Gakuen Alice

RedRookRed Rook is only the second full-length novel in the Gailsone series. But author Casey Glanders has already done a great job of building an expansive universe surrounding his lead character, Alice “Dyspell” Gailsone.

For 10 years Gailsone was a criminal mastermind and the most dangerous woman in the world. During her time with the Purge (a global organization of super efficient terrorists) she was known as the woman of a thousand woes, the Mistress of Dark Magic, and the Queen of Pain. But recently she switched teams and signed the “Open Hand Act,” a law that granted amnesty to any supervillain who agreed to renounce their ways and reintegrate into society. For more details, check out the first book, Big in Japan.

Now working for the Collective Good (a S.H.I.E.L.D.-like superhero organization) Dyspell is experiencing a bumpy learning curve. She’s discovered that you can’t simply renounce villainy one day and embrace heroism the next. Things don’t work that way. Just ask Emma Frost or Natasha Romanoff or any of the former members of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Being a reformed supervillain ain’t easy.

Because of her sudden change of allegiance, Gailsone’s life has become super complicated. Not only does she have unfinished Purge business to take care of, but she also has to play nice with a bunch of grumpy superheroes. There’s good news, however. In this latest adventure, she saves the world from economic collapse and absorbs a radiation blast from a nuclear bomb. That should earn some brownie points with her new colleagues.

Not only does Red Rook expand upon the author’s superhero universe, but it also fills the universe with a riot of great female characters. There’s Alice Gailsone, of course. But she’s not the only Gailsone in this series. There’s Allison, Holly, and her mother, Dorothy too. They’re all pips.

Beyond the Gailsone clan, the cast also includes a deadly assassin named Aika Fukijima (code name: Lotus), an executive superhero named Victoria Green, (code name: Blackbird), and Eedee, the hardworking Multi-Environmentally Enhanced Electronic Detonation Device. And to stir up trouble, there’s a mysterious villainess named Anna May (“no real code name,” she says).

All of these women are unique and fun and say inappropriate things at inappropriate times. They’ve all traveled interesting paths in life and their personalities reflect the scars (both physical and mental) they’ve earned along the way. But most of all, Alice Gailsone and her team follow their own flexible moral code with great gusto. And it doesn’t matter if they have to burn down Tokyo or detonate a nuclear bomb — they get the job done.

[Gailsone: Red Rook / By Casey Glanders / First Printing: July 2014 / ISBN: 9781500438036]

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