Shelf Love

Stay Un-Alive (Antagonist April #3)

Short Description

Readers weigh in on killers in romance novels (AKA people who un-alive other people) and I challenge myself to see if the distasteful elements in the Darkly, Madly duology (discussed next episode!) showed up in less-egregious ways in texts I did enjoy. Also, more thoughts on power, gender roles, and the desire to conquer a protector.


audience reception, antagonist april, genre discussions

Show Notes

Readers weigh in on killers in romance novels (AKA people who un-alive other people) and I challenge myself to see if the distasteful elements in the Darkly, Madly duology (discussed next episode!) showed up in less-egregious ways in texts I did enjoy. Also, more thoughts on power, gender roles, and the desire to conquer a protector.

Responses from Antagonist April social media prompts:

Fangirl Jeanne’s tweet thread on the power fantasy, discussed in this episode


Shelf Love:

Join the Conversation on Discord:


Andrea Martucci: [00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to Shelf Love, a podcast and community that explores romantic love stories in fiction across media time and cultures. Welcome once again to Antagonist April. I'm your host, Andrea Martucci. And on this episode, I am going to share responses from social media where readers weighed in on killers in romance novels.

And give some additional commentary to bridge the topics that Fangirl Jeanne and I discussed in the Manacled episodes, 116 and 117. And a yet to be released conversation. So Fangirl Jeanne will be on next episode to wrap up Antagonist April. We are going to be discussing the Darkly Madly duology by Trisha Wolfe. It's a dark romance with two serial killers for main characters.

And I had a pretty visceral reaction to those books. But I wanted to hold my feet to the fire and challenge myself to see if the distasteful elements in the Darkly Madly duology showed up in less egregious ways in texts. I did enjoy.

One of the very leading questions that I asked Jeanne when we discussed Darkly, Madly, was this.

In a hetero patriarchal, capitalist, racist, et cetera culture, what are some reasons that people would find serial killers to be romantic figures in dark romance?

And we had a long conversation about a lot of things, but I'd hypothesize that these serial killer protagonists or people that kill other people especially in the texts that we read are exaggerating the power dynamics that are romanticized less conspicuously elsewhere in the romance genre. For example, especially in cis het romance, the patterns that emerge show a keen interest in characterizing power in gendered ways.

For example, size differentials, where the men are commonly larger than women, sometimes to ridiculous degrees. And this is exacerbated by an exaggeration in both directions through larger than average men and smaller than average women. Even when female characters are taller or curvy or fat, it's pretty common to see the text make a point to pair them with even larger men. And comment that this disparity makes them feel small and delicate for the first time, which in our culture is assigned to the meaning of them now feeling desirable because they're fitting into the gender stereotype for women. I E smaller I E delicate. I E feminine and worthy of being protected by a large man.

And these size differentials reinforce the idea that men are more powerful than women via their physical embodiment of power and the awareness of this physical display of power, not just in size, but also like dominant, forceful behavior. Also commonly goes hand in hand with institutional power.

Like, you know, Dukes, billionaires, pirate captains, bosses, werewolf alphas, et cetera. [00:03:00] And this is creating a tension that often rides the line between perceiving men as a threat. Or as a protector.

So Jeanne talked about this power fantasy in a really excellent Twitter thread, which is linked in the show notes and we discussed it and Jeanne expanded upon it in episode 117. In particular, I want to call attention to the parts of this thread, where she talks about the conquest element, as well as the fantasy of being protected.

So Jeanne writes, " the more powerful and or villainous the man, the more dangerous he is to her, the greater the conquest for she who becomes the center of his world. If he hates or even tortured her, it only increases the value of the victory at the end, proving that love truly conquers all." end quote.

The gif in that tweet is of Kylo Ren holding a light saber to Ray in Star Wars, and she looks terrified.

This conquest element nods to why we see the exaggerated display of power with male characters, because the larger the difference in power, the greater the victory. And I think that the tension between danger and protector sometimes seemingly within one character, speaks to the anxieties of the real world that are being exorcized on the pages of romance.

