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On Sale: 03/10/2020


ISBN: 9781984835659


368 Pages, Ages 14 – 18


Sixteen tales by bestselling and award-winning authors that explore the Black experience through fantasy, science fiction, and magic.


Evoking Beyoncé’s Lemonade for a teen audience.


These authors who are truly Octavia Butler’s heirs, have woven worlds to create a stunning narrative that centers Black women and gender nonconforming individuals.

A Phoenix First Must Burn will take you on a journey from folktales retold to futuristic societies and everything in between.


Filled with stories of love and betrayal, strength and resistance, this collection contains an array of complex and true-to-life characters in which you cannot help but see yourself reflected.


Witches and scientists, sisters and lovers, priestesses and rebels: the heroines of A Phoenix First Must Burn shine brightly.


You will never forget them.

A Phoenix First Must Burn

  • A collection of short stories that features characters across the black diaspora and blends magical realism with issues affecting the black community. In “Gilded,” a girl gifted with healing and the ability to manipulate metal is forced to decide between buying her freedom from a corrupt slave owner and a boy who insists she use her magic to claim her freedom. A prickly hairdresser gets her hair done and her mind regulated by a master braider in “Tender-headed,” and in “Kiss the Sun,” soul-stealing fire spirits debate the benefits of being light or dark skinned. In other stories, a sorcerer’s apprentice partners with a dragon to stop the machinations of her corrupt mentor, a dethroned princess harnesses the power of a god she doesn’t believe in to reclaim her throne, and an actress deals with the perils of being a young black witch with a daytime television program. This book is a wonderful assortment of genre-bending narratives. The stories allow readers to view racism and gender conformity through the prism of science fiction and fantasy, and the collection infuses the genre with color and complexity. VERDICT This is a title for public and school libraries interested in diversifying and strengthening their short story collections.—Desiree Thomas, Worthington Library, OH

    School Library Journal

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