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A weaver is initiated into the ancient art of bringing a universe into existence. A demon hunter encounters an unlikely opponent. Four goddesses engage in a cosmic brawl. A graphic designer duels with a dark secret involving a mysterious tattoo. A defiant chudail makes a shocking announcement at a kitty party. A puppet seeking adventure discovers who she really is. A young A weaver is initiated into the ancient art of bringing a universe into existence. A demon hunter encounters an unlikely opponent. Four goddesses engage in a cosmic brawl. A graphic designer duels with a dark secret involving a mysterious tattoo. A defiant chudail makes a shocking announcement at a kitty party. A puppet seeking adventure discovers who she really is. A young woman's resolute choice leads her to haunt Death across millennia. . . A compelling collection of stories that speak of love, rage, rebellion, choices and chances, Magical Women brings together some of the strongest female voices in contemporary Indian writing. Combining astounding imagination with superlative craft, these tales will intrigue and delight readers in equal measure. Featuring the works of: * Asma Kazi * Kiran Manral * Krishna Udayasankar * Nikita Deshpande * Ruchika Roy * Samhita Arni * Sejal Mehta * Shreya Ila Anasuya * Shveta Thakrar * Shweta Taneja * Sujatha S.V. * Sukanya Venkatraghavan * Tashan Mehta * Trisha Das


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A weaver is initiated into the ancient art of bringing a universe into existence. A demon hunter encounters an unlikely opponent. Four goddesses engage in a cosmic brawl. A graphic designer duels with a dark secret involving a mysterious tattoo. A defiant chudail makes a shocking announcement at a kitty party. A puppet seeking adventure discovers who she really is. A young A weaver is initiated into the ancient art of bringing a universe into existence. A demon hunter encounters an unlikely opponent. Four goddesses engage in a cosmic brawl. A graphic designer duels with a dark secret involving a mysterious tattoo. A defiant chudail makes a shocking announcement at a kitty party. A puppet seeking adventure discovers who she really is. A young woman's resolute choice leads her to haunt Death across millennia. . . A compelling collection of stories that speak of love, rage, rebellion, choices and chances, Magical Women brings together some of the strongest female voices in contemporary Indian writing. Combining astounding imagination with superlative craft, these tales will intrigue and delight readers in equal measure. Featuring the works of: * Asma Kazi * Kiran Manral * Krishna Udayasankar * Nikita Deshpande * Ruchika Roy * Samhita Arni * Sejal Mehta * Shreya Ila Anasuya * Shveta Thakrar * Shweta Taneja * Sujatha S.V. * Sukanya Venkatraghavan * Tashan Mehta * Trisha Das

30 review for Magical Women

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sahitya

    This was such an unexpected read and I’m so delighted. I had completely forgotten that I preordered this book and when it suddenly showed up on my kindle, I couldn’t resist and had to begin immediately. I’m a huge fan of anthologies, and this was a wonderful opportunity to discover the most compelling female voices in contemporary Indian publishing. This a great collection of tales featuring badass women, who are fed up of being told what they should and shouldn’t do, and decide to take destiny This was such an unexpected read and I’m so delighted. I had completely forgotten that I preordered this book and when it suddenly showed up on my kindle, I couldn’t resist and had to begin immediately. I’m a huge fan of anthologies, and this was a wonderful opportunity to discover the most compelling female voices in contemporary Indian publishing. This a great collection of tales featuring badass women, who are fed up of being told what they should and shouldn’t do, and decide to take destiny into their own hands. There is also an underlying theme about the devastation being caused towards our Mother Earth across many stories and I loved this nod to Indian mythology where we worship Bhoomata. There are obviously both hits and misses like any anthologies, but I definitely ended the book feeling quite magical. Gul by Shreya Ila Anasuya This story had so many elements - the backdrop of the Sepoy mutiny, the mehfils of Lucknow, courtesan culture of the time and a beautiful tale of immortal love of two women. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Gandaberunda by S. V. Sujatha Wow this was creepy af. But written quite well. And I can’t say anything else without spoiling it. ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 Rulebook for Creating a Universe by Tashan Mehta This felt like a story about how women who stray from the so-called “rules” are always punished and used as cautionary tales. And that women should make their own rules and create their own destiny. This also seems like a very allegorical tale about the creation of a universe and I thought it was a good one. ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 The Demon Hunter’s Dilemma by Samhita Arni This was a wonderful story - a demon hunter realizing that everything she has been taught is not necessarily true, that we shouldn’t be quick to judge a whole group of people just because of the actions of the few. Definitely a very timely truth. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Earth and Evolution Walk into a Bar.. by Sejal Mehta This story had so many layers to it, but the heart of it is how humans are destroying the earth and also how the superior intelligence of humans is only increasing their penchant for violence against each other, and what will happen when Mother Earth decides to retaliate. This was masterful storytelling and I would have loved for it to be longer. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Tridevi Turbulence by Trisha Das Written as a conversation between the Goddesses, this story is a metaphor for how humans are abusing river Ganga and what would probably happen in the future if it isn’t stopped. Both witty and interesting. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Stone Cold by Kiran Manral Set in a futuristic world where every human touch is forbidden and cloning is the method to create the future of mankind, this story explores the theme of human desire. It was written very well. ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 The Gatekeeper’s Intern by Ruchika Roy I’m not sure I really understood this story about life, death and afterlife but I think the inherent message was that we should strive to create balance in the world, and not reinforce the negative things in life. ⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 Grandma Garam’s Kitty Party by Shweta Taneja I think this was a story about wanting to be different from what our family believes in, but ultimately realizing the importance of trusting our family. But it takes places among a group of chudails and it was written in such a hilarious manner, it made me quite hysterical. Couldn’t stop laughing. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Carnival at the Edge of the Worlds by Shveta Thakrar This is kind of a little retelling of Nala and Damayanti’s story but I can’t say I understood it well. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ The Rakshasi’s Rose Garden by Sukanya Venkatraghavan Quite a creepy tale about a Rakshasi living in the modern world, what starts out like a gossipy story turns into something so much more painful. Wonderfully written and made me quite emotional. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Bahameen by Asma Kazi I can’t say I understood the deeper meaning behind the story but it kinda tells that even deeds done with good intent can have devastating consequences. ⭐️⭐️.5 The Girl who Haunted Death by Nikita Deshpande A very compelling retelling of Savitri’s story, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. A kind of cautionary tale about “be careful what you wish for”, I thought it was written brilliantly. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Apocalyptica by Krishna Udayashankar Another story about the devastation happening around in the world, not just due to climate change but also violence perpetrated by humans in general - this one is told through the eyes of the three Goddess who are fed up of their Trimurti husbands not doing enough and decide to take matters into their own hands. It’s brutal but definitely a wonderful read. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Average Rating : ⭐️⭐️⭐️.96

