[BOOK REVIEW] Heroes and Villains by Angela Carter

[BOOK REVIEW] Heroes and Villains by Angela Carter


Finished Reading:

February 15, 2020


Goodreads crosspost

Regardless of the plot or the character development, my weakness lies in books written in beautiful prose. Heroes and Villains by Angela Carter is a good example. It bored and amused me. Overall, this book tried so hard to be feminist and post-apocalyptic but failed miserably at that.

The setting was a world derived out of an unknown apocalypse or war or whatever. Wouldn’t have minded if it came in a form of a song or children’s story. I find the lack of explanation on how the characters wounded up on their current situation to be downright lazy. On the brighter side, the clear distinction between barbarians and professors were described.

I wanted the story to end right away. At the end of chapter 1 or 2, the story stopped being interesting. However, Carter’s writing style gripped my attention that I just continued reading. I can’t stop thinking about it. I was eagerly anticipating for something exciting to happen. To my disappointment, nothing spectacular really happened.

The characters in this book, barbarians or professors, submitted themselves to the patriarchal tradition. It even came into a point wherein domestic violence was portrayed romantically. Seriously, WTF! None of them actively retaliated against the system. It was more like a rich and a poor cult rather than two distinct communities.

Main Characters

Marianne, the heroine, came from the terribly boring and sheltered world of professors. Eventually, every single person whom she loved in the tower died. A sudden shift of character impressed me when she decided to seek a life outside the tower. Her mission was to find a place to call home surrounded by interesting people.

Marianne’s reaction to a situation or dilemma, albeit realistic, were dull and predictable. But she was ruled by her heart not her head for the most part. For an intellectual, I would expect her to see beyond the culture differences and explore the politics, sexism, education and other elements of the barbarian community. Plus, I expect her to be somehow involved in it.

She left the tower because there was nothing left for her in there. She claimed to be terribly bored. Yet, she was just as boring. While I understand how one runs away from home and chooses to live as a savage rather than die in boredom, the desperation and survival ran along with Marianne throughout the pages of this book which made me wonder where does one start and the other begin? She could’ve made an entertainment for herself or better yet, make a difference in the barbarian community.

She could’ve come up with something grand and dramatic like uniting the barbarians’ and professors’ world ala Jon Snow. Or even something so simple like teaching barbarians how to read and write.

Instead, she resigned herself to this barbarian lifestyle, raped a child and fell in love with the man who raped her who, by the way, was the same man who killed her brother. WHAT. THE. FUCK. Why did Marianne refuse the power Donally offered on her wedding day right off the bat? She could’ve at least heard what he had to say. What does she have to lose? She’s been abused. Barbarians either hate her or were afraid of her. She could’ve gotten her revenge on Jewel with Donally’s help.

She waited for her husband’s death to “plan” to be a tribal leader. The story ends there. ???? FUCK NO! I want to read how exactly she does that. BE THE TRIBAL LEADER. That would be far more interesting.

Jewel, the second main driving force of the novel plot, was a passive aggressive man conflicted by what he thought was right and what he thought the society expects from him. No character development from this one either. Instead, he raped Marianne and continued to live confused in his barbarian lifestyle til he died.

Donally, the most interesting character in this story, played the whole barbarian community like puppets. He was basically a god to the barbarians. He was the one who utilized his full potential in this series. Seriously. I would’ve expected Marianne to be more like him but one could only dream.


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