Review: Shades Within Us: Tales of Migrations and Fractured Borders

Shades Within Us is a difficult read that is absolutely worth all of the heartbreak on every page. If you like speculative fiction, you need to read this anthology.

Shades Within Us CoverJourney with twenty-one speculative fiction authors through the fractured borders of human migration to examine assumptions and catch a glimpse of the dreams, struggles, and triumphs of those who choose–or are forced–to leave home and familiar places. Who straddle borders within our worlds–and within us.

Migration. A transformation of time, place, and being . . .

We are called drifters, nomads. We are expatriates, evacuees, and pilgrims. We are colonists, aliens, explorers; strangers, visitors–intruders, conquerors–exiles, asylum seekers, and . . . outsiders.

An American father shields his son from Irish discrimination; A Chinese foreign student wrestles to safeguard her family at the expense of her soul; A college graduate is displaced by technology. A Nigerian high school student chooses between revenge and redemption; A bureaucrat parses the mystery of Taiwanese time travelers; A defeated alien struggles to assimilate into human culture. A Czechoslovakian actress confronts the German WWII invasion. A child crosses an invisible border wall. And many more.

Stories that transcend borders, generations, and cultures. Each is a glimpse into our human need in face of change: to hold fast to home, to tradition, to family; and yet to reach out, to strive for a better life. Goodreads

I received an eARC of Shades Within Us via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The stories in Shades Within Us range from science fiction to fantasy and everywhere in between, with a mix of different tenses and points of view. I’m pretty sure that each one is designed specifically to break the reader’s heart. It definitely did for me.

I think something that would have been useful in this anthology would have been trigger warnings for each story. Nearly every story had at least a few of your typical triggers, and even though I’m not generally triggered, it made it a little difficult to read.

There are tons of stories in this anthology, so I’m going to write about the ones that stood out to me as a reader. I really loved four stories in particular.


Habitat by Christie Yant

Habitat is a bit of a solarpunk story told from the perspective of the person in charge of catching the people who live in the wild on Earth. Once they’re captured, they’re to be assimilated into the Habitat culture. Readers get to see her realize why what they are doing is wrong and harmful. I thought this story was beautifully written and an important read for those of us who are more privileged.


Defender of Mogadun by Alex Shvartsman

Defender of Mogadun spends a lot of time talking about the responsibility to do something to help when the world around you is under attack. I loved the fantastical parts of this story tied in with the harsh realities for refugees of mass disasters.


Remember the Green by Seanan McGuire

I think this is actually the first story I’ve ever read by Seanan McGuire, surprisingly.  Remember the Green shows the experience of migrating to a new place and how isolating it is. McGuire’s writing is as lush and green as the world that the main character’s family had to leave behind.


Devouring Tongues by S. L. Huang

Devouring Tongues stunned me with its beautiful writing and a story of learning languages that I had never dreamed of. Readers will feel the main character’s homesickness and anguish through Huang’s writing, and cheer for her.

Overall, this anthology is amazing. You’ll want to pick up a copy through Amazon or Indiebound.



Title: Shades Within Us: Tales of Migrations and Fractured Borders

Author: Vanessa Cardui, Elsie Chapman, Kate Heartfield, S.L. Huang, Tyler Keevil, Matthew Kressel, Rich Larson, Tonya Liburd, Karin Lowachee, Seanan McGuire, Brent Nichols, Julie NovAkovA, Heather Osborne, Sarah Raughley, Alex Shvartsman, Amanda Sun, Jeremy Szal, Hayden Trenholm, Liz Westbrook-Trenholm, Christie Yant & Alvaro Zinos-Amaro

Editor: Susan Forest & Lucas K. Law

Publisher: Laksa Media Groups Inc.

Release Date: September 8, 2018

Rating: Recommended

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Science Fantasy