  2. 4 out of 5

    K.J. Charles

    What mostly comes out of this collection of stories by Indian women and nonbinary writers (many based on Indian myth and folklore) is rage. Lots of it. I don't think I've read a collection previously where we see the protagonists wipe out the human race *twice*, but here it feels like most of the other MCs are just biding their time. There's rage about cruelty, rape, the destruction of the environment around us, patriarchy and cis men's disregard of women and children--and there is vengeance, in What mostly comes out of this collection of stories by Indian women and nonbinary writers (many based on Indian myth and folklore) is rage. Lots of it. I don't think I've read a collection previously where we see the protagonists wipe out the human race *twice*, but here it feels like most of the other MCs are just biding their time. There's rage about cruelty, rape, the destruction of the environment around us, patriarchy and cis men's disregard of women and children--and there is vengeance, in the wiping out of humanity on large scale and small (Sukanya Venkatraghavan's story of a rakshasa living in an apartment block is particularly brutal). It's all highly cathartic. As ever with an anthology you like some of the stories more than others. I particularly loved Shweta Taneja's story of chudails (in myth, a horrible ugly female demon spirit with her feet on backwards who disguises herself as a beautiful woman to lure and devour men). That one is obviously ripe for reimagining and it's done to glorious comic effect here, including a foot fetishist and a young chudail who wants to go vegan. Samhita Arni's demon hunter who realises she's been wrong about who the bad guys are makes a lovely, hopeful story, and Gandaberunda by SV Sujatha has a spectacularly warped pair of serial killers. There's plenty of women who love women in this collection too, including the yearning story of a courtesan by Shreya Ila Anasuya. I'm also really pleased Hachette India made this globally accessible. There's so much Indian fantasy that I can't get hold of except by shipping second hand copies across the globe and thus not paying the author/publisher, and that gets more frustrating the more I do read, because what you can get hold of is so good. (eg Tashan Mehta's story has left me with a painful need for The Liar's Weave.) A great collection.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Today's book is a feminist SFF collection by Indian women/nonbinary writers, 2019's Magical Women edited by Sukanya Venkatraghavan. Spoilers follow and mentions of sexual violence. What I Thought (Story By Story) Gul by Shreya Ila Anasuya - this one tells a beautiful but sorrowful story of enduring love between two courtesans, one of whom is immortal. I especially appreciated the way the history of British colonialism was interwoven into the story, exploring the impact of British occupation and v Today's book is a feminist SFF collection by Indian women/nonbinary writers, 2019's Magical Women edited by Sukanya Venkatraghavan. Spoilers follow and mentions of sexual violence. What I Thought (Story By Story) Gul by Shreya Ila Anasuya - this one tells a beautiful but sorrowful story of enduring love between two courtesans, one of whom is immortal. I especially appreciated the way the history of British colonialism was interwoven into the story, exploring the impact of British occupation and violence on courtesans' experiences. 4/5 stars. Gandaberunda by S.V. Sujantha- a girl who ate her twin in the womb commits serial killings of men with the help of the twin. This one was quite creepy, and I think I would have found it more interesting  if it had delved into how they selected the men to murder - the one that they killed in the story was a would-be rapist, but I wasn't sure whether the other men they had killed were also selected for similar reasons. In any case the main motive seemed to be plain and simple robbery as opposed to any kind of misandrist vengeance (I'm not saying that's a good thing, but it might have been interesting). 3/5 stars. Rulebook for Creating a Universe by Tashan Mehta - this is a story of the beings responsible for creating universes, and one girl in particular who does not follow the gendered prescriptions of her society. It's a story of women who choose not to follow the rules that are made for them, their punishment for action and resistance and the beauty of what comes from that resistance. This might be my favorite of the collection; it was beautifully written. 5/5 stars.  The Demon Hunter's Dilemma by Samhita Arni - a demon hunter learns that she has been manipulated by her mentor and that not all demons are monsters. This is a great premise but I think it suffers for being communicated in a short story format - the main character just falls in love so easily and changes her mind about her mentor so quickly. I would have enjoyed this story much more if her internal process of change had been more fleshed out. 2/5 stars Earth and Evolution Walk into a Bar by Sejal Mehta - Mother Earth fights back against human depredations by giving women and children monstrous powers, and when Evolution tries to stop her she decides to end suffering once and for all. The story features an examination of the relationship between humans violating other humans and the ways that humans violate the earth as well as a reflection on the false logic of humans being "more evolved" than other creatures. 3/5 stars.  Tridevi Turbulence by Trisha Das --the goddesses discuss the current state of the world, and decide to see how humans do when they can no longer take the river Ginga/Ganges for granted any longer. I appreciated the continuation of the theme of nature's exploitation and how it relates to human violence, but I struggled to keep the goddesses straight. I think this one might be a lot easier for someone who has previously familiar with the Hindu gods and goddesses.  