Saturday, January 30, 2021

Five top fantasy heroines that fight systems of oppression

J. Elle was born in Houston, Texas, and is a first-generation college student with a bachelor’s in journalism and MA in educational administration and human development. An advocate for marginalized voices in both publishing and her community, J. Elle’s passion for empowering youth dates back to her first career in education. She’s worked as a preschool director, middle school teacher, and high school creative writing mentor. In her spare time, she volunteers at an alternative school, provides feedback for aspiring writers, loves on her three littles, and cooks up dishes true to her Texas and Louisiana roots. Wings of Ebony is her first novel.

At she tagged five favorite fantasy heroines that fight systems of oppression, including:
A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth (2021)

Favorite line: “…She was going to make them regret letting her discover just how satisfying it was to watch things burn.”

A Dark and Hollow Star is a multi POV epic YA fantasy about a four queer teens working together (in a rather prickly alliance) to solve a string of horrific murders plaguing the city of Toronto before the hidden Fae race is exposed to the human world. Holly Black fans will rave. Think the Cruel Prince meets City of Bones.

Fae stories have a special place in my heart and when I find one I love I never shut up about it. But it’s been a bit since I’ve seen once done in such a way that feels fresh and not just more of the same. A Dark And Hollow Star blows it out of the water. This is a robust, gender inclusive, epic multi-POV fantasy that fae fans will not stop raving about until Shuttleworth gives us another one. This story is rich with deeply immersive worldbuilding, layers of allegory around politics, systemic oppression, mixed race and dual identity–all wrapped up in a murdery plot. The Ironborn (those who are both human and magic blood) are being targeted by a killer, but the High King refuses to acknowledge it as their government’s problem. Together they come together to hold the Court accountable. And if that isn’t the setup for page-turning stakes, I don’t know what is. The power imbalance creates a desperation for justice that’ll have you on the edge of your seat, clenching the book tighter than you should and that’s a nod to Shuttleworth’s tension-building talent. Shuttleworth is a name to write down. They will be gifting us with worlds we want to get lost in for many many years to come.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue