It's strange how at times media that I am consuming end up relating to one another in unanticipated ways. Over the last few days I've been watching the final episodes of the last season of Showtime's Penny Dreadful. (Yes, I know it ended weeks ago. I am perpetually behind on my DVR list.) At the same time I've been reading Shelly Laurenston's The Undoing. Unexpectedly both have feminist underpinnings with a particular focus on women refusing to conform to what men (or society or large) want or expect. On Penny Dreadful this is most evident with the characters Vanessa Ives and Lily. On the episode Ebb Tide (season 3, episode 7) Dracula gives a great speech in which he tells Vanessa that he loves her for who she really is and that she need not conform herself to what others expect, as she has tried to do for so long. Meanwhile the murderous Lily is bent on avenging herself and the multitudes of prostitutes, abused wives, and other women who society turns a blind eye to when they are beaten or otherwise ill treated. In The Undoing there is Jacinda "Jace" Berisha, a once abused wife who woke up in her second life filled with rage.
This is the second book I've read by Shelly Laurenston and the second in her Call of Crows series. Whenever I think of the Crows I can't help but picture a biker gang but they are something much cooler than bikers: The Crows are Viking inspired warriors. Long story short, there are various Viking clans on present day Earth whose job is more or less protect humanity from itself and from the misdeeds of various supernaturals. Each clan was created or put together by a particular god or goddess, like Thor or Odin. I can't remember which goddess created the Crows, but whoever she was she takes women who died, usually violently, and offers them a second chance at life as one of her Crow warriors. In their second lives the Crows are stronger, can sprout wings and fly, and are generally bad ass in every way.
I would classify this series as paranormal romance with lots of action. Each book in the series focuses on a particular Crow woman and her budding romance with a guy from one of the other clans. Plus there is always some big bad they have take down. The Undoing focuses on Jace, who aside from having the usual Crow powers of super strength and flight, manifests berserker level rage when she is really pissed off. Her fellow Crows find Jace's rages both helpful and frightening. When she is in a rage Jace is unstoppable but she is also has a tendency to lose control of herself. The reasons behind her rage are undoubtedly rooted in her first life when she was forced to be the wife of a crazy cult leader who believes the end of days are near. In The Undoing Jace has a lot on her plate. She has to (1) deal with her crazy ex-husband who wants to forcibly bring her back into the fold, (2) figure out how to stop a vengeful, ancient goddess who is wreaking havoc on the world, and (3) contemplate dating when the only other relationship she has ever been in was one that was forced on her at the age of ten.
I really liked this. How could I not? When not in a berserker rage, Jace is a quiet girl who prefers reading to small talk. She hides in empty cars, up in trees, wherever she can to escape the constant chatter of her sister crows, love them as she does. When Ski Eriksen of the Protectors clan, whose is also known as the "Keeper of the Word," asks for her help with translating and organizing a bunch of books his clan took from a Russian mobster Jace is all in. For the books, that is. She is completely clueless that the cute guy offering her job is in interested in much more than an employee/employer relationship.
There was also something about an enchanted necklace, an unkillable goddess causing all kinds of trouble. Truthfully I focused less on that part of the story. That part of the story was fine, and the parts about the other clans and how none of them get along was funny, but really it was all about the romance for me. Can't wait for the next book in the series.