3/5 Stone Cold by Kiran Manral - a story of lesbian desire in a dystopian future where touch is forbidden. Unfortunately, I felt like most of this story was occupied with info-dump exposition about the dystopian future without much of anything happening plot or character-wise. 2/5 stars. The Gatekeeper's Intern by Ruchika Roy - a woman finds meaning in her work in the afterlife. There are some interesting ideas about the balance between  chaos and peace/good and bad but, similarly  to the previous story, I felt like most of it was just exposition about how Roy's version of the afterlife functioned and it struggled to keep my interest. 2/5 stars.  Grandma Garam's Kitty Party by Shweta Taneja - a chudail (a backwards-footed demon that preys on men) fights her family's expectations for her by deciding to "go straight" and no longer prey on humans. This one was absolutely hilarious  - for instance, I'm in awe of Taneja's decision to have the chudails encounter a foot fetishist, and all of the chudails were delightfully horrible. 5/5 stars. The Carnival a the Edge of the Worlds Shveta Thakrar - a retelling of the romance of Nala and Damayanti (told in the Mahabharata) with enchanted puppets and an interdimensional circus. The sheer inventiveness of that premise alone makes this one stand out.  3/5 stars.  The Rakshasi's Rose Garden by Sukanya Venkatraghavan - listen, I will never get tired of stories of vengeful women punishing predatory men with their transformative magic. It's simply Charlotte catnip. Compared to characters from history and myth that follow this pattern before her, Ari is a beautifully-written character and this one certainly stood out from the pack. 5/5 stars. Bahameen by Amsa Kazi - this one is about time hoppers who lose their memories of living on previous worlds? I THINK? I'm not going to lie to you, I had absolutely no idea what was happening the whole time. I considered re-reading this one to see if I would understand it better a second time, but ultimately I decided that, having read it once already, nothing about it particularly indicated that reading it again would be a rewarding experience.  1/5, with the caveat that it's probably just because I'm too dumb to understand it.  The Girl Who Haunted Death by Nikita Deshpande - this is a retelling of  Savitri’s story from the Mahabharata, where the journey to bring her husband back to life changes what she wants in the first place after she comes to know Death firsthand. Savitri is known as the epitome of a faithful, dedicated wife and I really appreciated that this story gave her dimmensionality and complex motivations and emotions. 4/5 stars.  Apocalyptica by Krishna Udayasankar - the goddesses conspire to bring about the apocalypse by awakening Bhumi, Mother Earth. This one also highlights the parallels between human violence and the destruction of the earth - really it's so bizarrely similar to Earth and Evolution Walk into a Bar as they both explore these themes and feature deities bringing about the apocalypse. 3/5. Every story in this collection meditates upon feminism in one form or another, from the forms of violence that women are disproportionately subjected to and the actions that we may take in response to this to a reclamation of famous female myths and monsters, giving them new complexity and agency all their own. Some of the stories are deeply angry, others hopeful and thoughtful, but all of them left me with a sense of urgency and empowerment. It's a special collection, and one that I'm very glad to have read.  About the Editor (from Goodreads) "Sukanya Venkat is an Indian writer. Her first novel Dark Things was on Amazon India's Most Memorable Books of 2016. She is the editor of Magical Women, a feminist, fantasy anthology. She started her film journalism career with Filmfare and was also the entertainment editor at Marie Claire. Sukanya has been part of the creative team, including scripting and research, for shows such as Look Who's Talking With Niranjan (ZEE Café), Design HQ Season 2 (Fox Life) and Koffee with Karan (Season 6). Based in Mumbai, she is currently working on her next book."

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mridula Gupta

    ‘Magical Women’ is a collection of 14 women-centric short stories that deals with issues such as sexual abuse, patriarchy, Global Warming, love, and loneliness. It’s quite diverse and contains strong opinionated and rational voices. The stories are a mix of fantasy, contemporary literature, mythology, and science fiction. Since each story has been contributed by a different author, the writing style might be difficult to follow. But most of these stories are imaginative and intricate retellings t ‘Magical Women’ is a collection of 14 women-centric short stories that deals with issues such as sexual abuse, patriarchy, Global Warming, love, and loneliness. It’s quite diverse and contains strong opinionated and rational voices. The stories are a mix of fantasy, contemporary literature, mythology, and science fiction. Since each story has been contributed by a different author, the writing style might be difficult to follow. But most of these stories are imaginative and intricate retellings that are engrossing and definitive. The Sci-fi ones didn’t work for me because that genre is still alien to me, but the rest of the collection was remarkable. My favorite from this collection are: -Rulebook for Creating a Universe by Tashan Mehta: One child’s appeal to bring change and maintain balance goes unheard when men decide that there is only one way to life-their way. -Earth and Evolution walk into a Bar by Sejal Mehta: An intense conversation between Earth and Evolution -Tridevi Turbulence by Trisha Das: Based on the pollution of the river Ganges and its disappearance due to Global Warming -The Carnival at the Edge of the World by Shveta Thakrar: A retelling of ‘Nala and Damayanti’ -The Rakshasi’s Rose Garden by Sukanya Venkatraghavan: A witch’s approach to molesters and abusers -The Girl who Haunted Death by Nikita Deshpande: A retelling of Savitri and her encounter with Death. This collection is perfect if you are looking for something that isn’t traditional storytelling but equally fun and eye-opening.

