I have to admit to wracking my brains for a Dark Heroine to talk about – they really are under-represented – but I eventually decided on Catwoman. I’ve not seen either the Berry film (which isn’t really canon) or The Dark Knight Rises, but it’s Pfeiffer’s version that I want to talk about (yes, I know the photo is Anne Hathaway, hush)
In Batman Returns, Selina Kyle is secretary to Max Shreck. She comes into her “powers” when Shreck pushes her out of a window and she’s revived by the neighbourhood cats. Driven by revenge, she sets out to destroy Shreck and this puts her at odds with Batman, with who she develops a love/hate relationship. When Catwoman realises that she’s gone too far, she takes revenge and, seemingly, her own life by kissing Shreck to death courtesy of a tazer.
What I liked about Burton’s tale is that Selina/Catwoman remains in control of her own fate, rather than allowing Batman to take revenge on her behalf. There seems to be a tendency to disallow female characters autonomy, especially in the comic genre, so this plot point made a great impression on me. She refuses to be a victim, and that’s powerful, as is the fact that she redeems herself.
Misa Buckley is a sci fi geek who escapes the crazy of raising five children by creating imaginary characters who experience adventure, romance and really hot sex on their way to a happily-ever-after. You can keep up to date with Misa’s latest news by following her on Twitter or at her website.
Maud and Sue from Fingersmith. Whether you read the novel or watch the series, Maud and Sue are two incredibly compelling Dark Heroines. Each of them has a taint to their past, their motivations, and their friendship, and yet, in the end, it’s fair to say they save each other in truly heroic ways. To say much more would be spoiling the book (or movie) for those who haven’t met these characters yet, but rest assured, the book, especially, is amazing, and we highly recommend it.
From a spoilery interview with the actress who played Maud in the BBC series:
“I would not want to hang around with Maud – she’s an evil, twisted little…” Elaine Cassidy stops herself just in time, her Irish eyes smiling to belie the force of her words. “I couldn’t wait to get rid of her,” laughs the actor who had to play the heiress, stressing: “I love her but I can’t – bloody – stand – her!”
Leta would like to say that not only are Maud and Sue compelling, complex, and dark characters, but the book shares the distinct honor of shocking her, not once, but twice, and after decades of compulsive reading, it is rare for any plot events within a book to surprise her at all. If you’ve read it let us know if you were surprised, too!
Are you familiar with Fingersmith? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts on Sue and Maud…or even Gentleman, or any other characters in the novel or series. (If anyone does share with us, that means, of course, that there may be potential spoilers in the comments.)
Leta Blake and Keira Andrews write fairy tale inspired m/m erotica and romantica with Ellora’s Cave. Check out Earthly Desires, the first book in the series, available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Ellora’s Cave.
There are a bunch of kick-ass, dark heroines around now, and I for one couldn’t be happier. Mejean Brook’s Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth from The Iron Duke, or Marjorie M. Liu’s Dirk and Steele series heroines come to mind when I think of dark, tortured women. I love them—their trials and backstories, the internal hurdles they face while fighting the external battles. There’s something so evocative about a woman with a past, with scars and fears she has to overcome, who often is resistant to love, usually with damn good reason. These are heroines we can root for, who reassure us that with strength and pride and a healthy dose of self-possession every obstacle can be overcome. A really great weapon doesn’t hurt either!
But here’s the thing. Of all the dark, tortured heroines I’ve read, I have a flat out favorite. She’s the heroine of a book I fell in love with even before it was published and went to bat for because I believed in it so much. Her name is Cia, an ice-road trucker and portal guard, and her story is told in A. C. Ruttan’s Incarnate. Full disclosure: A.C. is a friend and critique partner, but I know I’d have loved this book even if I didn’t know her from Eve.
Imagine being born an incarnate, having two souls, both of whom speak to you, one of which is normal, the other having once belonged to Boudicca. Yeah, I said Boudicca, warrior queen, all-round bad-ass. Worse, not only is Boudicca little changed from she was in life, but she has flashbacks to the events leading up to her death, and actually to that death itself. She also has little patience for any weakness and a wicked, abiding grudge against the Roman who caused all the ruckus in her life back in AD 60.
Not only does Cia have to contend with the duality of her nature and her constant battle to keep Boudicca from taking over every aspect of her personality, but someone’s killing other incarnates. And everyone thinks it’s Cia’s ex, Arthur. Then suddenly it seems Boudicca’s arch nemesis has risen from the mists of history, and Cia has to race across the frozen north to clear Arthur’s name and, oh, yeah, stop Armageddon too.
Can you say ‘shit-storm’?
Bring it on demon lords and other assorted bad guys. Cia’s ready to kick your ever-loving asses.
This isn’t a romance, but urban fantasy, complete with demons, unexpected resurrections and some of the best fight scenes you’ll read. And you’ll feel for Cia—so much. What she’s already gone through, what she’s now facing is more than any woman should be able to handle. She has fears, uncertainties and a real terror of allowing Boudicca to take the reins. Fighting through all that, while trying to save not just the love of her life and friends but the entire world is some powerful stuff, and I loved every minute of it. There’s the sensation of life on steroids. Every nightmare you’ve ever had of losing your temper, endangering your family, or being forced to pay far too much for past sins is blown up to untenable proportions. Cia kicks ass and takes names but always with a price. We want her to win, but often fear she won’t…and I want to be like her.
