Eva's Reviews > Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women

Black Cranes by Lee Murray
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it was amazing

Alma Katsu's foreword at the beginning of this anthology is a gripping take on the stereotypes that Asian women have grappled with their entire lives, from the trope of being seen as subservient Geishas to the Dragon Lady, overtly sexualized, and the views of other problematic lenses. She speaks of depersonalization, of family expectations, waiting hand and foot on men in the family, the obligation to parents, but particularly expectations of daughters. This resonated deeply with me as my cultural background also contains many of the same expectations. In spite of all of this cultural weight, Katsu rightly points out that Asian women can be scientists, warrior princesses, fierce fighters, or vengeful spirits. "We can be many things. The only thing we can't be is defeated."

With this stunning introduction, we launch into one of the best horror anthologies of the year, and it sets an incredibly high benchmark. For horror fans who grumble that women "can't" write extreme horror or that women "can't" write scary stories, please shove this book into their faces because not only are the stories well-crafted, dark, and terrifying, they are unique, original, and follow unconventional storytelling patterns that are marvelous. These stories are exquisite and a testament to how many talented South Asian women are writing horror and dark fantasy--women with roots in Japan, China, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, and more as well as the diasporas they're part of.

Rather than go through story by story and provide my gushing thoughts on how I adored so many of these stories, I want to encourage readers to discover the tales for themselves--to marvel at the unique mythologies, belief systems, and things that plague these characters. I do want to give a special mention -- having been a huge fan of Christina Sng's poetry for such a long time, it was a treat to see more of her long-form fiction, and her piece, "Fury," is impeccable. I do also want to call attention to "Phoenix Claws" by Lee Murray, which is my new favourite story by her. You have to discover for yourself why it's so unforgettable and horrific. I loved it, as well as her second piece, "Frangipani Wishes," which has a more sombre, tragic energy, and poetry mixed in. Definitely add this book to your TBR pile, because it will be one of the most memorable anthologies you'll read this year.
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Reading Progress

September 19, 2020 – Started Reading
September 19, 2020 – Shelved
September 26, 2020 – Finished Reading

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