Hey, writers and readers!
It’s not a good month without an indie novel or two. Today I’ll be reviewing Serpent’s Sacrifice by Trish Heinrich, which is a truly action-packed and swanky superhero novel you needed yesterday. Check out the review below and make sure to give your two cents in the comments section if you’ve already read the book, too!
Rating: 4 stars
As a kid, Alice Seymour put up with her abusive father and her tired mother. Once freed from her dysfunctional home, she quickly becomes the woman she wants to be: educated, employed, and empowered. Not something the average woman in 1960’s Jet City aspires to. When her aunt and biggest role model is killed, Alice learns more about the Serpent role and take’s on her aunt’s entrepreneurial legacy.
Alice loves using her strength and wit to be the Serpent by day and bookstore owner by day. But she soon makes one too many missteps and unleashes the wrath of her top nemesis onto the entire city. She has to rely on her two super-powered allies, her mentor, her uncle, her physician, and her weapons specialist to figure out who is spreading fear and mayhem in the city and how to put an end to it—without blowing her newfound secret identity.
What I Enjoyed
Heinrich does not shy away from action and pain, lemme tell ya. I almost thought this book was written by a doctor because each kick, punch, throw, or slam felt real. She sustained not only good action descriptions to help you follow what’s happening, but she honors the damage each character sustains. There’s no Mary Sue-ing going on, even with the superheroes involved. I appreciated this because it gives into the authenticity she’s going for with the superhero/1960’s/Glory Days vibe. Maybe she’s also a vigilante, but each character carries the weight of their injuries—physical and mental—that is believable and sustained. We don’t have of this “walk it off” nonsense here.
Okay, so I’m a sucker for feminism, so I’ll bite. There’s a lot of female empowerment in this book. I wouldn’t say it’s “perfect” feminism, but who really pulls it off every time? I’d like to this of this novel as the femme version of Batman where you’ve got a female protagonist, a few female role models, a female tech specialist, and a slew of male characters that know how to work with women to get the job done. No one’s really portrayed as better or stronger than the other, which is nice. We’ve also got some pivotal characters that aren’t white! Huzzah! I could gush more about the feminist elements that I love, but that might give too much away.
What I Didn’t Enjoy
There was this sort of redundancy that happens throughout the novel that was somewhat frustrating—the martyr trope. There is at least one scene where Alice/Serpent, Lionel, or Marco tell the other two to get out and they would stall or fight. Everyone takes turns doing this, and the other two always insist on staying and fighting as a whole team. I understand the need for this every once and a while, but it felt like it happened every fight. It got tiring after a while and it didn’t show as much individual or team growth as I’d like.
I also cringed a bit at the amount of mixed signals Alice gives both of the men. It’s obvious early on that she looks up to, trusts, and likes both of them. She admires both of their bodies and personalities. And you can tell they both really like her back—Lionel is an exceptionally open book. It was cringey how obvious it was that they both liked her, and yet she would almost kiss or insist on being embraced for comfort, giving private and public mixed signals. I’m already not a fan of love triangles because they are often so tropey (noteably in YA fiction), and so this might’ve worked for other readers, but I wanted Alice to pick one and be clear about it. You’ll have to read the novel to see where the love triangle takes them.
My Final Thoughts
If you like The Incredibles, Batman, Black Widow, or feminism, you’ll love this novel cocktail version. Heinrich does not shy away from some serious topics like violence, trauma, physical abuse, racism, sexism, and more. She doesn’t get preachy, which I like, but you do see that tension between the way things are and the way we’d like things to be.
You better read this novel ASAP—her next novel, Serpent’s Rise will already come out in early November! I’ll be reviewing that one, too—no worries.
I hope I shared enough to pique your curiosity without giving too much away! If you’d like to learn more about Trish Heinrich and her work, you can catch up with her via social media:
Have you read this novel? Do you have your own thoughts about it? Share with me in the comments! You can also see all of my other book reviews by checking our the Book Reviews tab.