I keep coming back to something that EE Ottoman and I talked about in episode 44 of Shelf Love, I threw out, I was like, I think romance novels are about gender. And EE said, Actually they're about power. And I was like, Hm. Oh my God. No, you're right. I mean like power is kind of like the root cause there. And then gender is often seen through the lens of power, but.

I always think about that because it's amazing how much of what we see on the page in romance really drills down to like a power struggle or talking about power or being a fantasy of power, which Jeanne is talking about here in this thread.

So Jeanne continues speaking to the fantasy of protection, that quote, "this is how we all learn to value and love girls. Protecting her by keeping quote unquote bad people away -isolation. -Teaching her to guard her body -objectification- and teaching her that love and happiness looks exactly like a man treating her like a precious jewel -capitalism-". End quote.

And this idea of being a precious treasure jewel, who will be protected is all about possession, which Jeanne calls out with her reference to capitalism. What's important here is that this isn't a fantasy of a safe world. It's a fantasy where in a dangerous world, this one person is safe because she is now a possession of one who is powerful enough to protect what's his.

He is safe because he's powerful. So he has nothing to fear. She's scared because there's all these threats around her, but now she is safe in this dangerous world because somebody is going to protect her.

How many times have you seen this exact phrasing in cover paratext or within the text of a romance novel: "protecting what's his." I just did a Google search for "protecting what's his."

And this is literally the title of a book by Tessa Bailey. So [00:06:00] this is not really like hidden, it's really out there. Right.

So is this a fantasy of objectification? Like. Is the prize the heroine wins for conquering the hero that she becomes a possession and object. It's kind of interesting when you think about it like that. Especially in light of how often we hear that romance is a genre that is feminist or explores feminism and empowers women or empowers people who are not granted power in the society that we live in. So along those lines, I want to call attention to Jeanne's PS in the thread.

She writes "PS, we should not overlook how this fantasy is a tool of white supremacy. White women have historically benefited from their proximity to and complicity in white supremacy and colonialism. Which explains the popularity of racist tropes like benevolent master, white saviors, et cetera," end quote.

So in the next episode, you'll hear me rail against how, in my opinion, these ideas can be magnified in a text and feel really icky. But as I said, I wanted to examine my very intense distaste for a text where these ideas are really blatant and hard to miss. And I wanted to be honest with myself about how I feel when these themes are present, but more subdued.

So I remember way back in episode 69. Scarlet Peckham was my guest and we read What I Did For a Duke by Julie Ann Long.

At the time I remember that the text used gender essentialism quite liberally in its characterization. But I also remember that I enjoyed the shit out of the story. And I was curious what I would find if I went back and skimmed the highlights from my first read and look at them out of context of being immersed in the story.

So, What I Did For a Duke by Julie Ann Long is a Regency. The characters are a cis het white woman, and a cis het white man.

She's an aristocrat from a good family. He's older than her. He's a duke. I mean, like he's like 10 plus years older than her. I can't even remember. There's quite an age gap there.

So here are some of the quotes that I highlighted. Quote: "So he was a clever man, a watchful man, a powerful man, but a man with unexpectedly human vulnerabilities. She wasn't certain she cared. She still didn't think he was a nice man. She took his hand. She was immediately overwhelmingly conscious of its size. It enveloped hers with almost absurd, masculine strength." End quote.

So right there. We've got, she's not sure he's a nice man, but he's definitely powerful. this is the man she obviously falls in love with, he's not really nice to anybody except her surprise, surprise. And when she takes his hand, she is commenting immediately on not only this size differential, but how it is overwhelming. Immediately overwhelmingly conscious of its size. It enveloped hers with almost absurd masculine strength.

It's also calling attention to him having power and not always using it for good. And also tying his strength, very specifically to him being a man, his [00:09:00] masculine strength. It's not just strength, right? Here's another one. "She was acutely aware of his size and everything that was masculine to her feminine." End quote.

