Wednesday, 6 April 2016

A Tyranny of Petticoats ~ Summary + Review

A book featuring belles, bank robbers, and badass girls would be everything.

But one with 15 stories? 15 next-level stories written by some of my favourite YA authors? That would be out of this world!

Luckily for me I don't have to travel to outer-space or to another dimension because this dream book is more than just the result of many months of fangirl daydreaming. The sisterhood of YA writing goddesses have come together and made this dream a reality, bringing us lucky readers a bunch of entertaining and intriguing tales that are sure to have you planning your own thrilling adventure sometime soon.

Read on for my thoughts on the book + spoiler-free summaries of each of the 15 stories!

Author: J. Anderson Coats

Setting: 1710 ~ British North America

Brief summary: Set in the Golden Age of Piracy, Mother Carey's Table is a truly immersive tale about a runaway slave girl and her father. For her safety the girl poses as Joe, a sailor boy. But will the truth be exposed? What trials and consequences will she face? A winning mixture of earthy realism and nautical lore, this story does not disappoint.

'I can splice a line and take a sounding and play a passable hornpipe. I can fight like a bag of wet cats, but I know I can’t kill. Just the thought turns my stomach.

But boys my age are well scarred like Johnny, like Black Tom. Boys of any age are full of piss and vinegar, and they’d be spoiling for a chance like this.

“What is it, sailor?” The old man isn’t smiling anymore.

I signed the articles.'

Author: Marie Lu

Setting: 1723 ~ The Great Land

Brief summary: After traders destroy her family’s village and coldly murder its occupants, Yakone - a young Inuit girl - sets out alone on a dangerous journey across a frozen, desolate landscape. Shouldering the loss of her family and the only life she's ever known, Yakone puts her fate in the hands of the spirits and stars in a tale that is poignant and beautifully written.

'The spirits will guide you, if you take only what you need and respect them in their domain. Even in the darkest night. Remember that, Yakone, and you will never be lost.'

Author: Jessica Spotswood

Setting: 1826 ~ New Orleans, Louisiana

Brief summary: With an opening reminiscent of Gone With The Wind, Jessica Spotswood sets the stage of a world where marriage offers are crucial and love is something not everyone can afford to indulge in. Madeleine is a free girl of colour, torn between two potential marriage offers. The underlying message, however, seems to be less about marriage and love and more about deciding what one wants for their future. Madeleine must decide how she wants her future to pan out and whether she should seek counsel from others or forge her own path. 

'I have a secret.

It tastes like the sweet lemonade they served at last night’s ball and smells of pipe tobacco. It sounds like the waltz we danced to and feels like the press of his hand against mine through my white satin glove.'

Author: Leslye Walton

Setting: 1848 ~ Southwest Texas

Brief summary: Leslye Walton transports writing to another level with her take on the mythological Three Fates. Her descriptions, the emotional connections she establishes between characters (and between readers and characters) - every word showcases her immense story-telling talent. I fell in love with the tale from the first sentence and will definitely be hunting down more of her work to read in the near future.

'Folks around here like to say we came from the stars. Perhaps it’s simpler to think of us not as human but as creatures made of stardust — that if you cut us, not blood but constellations will pour from our wounds. And though I’ve never admitted to having such a thought to my sisters, when I stand under the night sky, with the infinite heavens stretched out above me like a shroud — it’s hard to imagine we came from anywhere else.'

Author: Andrea Cremer

Setting: 1861 ~ Boston, Massachusetts; and Natchez, Mississippi

Brief summary: Put a supernatural assassin in any story and I'll gladly read it! Andrea Cremer has put together a short story that I would love to read as a complete novel or series, centred around the tantalising enigma that is Klio. Hints and clues are sprinkled throughout the tale, hooking the reader's interest and making the twist ending a work of genius. The story delights and surprises and is definitely one of the most memorable in the anthology.

'“And now it’s your turn. Your face is veiled, but I would have you reveal yourself — figuratively speaking, of course. Who are you, Miss Vesper? What tales have you to tell? I imagine them to be extraordinary.”

“I’m certain you have ways of finding out almost anything about me,” Klio replied.

He shrugged. “Yes, but I’d prefer to hear what you have to say about yourself.(...) Sixteen is young for someone to have already established the professional repute you possess."

“Every life faces its trials at some point,” Klio said, keeping her expression passive. “Mine came earlier than most, but I have thrived nonetheless.”'

Author: Caroline Tung Richmond

Setting: 1862 ~ Washington, D.C.