  5. 5 out of 5

    John Trident

    Magical women Sukanya Venkatraghavan The writing style of each author in every chapter is so lucid, strong, unnerving, powerful & most importantly, soothing. The way it has been highlighted & magnified - taking into account every minute aspect of our lives. The stories are unnerving, the way every page moves leaves a deep impression, an impersonation of a great work of art which only a handful of authors manage to accomplish. What makes the book interesting is it's realistic nature of approach tow Magical women Sukanya Venkatraghavan The writing style of each author in every chapter is so lucid, strong, unnerving, powerful & most importantly, soothing. The way it has been highlighted & magnified - taking into account every minute aspect of our lives. The stories are unnerving, the way every page moves leaves a deep impression, an impersonation of a great work of art which only a handful of authors manage to accomplish. What makes the book interesting is it's realistic nature of approach towards the world & what makes it exciting is that - it teaches the readers that we've a strong warrior in each & every one of us. It seeps through our veins nonchalantly. The charismatic avatar which has been bestowed upon us makes us exceedingly remarkable. And via these stories, we bring the legends back to life - often because the world knows that women are powerful & they're scared of them. It's not that easy to write on controversial topics & everything that defies the so-called laws of society. The stringent intracies with which they're deeply intertwined in every aspect is unnervingly annoying. Merely talking or propagating about them leads to unnecessary issues leading to dire consequences, thereof due to the stern stereotypes & presumable prejudices in various levels & contexts. Furthermore, the manipulative moral conducts & ethics get involved, which make things more complicated. Especially when we talk about girls or women, who've been subjected to various subjunctive atrocities & subjugated to unspeakable unsympathetic unsurprisingly unsurpassed insurmountable troubles & often chased as the subject of criticism. But so far, they've been unsuccessful. My favourite stories are Gul, The demon hunter's dilemma, The gatekeeper's intern, Earth & evolution walk into a bar, Rulebook for creating a universe, The carnival at the edge of the worlds, The Rakshasi's rose garden, The Girl who haunted death; & Apocalypta! Every story is unique & each of the titles sound interesting in every aspect. It's magical, heartbreaking, uplifting, joyful, funny, sad, surreal, familiar, riveting & most importantly - they get connected to us instantly. The cataclysmic interface by which they get interspersed with us gives a feeling of age-old retelling of fairy-tale & mythological characters. Women are the most powerful creation of God. They're really mysterious. Yet, the strongest among all sexes. However, since ancient times they've been subjugated to various atrocities & injustices. They've suffered since eons. The most common being - getting them forcefully engaged & married at a tender age without their consent - where they're supposed to be studying, playing, fulfilling their dreams & building their career. According to me, a girl should get to decide what she wants to do with her life, fulfil her own dreams, when she wants to get married & most importantly, whom she wants to marry. Well that being said, it's not like people follow this norm. Because, for them society, relatives, presumably the age old prejudices & stereotypes play more important roles than their own daughter's lives & dreams. Cover is beautiful. It has been exceptionally designed. It's been such a long time since I've come across such a refine work of art. Title is apt & goes in perfect accordance with the stories. Language is good, really impressive. Narration is good. The amount of research/hardwork can be seen & becomes quite evident once you read this book. It's amazing, the execution has been done in a subtle way. The amount of research done here self-evident. Writing style has been balanced in such a way, that all age groups will be able to understand & derive benefit from it. Overall, a well balanced, well-written & inspiring book. A must for all the girls!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Shreya Ila Anasuya

    I'm one of the contributors to this anthology. Once I finally had the chance to read all the other stories, I was immensely moved by the depth and variety in the storytelling by all the other thirteen writers. I particularly adore the retellings because I have a weakness for them – and overall, the collections shimmers and glows. I really hope you'll read this beautiful book we made together, and enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed making it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Asma Kazi

    I am one of the contributing authors to this Magical Anthology, and was lucky to have received and read the Author's copy a couple of weeks before the official release. As in case with anthologies, I was reading thirteen of the fourteen stories for the first time and living up to its name, the reading left me all dreamy and thoroughly enchanted. The book is lush with beautifully written tales of glorious ends and hopeful beginnings, of love, rage and betrayal. It is a great medley of stories tha I am one of the contributing authors to this Magical Anthology, and was lucky to have received and read the Author's copy a couple of weeks before the official release. As in case with anthologies, I was reading thirteen of the fourteen stories for the first time and living up to its name, the reading left me all dreamy and thoroughly enchanted. The book is lush with beautifully written tales of glorious ends and hopeful beginnings, of love, rage and betrayal. It is a great medley of stories that are clever, unique in their concept, & storytelling. ‪What I found most fascinating was how the writers, who have never discussed their stories with each other before, have written these deeply resonant tales, that ping at each other through their common elements & themes, of triple goddesses, bhoomi , children of this land and multiverses, that light up across the stories leaving a glorious breadcrumb trail. Very serendipitous and quite beautiful. *Sigh* You should definitely read it!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sookie

