Book review: Keep Faith (+ GIVEAWAY!)

Title: Keep Faith – Adiba Jaigirdar, Bogi Takács, C.T. Callahan, Elly Ha, Gabriela Martins, Julia Rios, Kate Brauning, Kess Costales, Mary Fan, Mayara Barros, Megan Manzano, Shenwei Chang, Sofia Soter, and Vanshika Prusty

Publication date: 1 September 2019

Genre: Various!

Page extent: 338 pages

Goodreads blurb: Keep faith, in the broad sense of the word. It doesn’t have to be a religion, unless you want it to be. It doesn’t have to speak about the universe, unless you want it to. It doesn’t have to be about anyone but yourself. Keep faith, in other planets and other houses; be it in the face of danger, grief, or while you spread your arms and laugh. Keep faith the same way you keep hope, bright and shiny, ever present. Keep faith in all your queer, beautiful self. Because you deserve it.

This is an anthology of 14 short stories, by 14 queer authors, where faith and queerness intersect. Incidental, purposeful, we-exist-and-that’s-why queerness. And faith meaning whatever you want it to mean.

I already raved about this anthology earlier in the week when I got to interview the wonderful editor and contributer Gabhi Martins. But today I’m back with a full review of Keep Faith, a short story anthology dealing with the intersection of faith and queerness. I am also super excited to be running a giveaway – to win a copy of Keep Faith, check in at the end of the post for how to enter!

I was already tearing up at Gabhi’s editor’s note, so I think we all know this one is going to be emotional! But what it also is, is an incredible diverse and nuanced discussion on spirtuality. There is such a range of genres and styles, there is a story in here for everyone. So I thought I’d showcase the brilliance of each story with a mini review of each – enjoy!

And I Entreated – Bogi Takács

I don’t think I quite realised how empty science fiction is of faith and religion until reading this short story and seeing it so represented. This is a wholly Jewish tale set on a space station, with one of the coolest concepts I’ve seen in a while: our MC has been turned into a houseplant. I just love that idea!! The mother, now houseplant, has to witness the struggles of their trans kid, clueless husband and non-binary assistant work together in their absence. With nuanced discussion of what it means to be non-binary and how that fits into Judaism, this story was an excellent start to this anthology, both humourous and touching in it’s telling. 

Bigger Than Us – Megan Manzano 

What a sweet relationship!! Jude has just come into her powers, and can now perform magic. Her powers make her a servant to the Goddess Valencia and mean she must leave everything she’s known behind to serve the goddess. But Jude doesn’t want to leave Mari, the girl she loves. This is such a sweet romance about love, sacrifice, and having faith that the one you love will always come back. 

Droplets of Starlight – Vanshika Prusty

A god who hates their worshippers’ happiness is no god of ours.

Oh gosh how poetic and incredibly beautiful is the prose in this story! It felt almost like a dream story for how magical and intense the slow development of Zoya and Payal’s relationship was. And what a fabulous discussion of religion and gods and love – wonderful to see this so clearly on the page. 

Godzilla – Kate Brauning 

I think people suffer and stagnate when they try to meet other people’s ideals. You’re a person, not an ideal, and if you think there’s purpose and joy for you in following something other people won’t like, then screw them. You are the one who has to live your life.

Yes yes yes yessssssss a story with supportive friendships, kick ass feminists who don’t want to perform their queerness so you can pretend you’re accepting (Y.E.S), about not being enough for anyone, about being you, unashamedly and unapologetically. I really wish I could do what this story says and stop caring what people thought.

Golden Hue – Mayara Barros 

Such a different look at faith to the other stories so far! Instead of the religious focus, this was more a look at spirituality, at what happens after death, about how even after death the spirits of our loved ones are there supporting us. With cool magic, including healing magic which I always loooooove, and super fierce beasts! 

How Not to Die (Again) – Gabriela Martins

Oooooh this is one of my favs!! It was so much fun and there was a little mystery as Margô the MC keeps dying and waking up a day later, and figuring out why it all seems to revolve around Josie. Super cute development of relationship – both MCs were really well characterised and I had such a sense of who they were even though it’s only a short story which always impresses me! Loved the theme of having faith in yourself as well.

Life is a Story of Change – Elly Ha

Ohhhh how I adore books with mental health rep yes please and thank you! Elly Ha’s story feels so relatable, it felt very real and honest in how she discussed falling in love and how mental illness, asexuality and aromance adds to this. Some great thoughts on being true to yourself alone and using the definitions which you and you alone feel comfortable with, not forcing yourself into a box just so others understand you. 

Nothing Left Standing – C.T Callahan

Well this was emotional! From the very first word to the very last, this story felt oh so impactful and emotional. The despair of the MC, Aaron, was so powerful. This story very much focused on the emotional pain of the MC as opposed to action/plot and I LOVED it for it!! One of my favourites. ♥️♥️

On the Other Side – Shenwei Chang 

Another totally different look at faith and queerness, this time all combined with the pressure and grief of not getting to tell a parent who you are, which felt very real and relatable. So interesting to see an insight into the Buddhist faith as well. Throughout this story, you really got a sense of peace, and hope, which was lovely.

Read the Room – Sofia Soter

Oh my gosh, this was great! I loved the poly relationship, loved the nervous flirty behaviour of all the characters, they were all so adorable trying to hide their feelings but totally failing. I also loved the background and concept of telling fortunes with cards to guide the story as well! 

Ten Steps to Becoming a Successful Vlogger – Julia Rios

You matter.

Guh these stories about having faith in yourself really do pack a hard punch. Potentially (read: extremely and 100%) because it’s something I struggle with so much. This was such an interesting and different style to all the others, told as if a vlogger was saying this online. It resulted in a very unique voice and I totally could imagine this as a vlog as they were so enthusiastic and genuine in the story.

The Language of Magic – Adiba Jaigirdar

This story just made me even more excited to read Adiba’s debut novel next year! This was a mysterious and magical fantasy, about having faith in magic when it calls to you, about believing the unbelievable, all to be with the one you love before it’s too late. 

The Messenger – Mary Fan

😭😭This was beautiful! I adored the concept – humans as machines yes please! The ending is just perfect. Stunning story about space travel, immortality, humanity, and finding joy in places you don’t expect. 

Whatever She Wants – Kess Costales 

I shouldn’t notice these things, but I do, and if I am perfect as I am, then I shouldn’t be ashamed. But I am ashamed and terrified and I keep looking anyway.

Ahhh what a story to end on!! This was such a lovely contemporary romance. It felt so like things I’ve felt, all that worry and guilt about how you feel, about what it means to be made in God’s image. And it was such a lovely, heartwarming note to end on! 

Keep Faith is an anthology with such a diversity in genre, representation and voice. There are stories that had me close to tears and ones that had me laughing. There are romances and heartbreaks. Fantasy and sci fi. And through all of them are such interesting, different but very honest thoughts on what it means to have faith and be queer. 

GIVEAWAY!! YAY

I am so lucky to also give you the chance to win a copy of Keep Faith! This is my very first giveaway and it’s such an awesome book to do this with! To enter the giveaway, comment on this post, or on my Twitter annoucement, letting me know what faith means to you!

You can purchase Keep Faith from gumroads here!

Paws out,
Rach + Draco

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s