Glorious Fiends (Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam)

Glorious Fiends is a novella by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam.
Finished on: 23.9.2022
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer give-away.]

Vampire Roxanne just lost her best friends, Medusa and Mx Hyde. But she will make sure that the fearsome fiends are reunited again. She has done her research (not her strong suit) in the Library of Evil and she knows exactly what she needs to do to bring them back. But the Guardian of the Underworld is none too happy to give up anybody who died. So he demands reparations in the form of three other, equally worthy monsters. Reunited again, the three f(r)iends set out to hunt some monsters.

Glorious Fiends has a lot of potential, but it feels unfinished. Maybe it would have needed to be expanded to novel-length to really work. As is, it was wanting.

The book cover showing a purple, orchid-like flower. In its cernte is a mouth, a tongue dripping green slime licking over the lips and showing a vampire fang.

I really liked the concept of Glorious Fiends. Female/non-binary monsters being best friends and getting up to evil shit? Yes please. But the execution here just didn’t work. I mean, it’s definitely fast-paced and throws a lot of ideas at us that I really liked, but it read more like a first draft (and not a particularly good one, which is perfectly fine for a first draft) than a finished product.

The story is mostly told through Roxanne’s eyes and thus we get some idea who she is as a person, but Medusa und Mx Hyde not so much. Plus, given that the latter two are both taken from other mythology/fiction (Roxanne is no reference, at least none that I recognized), I expected a little more reference to the source material with them, but there is very little of that. And, honestly, while I am generally here for non-binary representation, Mx Hyde is not it. I was weirded out by the fact that they were constantly referred to as Mx Hyde to begin with. Don’t they have a first name? Plus, they’re literally half-male, half-female, split right down the middle which seems a tropey variation of non-binarity that is secretly still pretty binary.

And the pacing of the plot was just off. Things happened way too fast. This does make for a quick read (plus, it’s really not very long), but it’s also a bumpy read where you constantly wonder whether you missed a turn somewhere. It’s probably not just a pacing issue, but also one, that I was confused a couple of times where the characters are (like literally their location).

This means that I really wanted to like Glorious Fiends more than I did. It has promise in the characters, the queer romance and the wry sense of humor, but it just doesn’t fulfill that promise.

Summarizing: would have needed more work before publication.

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