    1. Gul by Shreya Ila Anasuya: A lovely sapphic love story between an immortal woman and a courtesan in 1850s Lucknow. Its the time when the presence of British army is at its height and there is tension in the air. A chance encounter, changing times, make for a wonderful story. The writing was especially impressive and easily one of my favourites. 2. Gandaberunda by S. V. Sujataha: Two headed bird provides a heavy allegory in the story and it had nothing to do with the myth. An interesting premi 1. Gul by Shreya Ila Anasuya: A lovely sapphic love story between an immortal woman and a courtesan in 1850s Lucknow. Its the time when the presence of British army is at its height and there is tension in the air. A chance encounter, changing times, make for a wonderful story. The writing was especially impressive and easily one of my favourites. 2. Gandaberunda by S. V. Sujataha: Two headed bird provides a heavy allegory in the story and it had nothing to do with the myth. An interesting premise to a story that doesn't work in this short form. 3. Rulebook for creating a universe by Tashan Mehta: This is perhaps my favourite story in the collection. I just finished reading The Liar's weave by the same author and I like the layered nuance she brings to her writing. This short story is jammed with multitudes of problematic themes that has curbed creative outlet in women. The protagonist in this story finds herself at odds with infinite aptitude to create and the obstruction brought down by rules and regulations of the elders. She is reduced to a cautionary tale though her creations are too obvious to go unnoticed. (And all because she dared to put flaws in her creation.) 4. The Demon hunter's dilemma by Samhita Arni: A pretty straight forward story about not judging people. Thankfully ends in a hopeful note. 5. Earth and Evolution walk into a bar by Sejal Mehta: Mother Earth is chastised by the guy who manages evolutionary process in the universe. She is pissed. She is angry. She is hurt. She is filled with rage. She doesn't have any fucks left to give to this evolutionary process management guy who doesn't know the thing that makes a man rape a woman or why three men gang rape a six year old child. She doesn't have patience for the guy to fix "problematic behaviour" of humans who want to rehome crocodiles and other animals from their natural habitat. So she decides to take a drastic action to fix this once and for all. Am with her on this. Achoo. 6. Tridevi Turbulence by Trisha Das: Hilarious take on a very serious problem. Rivers are drying up. They are dying, polluted and used up beyond our control. One day they will disappear. Free of humans and their interventions. 7. Stone Cold by Kiran Manral: This was pretty fascinating. Its a modern/dystopian take on Yakshi/Yaksha mythos - sort of lower order demons/beings that behave like succubus. The setting, the execution makes it a very interesting read. 8. The Gatekeepers Intern by Ruchika Roy: I wish this was a score longer because it felt rushed and unfinished. Sure there is a definitive end to the story in itself but its hurried and the world that was built in this short span was too large to fit in these few pages. 9. Grandma's garam kitty party by Shweta Taneja: Group of chudails, man with an odd fetish and what it means to be a family. Couldn't get better. 10. The carnival at the edge of the worlds by Shveta Thakrar: Sort of ode to Nala-Damayanti mythology with a twist. Pretty decent. 11. The Rakshasi's rose garden by Sukanya Venkataraghavan: A heart breaking story that takes the form of rage. "A weak no is still a yes, isn't it?" the man asks the woman, the Rakshasi, to which she responds with rage that it deserves. Painful at times, timely all along - this story isn't just well written but well executed till the very end. Definitely one of my favourites. 12. Bahameen by Asma Kazi: I skipped a portion of this story as I lost its coherence on the way. The story is bittersweet, and the ending...well, the ending is also kind of beginning. 13. The Girl who haunted death by Nikita Deshpande: Another favourite, lovely writing and incredibly engaging. A love story across time and ages. 14. Apocalyptica by Krishna Udayshankar: The three Goddesses of pantheon decide enough is enough and decide to "fix" the world. And how they do. They each have gripes about their husband's ignorance and allowing the violence to perpetuate in the world for so long.

  9. 5 out of 5

    A Million Books

    Some of the stories gave me chills, some of the pure acts of female solidarity and togetherness made me smile, the stories were unique - I felt the magic as they unraveled before me - and the writing was exquisite throughout these 14 stories. Highly recommended.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Eva Pavithran

    Some of the characters in Magical Women are older than time. Then again, they aren’t. While Indian mythology has always had strong female characters, they were more often than not, shunned into the shadows of their male counterparts. Magical Women turns this on its head. Names like Savitri, Damyandhi, Ganga, Lakshmi and Parvathi pop up, but in a more contemporary setting. And, there lies its beauty. While epics have alienated readers, Magical Women has the power to draw fans across the board. Th Some of the characters in Magical Women are older than time. Then again, they aren’t. While Indian mythology has always had strong female characters, they were more often than not, shunned into the shadows of their male counterparts. Magical Women turns this on its head. Names like Savitri, Damyandhi, Ganga, Lakshmi and Parvathi pop up, but in a more contemporary setting. And, there lies its beauty. While epics have alienated readers, Magical Women has the power to draw fans across the board. There are 14 stories in this fantasy fiction anthology. And each and every one of them has a feminist female lead, and without the blatant male bashing. Stories have been beautifully woven around familiar themes of love, loss, sacrifice, but with a magical spin. A few stories touch up on the threat of rape and child rape with angry goddesses and even a rakshasi, taking matters into their own hands. The assault against our planet is also a common topic, and perhaps testimonial to the frustration experienced by those who are distraught by the destruction wreaked by our race. For someone like me, who’s a fan of this genre, I can’t tell you my delight to find familiar characters (in a familiar setting) take centre stage than some God of Asgard. These are our ‘wonder women’, deeply rooted in our culture, traditions and legends. It wouldn’t be fair to list out of favourites from this collection. So, I won’t. I wish some big studio picks Magical Women up and makes it into a series, so Indian writing, mythology and women writers get the international acclaim they so deserve!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tanvi

