Recommendations for When You Want to Burn It All Down

I receive a number of email messages each day asking for recommendations. Sometimes the request is based on having discovered a particular book, author, or trope (speaking of, have you seen our growing “Genres, Archetypes, and Themes” collection?). Other times, I’m asked for help identifying a book or two that might satisfy a particular mood or desire.

This past week, to the surprise of absolutely no one here at Bitchery HQ, I’ve received three separate requests for, in effect, romances to read “when you want to burn it all down.” We are here to help, and will pass you some matches, should you need some. But be careful with open flames around yourself, your food, your pets, and your books!

It’s probably not a surprise to anyone anywhere that my first suggestion for anyone looking for comfort and solace inside rage and vengeance is the Call of Crows series by Shelly Laurenston. As I wrote in my review of The Undoing: 

The reason to read this series is not just the romances, which are terrific, but for the Crows themselves. They represent and embody coalesced female rage, and it’s incredible. Every slight against women, every crime against women throughout history is represented among the Crow membership (they have to die to be reborn through Skuld, after all) and the injustice and pain of having been victims fuels their power and their violent rage. They are unapologetically fierce and amazing to read about. If one looks at what happens to women throughout time, there’s a lot to be angry about. To me, the Crows represent the justifiable fury in response to all of it.

If you’re looking for literary representation of and an outlet for your possibly overflowing fury repository, a clan of women warriors whose mantra is Let Rage Be Your Guide might help you out.

But fear not – we have several other suggestions for “When You Want to Burn It All Down.”

Elyse mentioned this book in the most recent edition of Whatcha Reading? but I don’t think there’s a limit on how much one can discuss this book: Bloodprint by Ausma Zehanat Khan.

As Elyse said:

It’s an epic fantasy about a group of women with magical abilities working to overthrow a patriarchal, repressive society. Their magic is tied to the ability to read and use words of power.

This is a weird recommendation for me: as I mentioned in our Whatcha Reading post, I want to read this book, but after reading the first chapter, I knew it would overly-stimulate the part of my brain that likes to wake me up in the middle of the night with nightmares about violence. Based on that first chapter, I have a strong indication that this book is going to be incredible, and I’m so, so excited that Elyse found it and is enjoying it. (I can’t wait to ask her all about it, too.) (I’m a horrible person to correspond with for that reason.)

Amanda, I am betting, wants to recommend A Promise of Fire, and also has a key role in the development of this list. Amanda, which of the Kresley Cole Immortals After Dark series feature the most rage-filled, burn-it-all-down characters? Alas, the titles all blend together into a strange amalgam of Dark Needy Nights at the Edge of Wicked King Demon Darkness. 

Amanda: Sarah knows me so well.

If I had to pick just one of the Immortals After Dark series, I’m partial to the latest one, Wicked Abyss ( A | BN | K | G | iB ). The heroine outsmarts so many people who are physically more powerful than she is. Plus, the climax of her revenge plot is a moment in my romance reading history that I’ll remember forever.

In other burn it down recommendations, I loved Burn Down the Night by Molly O’Keefe ( A | BN | K | G | iB ). The heroine kidnaps the hero (who is part of a motorcycle club) and keeps him handcuffed to a bed until he agrees to help rescue her sister from a cult. The heroine, Joan, is unapologetic and so tough!

In a less visceral interpretation, Evie in Dating You/Hating You puts a “down with the patriarchy” contemporary spin on “burning it all down.” She fights against workplace sexism and I love how she refuses to sacrifice her goals. She knows what her work experience is worth and she’s kickassingly (yes, this is a new word, trademark pending) uncompromising.

I’m sure I have a handful of other recommendations lurking in my brain that I’ll remember long after this post goes live, but I hope these will do!

Sarah: What about you? Do you have any recommendations you turn to when you have that “Why, I’m Terribly Sorry to Mention It, But I’d like to Burn It All Down with Ragefire” feeling? Please share! 

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