Today’s guest is Kenda from Lurv a la Mode! Kenda reads fantasy, science fiction, and romance, and this year she is hosting a reading challenge fantasy fans may want to participate in, Year of the Fantasy Classic.
Kenda is one of my favorite bloggers because of both her thoughtful reviews and her sense of humor. She’s not afraid to say what she thinks about a book even if it’s less than glowing, and I appreciate how she gives her opinion and tells it how she sees it. Kenda is just an all-around fantastic blogger (and she runs a great food blog too!). I was very glad to see the topic she chose today – how an author made her more willing to try books featuring a certain common fantasy theme she used to avoid. Please give a warm welcome to Kenda!
Finding Enjoyment in Faerie
I want to thank Kristen for asking me to do a guest post for her Women in SF&F Month. I love it when I get ask to guest on a great blog, but then I always struggle to figure out what to say. Then it just hits me. So thanks for asking me here today, Kristen! I appreciate to opportunity to reflect on what women in one of my favorite genres means to me.
So as you may have guessed, I’m going to talk a little today about Faerie, aka, the Fae or Faery or any other other various ways of spelling the concept. It really wasn’t much of a fave of mine back in the day. If fact, it was like my dreaded angel trope these days. I’d figuratively run the other way if Faerie was mentioned in any way. I think in part it’s because that was the big deal then. It seemed like everywhere you turned it was fae this and fairy that, and the ones I’d tried didn’t gel with me. I don’t tend to stick too much to overly zealous publishing trends (I’m sure there’s an exception or two, but the repetitive nature of trends can be a turn off).
I’ll never forget the day I got a certain ARC in the mail, unsolicited. Instead of the book’s blurb on the back cover, there was a small letter from the head of DAW publishing (Or maybe their senior editor? OK, so maybe that day is slightly fuzzy now.). A little unprecedented, yes? I thought so. It was an incredibly laudatory letter on the book in question and I wasn’t buying it. I’m not one for author quotes on books either, so I naturally wasn’t going to pay a publishing professional’s much more notice. We’re all too different; I won’t enjoy it just because this person, nice as they may have seemed, liked it so much. I started to read the book after that, because it had been one I was looking forward to.
That magical book was Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire. (Aha! We get to the female side of this discussion, finally.) It is all up in that fae business that I thought would never be for me. This one was different, though, and as I read it and was sucked in, I supposed that maybe I could agree with a certain DAW employee that it was something special. By the end I knew it was. It’s one of my most favorite series now and I can’t ever get enough.
Since I’ve reviewed all the books in the series so far, I’ve thought a lot already about what it is I like so much about Toby, and at the heart of it is her unflagging ability to be a hero. It’s been mentioned more than once in the series that, something along the lines of “Faerie has no more heroes”. It means that the legends of old that were the known and beloved heroes were swiftly dwindling. But I see Toby as a return to those heroic roots of Faerie. She is loyalty personified, even at times when those she serves aren’t as loyal to her. When everyone else is ready to turn a back or blind eye with their apathy, there’s always Toby to pick up the reins. As a result she is hurt, both physically and mentally, beaten and punished in ways that are unthinkable. But it doesn’t break her. She never stops. And thankfully somewhere along the way she gains new friends and alliances. She is not alone. As a result, each book in the series has felt so triumphant for me.
I wouldn’t feel this way if McGuire didn’t drive Toby so darn hard. It’s almost physically painful to me how hurt Toby can get. I feel what the book is trying to do that much and I love that it can get to me that way. It means that I also find complete happiness when the situation warrants it. In a way this post is a confession of my crush on Toby as a phenomenal character and it’s my undeniable letter of a total fangirl to an author. It’s a thank you for helping me along in my heel digging to avoid fae fantasy fiction. It’s totally thanks to McGuire that I’ll give fae-themed fantasy a try now – and amazingly enough not the Lord of the Rings movies that even now hubby and I are watching for the proverbial one millionth time as I type this up. But you go, Arwen, you tell that meddling father of yours.
Anyway, the point to this long-winded bit of fangirl fluttering is to ask you, fellow fantasy and science fiction fans, what female authors have especially inspired your reading? Do you have any particular themes/tropes that you’ve vowed never to read? Have any female authors managed to get you to change your mind?
Thanks again for having me here today, Kristen!