    *3.75 out of 5 stars

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sarmistha

    Every woman is a warrior of her own life. : Magical Women is an awe inspiring eye opener that beautifully encapsulate the soul of ground realities ranging from crime against women and children, exploitation of natural resources, pollution among many others.A fine collection of stories that bares the very fibre of modern materialistic society, the rentless pursuit of ambitious man and the most likely outcome of his autocratic nature. : The tales of strong women with a touch of charm, mythology and fa Every woman is a warrior of her own life. : Magical Women is an awe inspiring eye opener that beautifully encapsulate the soul of ground realities ranging from crime against women and children, exploitation of natural resources, pollution among many others.A fine collection of stories that bares the very fibre of modern materialistic society, the rentless pursuit of ambitious man and the most likely outcome of his autocratic nature. : The tales of strong women with a touch of charm, mythology and fantasy who took the reins in their hands, survived the odds and shaped their own fate. A weaver who created her own universe defying the rulebook,a huntress who fall in love with her own prey, the mother who refused to entertain the exploitation by her children any more and the cosmic powers who initiated doom of their own creation. I fell in love with The Rakshasi's Rose Garden and can admit without any care that I would be happy to maintain a garden like Ira's if it means few less unspoilt innocence. : The stories narrated with elements of love, friendship,rage and rebellion will surely entice the readers.The detailed characters and the well defined premise brought alive an altogether different world.The alluring themes will surely move the hearts of many and set the mind thinking about the unavoidable burning issues. 🌼 Humans have invited the wrath of supreme power through his ceaseless demands, excessive greed,lust and thoughtless actions. I pray the man take charge of the situation before it becomes too late.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ronita Banerjee

    Magical women took me to places unimaginable and introduced me to some magical women. The stories are a brilliant composition with a touch of magic. Each and every story was perfect in it's own way. Among these perfect stories "Rulebook for creating a universe" and "Earth and Evolution walk into a bar..." will remain etched on my mind forever. Every story had a different taste yet all had the same agenda to highlight the women, their desires and cravings and the power that she carries. A power that Magical women took me to places unimaginable and introduced me to some magical women. The stories are a brilliant composition with a touch of magic. Each and every story was perfect in it's own way. Among these perfect stories "Rulebook for creating a universe" and "Earth and Evolution walk into a bar..." will remain etched on my mind forever. Every story had a different taste yet all had the same agenda to highlight the women, their desires and cravings and the power that she carries. A power that can destroy the world just like it can build it. I loved every inch of the stories and the authors did a great job highlighting some of the most talked agendas laced with fantasy. Sukanya Venkatraghavan did a great job choosing the stories and compiling them in a beautiful book of women who knows magic in a way or the other. I would rate this book 4.5⭐️.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Nikita Deshpande

    Disclosure/Disclaimer: I have a story in this anthology. There are NO SPOILERS ahead. Now that's out of the way... When you contribute a story to an anthology like this, you typically have no idea what the other stories are like until you hold a copy of the book in your hands. As you can imagine, I was blown away. Even within the scope of fantasy by women and non-binary people, the anthology covers themes and ideas as wide as: - new creation myths - retellings of old Indian mythologies/characters - Disclosure/Disclaimer: I have a story in this anthology. There are NO SPOILERS ahead. Now that's out of the way... When you contribute a story to an anthology like this, you typically have no idea what the other stories are like until you hold a copy of the book in your hands. As you can imagine, I was blown away. Even within the scope of fantasy by women and non-binary people, the anthology covers themes and ideas as wide as: - new creation myths - retellings of old Indian mythologies/characters - stories that marry mythical creatures with futuristic dystopias or the present-day hellhole that is rape culture - stories that time travel, stories that take you to pre-independence Lucknow and Calcutta, to the lamplit halls of courtesans in British India - stories that re-examine the old narratives of victors, of who gets villainized in the stories we tell - stories that speak of what we have done to our planet, our rivers, our gods and goddesses, our fellow humans - stories that imagine what might happen if they struck back This is a book I enjoyed doubly as a reader. It is a reminder of the possibilities that exist within this genre, among writers who are women and non-binary and of the magic we are capable of, when we tell our own stories.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nikita | thebookelf_

    💫Magical Women! Ah! Such a beautiful collection of unique stories. Each one written keeping in focus a strong, powerful and confident female character. What can I say? As I read each story I feel deeper in love with the characters, the writing technique, and the touch of magic! The book is a big chunk of chocolate dipped in gold. It’s beautiful on the surface and irresistibly rich in its theme, message and plot. Some stories will blow your mind, make you visualise each word you read and transport y 💫Magical Women! Ah! Such a beautiful collection of unique stories. Each one written keeping in focus a strong, powerful and confident female character. What can I say? As I read each story I feel deeper in love with the characters, the writing technique, and the touch of magic! The book is a big chunk of chocolate dipped in gold. It’s beautiful on the surface and irresistibly rich in its theme, message and plot. Some stories will blow your mind, make you visualise each word you read and transport you to a dreamy fantasy land. One of my favourite was Tashan Mehta’s Rulebook for Creating the Universe. I absolutely loved the thought process behind writing this story. The description is so vivid that I could imagine Yukti and the lotuses. S.V. Sujatha’s Gandaberunda absolutely blew my mind. It was eerie and strong at the same time. I couldn’t help but love Earth and Evolution Walk into a Bar. It’s humours but leaves you in deep thought. There are places where the book is a miss and go - it faintly idolises women with “hourglass” figure and “glowing” complexion. The book subtly touches pressing issues like environmental crisis, child rape, anti-feminism to name a few, while the major theme of the book remains fantasy and fiction. The book is an absolute must read. And yes! I wear the pin on me most often because after all there’s a little magic in all of us! ✨

