I recently read Kindred, an Australian anthology full of LGBTQ+ stories by LGBTQ+ authors! I really enjoyed it, so I thought I’d share my review here. I’ve reviewed every story individually, which I hope is helpful!
What does it mean to be queer? What does it mean to be human? In this powerful #OwnVoices collection, twelve of Australia’s finest queer writers explore the stories of family, friends, lovers and strangers – the connections that form us.
Compelling queer short fiction by bestsellers, award winners and newcomers to the #LoveOzYA community including Jax Jacki Brown, Claire G Coleman, Michael Earp, Alison Evans, Erin Gough, Benjamin Law, Omar Sakr, Christos Tsiolkas, Ellen van Neerven, Marlee Jane Ward, Jen Wilde and Nevo Zisin.
Marlee Jane Ward – Rats 4/5
This first story is set in the near dystopian future, from what I could tell. The world building is subtle but interesting, and mostly made clear through details rather than explanations. This works really well, especially since it gives the more subtle exchanges between the characters more weight as well.
The story has a meet cute between a “tunnel rat”, aka a girl who lives in the tunnels of the Melbourne station, and a girl who crashes her bike into her when someone shoves her. They go out for breakfast together and the story further unfolds from there. I rather liked the idea of two worlds meeting.
Rep: f/f romance, non-binary side character, side character with prosthetic leg
CWs: police raid
Erin Gough – In Case of Emergency, Break Glass 3/5
I feel a little conflicted about this story. While I love more quiet stories, I don’t love a quick resolution. So while it was amazing to see a girl realize kissing boys bores her, I was excited to see a main character questioning her sexuality. And it was great that she figured out she’s a lesbian! But I think this process was resolved rather hastily and that took away from the impact of the story.
Rep: questioning/lesbian MC, queer side character, Black side character
Michael Earp – Bitter Draught 5/5
A medieval world with zero homophobia? Count me in! I loved this story so much. It’s well written and emotional, and it’s about trying to save someone but losing someone else in the process.
Rep: m/m relationship, non-binary side character
CWs: ill sibling
Jax Jacki Brown – I Like Your Rotation 5/5
“It’s radical to feel, to really feel, and to allow our bodies to move and be how they need to be, you know?”
I absolutely loved this story. It’s about the intersectionality between disability and queerness, and it’s about a girl making a new friend who’s also queer and disabled.
If you liked this story, I would also really recommend the Unbroken anthology, which has short stories with disabled main characters, and several of them are queer as well.
Rep: sapphic disabled MC in a wheelchair, sapphic disabled side character in a wheelchair
CWs: (internalized) ableism, homophobia
Claire G. Coleman – Sweet 5/5
I was drawn into this story right away, starting off with a walk down the street that’s written in such flowing language that it read like a dance. And it got even better from there, because the concept of this story is so interesting. The story is set in a futuristic society where everyone is agender. Gender (“being gendered”) is seen as an old-fashioned concept of the past that’s antisocial and even illegal. This makes for a thought-provoking read, and I loved how it was executed.
Rep: Black MC, Black side characters, agender society, use of they/them pronouns
Nevo Zisin – Light Bulb 3/5
I loved parts of this story. The contemporary storyline about the main character as a child was fantastic. But overall, the story was incohesive and it felt as if the author had forgotten the story was supposed to be gay until the last moment. Essentially, this felt like three stories in one, without anything to tie them together.
CWs: death of a parent, depression, homophobia/homophobic slurs
Jen Wilde – Waiting 5/5
As a massive fan of Jen Wilde’s books, this story was one of the biggest reasons I bought this anthology in the first place. But I didn’t even know it would have an autistic main character?! I literally gasped when I read that.
This is such a great story about Audrey, who brings her toxic friend Vanessa to a pride convention and finally realizes how bad of a “friend” she really is.
Rep: bisexual autistic MC with anxiety, bisexual side character, brown non-binary side character, autistic side character
CWs: homophobia, toxic friendship
Christos Siolkas – Laura Nyro at the Wedding 3/5
This story is about a same-gender couple deciding to get engaged, which I absolutely loved to read. It’s also very morally gray: the main character’s father abused a minor years previous to the story, and he is thinking about forgiveness, and about inviting him to the wedding. I’m not actually sure how I feel about this aspect. Because of course forgiveness is important, and it’s important to acknowledge that you can’t necessarily stop loving a parent even if you want to. But it’s also such a clearly wrong thing that I’m not sure it’s something that could or even should be forgiven. At least it’s a very thought-provoking story in that sense. Let me be clear though, that I didn’t feel the story was trying to apologize for the dad’s actions. It’s just a tricky thing to write about nevertheless, I think.
Rep: m/m couple
CWs: pedophilia, past war memories, past death of a sibling
Ellen van Neerving – Each City 2/5
Parts of this story were really good, but I just couldn’t follow the plotline at all. It wasn’t until around halfway through the story that I figured out it’s set in a dystopian future, and the setting kept changing. This made for quite an unclear story, and the writing was quite hard to follow as well.
Rep: queer MC, queer side characters
CWs: racism, homophobia, transphobia
Omar Sakr – An Arab Werewolf in Liverpool 3/5
Parts of this story I loved, and parts of it I found very hard to follow. It’s a pretty slow story, and it took a while to become more clear. But I did like the ending, and the representation.
Rep: gay Muslim MC, gay Muslim love interest, multiple Muslim side characters
CWs: homophobia, racism, abuse by a family member, descriptions of a dead dog
Alison Evans – Stormlines 2/5
This story just wasn’t really for me. I couldn’t get into it, unfortunately.
Benjamin Lan – Questions to Ask Straight Relatives 5/5
This was both funny and an interesting discussion of dealing with homophobia from family members, as well as internalized homophobia.
Rep: gay Chinese MC, lesbian Chinese side character
CWs: (internalized) homophobia
Do you like to read anthologies?
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I really like that you did a mini review for each story, as it only makes sense! Overall, it looks like you enjoyed it for the most part so that’s good to hear! I think the only anthology I ever read I did as an audiobook, and I think I really should have just read it because sometimes I’d zone out and not realize it was already on the other story lol. I hope to find a copy of this book here!
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Thank you, I always hope it’ll be more helpful as people will be able to see which stories might interest them 🙂 I definitely did mostly enjoy it! I can imagine it isn’t ideal to read anthologies as an audiobook
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