Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey--an anti-review

I read for a living as well as for pleasure, and I read a lot.  I mostly read mysteries for my own amusement, but I also love horror and fantasy and all the hybrids of those three genres. Watching Game of Thrones (it's back tonight!!) has rekindled my love of historical fantasy and I'm always looking for fantasies that feature female protagonists. When Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey crossed my desk, I was delighted. I wasn't daunted by the length (900+ pages) because I like a writer who takes the time to build her world. I wasn't put off by the sometimes overly ornate prose. (I  cut my teeth on Tolkien.) I wasn't even put off by the heroine's profession (she's basically a sacred slut). At least, not at first. The further I got into the book, though, the more disenchanted and disengaged I felt. The protagonist, Phedre, is so incredibly beautiful and so incredibly sexy, and so incredibly awesome all around that it becomes tiresome. She is the quintessential "Mary Sue" character and that kind of character is usually not very interesting. And yet...Kushiel's Dart has 453 reviews on Amazon.com and 251 of them are five-star reviews. I don't feel the love. And neither, actually does Phedre, because she's an anguisette, a woman who experiences agony and ecstasy simultaneously.  It's not that she can't feel pain, she feels it as exquisite pleasure. The more I read, the more I felt like I was reading 50 Shades of Grey tarted up in fantasy dress. To put it mildly, I was disappointed. To put it frankly, there were times I was kind of icked out by the heroine's belief that her only value was as a sex object. Not to mount my feminist hobby horse but here at Kattomic Energy, it makes me kind of sad that girls are reading this book and identifying with the heroine. It's really ashame because the world-building was terrific.
Opinions anyone?

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