I’m going to try something new: I’m going to tell you guys what I think you should be reading, based on my arbitrary understanding of what you might like to watch on TV! (To note, my understanding of what you like to watch comes from my own television and film preferences. We’re basically the same people on the inside, right?)
So for those of you who have found that you have fallen absolutely head over heels in love with the absolutely godawful The Lizzie Borden Chronicles, and for those of you who will mourn the fact that she was given but one season to shine, here are some titles (books and comics!) that might also pique your interest. Largely, they don’t involve Lizzie, axes, or murder in any way, but I went more for feeling, theme, or tone. We’re all about blood and guts and female empowerment here, y’all.
Without further ado: Katie’s “Murder Ladies TV & Book Pairing” Recommended Reading List #1:
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn| What self-respecting list about ladies who enjoy murder and fighting the patriarchal establishment would leave Gone Girl off the list? By now, you’ve probably already read the book and seen the movie (and caught a glimpse of Ben Affleck’s little buddy, am I right, ladies?), but I highly recommend taking a second (or third) pass at Gone Girl. Amy Elliott Dunne is a study in contradictions: a victim and a villain; a loving wife and an A+ criminal mastermind; a seemingly insurmountable enemy and a partner in crime. All of her lies are laced with truth, and vice versa. She is compelling and cruel, and she gets what she wants. That sound like any heavily fictionalized historical ladies we know?
Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick (words) and Valentine De Landro (art)
This series is loaded with lady criminals; Lizzie would fit right in. Yes, this has a futuristic, sci-fi bent to it, rather than a neo-Victorian angle, but if you like your characters feminist-y and your stories packed chock full of awesome ladies, give this comic a read. Are you woman enough to survive Bitch Planet? Because Lizzie Borden sure is.
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
As I hope I have already made abundantly clear (or will in the very near future), I am irrevocably in love with Thursday Next. While there isn’t much by way of bloody axe-murder in Jasper Fforde’s series, the mystery and lighthearted ridiculousness is sure to appeal to those who have fallen in love with the Chronicles.
The Price of Salt by “Claire Morgan”
Bad news, everybody: Claire Morgan doesn’t exist. Good news, everybody: Claire Morgan is the pen name of Patricia Highsmith, author of Strangers on a Train and the Tom Ripley series! Great news, everybody: Patricia Highsmith is a boss. And The Price of Salt is honestly the best book I’ve read by her. You can’t avoid being taken in by Ripley, but Therese and Carol, the women at the center of Salt, have yet to let me go. Lesbians and independent ladies — somehow, I think Lizzie would approve.
Misery by Stephen King
Ladies and hatchets. Need I say more? (And here, you get the added bonus of living vicariously through Annie Wilkes, as she demands that her favorite author continues writing her favorite book series! Haven’t we all wanted to do that at one point or another?)
Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue
A young prostitute in 18th century London lusts for the finer things in life — namely lace and pretty ribbons — and it’s a need that will chase her out of London and into a new life, where this draw to the “finer things” will lead to a bloody end. There’s a lot of this fictional Lizzie in Mary, Slammerkin‘s protagonist — they both long for better, and will stop at nothing to get it. And Slammerkin as a novel is one of the most evocative books I’ve ever had the good fortune to read.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore (words) and Kevin O’Neill (art)
LXG is set in just about the same time period as The Lizzie Borden Chronicles, and features our pal Mina Murray as the de facto leader of a ragtag band of supernatural anti-heroes. Lizzie may not be a superhero-esque protagonist, but she absolutely knows how to take control of a situation. And how to murder people, when necessary. Also, Mina kicks ass.
Maplecroft by Cherie Priest
You thought I was going to forget this one, didn’t you? But, no, I absolutely did not. Maplecroft picks up right after the deaths of Lizzie’s father and step-mother, and we soon find out that, yes, Lizzie is indeed a murderess. But she has a good reason for offing her parents — and it involves tentacles. Also, Emma, using a male pseudonym, is a world-renowned scientist, specializing in — what else? — marine biology. This is a surprisingly well-written supernatural read that fans of the show will devour in a day.
Bonus Moving Pictures Mention: “Penny Dreadful”
I’m going to try to keep this short, because if I let myself go on and on about this show, you’ll get 2000 words on my love for Vanessa Ives and then probably a multi-chapter Ethanessa fanfic. (I lack both shame and regret.) Also, this was supposed to be a list of reading recs, not more TV you have to binge. But, if you ever find yourself with a spare moment, in a room with a TV in which it is absolutely too dark to read, do yourself a favor and seek out “Penny Dreadful.” This is another Victorian Era romp through the darker side of life, and while there are far more monsters here than in Chronicles, the spooky vibe is totally there. “Penny Dreadful” is far more terrifying and devoted to upping the creep factor, but I think fans of The Lizzie Borden Chronicles will find a lot to love here.
Or maybe I’m just projecting. Happy reading (and watching), friends!
Do you have any recommended hatchet-murder reading? Are you also a fan of lady criminals? Let me know!