08 May 2019

Review: Sharp & Sugar Tooth


Sharp & Sugar Tooth: Women Up To No Good is a horror anthology of dark fiction and darker appetites, edited by Octavia Cade. Containing 22 stories of “bad” women, and “good” women who just haven’t been caught yet, it features 22 fearless writers who identify as female, non-binary, or a marginalized sex or gender identity. It’s the third in the Women Up To No Good series, which can be read in any order.

It includes original stories by Kathleen Alcalá, Betsy Aoki, Joyce Chng, Katharine Duckett, Anahita Eftekhari, Amelia Gorman, Jasmyne J. Harris, A. R. Henle, Erin Horáková, Kathryn McMahon, H. Pueyo, D. A. Xiaolin Spires, Rachael Sterling, Penny Stirling, Sabrina Vourvoulias, and Rem Wigmore, and reprints of stories from Apex, Electric Velocipede, Fantasy, Lightspeed, and Nightmare Magazines by Chikodili Emelumadu, Crystal Lynn Hilbert, Catherynne M. Valente, Damien Angelica Walters, Alyssa Wong, and Caroline M. Yoachim.

Contributors are based in or hailing from Australia, Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, Nigeria, Singapore, the UK, and all over the United States. Between them, they have won the Andre Norton, Eugie Foster Memorial, Hugo, Lambda, Locus, Mythopoeic, Nebula, Prix Imaginales, Rhysling, Romantic Times’ Critics Choice, This Is Horror, James Tiptree Jr., and World Fantasy Awards, and been shortlisted for the Bram Stoker, John W. Campbell, and Shirley Jackson Awards!

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Kathleen Alcalá, “The Doll’s Eye”
Betsy Aoki, “And When We Die They Will Consume Us”
Joyce Chng, “Dear Son”
Katharine Duckett, “Gimme Sugar”
Anahita Eftekhari, “The Fool’s Feast”
Chikodili Emelumadu, “Candy Girl”
Amelia Gorman, “She Makes the Deep Boil”
Jasmyne J. Harris, “What the Bees Know About Discarded Girlish Organs”
A. R. Henle, “Strong Meat”
Crystal Lynn Hilbert, “Soul of Soup Bones”
Erin Horáková, “A Year Without the Taste of Meat”
Kathryn McMahon, “The Honey Witch”
H. Pueyo, “I Eat”
D. A. Xiaolin Spires, “Bristling Skim”
Rachael Sterling, “Alice Underground”
Penny Stirling, “Red, From the Heartwood”
Catherynne M. Valente, “The Lily and the Horn”
Sabrina Vourvoulias, “A Fish Tale”
Damien Angelica Walters, “A Lie You Give, And Thus I Take”
Rem Wigmore, “Who Watches”
Alyssa Wong, “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers”
Caroline M. Yoachim, “The Carnival Was Eaten, All Except the Clown”

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I typically love anthologies. I love that different authors have the ability create such diverse stories with just a premise to go on. Sharp & Sugar Tooth should have been one of those loves. A dark horror anthology revolving around food? Sounds like a lot of fun, right? The introduction of the book tells of "...we eat or we die. And that makes food ripe for exploitation and power." (Can't argue with that.) Food then becomes a "tool of empowerment within horror, and consumption is a two-way process". The many stories are set up as a look into the relationship between food and women, and how women are often consumed, with or without their consent, for the benefit of others. After such a thought-provoking introduction, I was excited to read this anthology. 

Unfortunately, this one missed the mark for me. I didn't feel that the stories held up to the genius that the introduction led me to believe I'd find. Sure, there are some very interesting stories in this collection that seemed to get it right in reference to the introduction. The themes do vary considerably and a variety of cultures are represented, which is always nice. In the end though, I found myself wanting to skip ahead to the next story because most just really didn't keep my attention. I read this one in between other books, just to be able to get through it. 

(in book order)
Chikodili Emelumadu, “Candy Girl” -  3🐾
Katharine Duckett, “Gimme Sugar” -  2.5 🐾
Jasmyne J. Harris, “What the Bees Know About Discarded Girlish Organs” - 4 🐾
Kathryn McMahon, “The Honey Witch”  - 🐾
Alyssa Wong, “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” - 4🐾
D. A. Xiaolin Spires, “Bristling Skim” - 1🐾
Anahita Eftekhari, “The Fool’s Feast” - 3 🐾
Penny Stirling, “Red, From the Heartwood” - 2 🐾
Damien Angelica Walters, “A Lie You Give, And Thus I Take” - 3 🐾
Caroline M. Yoachim, “The Carnival Was Eaten, All Except the Clown”- 3 🐾
Sabrina Vourvoulias, “A Fish Tale” - 2 🐾
A. R. Henle, “Strong Meat”- 2 🐾
Rachael Sterling, “Alice Underground” - 3 🐾
Kathleen Alcalá, “The Doll’s Eye” - 2 🐾
Catherynne M. Valente, “The Lily and the Horn” - 2 🐾
Crystal Lynn Hilbert, “Soul of Soup Bones” - 1🐾
Joyce Chng, “Dear Son” - 2 🐾
Erin Horáková, “A Year Without the Taste of Meat” - 2 🐾
Amelia Gorman, “She Makes the Deep Boil”- 2 🐾
H. Pueyo, “I Eat” - 3 🐾
Rem Wigmore, “Who Watches”- 3 🐾
Betsy Aoki, “And When We Die They Will Consume Us” - 3 🐾

I don't typically review books unless I finish them and did this one, though just barely. While most of the stories weren't my cup of tea, I highly recommend that you try it yourself as everyone reads differently and what I love, you might hate and vice versa.