So right here, the author is using the shorthand of masculine to define a lot of things about this character and feminine to describe a lot of things about her character that are not really called out. You know, it's just like, he's big. And his bigness calls attention to his masculinity, my femininity. His bigness equals masculinity and my smallness equals femininity. It's interesting how often this construction, the sort of like his maleness or her feminine, delicate beauty is used in texts. Like not just this one, but like lots of texts that you read. Like, what does that mean? You know, like it only means something because we have culturally imbued gender with a lot of traits.

So it does mean something to us, right? Like we've assigned value to those terms, but like, we should probably unpack that.

Here's a quote from one of the sex scenes. Quote, "extraordinary to be joined like this with him to be so dominated and yet to possess the power. End quote. I thought this one was super interesting because when they have sex, she's explicitly calling out that, when she joins with him, I mean, physically, literally, but also metaphorically that she is on the one hand dominated. And yet she is the one who possesses the power.

I think this is interesting explicitly when you think about this in the context of Jeanne's thread, where it's the idea that in conquering this man, you then become the one who possesses his power and or can wield the power for your own purposes. Again, she's just possessing his power. She's not possessing her own power. She's dominated by him. And in being dominated by him, possessed by him. Then able to use his power.

Which again also is interesting in light of what Jeanne called out. About how white women benefit from white supremacy and patriarchy, like yes, on the one hand harmed by it, but also benefit from it because if white women are the ones who are protected, at least tacitly. Or at least in name by these ideologies then they are yes. Dominated, but also get to possess that power and, or be quote unquote protected by it, wield it in ways. So. Yeah, it's right there in the text.

So something we talk about a lot in Darkly, Madly is the superiority of one of the serial killer main characters the here's an interesting one. This is in the hero's point of view. "Women often wanted him. More than one man wanted to be him. But it was true: nobody liked him." once again, we're kind of hitting that. You know, To be a man who possesses power is to be the envy of other men, to be a superior man that has power over other men. And women don't want to be him. Women want him, women want to be protected [00:12:00] by him so that they can have the benefit of his power, but that's a really interesting construction, right?

That men want to be like powerful men, but women just want to partner with powerful men. Interesting.

Okay. So now the crux of this novel, sorry, this is going to be a spoiler, is that at the very beginning, he feels cuckolded because, our heroines brother he is having sex with his fiance. I believe. Which is the ultimate blow to his male pride in this story. So she is discovering this.

And he sighs exasperatedly "oh, for God's sake, Miss Eversea, I'm a man. I do not whinge on about my happiness. I shoot on the spot or I take revenge later. I do both very well. Take revenge later." That's when it occurred to her, her jaw dropped, then she clapped it shut. "And I was to be revenge? What did you plan to do, seduce and abandoned me? Ha ha I showed you Ian Eversea, I despoiled your sister because you despoiled my fiance." Uh, end quote. Wow. Okay. So. Thinking about this in light of what Jeanne's thread was talking about.

So she literally is an object of revenge because she is seen as an extension i.e. An object that belongs to her brother. And if he hurts her by, uh, despoiling her, soiling her, taking away the thing that is a value as a woman: her innocence, her purity. Then it doesn't matter that he's hurting her because she doesn't really matter other than an extension of her brother who is a person he truly wants to hurt.

So it's very interesting that in the story that I enjoyed. That is the whole setup here. I guess the lesson he learns is that he loves her. And so he doesn't want to get revenge and despoil her anymore because he doesn't want to hurt her because now hurting her is not hurting Ian, her brother, it's hurting him because she is now his possession to protect, right.

oh, that's a lot, so, yeah, that's right there. Isn't it? I had forgotten about that.

Well, anyways, that's probably, there's a lot more in here. Like I could probably keep scrolling through this all day, but, yeah, I think you get the idea.

Again, this is a book that I enjoyed, I do remember being quite emotionally affected by this story.