What more could I ask for in a heroine?
Enjoy the blurb below!
For an innocent man, she’ll go to her grave. Again.
The Portal Keepers, Book 1
Cia is serving her sentence in the Canadian Arctic, guarding one of the many portals that seal off Earth from Heaven and Hell. She doesn’t mind the cold. What she does mind? Someone’s bumping off other Incarnates, the dual-souled beings who hold the Apocalypse at bay. And she’s next on the list.
Worse, she learns the prime suspect is Arthur, her ex. Arthur is many things, but despite their history, he’s no murderer. Cia has only thirty days to find him and prove it before the Wrath is unleashed to mete out justice.
It’s no relief when he shows up in her truck’s headlights on the side of the ice road. He stirs turmoil between her volatile old soul and the younger one that keeps it in line. Worse, he shows all the signs of turning into a demon.
The closer they get to Yellowknife, the more rogue demons pour out of Hell, dragging with them a past she thought would never haunt her again. Another murder, and the elders prepare to summon the Wrath ahead of schedule. A move that will, literally, let all Hell break loose. Unless Cia makes a soul-tearing choice.
Ice, frigid temperatures, lots of Poutine consuming and a mention of blubber. Many demons were harmed in the writing of this book, but the polar bear really is okay.
Journeys Through Seduction
It took me a while to figure out what Dark Heroine to write about. Let’s be honest, sometimes you look at an assigned topic and think, “great, a term paper.” But blogs are way more fun than term papers, and I should remember that more often.
For my Dark Heroine, I’m going to chat about Cat. HA! I totes rhymed.
In case you’ve been hiding from everything for the last few years, you’ve heard of Cat and Bones. So you know that Cat is a half-vampire who was conditioned from an early age by her mother to hate the bloodsuckers. In order to “atone” for who she is and what vamp-kind had done to her mom, Cat becomes a vigilante slayer.
Pretty cool, huh?
Jeaniene Frost does an awesome job of making Cat relatable, even though she’s super fucked-in-the-head, especially through the first book, HALFWAY TO THE GRAVE. Through Cat’s mother, she’s come to hate herself, hate where she comes from, hate everything. Even though she’s successful at killing vampires, it doesn’t lessen the burden.
And then she meets Bones. A cocky, badass vampire who puts her in her place, while teaching her to accept herself for who, and what, she is.
And I really kind of dig that. A little self-acceptance is awesome. A lot, even more so.
I mean, who doesn’t have complexes handed down by well-meaning and loving parents? Or other adults? Granted, our fights usually aren’t as deep as hating half of our genetics, but isn’t overcoming early ideas part of the coolest stuff about growing up? I think that’s why I love Cat so much. She overcomes. It’s hopeful, in a stabby sort of way. 🙂
Do you like Cat and Bones? What’s your favorite moment from the series? And please, no spoilers. I don’t think I’ve read the last one yet!
We’ve already discussed dark heroes and I have to say my fellow Darker Temptations bloggers know their dark heroes. This time around we’re discussing dark heroines.
To be honest, I’m not as into heroines as I am heroes. I wonder why? But there are a few that come to mind when I really sit back to think about it. One would be Samantha Caine/Charly Baltimore from The Long Kiss Goodnight. Yeah, you remember this movie, right? It was back in the 90s when Geena Davis was kick ass. She still is kick ass by the way.
It was kind of like a paranormal. Okay, not really, but you have to admit, you spent the entire movie thinking, “What the fuck is going on?”
But she’s not really a dark heroine because we know she’s going to prevail over her darker, deadlier side. Or maybe that was just the optimist in me.
The other dark heroine that came to mind was one I’d written. It still kind of shocks me when I think about Noelani because she’s completely unlike my other heroines. I tend to write light and funny with some darker moments thrown in for shits and giggles. Yet the minute Noelani appeared in my mind, I knew she was going to be trouble.
Yes, I wrote a darker paranormal called Lifestyles of the Fey and Dangerous. Let me rephrase that. It’s a darker paranormal than most people are used to reading from me. Noelani is a shadow fairy assassin. Oh, you know it’s going to be bad when the heroine’s an assassin. Kind of like The Long Kiss Goodnight. Except in this case, Noelani or Shade, knows exactly what kind of monster she is.
Tortured for centuries by a former lover, beaten into submission and betrayed by the people who were supposed to care for her, Noelani is dark and tragic. I wanted so badly to redeem her, to give her a happy ending. She didn’t make it easy though. Sure, she had a hero worth defying orders for. Sure, she was infatuated and in love with him, but her mission only had one outcome. Death for her regardless of which way she went.
Kind of sucks, you know? But in the end, it was worth it to bring her into the light. There was a sense of accomplishment on my part, as though I’d managed something awesome. I wrote Lifestyles two years ago, using it as a therapeutic story I never really intended to see published. Looking back on the growth of Noelani from assassin to heroine…I have to admit that it’s one of my favorite stories and she’s one of my favorite heroines.
If you’re a writer, have you used your books as cheap therapy? If you’re a reader, what are some books you’ve read to remind yourself there’s hope and happiness up for grabs?