Mini Reviews: Feminist Books

In this edition of Mini Reviews, I’m reviewing some recent-ish feminist reads.

mini review

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton


The people of Orléans revere beauty above all else. Camellia and her sisters are the new Belles. They all want to be the Favourite, the Queen’s approved Belle, the Belle who is above all. Camellia is about to learn that getting what you want isn’t always what you hope it will be, and she is faces with a difficult and life-changing decision. At a recent (ish) event, Dhonielle described this book as being “like a box of chocolates with maggots inside”, which is the perfect description. The Belles exposes the dark underside of a world obsessed withe being beautiful, and it is wonderful. This was a fascinating, utterly gripping book with beautiful descriptions and exquisite twists. I am very excited to read more about this world. 

Vox by Christina Dalcher

Imagine a world where you’re only allowed to speak 100 words a day. Any more than that and you’ll get electric shocks. But only if you’re a woman. Set in a future America, Vox tells the story of Jean McClellan and her family. Restrictions on women are getting harsher. I was fascinated to see how a family adjusted to their wife and mother suddenly being restricted in this way. The men in Jean’s life annoyed me. I felt her fear for her daughter’s future. And I appreciated the irony of the men of her world needing her expertise (and having to restore her freedom) in order to cure aphasia. The things she uncovers are horrifying. This is a fascinating and terrifying book, with themes and ideas that no longer seem impossible. An absolute must-read.

The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill

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The Surface Breaks is a feminist retelling of The Little Mermaid. I loved this. I love the original Hans Christian Anderson mermaid stories. In this retelling, Gaia dreams of escaping from her father and his expectations. When she swims to the surface she falls for a human and seeks the help of the Sea Witch in becoming human herself. So far, so Disney, but this is where the similarities end. Gaia’s journey to becoming human is a difficult one. She has to make some sacrifices, and when she gets there, being human isn’t exactly what Gaia had imagined it would be. She is faced with some shocks and some difficult choices. Gaia’s story, her motivations and her worries are well-explored, and I loved how this was done.  I was promised a powerful, feminist mermaid story and this didn’t disappoint. There are a wealth of  mermaid stories around at present and this is one of the best I’ve read.

That’s it for another Mini Review wrap up. Have you read any of these? What feminist books have you been reading recently? 



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