Book Review: Reclaim the Stars: 17 Tales Across Realms & Space, edited by Zoraida Córdova

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Review by Cris Rhodes

DESCRIPTION: Reclaim the Stars is a collection of bestselling and acclaimed YA authors that take the Latin American diaspora to places fantastical and out of this world. From princesses warring in space, to the all-too-near devastation of climate change, to haunting ghost stories in Argentina, and mermaids off the coast of the Caribbean. This is science fiction and fantasy that breaks borders and realms, and proves that stories are truly universal.

MY TWO CENTS: Fans of Latinx young adult literature will be familiar with many of the names on the cover of the anthology Reclaim the Stars, edited by Zoraida Córdova. These names alone promise that this volume will be fantastic (in more ways than one!). In the introduction to this volume, Córdova explains, “For many people in Latin America, and those living in the diaspora, science fiction and fantasy is the now. Communities ravaged by climate change. Myths that live in our islands and rivers and seas. Violence that leaves the imprint of ghosts through generations and into the future. And yet, when it comes to our literature, there are a million stories that have yet to be told.” This collection offers 17 of those not-yet-told stories, ranging from taking Latinx youth to outer space, back in time, or more currently in our present but with a twist. 

In 2014, we hosted a “Latinxs in Sci-Fi and Fantasy” month, for which Córdova wrote the inaugural post. So many years ago, Córdova opined, “I wonder if the reason there aren’t more [Latinxs] writing as much SF/F is because people … assume that the only story we have to tell is one of immigration or assimilation. And that’s just not so.” She was right then. And she’s right now. The stories in Reclaim the Stars demonstrate that we have so many more stories to tell, stories that take us to the outermost reaches of the universe or to the depths of our own world.  

Córdova’s emphasis on the impacts of fantasy and science fiction on Latinx communities, particularly young people, cannot be overstated and is masterfully captured in this collection. Reclaim the Stars is divided into three sections: “To the Stars,” “The Magical Now,” and “Other Times, Other Realms.” This organization provides loose parameters for the stories in each section, but the various authors’ stories each present a unique and distinct vision of the fantastic, supernatural, or scientific. 

Indeed, no two stories are alike, though many carry the distinct fingerprints of their individual authors. For example, Anna-Marie McLemore’s opening story, “Reign of Diamonds,” may take place on a distant planet, but it still sparkles with their distinctive touch of queer magic, and Romina Garber’s entry “Leyenda” takes place in the world of her Lobizona series. Others are new ventures for their authors, Maya Motayne’s “Color-Coded,” for instance, is a departure from her Nocturna series. Yet more, the collection serves as a debut for Circe Moskowitz and Linda Raquel Nieves Peréz, whose short stories are an introduction that has me putting their forthcoming works on my To Be Read list.

Reclaim the Stars’s wide array of stories will appeal to a diverse audience. While I certainly had my favorites in the collection, all of the stories are engaging. Further, the format of short stories has the unique ability to provide quick, intriguing, and easily-digestible reads for an audience that may not have the time to engage with a longer book. And, perhaps more importantly, this type of anthology allows readers to enter into multiple viewpoints—from South and Central America, from the United States, from AfroLatinxs, from queer Latinxs, from the past, and more. 

Reclaim the Stars has already received significant buzz. And I would add to that. It is worth every glowing review, every addition to a watchlist, every bit of praise. This is the kind of anthology that fills a necessary gap in our field. These are stories we need—and they’re great stories, at that. In fact, they’re fantastic.

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Credit: Melanie Barbosa

ABOUT THE EDITOR: Zoraida Córdova is the acclaimed author of more than two dozen novels and short stories, including the Brooklyn Brujas series, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge: A Crash of Fate, and The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina. In addition to writing novels, she serves on the board of We Need Diverse Books, and is the co-editor of the bestselling anthology Vampires Never Get Old, as well as the cohost of the writing podcast, Deadline City. She writes romance novels as Zoey Castile. Zoraida was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and calls New York City home. When she’s not working, she’s roaming the world in search of magical stories. For more information, visit her at zoraidacordova.com.

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ABOUT THE REVIEWER: Cris Rhodes is an assistant professor of English at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania. She teaches courses of writing, culturally diverse literature, and ethnic literatures. In addition to teaching, Cris’s scholarship focuses on Latinx youth and their literature or related media. She also has a particular scholarly interest in activism and the ways that young Latinxs advocate for themselves and their communities.

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