REVIEW: Maiden, Mother, Crone edited by Gwen Benaway

Review of Gwen Benaway, ed., Mother, Maiden, Crone, (Bedside Press, 2019) — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman.

Recently I took a trip down to York to visit a friend, and she did what the good friends do and took me around the good bookstores. One of these was the Portal Bookshop, full of queer and SFF books. It’s been so long since I’ve been to a brick-and-mortar bookstore that has books in it that I actually want to buy, that I may have ended up buying more than I could carry…including this anthology.

I was not familiar with it before seeing it on the shelf, but it immediately appealed to me. Benaway in her editorial introduction says that she wanted the book to be

a space for other trans women and trans feminine folk to write fantastical short stories where trans folks were the main characters

and the collection bills itself as “the first anthology by trans femme authors to explore the realms of magic, supernatural beings, and alternative universes”. I can only hope that it won’t be the last, because collections like this are so rich and so valuable.

As is usual, we’ll review each of the stories individually, and link the reviews back here when they’re published:

I was surprised at how many of the stories reinforced the gender binary, or included structural misogyny. It made my heart sad for so many of these women, and for women reading this anthology who may be looking for more than just triumph-over-adversity, moving on to fantasy worlds where being trans is hardly worth commenting on. One of the powers of fiction is that it can provide us with models of ways the world can be, because sometimes it is easier to change the actual world into a more ideal world if we have an idea of what the more ideal world could actually look like, and I confess I had expected a bit more idealism and a bit less realism.