Brief summary: A refreshing mix of ballroom glamour and espionage, The Red Raven Ball explores the blurred lines between loyalty to family and loyalty to country. Our protagonist Elizabeth must decide who can truly be trusted amidst a sea of swirling skirts, charming smiles, and glittering jewels. Appearances can be deceiving, and deception heartbreaking, in a tale that encourages young women to stand up for themselves and their beliefs.  

'I’ve no intention of catching a fiancé or even a beau at our ball.
Instead, I intend to catch a spy.

A Confederate spy, to be precise.

If Grandmama knew of my plans, she’d lock me in my room until I sprouted gray hair, but I’ve made a promise that I will keep. That I must keep.

Even if it means defying Grandmama.'

Author: Beth Revis

Setting: 1876 ~ Chicago, Illinois; and Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory

Brief summary: Beth Revis has a knack for creating three-dimensional characters in a limited amount of space/time. Her character Helen's bravery and inner strength shine through despite her difficult circumstances. The best part of this story, however, is the underlying message about the importance of education. I was reminded of the famous quote: 'You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.' Helen's education allows for her to educate others and to use her role as a teacher to connect with them and improve their lives to a degree. Reminiscent of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series, Pearls is a story that will have you emotionally invested from start to finish.

'While my papa is wrong about many things, he was right about the fact that when I have nothing else, I have my education.

But I also have my memories.
And my regrets.

I clutch the ticket in my hand at the station. The thin paper seems flimsy and weak, nothing at all what freedom should feel like. (...) The train pulls into the station, all billowing steam, and activity swirls around me.

And that is it. Just a piece of paper and a train and a promise of a job in the West, and a new life is within my grasp.'

Author: Marissa Meyer

Setting: 1877 ~ Deadwood, Dakota Territory

Brief summary: This anthology contains quite a few lore-based tales, including Marissa Meyer's Gold in the Roots of the Grass. It's a captivating story that weaves in Chinese American spirit lore, whilst bringing readers a look at the other side of myth and legend - the ghost's side. As a restless spirit seeks justice with the help of a spirit medium, readers are encouraged to think about the purpose of life and that of the afterlife.

'Blackness crowded my vision.
But I still saw them, the ghosts.

Some who had told me their sad stories in the months since I’d come to Deadwood. A few I had sneaked apples to when I could. Others I’d only seen drifting aimlessly through the streets.

There were mustached men with arrows like sewing pins in their bodies. Men who had died from bullet wounds and hangings. Women who had succumbed to laudanum or fever. Millie Ann was there too. She was vicious and beautiful, her hair streaming behind her as the battered spirits pushed Rinehart back. Back. His eyes spun around the room, not seeing, not understanding. Unable to get away from the vengeful spirits.'

Author: Y. S. Lee

Setting: 1898 ~ Skaguay, Alaska

Brief summary: So far, I've been giving you guys one quote/sneak peek per story...but this one is just so good that I have to give you more! It's witty, pulls you in from the get-go, and is so very quotable. If I could have bookmarked every page, I would have. The Garrett sisters are two fearless young women not to be trifled with and are brilliant additions to anyone's squad any day of the week.

'“I’d rather you were honest than polite, Mr. Smith.
He grins even wider. “A girl after my own heart.”
“No, thanks. I’d rather have your wallet.”'

'I point to the handwritten sign tacked above the bar:

1. Don't do it
2. Really. Don't do it.
3. You will regret having done it.'

Author: Elizabeth Wein

Setting: 1926 ~ Jacksonville, Florida; and Dallas, Texas

Brief summary: I've always found that stories based on true events and the lives of real people are easier to connect with emotionally, and The Color of the Sky is no exception. Bessie Coleman was the first black woman to gain a pilot’s license and the first American, black or white, male or female, to earn an international pilot’s license. She was an extraordinary woman and this story shines the spotlight on her amazing life, as well as the circumstances and events surrounding her unfortunate demise.

'“She talked as big as she dreamed,” Ma Vencill said. “She wanted things so fierce it must have seemed to her like saying them out loud would make them come true. That flight school she’s been raising money for! Teaching colored boys and girls to fly!”'

Author: Saundra Mitchell

Setting: 1934 ~ Indiana

Brief summary: Marjorie is a mischievous Robin Hood-esque bank-robber. She steals from bankers in order to provide for her family and as payback for the bankers' calling in her family's loans. The twist? She's not a Bonnie figure, and she's not a Clyde - she's both. Dressing up as a boy when she steals or is on the run (and as a girl when she's hoping for Caleb to steal a kiss!), Marjorie leads an adventurous double life that I'm 110% sure would make for an amazing full-length novel.

