can find individual reviews of the stories in the collection. As is usually the case with this kind of collection, there were some stories that I loved and others that I was less enthusiastic about. Overall, I do think this is worth checking out! All opinions are my own.

Backpack Boy by Nate Philbrick: 2.5 stars

This story feels a bit like an outlier in the
Janelle Garrett
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
While I enjoyed allllll the things about this anthology, I review Hannah Heath's story in more detail over on Booknest. ...more
Azelyn Klein
(Review originally found on Word Storm.)

I’ve been on a sci-fi kick lately. When the Phoenix Fiction Writers announced a collection of short stories with water-related sci-fi—oh my goodness so much yes! As somebody who has lived in Hawai’i and is in love with the sound of lapping waves, the smell of sea salt, and the thrill of the ocean and how freakishly big it is, I was a little excited for this collection. Of course, I can be a little picky about my underwater stories and my sci-fi, but I was
E.B. Dawson
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Just when the leaves are turning yellow and falling to the ground and the thought of the long winter ahead begins creeping into everybody's mind, Strange Waters gives you the chance to get away! The changing leaves and call of the Canadian geese always gives me a bit of wanderlust and this anthology fully met that craving for traveling, adventures, and newness.

Backpack Boy is sweet, sad, nostalgic, and comforting. This Winnie the Pooh quote sums it up perfectly: “If ever there is tomorrow when w
S. M. Holland
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Overall, I really enjoyed this anthology.
I look forward to reading more from the PFWs. 🙌🏽
Michael Lee
Nov 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was good anthology! I liked the water theme, and I liked many of the stories within it. Altogether, it was entertaining, and individually, some of these stories were beautiful.

Backpack Boy
This one was crafted perfectly, making me re-read it the second I finished, picking up on subtle hints and clues dropped throughout the story. I have never cried while reading a book, but Backpack Boy had me close to tears. It was an emotional story without leaving me feeling angry, depressed, so on and so
Nov 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was the first Phoenix Fiction Writers anthology I've read, and I quite enjoyed it. Each story had phenomenal world-building, and I enjoyed pretty much all of them, in different ways and on different levels. I may be a little biased towards authors I've already read as my favorites were probably Nate Philbrick's Backpack Boy and Kyle Robert Shultz's Ric Vayne and the Curse of the Ghoul Nebula. As for authors who are new to me, I really enjoyed Hannah Heath's This Pain Inside and E. B. Dawson ...more
Susnnah Metzler
May 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was such a wonderful anthology and I loved each and every one of the stories in this book. I was drawn into the imagination and character arcs and the worldbuilding and learned along with each of the characters. Though each story was entertaining, sometimes funny, and well written, I appreciated the themes throughout the anthology: the importance of not giving up, standing against fear, restoring justice, searching for the truth, and turning internal pain into strength of the will. It's alw ...more
Merenwen Inglorion
Dec 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There were a lot of sci-fi/fantasy blends in this anthology! It was great!
Barnaby Brown and the Glass Sea
Five stars.
I would definitely read further adventures of this crew: a belligerent college professor, stowaway sister, and the frightened/clumsy assistant. The world atmosphere was great, despite the shortness of the story.

Finer Things
Four stars.
This story was a bit harder for me to get into, only because of being dropped into the middle of disaster with the characters. I did end up getting
May 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2020
Strange Waters is a great collection of stories across genres and styles, and all offered something unique to enjoy! It was super cool to see each author's spin on the theme.
(My favorites were Backpack Boy, Kamynosa's Labrynth, and Roanoke!)
Leah Schwabauer
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Strange Waters is a fantastic anthology from an amazing group of authors. The Phoenix Fiction Writers created a plethora of intriguing worlds, captivating characters, and fascinating stories. My TBR pile grew as I read each tale.
Elza Kinde
From deep space to imaginary beaches, racing across waves and swimming like a fish, the Strange Waters anthology from Phoenix Fiction Writers is an eclectic collection of poignant SciFi and Fantasy stories that are absolutely a must-read.

I generally pick my top three favorites out of a collection like this, but it's impossible to pick one over another in this particular anthology because they're all SO. GOOD.

If you've never read something from any of these authors, I think this is a particularly
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I grew up in Southeast Asia. My first experience with America was when I was six years old. Sometimes I amuse my friends by telling them stories of my first impressions of this country (clean bathrooms, Toy Story, Taco Bell, getting lost in department stores).

My family moved to California when I was eleven and completely changed the course of my life. On the outside I'm a well-adjusted American a

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