The Women’s War is a brilliantly executed feminist fantasy novel featuring complex storylines and a progression of deeply imagined characters. This is a world of terrors for women, where sexual violence and societal domination by foolhardy men reigns supreme. One spell changes the entire world, giving women the right to choose and slowly unleashing untold magic powers for those forced into subservience. It’s a long epic to be sure, but it never feels overly burdened with unnecessary details or developments. The puzzle comes together slowly and at the end, we’re met with a magic that is powerful beyond the world’s wildest dreams and a new provincial force run by the most powerful woman of them all. This is sure to be an epic series and I look forward to following along.
A WORLD FILLED WITH COMPLEX CHARACTERS
The Women’s War features a powerful cast of characters, all tied together in an intricate set of storylines that converge at the book’s harrowing conclusion. I was amazed at the author’s ability to juggle the politics of three entirely separate kingdoms. While the majority of the action revolves around one kingdom and its warring set of half-siblings, we also follow a distant queen and her struggles to stay in power amidst a society that does not respect a woman’s right to rule. We catch glimpses of a terrifying mountain society that treats women like animals, one I’m sure will play a larger part in future books.
We get to know these women well, watching as horrors enter their lives and force them to change rapidly. With the freedom of the spell comes new fears as men attempt to continue their dominance over women. We get to see women rise up into power, overcoming their years of education that they’re less than to become the rulers they know they can be. It’s very empowering to see them come into their own.
DEEPLY FASCINATING (AND TERRIFYING MAGIC)
Magic is available in an alternate realm of sorts, with anyone able to see it and manipulate it if they have the skill. The elements are masculine and feminine, geared toward their respective genders. Misogyny reigns supreme in the recognition of women’s magic, ironically allowing the exiled abbey to experiment and create spells far beyond what any mages have done thus far. It’s a fascinating magical art filled with experimentation, with many a hit and miss that could prove deadly. The newly discovered spells take magic into a technological level that’s both beautiful and terrifying.
AN ODE TO EMPOWERMENT
At the center of the novel is a deeply important conversation about a woman’s right to choose the path her life should take. While these societies continue to be far less than ideal at the end of the novel, change is in the air as forced marriages become a thing of the past and men begin to realize they have long underestimated the power of a woman. It’s exciting to follow these two queens as they overcome obstacles, especially in the face of one of the most frustrating male protagonists you’ll come across (think Joffrey if he grew up into an overweight, pompous loser). They’re only beginning to understand the immense power the spell has given them and watching their abilities grow into maturity will surely be a highlight of the series.
NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.
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