'Caleb Newcastle has wanted me since I turned thirteen. That’s when I robbed my first bank. He was only fifteen then, not even a real lawman. His daddy deputized him, and he was the cock of the walk after that.

Sitting up in a pecan tree, I watched him strut back and forth in the woods. His gun drawn, his hat tipped back, he stalked me. Eighteen now, he was cut out of all-American cloth, his blue eyes sharp and his long legs swift.

Too bad for him, and lucky for me, he didn’t have the sense God gave a goose.'

Author: Katherine Longshore

Setting: 1934 ~ Washington State

Brief summary: An adorable duo taking on a harsh world full of even harsher realities, Rosie and Billy plan to board a train in the hopes of finding work and better circumstances. They stumble across Lloyd, a reporter-in-training, who is intent on hearing their story. Hard Times deals with the circumstances of migrants and the issues they faced in the past, and that many of them still face today. The courage and resilience of Katherine Longshore's characters shines brightly in what is truly an engaging tale.

'“So what do they call you?”

No one asks that. They ask what kind of work I do. Why such a pretty little thing is out here. Wonder in their minds if I sell myself in pieces.

None of them ask my name.

It’s been so long since I’ve said my own name, I can’t find the sound of it on my tongue.'

Author: Lindsay Smith

Setting: 1945 ~ Los Angeles, California

Brief summary: Screenwriter Evie and aspiring actress Frankie take on the movie industry. Evie wishes to be behind-the-scenes pulling the strings and Frankie longs to take her place in the spotlight. As their relationship develops will the hardships of love, loss, and war take their toll or will they manage to secure their own happily ever afters on and off screen?

'Once the words stared back at me, black ink on white, I realized they were the words I’d been searching for all along.

I’d come to Los Angeles to find myself — the work and life that I wanted. Now, for the first time, I felt that I actually knew who I was. Behind the scenes, writing the script, not acting out someone else’s story.'

Author: Kekla Magoon

Setting: 1967 ~ California

Brief summary: Informative and elegantly pieced together, Pulse of the Panthers provides readers with a fresh perspective on the Black Panther Party - a real group that believed that the civil rights movement's efforts to overturn segregation laws did not fully address the needs of struggling people in urban communities. The budding and sweet relationship between Sandy and Bobby (and the mouthwatering food mentioned throughout!) sets the stage for a story that I would love to read more of.

 'Bobby juggled the pancake platter. “It takes some stones, ya know? To arm up and everything.”

He looked embarrassed. “Like, courage, right?”

“Yeah, you know what I mean.” He glanced me over. “You look like the courageous type of girl.”

“You think?” I wasn’t sure I’d ever done anything courageous. I always did what I was supposed to. Courage, I thought, meant breaking the rules. Putting yourself on the line. There was a line somewhere, I knew. I’d just never come up on it.'

Author: Robin Talley

Setting: 1968 ~ Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois

Brief summary: Robin Talley brings the horrors of the riots of the 1968 Democratic National Convention to life in a story that is a somber reminder of the issues surrounding people's right to freedom of speech and police brutality. The violence, the terror - all of it is written about in a way that evokes vivid images and raw emotions. 

'This isn’t just about Diane. It’s about me. It’s about not always looking over my shoulder to see who might be watching. Not always thinking about who everyone else expects me to be. What I think of myself is what matters.

I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. All I know is, in this moment, it feels like the whole world is watching me. And that’s exactly what I want it to do.'

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.

Add to your Goodreads bookshelf today!

Which of the stories do you like best? If you could time travel to any one of the settings/times used for this anthology, which would it be and why?

Let me know in the comments below!


  1. I was kind of iffy when I first saw this book, but your reviews have definitely persuaded me to give it a try! I'm especially looking forward to Bonnie and Clyde, mainly because I''m infinitely fascinated by the duo and also because I just watched the miniseries with Holliday Grainger on Netflix.

    Thanks for the honesty! :)

    1. I'm always a little hesitant about anthologies - mainly because I always wonder whether a short snippet will be enough for me to truly immerse myself in the tale/s. But when they're as well written as the ones in A Tyranny of Petticoats it's a whole other experience. Each story hooks you in from the start :)
      Hahaha that miniseries is on my list of shows to-watch! I'll have to definitely check it out soon :D

  2. ELIZABETH WEIN. MARISSA MEYER. MARIE LU. *shrieks* So that's enough reasons for me to want to read this immediately. XD

    1. OMG ikr?! They could write a mechanic's manual and I would still read it because they are writing goddesses <3 <3 <3


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