Audiobook Review – Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft

Posted October 31, 2018 by Kathy in 3.5 Stars, Audiobook Review, Book Review / 4 Comments

Audiobook Review – Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & WitchcraftToil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft by Jessica Spotswood, Tess Sharpe
Narrator: Amy McFadden
Published by Tantor Audio on August 28, 2018
Genres: Young Adult Fantasy
Length: 11 hours and 17 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy on AmazonBarnes & Noble

A young adult fiction anthology of 16 stories featuring contemporary, historical, and futuristic stories featuring witchy heroines who are diverse in race, class, sexuality, religion, geography, and era.

Are you a good witch or a bad witch?

Glinda the Good Witch. Elphaba the Wicked Witch. Willow. Sabrina. Gemma Doyle. The Mayfair Witches. Ursula the Sea Witch. Morgan le Fey. The three weird sisters from Macbeth.

History tells us women accused of witchcraft were often outsiders: educated, independent, unmarried, unwilling to fall in line with traditional societal expectations.

Bold. Powerful. Rebellious.

A bruja’s traditional love spell has unexpected results. A witch’s healing hands begin to take life instead of giving it when she ignores her attraction to a fellow witch. In a terrifying future, women are captured by a cabal of men crying witchcraft and the one true witch among them must fight to free them all. In a desolate past, three orphaned sisters prophesize for a murderous king. Somewhere in the present, a teen girl just wants to kiss a boy without causing a hurricane.

From good witches to bad witches, to witches who are a bit of both, this is an anthology of diverse witchy tales from a collection of diverse, feminist authors. The collective strength of women working together—magically or mundanely--has long frightened society, to the point that women’s rights are challenged, legislated against, and denied all over the world. TOIL & TROUBLE delves deep into the truly diverse mythology of witchcraft from many cultures and feminist points-of-view, to create modern and unique tales of witchery that have yet to be explored.

Toil & Trouble is a nice compilation of stories to add some Halloween spirit to your day.

I haven’t read from any of these authors, so this was a great way to finally sample their work.  There were some stories I really enjoyed, and I look forward to reading more from these authors.  Toil & Trouble is a collection of diverse authors and characters.  The overall theme is empowering women to embrace who they are and finding their voice in a society that oppresses their rights.  The stories had different settings (historical, contemporary and fantasy), so readers will enjoy the variety, although the theme is constant.  I really enjoyed the diversity of characters in ethnicity and sexual orientation.

Some of my favorites were:

  • Afterbirth by Andrea Cremer – a witch trial set in New England 1650 with a surprising twist. Andrea Cremer’s books have been sitting on my TBR and now I need to read her books.
  • The Heart in Her Hands by Tess Sharpe – a witch that goes against tradition to follow her heart. This story will tug at your heart and I loved the creativity of this world and the source of their magic.
  • Death in the Sawtooths by Lindsay Smith – I loved this story and I wish it was a full-length book. This reminded me of the broadway musical Wicked, a story of two witches that were completely opposites. There is also a magical school and a battle against an evil force. I am definitely going to read more of this author’s books.


I listened to the audiobook and I thought the narrator was good. Some of the stories were boring or I felt lost, so this will be my last anthology as an audiobook.  I would have enjoyed this more if I read the book, making it easier to go back pages to reread the stories that I couldn’t focus on.

Overall this is a good collection of stories and representation of diversity. The message of female empowerment is clear. Add in the magical and spooky elements, Toil & Trouble will get you in the Halloween spirit and introduce you to new authors to add to your bookshelves.

Thank you to Tantor Audio for providing an audiobook copy in exchange for an honest review.

Rating Report
Audiobook Performance
Overall: three-half-stars

About Jessica Spotswood

Jessica Spotswood is the author of the historical fantasy trilogy The Cahill Witch Chronicles and the contemporary novels Wild Swans and The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls. She is the editor of the feminist anthologies A Tyranny of Petticoats: 15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers, & Other Badass Girls and The Radical Element: 12 Stories of Daredevils, Debutantes, & Other Dauntless Girls and co-editor of Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft. Jess lives in Washington, DC, where she works for the DC Public Library as a children’s library associate. She is a feminist, a Hufflepuff, and an INFJ.

About Tess Sharpe

Born in a mountain cabin to a punk-rocker mother, Tess Sharpe grew up in rural northern California. She lives deep in the backwoods with a pack of dogs and a growing colony of formerly feral cats. She is the author of Barbed Wire Heart, the critically acclaimed YA novel Far From You and the upcoming Jurassic World prequel, The Evolution of Claire.

She is also the co-editor of Toil & Trouble, a feminist anthology about witches. Her short fiction has been featured in All Out, an anthology edited by Saundra Mitchell.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2018 Audiobook Challenge
  • 2018 New Release Challenge


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4 responses to “Audiobook Review – Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft

  1. I’m not familiar with any of these authors or narrator. I’m glad you enjoyed the stories, mostly. The fact that you can’t look back at in the story is the hardest part about audiobooks, in my opinion. I love my audiobooks, but it hard to remember all the details and even harder to look them back up. I love when I can get an ebook from the library and can do some searches when writing reviews.

    • Kathy

      I also like highlighting quotes or information while reading ebooks, so I can either use for the review or won’t forget an important part of the story. Thanks Melanie!