Thursday, March 3, 2016

Three on a Theme: 3 Books about Kickass Female Monster Slayers

I was there when Buffy came out... not just Sarah Michelle's version, but also the little underrated movie gem that sparked the whole thing off in 1992. Seriously, if you haven't seen it, PeeWee Herman's (AKA Paul Ruebens) death rattle completely makes it worth the time. And has inspired many a spontaneous, over-dramatized death scene in my house. By Me. For no reason.
And don't get me started on Charmed. (Yes. That is Pru in the picture. Paige was meh.)
I don't mean to ignore the older kick ass women from my life or to pander to the 90's babies here. If I think real hard and use Dr. Google, I can find earlier Grrls that I enjoyed for various reasons (from books to movies):

 
But none that really sparked my undying allegiance to chick bad-assery like Buffy and the Hallowell sisters (Piper being my favorite, though Pheobe was my spirit animal). There's something about the women you grow up with. I said all that to say that one Book Crack genre for me is kick- ass- monster- hunter females. And that's the three-fer for today!


These books could also be part of a theme about Girls who Have to Pretend to Be Boys for a While, Girls who Live
During  a Time when Women Were Supposed to Sit Down and Shut Up, and Multi-Cultural stories of Women who Kill the Hell out of Folkloric Monsters. They each earn the #Diverse book sticker for various reasons. 

Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen:
Wake of Vultures is the story of Nettie Lonesome. Nettie is a strong willed girl who is half African American/ Half Native American and is basically the enslaved (kind of) adoptee (maybe) of a couple who run a farm. Nettie doesn't think of herself as a slave. After an unfortunate event in the barn, Nettie comes into some money, some new clothes, and a plan to get the hell away from the poor folks who raised her. Plus, she's seeing monsters every where. Now, she's set off to find out about her tribe and kill as many evil sons of bitches along the way as she can take down. This book also has shape- shifters, creatures from your tried-and- true Western boogie man stories, and a funny little scene in a river that'll make you laugh as it breaks your heart.

This is a Fantasy novel set in the wild west. And like, Buffy, Nettie isn't sure she can be the Chosen One when really what she wants is to break horses and live free. She's never met a woman she admires and feels like she's best suited to the world as a man. I'm interested to see what comes of that as this is the first in a planned series. 

Girl with Ghost Eyes by M.H. Boroson:
The year is 1898 and Li-Lin can see spirits, which seems like a gift to some people, but has been a curse for Li-Lin. After the death of her husband she has begun training as a Doaist ghost hunter with her father, who would have, obviously, preferred a male pupil. Li-lin is sent to the underworld by some powerful men who have a bigger and sinister plan in store for San Francisco. This story incorporates Asian folklore, Chinese martial arts, and the guidance of a dismembered eyeball. Li-lin is also walking her journey to discover how the old prejudices of her past may be keeping her from being her true bad ass self.

The setting is Chinatown in San Franciso, and though the book is written in English, the characters are actually speaking to each other in Chinese and have a hard time communicating with the English- speakers they encounter in the book. I LOVED these drops of reality in this book. And that the people feel nothing but disdain for a Chinaman who calls himself Bok Choy. Li-Lin is also learning about her father's story and how the elders in the neighborhood have handled immigration and assimilation, especially in the face of the Chinese Exclusion Act. 
This book opens with Kate finding her father swinging from a rope and pretty much goes hard through the end. Kate is tracking her father's killers and discovering his secrets along the way. By the end, her whole life is upside down and peace may not be so easy to come by, assuming she lives through this road to revenge.

It took me a few pages to get into the Old West language (It's a Western, after all) and to shake off my conditioned response of correcting verb tense in my head as I was reading.

This is a stand alone book and has a pretty satisfying end. Kate is a raw character, who is unapologetic about her single- mindedness. There are some interesting things going on with the Native Peoples of the story: white people think they are savages, the natives think the white people are greedy liars. The main characters in this tale start with their respective biases and grow in what they know about each other, as people do. 

For more AWESOME ladies, head over to a listal of Kickass Chicks or to Gizmodo's list of the most bad ass women in animation.


*****
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