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jaya Nagarajan

    Outstanding. Must read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Fathima (books_andstories_)

    I never knew that an anthology could have the same voice behind different faces. So I was astonished when all the stories in this book rooted from shared problems and ended with the same note. I always love women who lift each other up and who can understand each other's problems we hide behind our veils. like, telling the world, 'Yes, it's our problem but if we stand together there will be nothing between us and our better world'. I saw that unity in this book. Every women in these multitude of I never knew that an anthology could have the same voice behind different faces. So I was astonished when all the stories in this book rooted from shared problems and ended with the same note. I always love women who lift each other up and who can understand each other's problems we hide behind our veils. like, telling the world, 'Yes, it's our problem but if we stand together there will be nothing between us and our better world'. I saw that unity in this book. Every women in these multitude of stories were fierce, strong and unbreakable without losing their femininity. They were the best examples for how to be women and how you can still slay it. Power is power and there is no gender involved. Omg! I loved each and every story so much. And I guess they were the best in their short story format. It made their stories more powerful. That ending was epic and I would read it again and again to let those words burn etched in my skin forever. I definitely can't recommend this book enough. Just read it if you love strong women in action. You will absolutely love it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Zainab Fatima

    "Magical Women" is a collection of 14 enchanting short stories of women by several Indian authors with a twist of mysticism, mythology and fantasy that totally blew me away. I've two notable reasons to adore this book. First, the concept of the book is extraordinarily beautiful. Second, it took me a while to process each story in a good way. Every tales were ponderous and thought-provoking. It has everything you can ask from a book with the mystical concept, a churail, goddesses, a woman who transc "Magical Women" is a collection of 14 enchanting short stories of women by several Indian authors with a twist of mysticism, mythology and fantasy that totally blew me away. I've two notable reasons to adore this book. First, the concept of the book is extraordinarily beautiful. Second, it took me a while to process each story in a good way. Every tales were ponderous and thought-provoking. It has everything you can ask from a book with the mystical concept, a churail, goddesses, a woman who transcends time, a demon hunter, mysterious tattoo girl, an occult statue, witches and what not all talking about rage, vengeance and love as a whole. You might not resonate with all of the stories but this book with its dreamy and marvellous characters will definitely make you oblivious driving you into their world at some point or the other. The writing style of each author added charm to the book and their efforts are seen into this 14 mysterious tales. It felt that every story is written by a single author. Sukanya Venkatraghavan @zooku has done an incredible job by compiling 14 distinct and profound tales into one book. I highly recommend to read this beauty.✨

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jubi

    Such a sumptuous read 😍😍😍

  20. 4 out of 5

    Hansda Shekhar

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The stories in Magical Women are about women who are born with magic, who know their powers and are not afraid of using it. Here is my entire review in National Herald On Sunday: http://epaper.nationalheraldindia.com... The stories in Magical Women are about women who are born with magic, who know their powers and are not afraid of using it. Here is my entire review in National Herald On Sunday: http://epaper.nationalheraldindia.com...

  21. 5 out of 5

    Meera Nair

    4.5 stars Review to be posted on my YouTube channel. Stay tuned!

