Feminist revenge fantasy books
August 28, 2020 8:19 AM   Subscribe

I loved the first third of Naomi Alderman's The Power, and after reading restless nomad's description of it as a "feminist revenge fantasy concept," that's what I want. I'd prefer book/audiobook options.

I'm specifically looking for a degree of unpunished revenge, as opposed to Alderman's eventual complication of her central concept. There can be a cost, but I don't want vengeance becoming it's own punishment.

Like, the first Maleficent movie? That was immensely satisfying. I want something along those lines. I will read well-written genre/fantasy. I can't get into anime/comics.
posted by gladly to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I have one orthogonal recommendation for you, OP, and I have several books which I'd like to warn you away from. The bad ones first: I read a whole bunch of feminist lit on the recommendation of friends who said to me, "If you loved Naomi Alderman's book, then you will love ___". Some of these aren't specifically revenge stories, but they do spring from revenge fantasies of second wave feminists, if you know what I mean. They've all been rather disappointing. I did not enjoy them. The writing style, the plot, the dialogue, and characters were all quite sub-par. They're definitely notable as pioneering feminist novels which are testing out feminist themes, theories, and ideas in novel form, but as literature they are pretty bad.

So here's what I do not recommend if you enjoyed the plotting, dialogue, thematic complexity, character dimensionality, etc. of The Power:

1. The Female Man, Joanna Russ
2. Woman on the Edge of Time, Marge Piercy
3. Herland, Charlotte Perkins Gilman
4. Ammonite, Nicola Griffith

Here's the book I do recommend, with the caveat that it's not a feminist revenge fantasy but a race revenge fantasy: White Tears by Hari Kunzru. This book is for race in America what The Power is for gender in America. It's brilliant, well plotted, superbly peopled, and becomes utterly terrifying, eventually. You won't be disappointed!
posted by MiraK at 8:49 AM on August 28, 2020 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Houston, Houston, Do You Read?

Feminist first-wave sci-fi. Short fiction.

James Tiptree, Jr. was the nom-de-plume of Alice Bradley Sheldon. Her hidden identity likely made possible her publishing contracts, and the bevy of high-level literary awards she garnered.
posted by j_curiouser at 9:02 AM on August 28, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I haven't read The Power, but my ultimate feminist revenge fantasy is currently Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone. There is beautiful, beautiful vengeance. And it is unpunished.

(There's a sequel which I liked but didn't love, though it's set up an interesting plotline for an upcoming third book. Jane Doe is a standalone story, though, so you don't need to continue in the series if you don't want to.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:02 AM on August 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Chelsea G. Summers, A Certain Hunger: "Food critic Dorothy Daniels indulges in her homicidal urges by murdering her lovers and devouring their organs." It's on audible now but I don't think it's in print until December.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:42 AM on August 28, 2020

You might enjoy the four book Elemental Magic series by Laurie J Marks. It is essentially the revenge fantasy of an entire country, led by a woman. There are a lot of great scenes and characters. Definitely start at the beginning with Fire Magic.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:53 AM on August 28, 2020

Not real revenge, but satisfying The Gate to Women's Country, Sheri Tepper.
posted by theora55 at 10:16 AM on August 28, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Dietland! It's way more of a feminist revenge manifesto than the title and cover copy let on.
posted by Flannery Culp at 10:54 AM on August 28, 2020 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I loved Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone. From the review at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books: I just finished Jane Doe and I think I need a cigarette. That was the most satisfying book I’ve read in ages.
posted by Lexica at 11:01 AM on August 28, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It's light on the "revenge" part, but there are some very satisfying exchanges in Supper Club by Lara Williams.

Seconding Dietland. It was so much more than I thought it would be!
posted by lindseyg at 2:28 PM on August 28, 2020

Best answer: If a short story would be okay, And Now His Lordship is Laughing by Shiv Ramdas. I'd call it ... a feminist postcolonial revenge fantasy, perhaps? I do warn, it's an emotionally difficult read, but it's very good. It was a Nebula nominee last year.
posted by fire, water, earth, air at 11:52 PM on August 28, 2020

Response by poster: AskMe, you are so smart. I've added a bunch of these to my goodreads list.

MiraK, thank you for responding with that orthogonal rec. I didn't know that I wanted that kind of read too.
posted by gladly at 11:47 AM on August 30, 2020

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