I was intensely transported by it. Like stayed up all night reading it. Cause it was so good and enjoyable and was just, I guess both a ride, but also must have been knocking on the door of a lot of things that were interesting to me. Right. Like tickling my id in some way. And it's interesting looking back on it because why was I okay with it in this story? And then when I read about it with serial killers, I was like, oh, this is gross. I hate this.

And obviously, I mean, Jeanne uses the term Edge Lord a lot when we have [00:15:00] our conversation about Madly, Darkly or whatever it's called.

That story is trying to push our buttons. I found it like, I was like, Ooh, this is not sexy at all. Maybe I didn't find those things to be the part that I thought was like explicitly sexy in What I Did For a Duke, but their existence in the story that honestly, undergirds a lot of, sort of like the plot and the action of what happens in this story. I mean, it was all there. It was a very blatant, I was highlighting it as I was reading it and I still enjoyed it. So, I mean, I don't know if I really have answers about this. I'm just going to call myself on my hypocrisy there

because I was very, very turned off by it in this duology that we're going to talk about next episode, and not really turned off by it in What I Did for a Duke. So more to ponder on another day.

So now I'm going to share responses from readers on how they felt about killers in romance. And these were some questions that I asked on Twitter.

Before I go into these, I just want to note a few of the patterns that I picked up on. And I think Jeanne and I hit on why these might be compelling in a hetero patriarchal society, about the construction of masculinity and power. And also the desire to find a protector when you do not have that power. So here are some of the patterns I picked up on about characters that are in romance novels that are killers and kind of like what they have in common.

So killing to protect those who are weaker.

Killing those who are weak.

Killing as a sign of strength.

Killing as a tragic backstory that needs to be healed.

Or killing because of a tragic backstory.

I think honestly, Jeanne and I do get into a lot of things this brings up in the next episode. So I want to put them out there. So here's one of the questions I asked.

Name the last romance story you read where at least one main character is responsible for someone's death. How did you feel about the character?

So Marianne Marston said "just re-read Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh. And Caleb Krajicek is responsible for a number of deaths within the book, but also before it. It's remarkable how sympathetic he is as a character, even though he's a murderer and a torturer too. He's scary, but you like him." Hm.

Notorious JAB said "Royce from Judith McNaught's Kingdom of Dreams, mistakenly kills the heroine's brother and it is a heart-wrenching scene and aftermath. He has the best grovel of all time afterwards."

Lexie Needham said, "I just read the Will Darling adventures by KJ, Charles and cheered at most of them."

Virginia R mentioned Will Darling too, in the context of listing out different kinds of killers and how they thought about them. So "former soldiers: generally okay. But depends on the war. Killing of one person in past: generally ready to forgive. Killing on page: okay if it disturbs them. Parentheses with some exceptions, such as Will Darling, who can do whatever he wants. [00:18:00] In what is possibly hypocrisy, I refuse to read modern day police officers."

Sidney mentioned that "Sarah kills Derek Craven's attackers in the opening scene of Dreaming of You. And I was surprised that neither she nor I sweat it too hard."

So that is a rare example of when a heroine is the one who kills somebody or some bodies, because often it is a man who's doing it.

Gwenda Bond mentioned "Kerrigan Byrne's How to Love a Duke in 10 Days and how it opens with heroine being sexually assaulted and killing her rapist. We love her and her friends instantly." And I read this one and it's true. The narrative definitely sets you up to be like, yes, that person deserved to die. Which thinking back to what Jeanne was talking about, about how this is a fantasy of being right. A fantasy of being the hero. Where, having this, like black and white situation where it's unambiguously the right thing, because we know that this character is a rapist and in the story that means that this character deserves to die. So when they kill him and hide the murder, we're like, yay. That's exactly what you should do, right.

Obviously as Jeanne and I talked about, real life is not always that unambiguous. But that's why it's fun to read in a fantasy. Right. Because we know for sure that they did the right thing there.

So Weekend Reader mentioned to The Don by Katrina Jackson. And how he was responsible for a lot of people's deaths.

