As the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend song goes, “I’m the Villain in My Own Story” but what if somebody else were to tell it? We latch onto definitive and indisputable labels but the truth is much more changeable. One woman’s villain is another woman’s hero.
From Northwest Press, Absolute Power: Tales of Queer Villainy! is a thirteen story anthology that runs the gamut in featuring female, LGBT villains. Edited by Erica Friedman, each piece will make you reconsider what it means to be a villain, if the term applies, and where we draw the line between acceptable and going too far.
Anthology highlights include:
Erica Friedman’s “Final Grades”
Summary: Welcome to a new year at Hypnotika’s School of Supervillainy!
Written in first person limited, an ironic choice for talking about manipulation, Friedman takes what would be a flaw in her premise and knowingly turns it into the punchline.
Tristan J. Tarwater’s “Date Night”
Summary: Yvette’s perfectly planned first date gets sabotaged when her sidekick goes rogue.
While the story goes overboard in hinting at hero, Facet’s, secret identity, there’s a specificity to Tarwater’s characterizations that’s truly spectacular. Anyone prone to overthinking basic human interactions will recognize themselves in Yvette, who looks up the restaurant menu of her date in advance so she can pretend not to know what to order.
Missouri Vaun’s “Eden’s Revenge”
Summary: With Eden ready to do anything to get her revenge, it’s up to cop, Grey Bishop, to stop her.
The lack of boundaries to Eden’s plan makes her the anthology’s scariest villain, but I wish more could’ve been said about the psychology of a person who doesn’t confine their revenge to a single target.
Audrey Chase’s “Fallen”
Summary: Sadie’s found a way to break her nemesis, Luther, but what’s left to do when she’s finished?
The villain-nemesis relationship comes up a couple times in Absolute Power, and unfortunately goes dry before Emily Kay Singer’s “Glitterbomb,” but in “Fallen,” it’s Sadie’s state of mind and hazy origin story that hint at a history where Luther and Sadie were more than antagonists.
A. Merc Rustad’s “For Want of A Heart”
Summary: After accruing too much gambling debt, Jordan finds herself caught between two sisters, one of whom has a plan to unleash Empathy.
“For Want of A Heart” continues the age old debate over sacrifices made for the greater good, but here with strong White Witch of Narnia vibes.
Claire Monserrat Jackson’s “Absolution”
Summary: Set in a futuristic world, Cuicatl reluctantly agrees to work a job for the Neo-Amish.
Boasting both the best first line and boldest approach to the anthology’s theme, “Absolution” looks at where prejudice would villainize people for being gay.
Mari Kurisato’s “Chrome Crash”
Summary: When Tia gets locked away for powers she can’t control, Dirae tries to rescue her.
Similarly seen as a bad guy because of her powers, Dirae begins losing her fight to change people’s minds, leading to a jarring ending.
Purchase a copy of Absolute Power HERE.