The Cambridge Geek

The Refrigerator Monologues
Catherynne M. Valente - The Refrigerator Monologues

The inspiration for this is obvious, and also helpfully explained in the acknowledgements. Most comic fans are aware of the fate of Alexandra DeWitt, who was killed and hidden in Kyle Rayner's (her current boyfriend) fridge. Essentially to drive the plot. Ever since, being Stuffed Into The Fridge has been shorthand for the death of a side character (frequently female) used to drive a male protagonist to action. That link there should give you plenty of examples. (And possibly destroy your productivity for the day. Sorry.)

So this book tells a few of the tales of those women, who meet up to form the "Hell Hath" club, in their nearest and dearest afterlife cafe. The inspirations for each character are relatively clear, including both ends of the spectrum, from Gwen Stacy to Harley Quinn. Their stories intermingle nicely, and there are occasional subtle repeats to previous events that essentially tie them together into an alternative Justice League of crazy.

Unfortunately, those hints of characters might have hidebound them slightly. While this is a really interesting concept, the characters never take on much life of their own, feeling a little too flat. They're there to drive the idea of the stay at home sidekick, or the sacrificial virgin. While that's reasonable for the theme, it's possibly done a little too well, in that I don't actually find myself invested in the characters. I was expecting these women to show sides of themselves that were hidden by the presence of the men around them, but instead they stay in the shade even when brought to the forefront. Missed opportunity, possibly.

It's in a relatively small niche, and it's worth a read because it's a little different and its trying something new. But it's not one I'll come back to. I'm kinda hoping it's a setup for book 2, where the characters form The Refrigerator League, and take a little action.


Tagged: Book Superhero The undead Novel Print