The Smut Report mentioned, Shadowheart by Laura Kinsale. "The male main character is a straight up assassin, death and destruction follows him wherever he goes. Mainly I felt really sad for him. There's also a surprise medieval BDSM. He is the sub, which to me, made him more interesting." Ooh, that's really interesting especially in light of a conversation, Jeanne and I have about Darkly Madly because one of the things that really interested her about that story was that there is a female dominant element to that story, sort of, kind of it promises that. I'm going to have to mention this to Jeanne. If she hasn't read it yet.

Irette mentioned. " There is an author who always finds a way for a main character to unalive sexual assault predators. I'm fine with it. I know that a horrible character will not make it to the last page. No last minute, redemptions." That's really interesting because it's not just justice for the characters. It's a sense of justice for the reader, right? Like we know that if somebody does something bad on page, regardless of if it directly hurts the main characters and they're getting. Quote, unquote justice. It makes the reader potentially feel good that there is like a sense of right and wrong and people get what is coming to them. Which is not at all, how it works in the real world, where lots of people who, we know, do bad things get away with it.

Courtney Taylor's version, says "I have a pretty low tolerance for villainy in romance. Non romance is a different story. But I love the Harpy and the Dragon by Marie Lipscomb. [00:21:00] Henry, a character who caused a lot of harm in prior books finds his HEA with an equally villainous woman. And I think it's all about how you treat people more vulnerable than you. There are a ton of "heroes," quote unquote, who haven't directly killed people who stick in my craw simply because they don't see non aristocratic women as deserving of their respect."

Interesting. Hmm. Who is worthy of being protected, right Courtney?

Okay. Chris Alexander says "Invisible Quarantine Alien by Robin Lovett. It was the alien who unalived a human. I was fine with what he did." I just want to note, I love that we're using unalived instead of murder or killed.

It's so passive. Why are we doing that? I mean, I know why we're doing it. It's kind of fun, but also, I mean, interesting. Right.

Phebe said, " I read a dark romance or whatever they're called recently. I think it had the name Posey in the title, and I really enjoyed it. And while I didn't trust the male main character at all until the end. I didn't mind his beating up slash killing people. To be honest, sometimes I relished it. Also, I think she killed someone and that was cool. Not in like, a, "I think women hurting men is feminist" way. Just in like a more murder way. Yeah. I enjoyed that book, but it was a trip. I had to go into a mental zone." End quote.

Oh, interesting. I mean, a like books are entertainment and, I would make a case that in romance while books are entertainment, there's an expectation of a romantic relationship being portrayed and kind of expectations around like what we're going to believe in a happily ever after.

And And if characters seem irredeemable or they seem abusive towards each other or not in a good relationship that can kind of ruin the enjoyment even if you're kind of like, well, that was a ride. But I think what Phebe is also hitting on here is.

Similar to what Irette was talking about the pleasure in kind of seeing people get their comeuppance. In a really unambiguous way. Like this person's bad. And. Now they're dead.

And also when Phoebe said, sometimes I relished it. I think this is also maybe getting at, like within the story. There is some pleasure in sort of like having that power as the reader of the book, I guess the relishing of beating people up and killing them. It's kind of part of that fantasy of power, right? A, you know, that these aren't real people. And B. It is an exertion of power.

Interesting. Interesting. Interesting.

DK said "The Night beyond the Tri Cornered Window, if you count it as a romance. The love interest was raised in isolation, in a cult compound, because he was believed to be a Messiah. One day, he mentally snapped from the abuse and cursed everyone in the compound to death. Feelings are hard." Ooh, that's going to come back DK.

That was me.

"For more traditional romance narratives A Rogue By Night by Kelly Bowen. The guy who dies, deserves it in the most uncomplicated way." end quote. Yep. I think we're seeing some patterns.

