Women against the system: books read

THE BONE ORCHARD by Sara A. Mueller is set in a quasi-Victorian world where psi powers drive the users insane unless they’re secured with mind-controlling locks that also turn them into slaves. Protagonist Charm is a psychometric locked down by the emperor; when he’s poisoned, his last command is to find which of his heirs murdered him and see they don’t seize the throne. A big complication is that Charm is a split personality who’s placed her alter egos in various homunculi to purge various traumas. The style bogged down at times, but overall this was very good.

THE FINAL GIRL SUPPORT GROUP by Grady Hendrix has the survivors of the classic slasher franchises (with the serial numbers filed off) including Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th and Scream, spending years bonding in therapy. When someone murders one of them, the book’s protagonist — PTSDed and paranoid from seeing her family butchered by a psycho Santa — tries to convince everyone they’re all targets. Nobody believes her but guess what …

This was good, though it irks me they fudge on Freddie Krueger’s nature, implying despite the otherwise real-world events that yes, he was something supernatural, maybe. I’m also puzzled what slasher series the low-budget Gnomecoming series is meant to parody.

Switching to nonfiction, THE ETHICAL SLUT by Janet W. Hardy and Dossie Easton argues that monogamy shouldn’t be the default state for a happy ever after and that it’s possible to be polyamorous, LGBTQ, kinky or any combination of them and still treat your partners ethically. This does do a good job discussing both the limits of monogamy and the various complications of the alternatives — what limits can one partner put on another? Should you meet your lover’s lovers? How do you deal with jealousy? However it doesn’t give me any insight into what it’s like to be polyamorous (I’m not at all, so I got curious) and despite the author’s pride in transgressing boundaries, it has the chirpy You Can Be Better Than Well! upbeat tone of so many less edgy self-help books.

CATWOMAN: Valley of the Shadow of Death by Ram V. and Fernando Blanco is several TPBs later than the Copycats I reviewed recently, though as it’s a soft reboot there’s little connection (but surprisingly a number of footnotes referencing earlier issues, something I don’t see often enough these days). Selina is once again protecting a patch of turf in Gotham’s inner city (or so I gather) but she also has to save Poison Ivy from a drug ring harvesting biochemicals from her body; meanwhile future villains Simon Saint and Father Valley loom on the horizon. I enjoyed Ram V’s These Savage Shores but this wasn’t as fun — it’s not bad, but I didn’t find it great, either.

#SFWApro. All rights to image remain with current holder.

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