Scorn the witch. Fear the witch. Burn the witch.
History is filled with stories of women accused of witchcraft, of fearsome girls with arcane knowledge. Toil & Trouble features fifteen stories of girls embracing their power, reclaiming their destinies and using their magic to create, to curse, to cure—and to kill.
A young witch uses social media to connect with her astrology clients—and with a NASA-loving girl as cute as she is skeptical. A priestess of death investigates a ritualized murder. A bruja who cures lovesickness might need the remedy herself when she falls in love with an altar boy. A theater production is turned upside down by a visiting churel. In Reconstruction-era Texas, a water witch uses her magic to survive the soldiers who have invaded her desert oasis. And in the near future, a group of girls accused of witchcraft must find their collective power in order to destroy their captors.
This collection reveals a universal truth: there’s nothing more powerful than a teenage girl who believes in herself.
In this provocative, eclectic collection, 16 tales explore the many facets of witchcraft and its practitioners. Settings range from the historical to the contemporary and from factual to outright fantastical; protagonists are culturally and ethnically diverse with substantial LGBTQ representation; and the major unifying theme is female empowerment. Standouts include Tehlor Kay Mejia's "Starsong," the tale of an astrologer who finds her match in a scientist, and Robin Talley's "The Legend of Stone Mary," in which the descendant of an unjustly murdered witch faces a lingering curse. Many feel like preambles to more expansive narratives, but as standalone pieces, they surely satisfy.