  22. 5 out of 5

    BookEnds&BagEnds

    Overall Review - ‘May we never be held hostage by old narratives…’ Amruta Patil- Manifesto of the Uncowed The opening quote and powerful introduction by the books editor, Sukanya Venkatraghavan, make it very clear the purpose of this short-story collection. This anthology is a rallying cry for women, told through fourteen potent keepsake tales that while entrenched in Indian mythology, are very much forward facing and representative of a modern, feminist, Indian psyche. When you open these pages you Overall Review - ‘May we never be held hostage by old narratives…’ Amruta Patil- Manifesto of the Uncowed The opening quote and powerful introduction by the books editor, Sukanya Venkatraghavan, make it very clear the purpose of this short-story collection. This anthology is a rallying cry for women, told through fourteen potent keepsake tales that while entrenched in Indian mythology, are very much forward facing and representative of a modern, feminist, Indian psyche. When you open these pages you will experience a great many delights. Pure fantasy, dystopian futures, and blended worlds populated by an eclectic cast of gods, mortals, and other more mythological creatures. As I read through each of the stories I was genuinely dazzled by the strong and beautiful storytelling. Each of them is a window through which I saw things from a new and completely different perspective. It’s a very diverse anthology and not just because it is anchored in a vibrant culture, not of my own. There are tenderly realised LGBTQ+ relationships and nods towards gender-fluidity, these took me by surprise as, un-educated as I am, I expected a degree of conservatism which it turns out has absolutely no place in Magical Women. The story selection and editing are flawless. Themes and narratives bounce off one-another and there is a natural flow from beginning to end. If Magical Women is a diamond, Sukanya Venkatraghavan is a master-jeweller who has worked this jewel to the heavenly lustre. There are some of the tales which I liked less then others but they all have strong themes and identities that point towards real world issues. Now I’m not going lie, almost to a story, these tales are triggering as they cover rape, molestation, and violence. To female readers I don’t doubt there will be a feeling of empowerment as the women here are taking back control defying family and authority as well as enacting violence of their own. For male readers it could be slightly shameful, and as as a knee-jerk reaction labelled as misandrist rather than the uncomfortable, but, truthful feminist role-reversal that it actually is. But if you are able to deal with triggering themes and have an open-mind I implore you to read this gorgeous banquet of Indian SFF. My Top Two Stories Gul by Shreya Ila Anasuya - ‘I was in love with her; I was terrified of her. Fear and love became locked in a fierce embrace, and fed each other like air feeds fire.’ Gul is a story that draws from pre-colonial India and the time of the courtesan, the taiwaf. Descriptively it is sumptuous yet gothic, giving a beautiful glimpse of perfumed and decadent mehfils before British oppression. The spine of the story is that of a tender yet possessive LGBTQ+ love. A love which while abandoned burns and endures for long years. It is a tale of immortality both literally and figuratively. There was a sadness filigreed throughout Gul which was at a counterpoint to the other more fiery emotions that burned intensely across this short fiction. This was a delightful story and its song will haunt your thoughts long after you have finished. Earth and Evolution Walk into a Bar by Sejal Metha - The air in the room shifted in a heady ripple. She was here. This story was written so cleverly and had such an imaginative angle, it was possibly my favourite of all fourteen. Reading it put me in mind of a much darker, almost dystopian Good Omens. But rather than heaven and hell we have evolution and Earth at odds, trying to exist within a system where balance has long been lost. It’s a very relevant story as it deals with the inhumanity of man towards man, in particular towards women, and also our impact upon the environment. The ending is sublime. Who would I recommend this to? If alliteration has a special place in your heart you shouldn't ignore this fabulous, feminist fantasy. Devourers of decadently diverse, and delicious Desi-mythology should also pick this up pronto.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rutuja Ramteke

    💍Magical Women By Sukanya Venkatraghavan💍 A compelling collection of stories that speak of love, rage, rebellion, choices and chances, Magical Women brings together some of the strongest female voices in contemporary Indian writing. Combining astounding imagination with superlative craft, these tales will intrigue and delight readers in equal measure. . 📚My thoughts: Frankly speaking, have you read a book which while reading gives you vibes that you gonna re-read it? If yes, then this is exactly wh 💍Magical Women By Sukanya Venkatraghavan💍 A compelling collection of stories that speak of love, rage, rebellion, choices and chances, Magical Women brings together some of the strongest female voices in contemporary Indian writing. Combining astounding imagination with superlative craft, these tales will intrigue and delight readers in equal measure. . 📚My thoughts: Frankly speaking, have you read a book which while reading gives you vibes that you gonna re-read it? If yes, then this is exactly what I felt about this book. While reading, I was so so mesmerised by the beautiful way of the book which took me to my dream destination of thoughts. It's a fictional collection of short stories, stories which are no just stories. They are very strong, the stories are not only linked secretly but also has the potential to creat an environment of encouragement. Very bold, yet fragile. Taking about the frame work of the book, so trust me it's more than beautiful. When you start it, you may take a bit of time to settle with the on going situation but once you do that, you shall enjoy it as much as I did. . Wow, how can I forget about the beautiful cover, I think it must have took alot of efforts to get designed, it's all worth it though. The writing has a flow & the authors have done an amazing job. I loved that the book is away from pseudo feminism & I really appreciate the entire enormous efforts taken. I loved it to the core. A bold read & highly recommended. . Rating: 4🌟

  24. 4 out of 5

    Charvi

    What a beautiful collection of stories! I absolutely loved the different takes on Hindu mythologies. I think one of my favorites was the retelling of Savitri 's story. I wouldn't mind reading full fledged books on quite a few of them. Many had the theme of humanity gone wrong and us humans turning on each other nad destroying everything and how we had to be stopped along with feminist themes which is what made this whole book unique and truly appreciable. Loved it ❤️

  25. 5 out of 5

    Prachi Pati

    What a beautiful collection of stories on Indian mythological women, written with a fresh take on their origins or stories. I absolutely loved the stories and would recommend this book to everyone. My favourite stories were The Yakshi’s rose garden and Earth and Evolution walk into a bar. There were some stories that I couldn’t relate to or understand that clearly, but overall, this book is as magical as the title suggests it to be.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Akash

    Thunderstorm! That's what I call a book like this. Each story is riveting and makes the book hard to put down. These 14 authors go far and beyond where any Indian writer regardless of their gender has tried to wander. The stories have a wide range from Dystopian universes to Chudails and then to quarrels between Indian deities over what the human race has become. Loved each story though Gul by Shreya remains my personal best.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Fictionhead

    My favourite story in this collection was Shweta Taneja's Grandma Garam's Kitty Party because of how fun it was!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mark Ballinger

    A good collection of fantasy stories. Some meander, but others are really good. I enjoyed picking up fantasy models of gods and monsters from Indian mythology. I want to find future books from several of these writers, liking "Demon Hunter's Dilemma" by Samhita Arni, "Earth and Evolution Walk Into a Bar" by Sejal Mehta, and "The Rakshasi's Rose Garden" by Sukanya Venkatraghavan.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Susie Munro

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A strong and ferociously angry collection of women's speculative stories from India.

  30. 5 out of 5

    A_Chirping_Aquarian

    I loved the book. The stories are so powerful that it’s so hard to put down and totally not in sync with anything that I have read so far but it’s an incredible book! Each story is unique in its own way!

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