association-list a veritable mint for dunning-kruggerands

"The Cage", by A.M. Dellamonica

I am deeply tempted to start this off with a rant about how terrible the stories bought for’s theme months are, but I will not, other than to note that they have a pretty bad track record there.

From the author’s contributions to the comments, she doesn’t typically trade in paranormal romance (do people in the UK really call them ‘fang bangers?’), and I think that it’s all the better for it. She doesn’t attempt to trade on the presumably well-worn tropes of the genre, and apparently all this happens in a world where we both have werewolves and Buffy still aired (side note: Buffy ended a year after the date that monsterkind is revealed in the world of the story. I am curious as to what that last season would have been like, in that universe. Also I am a dork).

Since I don’t read a lot of PR books, I might be missing the people who’re trying to subvert the conventions of the genre, but this is the best piece that I’ve read so far in that vein. Werewolf hunters as psychopaths and sadists rather than bad-ass superheroes is a subversion that resonates with a lot of my complaints about the entire genre, not just its PR subsections (cyberpunk did us a disservice, I think).

The thematic spine of the story is, of course, the ties here between othered communities. Normally, an LGBT community (or another outsider community) springing to the defense of ‘monsterkind’ here would be a bit obvious, but somehow she manages it here without making it too terribly unsubtle. Normally outsider communities don’t like to go around borrowing trouble, but in larger cities, there’s a sense that the more people who band together the more powerful you become. So it makes sense, narrative-wise that the whole community that this women has access to would come out and stand up. This isn’t simple, of course. Just witness the difficulties transgender persons have had getting properly represented by the ‘mainstream’ LGBT organizations. It’d have amped up the realism a bit more to show the phonecalls that she made, so that we could see not just who came, but who couldn’t be bothered and who actively didn’t want to come.

I also like how government is presented as complicated, with multiple levels and factions. Too often, especially in literature coming from the notional left, or from any non-centrist ideological position, that government is one single block oozing evil and simpering henchmen. The evocation of this here wasn’t necessary to the plot, but I thought that it was a nice touch all the same.

My only real complaint with the story is that the prose is too transparent. Well enough written, but not exactly fine. Totally capable of supporting the piece, though, so it’s something of a minor quibble.

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