Black Girl Magic Lit Mag is a literary magazine of speculative fiction stories featuring Black female main characters. In issue 2 we have six short stories:
The Stars for a Song
The Stars for a Song is a flash fiction piece regarding the creation of the moon by a saddened deity.
This is a horror/vampire story about a cop killing in NYC. The protagonists are Black women.
World of Rain: Adaeze’s Ambition
A Sci-Fi Fantasy YA Story of a chosen one.
A supernatural story about sisters that can’t let each other go.
A psychic battle with historic significance is waged between two individuals with family ties.
From Peter is a whimsical snapshot of the fantastic clashing with reality, all from the perspective a half-Jamaican, half-white lesbian.
Genre: Young adult, Speculative Fiction, Horror, Fantasy
Volume 2 of Black Girl Magic literary magazine has definitely won my favor over the previous installment. As mentioned in the summary, this edition, readers have six short stories to enjoy, all followed by interviews of the contributing authors. This issue also includes a spotlight of an up and coming black author, Sophia Chester, with an additional extended interview and endorsement of her most recent novel, Cosmic Callisto Caprica and the Missing Rings of Saturn. I’m really excited about this additional function for the mag, as it works to not only uplift and spotlight flash fiction and short stories, but full length novels in the realm of speculative fiction written by black authors. In this review, I’ll be giving a brief summary of each short story, along with my reflections, so if you wish to skip pass the spoilers, scroll down to my general thoughts.
“The Stars for a Song”
This mystical little tale, as explained by author Angelicque Bautista, was inspired by a folk tale, and I would have to agree takes on much of that folklore vibe, as it attempts to explain the creation of the moon and the stars by a big black goddess. This story was rather short, being a flash fiction piece, but was enjoyable and reminded me of the types of stories you might tell your kids to appease them at bed time. I loved her choice of language throughout as it seemingly lulled one into a magical world where crickets were just our friends singing us a song. I think that this could easily make a wonderful illustrated children’s book, and I can only imagine what stunning images would come out of this tale!
This story was my absolute favorite out of the bunch! Doughnuts has that classic mystery noir feel as we’re plopped down into the middle of the homicide of three NYPD officers. Police chief Beasley Whitfield is determined to solve the case, as it becomes more and more likely that one of her fellow officers may have been the culprit. Meanwhile, Jamie – the niece of one of the fallen officers, and local psychic – may just have the key to whose responsible for these murders; doughnuts. The author, Loretta H. Campbell handles this tale with ease of language and captivating storytelling. I mean this was honestly near perfection. I’m especially appreciative of her use of the supernatural genre to speak upon the current climate of racial affairs and the dysfunction of the police killing unarmed citizens, which she goes into depth in her interview. I would absolutely have loved to see this story in a longer form, but this was awesome nonetheless!
“World of Rain: Adaeze’s Ambition”
I’ll have to be honest that I enjoyed this story the least this time around. The author, Miri Castor, was also published previously in volume 1 of Black Girl Magic, with a story featuring the same characters as this one, Adaeze, Evron, and Opal Charm, all members of the newly formed JAEL, which is fighting against Samael to protect the universe they love. I can’t pin my disinterest on one singular thing; previously reading Ms. Castor’s work, I found her piece to have a number of editing errors that were distracting, but the story of Opal trying to prove herself to be in control of her Gift was enough to keep me powering through. Even then, I was still lukewarm to the effectiveness of the tale. This time I think I had even less patience for typographical errors, as well as some disdain for the story in general that I can’t quite understand. I think this might be a matter of personal taste, however, so I’d still encourage others to check this one out if you’re interested in magical abilities; you might enjoy this.
I had some wishy-washy feelings about this story as well. On the positive side, I’m super happy to say that this story features a trans black woman! Definitely something that we need more of in literature and media in general. But the writing felt very mechanical to me. I don’t know if this writer has some kind of dislike of contractions, but she seemed to opt out of them most times, which I think made the dialogue feel too formal and distant. I’m also not really sure how I feel about the brashness of how the main character’s trans identity is introduced (BIG SPOILER NEXT).
Caroline, who has been seeing images of a sister she’s never had, goes to get help from a psychologist who initially wants to diagnose her with dissociative identity disorder. After hypnotizing Caroline, it’s reveal that she did indeed have a sister – named Caroline. Present Caroline was caught by her sister Caroline when she was still biologically male and kissing a boy, and threatened to tell their mother that she was gay. This led to the accidental killing of Caroline, whose spirit now haunts her once brother who adopted her sister’s identity once she transitioned.
(SPOILER OVER) As a cisgendered, non-trans woman, I don’t know if I can really weigh in on this one, but I’d like to hear how transwomen feel about this representation of trans-ness. Overall, this was a little too rocky for me to really recommend, though I will commend the ambition.
This story really hits you where it hurts. Not unlike the other stories, there are some bumps in the storytelling, but it actually came together fairly nicely. This story features a mixed man named Douglas who has a special psychic ability to “read” the history of any object that he touches. Unfortunately, if he touches people, he drains the energy out of them, and as such, he is forced to wear clothing and gloves to ensure his powers stay under control. One day he is commissioned by an elderly black woman, named Mamie Burton, to help her remember the importance of an object that she has been saving, and Douglas ventures to her only to be tossed into a completely supernatural event beyond even his anticipation. Author Jacqueline Nicole Harris really knew what she was doing combining this psychic theme with the history of violence against black males. I found myself surprised at the ending, but in a good way, and I think most readers would appreciate this story on a historical and emotional level!
I don’t remember if this was stated in the book, but I suspect this piece was flash fiction, as it’s rather short like “The Stars for a Song”. It features another LGBT+ character, , a mixed lesbian whose mother is a religious Jamaican woman who constantly throws shade at her daughter’s sexuality, and a white father who writes fantasy novels and fights against bigotry and oppression openly. I thought that this author – – had a great control of the imagery; I found myself being whisked away back to those summer evenings I would have as a kid with my own father, after having played in the dirt and making up my own fairytales. I had that same enchanted, warm feeling that those summer evening left me with. I desperately wish that this were stretched out to be longer, because I see the potential for this to be a great short story.
Black Girl Magic vol. 2 is for sure my favorite of the two issues that I’ve read thus far, not only because there’s more content to read, or that these stories are wonderful, but because of the insight that many of these author’s display about their favorite works, the inspiration behind their stories, and what challenges being a diverse author present in a world where media is dominated by the majority. Despite and personal taste for the individual stories, I still find Black Girl Magic to be a wonderful magazine for uplifting magical black girls and their magical black stories. If there’s any issue that you should pick up, this would definitely be the one!
About the Founder
Nicole Williams lives and writes in a quaint town in the Shenandoah Valley with her husband and three wonderful sons. She has been writing since the day her mother handed her a crayon, but has only started publishing her work in 2012. When she is not writing, she is either reading a good book or chasing after her boys.