Marie said "I re-read Nora Roberts, The Villa in November and the main character kills someone in self-defense at the end of the book. And I felt okay with it, given that it's me or them [00:24:00] situation, but also with it being at the end, I didn't have a lot of time to see how they dealt with any introspection afterwards." End quote, very interesting how kind of like knowing how the main characters feel about somebody killing somebody else is integral maybe to our feelings about the characters. Just another aspect to think about there.

Kelly from Boobies and Newbies said. "Lonnie Lynn Vale's latest book, Make Me Your Villain. A motorcycle club vigilante romance, literally ends with one of the main characters killing a guy who tried to kill his partner, putting the body through woodchipper and sprinkling the remains on his tree farm. Laughy face emoji." End quote.

Hm. I think we're seeing something about, um, you threatened my woman. I'm going to protect her and you're going to get your comeuppance there.

Sarah Elliot Grover wrote, "Current answer is Black Beard from Our Flag Means Death. He's a pirate so you know murdering is part of the job and he's ordered someone to be killed using a snail fork. I of course love him and his dynamic with Stede. He's such a well-acted and written character." End quote. By the way, if you haven't seen Our Flag Means Death, it is hilarious and very queer and very enjoyable. And you should check it out if you haven't already.

Hannah Hannah Heart's Romance said " Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh. Overall, I felt sad for the character, but don't remember feeling strongly in any way about the killing itself. Apart from mild confusion around the sequence of events that accompanied the unaliving, not unusual for me with fantasy." End quote. Again unaliving. What does it mean when we distance ourselves and characters from killing, murdering, and what they're doing is unaliving?

Okay. So then I had another tweet. Which was a polls. " Gut reaction. Killers as romance novel protagonists getting happily ever after. And the options are: Nopity Nope. Depends. Love it. And Hannah's nuanced take, which essentially is depends because Hannah of Hannah Hearts Romance fame, whenever I make these polls hates it, when I create like this binary choice of like, yes, no for things. Sometimes I do it just to mess with her because I know it drives her up a wall, but anyways, Hannah always has a, like, it depends answer. So I created one just for her. So I'm going to lump depends and Hannah's nuanced take together.

So, what we get is 14% who are like, absolutely not, no way do not want it. 10% love it. Apparently unambiguously. And then the rest, which comes out about 76% are saying it depends. So, I mean, totally understand there are some people who hear that and they're like, absolutely not. I do not want to read that. And then some people who are just like, I don't know, I always love it, but I mean, it makes sense to me that most people kind of fall in that like, I don't know, the context really matters.

So here are some of the answers. So Dr. Maria DeBlassie frequent guest of the podcast has said, "I would say nopity nope. But then I flash on all the shows I've watched with evil magical folk who do bad stuff, including [00:27:00] murder, but then I'm rooting for the redemption and happily ever after. A prime example." it's a GIF of the character who plays the evil queen in Once Upon a Time. I haven't seen it, so I don't really know, but apparently that is somebody who Maria is rooting for her redemption arc, even though she does really bad stuff.

Lb says Protect Connell and Give Him Happily Ever After, says, "went with it depends because like who or what with non-human entities are they killing and why? Is it to be a protector? To assert strength? Dominance? Power? Is killer a man or woman? Honestly thinking a little bit about Katrina Jackson's Family series because The Don just released. And like all three of her heroes are a hundred percent killers, but also they're utterly devoted to their women. And the way Kat developed the characters. But then a book about a war criminal, a Nazi? I don't think I could root for them. More complicated with like serial killers. Cause why, slash character development. So many elements at play. I think biggest things would be, why are they a killer? Who are they killing? And how does character story get told? And the framing of the killing that they've done. Thinky, thinky." End quote

Honestly, that's a pretty good distillation of kind of the considerations that I think a lot of people make in these questions.

Really kind of asking questions about justification? Like, why are you killing? Is it a good enough reason to kill? Did the person deserve to be unalived, in the parlance of our times?

