We love female superheroes. Really, we do. But most comic books do a lousy job of presenting well-rounded female action heroes. Despite a never-ending string of well-intentioned reboots, retcons, and costume changes, most superheroines don’t present an empowering image. Inevitably, their source of power does not draw upon their femininity. They may be super strong and dedicated to heroism, but they retain feminine stereotypes nonetheless. There’s nothing empowering about a woman who mimics her male counterpart and subjugates her own feminine nature.
The problem persists in superhero prose too. We’ve read all sorts of novels in which the female character is defined by a male agenda. Even worse, these super women usually exist as female versions of pre-existing male characters. They are victims of Rule No. 63, which states that for any given male character, there is a corresponding female version of that character.
We’re happy to report that The Friday Society is a novel that gets it right. The author has created “a trio of lady heroes” who love adventure and who never compromise their winsome girly tendencies. These characters are spunky teenagers who disarm villains with glitter and dot their i’s with cute little flowers. They may chase down criminals and murderers, but there’s nothing grim and gritty about this threesome.
The Friday Society takes place in London at the beginning of the 20th century. The fog is lifting, writes the author, and a new brand of hero is about to be born. These heroes include a laboratory assistant named Cora Bell, a magician’s assistant named Nellie Harrison, and a young fight instructor named Michiko Takeda who’s only been in the city for six months.
At the beginning of the novel, all three girls exist in the shadow of London society. They spend their days helping powerful men do their busy work. But never for one moment are they welcome in the forbidden world of men. A place where important decisions are made, dirty jokes are told, and fantastic whiskey is drunk.
But so what? The days are short and the nights are long. Reinventing themselves as superheroes, the girls take to the darkened streets of London as Lady Sparkle, Hyde, and the Silver Heart. Says Cora: “Together we’re solving mysteries and saving the city. We’re in charge of our own destinies and making a difference.” Later, in a letter addressed to the citizens of London, they write: “If you need us, we will be there. We have many talents and skills. But above all things, we know how to assist.” Girls Friday to the rescue!
[The Friday Society / By Adrienne Kress / First Printing: December 2012 / ISBN: 9780803737617]