ARC Review: A Tyranny of Petticoats, ed. by Jessica Spotswood

Posted June 4, 2016 by MC / 0 Comments

Categories: Book Reviews

ARC Review: A Tyranny of Petticoats, ed. by Jessica SpotswoodA Tyranny of Petticoats: 15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers & Other Badass Girls by Jessica Spotswood, Elizabeth Wein, Beth Revis, Marie Lu, Andrea Cremer, Caroline Tung Richmond, J. Anderson Coats, Marissa Meyer, Katherine Longshore, Saundra Mitchell, Robin Talley, Y.S. Lee, Kekla Magoon, Leslye Walton, Lindsay Smith
Published by Candlewick Press on March 8th 2016

From an impressive sisterhood of YA writers comes an edge-of-your-seat anthology of historical fiction and fantasy featuring a diverse array of daring heroines.
Criss-cross America — on dogsleds and ships, stagecoaches and trains — from pirate ships off the coast of the Carolinas to the peace, love, and protests of 1960s Chicago. Join fifteen of today’s most talented writers of young adult literature on a thrill ride through history with American girls charting their own course. They are monsters and mediums, bodyguards and barkeeps, screenwriters and schoolteachers, heiresses and hobos. They're making their own way in often-hostile lands, using every weapon in their arsenals, facing down murderers and marriage proposals. And they all have a story to tell.
With stories by:J. Anderson CoatsAndrea CremerY. S. LeeKatherine LongshoreMarie LuKekla MagoonMarissa MeyerSaundra MitchellBeth RevisCaroline Tung RichmondLindsay SmithJessica SpotswoodRobin TalleyLeslye WaltonElizabeth Wein

I received this book for free from ALA Midwinter Conference in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Guys, I was SO looking forward to this short story collection, and I was SO disappointed. Unfortunately, this seems to be the general consensus from people who have read this book. The last time I read a collection of short stories, I absolutely loved it, and I found countless new authors that I was dying to read. As I picked up A Tyranny of Petticoats, I was expecting the same thing to happen, but I was sadly mistaken.

This book is advertised as “15 stories of belles, bank robbers, and other badass girls,” and the stories are arranged chronologically through American history, ranging from the Caribbean in the early 1700s to Chicago in the 1960s. I expected empowering stories of amazing, kick-ass American women throughout history. Yes, the stories all focused around female characters, but honestly I only found a few of them to be really inspiring or empowering. Most of them were just mediocre.

I will list my ratings for all of the stories at the end of this post, but I will go into a little more detail about my highs and lows. First of all, I really disliked the first three stories of this collection. It felt like not enough happened in Mother Carey’s Table and The Journey. They felt like they were chapters from a larger novel and I was missing the big picture. My least favorite story in the entire collection was Madeleine’s Choice by Jessica Spotswood. I really enjoyed the writing style, so initially I rated this story a little higher, but the more I reflected on it, the more I realized that the main character of Madeleine was whiny and spoiled and the farthest thing from a strong, self-sufficient woman. She really drove me nuts.

Despite my disappointment with the beginning of this book, I kept reading and I found a couple stories that I really loved. I have a soft spot in my heart for Civil Rights Era history, so The Whole World is Watching by Robin Talley really struck a chord with me. It was a beautiful and powerful story. My absolute favorite story of the bunch was High Stakes by Andrea Cremer. However, this was also one of the biggest disappointments for me. What made me so angry was that this absolutely amazing and unique plot line was wasted on a 20 page short story. High Stakes is set right at the start of the American Civil War – and it features vampires, werewolves, warlocks, jinnis, and other paranormal creatures. But wait, it gets better….they are competing in a game to determine which side of the war all paranormal creatures will fight on, and ultimately which side will win the Civil War! HOW COULD YOU NOT TURN THAT IDEA INTO A FULL-LENGTH NOVEL????? WHY WOULD YOU WASTE THAT BRILLIANT IDEA IN THIS SHORT STORY COLLECTION????? Seriously, if I was her editor, and Andrea Cremer brought me this story, I would say, “Nope. You’re going to expand this idea into a book (or two or three). Write something else for A Tyranny of Petticoats.” I just can’t stand that this story is in this book and not it’s own novel or series, or at the very least, a longer story in this collection. Oh, it makes me so stinking mad.

I think a lot of my disappointment in these stories is that they were way too short. Most of them were around 20 pages long, and it just didn’t give the authors enough time to tell a story with real value. Most of them felt like they could be a decent chapter in a full-length novel, but they just didn’t cut it on their own. Here is my rating for each of the stories in the collection:

Mother Carey’s Table by J. Anderson Coats: 2 stars
The Journey by Marie Lu: 2.5 stars
Madeleine’s Choice by Jessica Spotswood: 2 stars (would be less but I enjoyed the writing)
El Destinos by Leslye Walton: 3 stars
High Stakes by Andrea Cremer: 3.5 stars (would have been 4.5 or 5 stars if this awesome plot wasn’t wasted on a 20 page short story)
The Red Raven Ball by Caroline Tung Richmond: 3.5 stars
Pearls by Beth Revis: 3 stars
Gold in the Roots of the Grass by Marissa Meyer: 3 stars
The Legendary Garret Girls by Y.S. Lee: 3.5 stars
The Color of the Sky by Elizabeth Wein: not quite 3 stars
Bonnie and Clyde by Saundra Mitchell: 3 stars
Hard Times by Katherine Longshore: 2.5 stars
City of Angels by Lindsay Smith: 2.5 stars
Pulse of Panthers by Kekla Magoon: 3 stars
The Whole World is Watching by Robin Talley: 3.5 stars

All in all, there are a few good stories in this collection, but as a whole, it is pretty disappointing. I think if you have been wanting to check out A Tyranny of Petticoats, you definitely should. Don’t get discouraged by this review, but don’t go into this book with very high expectations either. I would recommend reading these stories one by one, maybe with some breaks in between. I read them all back to back and I think that added to my frustration with the book.

2.5 Stars


When your high hopes aren’t met…..

…..blame it on the books.

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