Marie McCurdy steams a good ham says "context matters. Hell. Even the context of the sub genre matters. A killer in a dark romance is probably pretty different from a killer in your standard contemporary. Hello, military romance. But the sub genre in books context means the two aren't interchangeable." End quote

I think calling out the context of the genre or sub genre is pretty important there. Because, there are definitely things where you're like, okay, this is like the kind of book where, there's werewolves. Like how much is this world the world we live in and maybe how much of it is kind of a parallel universe where the rules are different. I think that does matter. I can definitely see that.

Sarah Adler said " it's one of those things where I tend to be more open to it in historical than contemporary. I don't even know the body count in the Maiden Lane series. Or in books with a more comedic tone, like Agnes And the Hitman." end quote, and that Agnes and the Hitman is by Jennifer Crusie and yeah, like he's a Hitman and it's kind of funny. But then you have books, like Burn for Me by Jodie Slaughter, where there's a hitman male main character. And it's very like dark romance. Like he is killing people and it is bad, very different tone. So tone. Makes a difference. Sub-genre makes a difference. Very interesting.

Risa says "gut reaction is Nope. Secondary reaction is quote. If I'm calling them a killer as opposed to something more nuanced then still nope." Okay. So I'm pretty sure. Nope, Nope, Nope.

Christi M says, "why is this even a [00:30:00] question? Pirates, soldiers, hardscrabble gaming hell owners, the occasional duke who gets called out by someone who underestimates him dot, dot, dot" end quote. So, think what Christy M is saying yes, love it. Love all of them. Like, of course I love people who kill other people.

And then the last tweet on this topic, I asked "for an Antagonist April episode. Think of an antihero in a romance novel. What bad things do they do and how does the narrative explain why they do it? What is their motivation?"

Lily Mazara said, "just finished a dark mafia romance one where he turned abusive on his wife. Whenever she didn't listen to his rules. The way the book is trying to figure it explained his actions was that how he was raised, and if he let her act out, people could easily kill her, et cetera." Interesting. So that construction feels pretty problematic to me, where the abusive behavior of the mafioso towards the woman he is supposedly protecting actually is just a way to excuse abuse under the guise of protecting her. Very interesting.

Cindy Kehagiaras said "childhood abandonment slash death of a parent seems to be a common theme with bad guys." end quote

So, I guess if you don't raise boys right they'll become killers. Fun. I think we talk about that a lot in the next episode with Jeanne. Definitely talk a lot about how bad women who aren't good mothers make killers, which obviously is not true, but is kind of a theme that comes up a lot in stories.

Hannah Hannah Heart's Romance says "sometimes it's to save someone from even worse. Joan in Burn Down the Night causes some mayhem because she's trying to save her sister from a cult. Asha and Ante Up kills a man in the opening chapter because he's abusing her loved ones. Part of the intrigue with anti-heroes is that they can be seen as pursuing justice through means outside a system that often fails." End quote.

So, yeah, this is kind of like getting at the vigilantism. I mentioned Burn for Me earlier by Jodie Slaughter. And I mean, that's another one where sort of like a failed flawed system means that you have to take matters into your own hands because the system will disappoint you And not protect you.

DK said. " Speaking in generalities, a lot of the stories I read with anti-heroes generally have the character do quote, unquote, bad things for quote unquote, good reasons like murder as a defense, or they are a supernatural being with different morals." End quote.


Lots of food for thought there. And I think that Jeanne and I hit on a lot of these in the next episode, kind of like exploring a lot of these ideas and talking about them more. So I will just say that's it for this episode. Stay tuned for next episode, where you'll hear me have very strong, angry feelings about the Darkly, Madly duology, which is kind of like Saw fanfic where both characters are Jigsaw. And don't forget, Jeanne will also be doing a Patreon exclusive episode with more thoughts on Manacled. So please head over to Shelf Love and become a patron to get access to even more [00:33:00] of a Fangirl Jeanne and Antagonist April.

I really enjoyed all of the discussions with Jeanne, some of what you haven't heard yet. And I'm looking forward to sharing even more Antagonist April with you coming up soon. K Byeeeee.

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