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Sirens at Home: Villains Books

Villains

In 2021, Sirens will examine villains, especially with respect to what that means for people with marginalized identities, with Guests of Honor Kinitra D. Brooks, Rin Chupeco, Sarah Gailey, and Fonda Lee, as well as Sirens Studio Guest of Honor Joamette Gil. We’ll deconstruct classifications of villainy and expectations of redemption, and how those differ based on a person’s gender, not to mention other axes of oppression.

Sirens currently suggests a number of books to expand your reading on villainy. For Sirens at Home, though, we want to feature 10 books that we think have something to say about gender and villainy, and how we so easily view those with marginalized identities as villains. Here are those books, as well as their opening words—and we’ve included links to those works at Bookshop in the titles. Bookshop supports both Sirens and independent bookstores, so if you’re looking to purchase any of these titles, they’re a great option!

1. A Feast of Sorrows by Angela Slatter

A Feast of Sorrows “My father did not know that my mother knew about his other wives, but she did. It didn’t seem to bother her, perhaps because, of them all, she had the greater independence and a measure of prosperity that was all her own. Perhaps that’s why he loved her best.”

2. American Hippo by Sarah Gailey

American Hippo “Winslow Remington Houndstooth was not a hero. There was nothing within him that cried out for justice or fame. He did not wear a white hat—he preferred his grey one, which didn’t show the bloodstains. He could have been a hero, had he been properly motivated, but there were more pressing matters at hand.”

3. Beneath the Rising by Premee Mohamed

Beneath the Rising “My earliest memory of her smells like blood. I remember just enough.”

4. Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Gideon the Ninth “In the myriadic year of our Lord—the ten thousandth year of the King Undying, the kindly Prince of Death!—Gideon Nav packed her sword, her shoes, and her dirty magazines, and she escaped from the House of the Ninth.”

5. Jade City by Fonda Lee

Jade City “The two would-be jade thieves sweated in the kitchen of the Twice Lucky restaurant. The windows were open in the dining room, and the onset of evening brought a breeze off the waterfront to cool the diners, but in the kitchen, there were only the two ceiling fans that had been spinning all day to little effect. Summer had barely begun and already the city of Janloon was like a spent lover—sticky and fragrant.”

6. Queen of the Conquered by Kacen Callender

Queen of the Conquered “My mother kissed my forehead with a smile when I cried, upset that the party would carry on as I was sent away to sleep, and while I lay awake in my bed of lace, huddled beneath my covers and shivering in the cool trade-winds breeze, I heard when the tinkling piano stopped and when the laughter turned to screams.”

7. Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves

Slice of Cherry “Fancy only allowed three people in the whole world to get close to her: Daddy, who was on death row; Madda, who was working the graveyard shift; and Kit, who was dead to the world in the bed next to hers. And so when she awoke to find a prowler hanging over her, violating her personal space, her first instinct was to jab her dream-diary pencil into his eye.”

8. The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

The Bone Witch “The beast raged; it punctured the air with its spite. But the girl was fiercer. She held no weapons except for the diamonds glinting like stars above her brow, against hair like a dark mass of sky. She wore no armor save a beautiful hua of mahogany and amber spun from damask silk, a golden dragon embroidered down its length, its body half-hidden by her waist wrap. She raised her arm, and I saw nothing. But the creature saw, and its wrath gentled, until it did little but whimper.”

9. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

The Poppy War “‘Take your clothes off.’
Rin blinked. ‘What?’
The proctor glanced up from his booklet. ‘Cheating prevention protocol.’ He gestured across the room to a female proctor. ‘Go with her, if you must.’
Rin crossed her arms tightly across her chest and walked toward the second proctor. She was led behind a screen, patted thoroughly to make sure she hadn’t packed test materials up any orifices, and then handed a formless blue sack.”

10. The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

The Shadows Between Us “They’ve never found the body of the first and only boy who broke my heart. And they never will.”

For more information about our 2021 conference, please see our website.

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