Josephine Thomas’ mother disappeared years ago. In a world where women and witches are both at the mercy of the State, her mother going missing drew a great deal of scrutiny from others.
So when she receives her mother’s will, asking her to head to an island and fulfil her wish, Jo hesitatingly embarks on a dangerous journey.
A dystopian fantasy, The Women Could Fly is an intimate look at what it means to be a bisexual woman of colour in a highly prejudiced society.
It perfectly creates a parallel between the gender inequalities that are true to our society and the persecution of witches in human history that we’ve heard of.
Giddings’ writing style is at once straightforward, bold, and imaginative. She brings out her protagonist’s inner thoughts well through the narrative such that you get a better understanding of Jo and all that she’s gone through.
The story is set in a world where women are forced to get married by the age of 30 or relinquish all rights to their life.
With themes like mass surveillance, absentee parents, and societal pressure, you’d think that the book would only have a dreary tone to it. But surprisingly, the fantastical elements and Jo’s character voice balances it out.
Dystopian fiction is one of my all-time favourite genres. So I’ve read more than my fair share of dystopian books and know what elements to look out for.
Something I always observe is how the minority-majority dynamic plays out in these dystopian novels. And in contrast to the characters who have been failed by their peers, how others with an upper hand are characterised.
It was quite sad to see Jo’s father giving in to the system and not being there for her. The only other significant role played by a male character is that of Jo’s love interest, Preston.
There’s a scene where you can clearly make out that he has a streak of disobedience towards the authorities but he isn’t too vocal about his stance, and if you don’t like the knight in shining armour trope, you’ll probably not care too much about his role either.
I was really fascinated reading the scenes set on the island. What transpires there is so unexpected that for a few pages, I didn’t know what to think of it.
Jo is a self-aware character, and that makes the narrative more interesting. She knows she has limited options and how she navigates the restraints that women experience adds to her character arc.
I did have some questions by the end of the novel about how a particular plot point was possible, considering the supposed panoptic governance. But there were enough plus points to the book to keep me engrossed.
I feel that The Women Could Fly truly deserves a second and a third re-read simply because of how intricate the storytelling is. I am definitely going to pick this up again.
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Note: I received an ALC of this book from Libro.fm in exchange for an honest review.