Book Review: Of Myth and Monster by The Phoenix Fiction Writers

PFW is releasing another anthology, so you know I jumped on it. I’m super thankful to have gotten another of their ARCs, and this one is quite possibly my favorite yet. It’s definitely their best anthology yet, and if they keep improving their quality at this rate I’m going to have to create a six-star rating or something. XD Anyway, into the actual review. (And here’s the necessary disclaimer that even though I got an ARC I wasn’t required to give a positive review and this is all my honest opinion.)


Mistakes Were Made

Everything about this story is fantastic. The tone of finals week at a space-fantasy-style university, the characters and their snark and values and just… character, the folklore-inspired worldbuilding, the voice of the prose… Oh, and did I mention that this one starts a trend of diverse characters with struggles and strengths and whatnot that aren’t often portrayed in fiction? Because that’s one of my favorite things about this anthology, as a whole. I love getting to see different types of people represented, and Of Myth and Monster does a fantastic job of that. Guillerma is diabetic, which is not only a fact of her character but plays deeply into the story as such things should. Hannah does an excellent job of this throughout all of her stories, and Mistakes Were Made is no exception.

This story is funny, too. It had me legitimately laughing out loud multiple times, and it was just so much fun to read. But the humor doesn’t detract from its depth, as the relationship between the two main characters is explored and Mundo’s motivation, in particular, is revealed.

Anyway, just a fantastic story all around.

The Boy Who Listened

In an effort to avoid repeating “Everything about this story is fantastic” at the beginning of each review… I’m just going to say now that they’re all all-around fantastic and you should just mark the book’s release date (this Saturday) on your calendar now and buy it as soon as it comes out and enjoy it and then come tell me so I can say I told you so and we can freak out about it together.

Did you mark the date? Awesome. Back to the review.

Magic academies are awesome. Greek mythology is awesome. Neurodivergent rep is awesome. Sphinxes are awesome. So, naturally, this story is also awesome. It’s also written beautifully, as is pretty much always the case with Shultz’s work, it’s thoughtful, and the character voice is spot-on. And what I said about things like diabetes and neurodivergence being woven with the story, not just disconnected facts? That’s true of this story, as well (and the others in the anthology, too). These authors understand those issues, understand character, and understand storytelling, which leads to a skill in telling stories that are incredibly effective in their purposes.

H.E.R.O.

Urban fantasy. Anxiety rep. More Greek mythology. Oh! And a pet phoenix! The worldbuilding in this one was really interesting, putting creative twists on Greek mythology. I really enjoyed the blend of ancient mythology and a sci-fi urban world. I also especially loved the conclusion of this story.

The Gods of Troy

This one blends Greek mythology with space-based sci-fi, and I liked the worldbuilding of the Titans. The story stays very true to its source material, while still putting an interesting spin on it. I liked it a lot.

The Unicorn Tamer

Andorians are adorable, the writing of this story is hilarious, and grumpy characters are super fun to read about. Probably my favorite moment in the story has to do with fuzzy copyright laws. XD (Which is a pun, come to think of it…) There’s also a unicorn named Greg, another phoenix (because phoenixes are epic), and… an unexpected ending. Overall, thoroughly enjoyable.

Lamp of Silver

This story was an intriguing look at both a different kind of genie from most and a deep theme. Plus, pirates and others who live on the ocean are cool. I don’t have as much to say about this one specifically, but it was well-done.

The Staff of Callewhyr

This story centers around a monk, which is super cool because I feel like we don’t get enough scholars and religious folk as MCs in epic fantasy and I love reading about those aspects of a world. The Staff of Callewhyr did not disappoint. The world is fascinating, the characters in it both involved in it and deep in their own right, and the writing befitting of classic epic fantasy. I very much enjoyed reading this story, and I would love to read more about this world and these characters.

Aura

When I first read this story I described it as “sad and beautiful,” and I stand by that description. Philbrick seems to have a knack for those types of stories. The characters and their relationships form the core of this story, and they’re done extremely well. Philbrick does a good job of writing emotional stories, and that’s exemplified in Aura.

The Eyes of the Barghest

Ahhhh! I was so afraid I’d do this. I forgot one! And not at all because it’s forgettable. I loved The Eyes of the Barghest. It was deeply emotional and beautifully written. The atmosphere was stunning and fit the story perfectly. Everything from the characters’ different reactions to grief, to the setting, to the Barghest itself, to the ultimate conclusion of the story was skillfully crafted and moving.


I think this isn’t my most coherent review, which is a side-effect of waiting too long to write it and my just getting over a mental health dip, but hopefully I’ve communicated that Of Myth and Monster is amazing and you should definitely check it out and support these fantastic authors and read some awesome stories. ;)

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Of Myth and Monster by The Phoenix Fiction Writers

  1. Of Myth and Monster sounds fantastic! Anthologies aren’t usually my cup of tea, but if you’ve given it such a good review, it’s got to be worth it ;D Definitely adding it to my to-buy list ^-^

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