The beauty of Rogue Goddesses by Gary Henry is that it works both as a standalone novel or a fitting sequel to the wonderfully entertaining American Goddesses. Henry cleverly uses a prologue to introduce new readers whilst reminding returnees of the backdrop to the story.
In a nutshell, the world is being policed by the women who developed Goddess powers in the original story. The years have rolled on to 2030 when 11,000 telepathically connected women, known as the “helpful ladies”, are fighting crime and keeping the world safe.
All of our favourite characters from American Goddesses are still here but they play a supporting role to the new generation of Goddesses, most notably Tammy, the teenage daughter of Trish and Tom Wilkins.
Henry also reintroduces Melinkova, the rogue Russian Goddess from his original story by allowing her to inhabit the body of a murdered 18 year old prostitute. The incongruity of a hard bitten 48 year old hidden behind a vulnerable appearance makes for every man’s nightmare. In Melinkova, Henry affords us a glimpse of what she might have been had she not been abused by so many men on whom she wreaks a very satisfying revenge. This fracture of personality is even more apparent in his character Rhonda Sue, another rogue Goddess, who we come to view sympathetically despite the carnage she unleashes.
Henry’s skill as a writer is apparent in the assured way he is able to switch between time frames. There is a sub-plot, where Tammy is taken forward to 2630 and shown a vision of a future where the rogue Goddesses have enslaved all of mankind. This is done order to galvanise her into using her fledging powers and is a device that works extremely well, even allowing Henry to have a little fun at the end of the novel.
Rogue Goddesses is set in the future and contains elements of sci-fi. For example, there are nani-phones which allow people to quite literally have all of technology at their fingertips and driverless cars. Henry’s style though is such that he makes these things completely believable within the realms of his story, just as he does with the many powers that the Goddesses enjoy.
Ultimately, Rogue Goddesses is a celebration of women and sisterhood. Henry presents us with the ideal of a supportive and kind, matriarchal society, which is able to triumph despite the threat posed by the somewhat sad rather than bad rogue Goddesses.
I loved this novel, it’s a lot of fun and it makes a refreshing change to read about women who are kicking ass and saving the world.