Hurricane Heels, by Isabel Yap
Publisher: Book Smugglers Publishing
Release Date: December 6, 2016
Five ordinary girls discover magical powers in this new series of interconnected short stories from Isabel Yap
When Alex, Ria, Aiko, Natalie and Selena met at summer camp, they never expected the goddess would ask for their help, enlisting them as soldiers to protect the world from the forces of darkness. Gifting them each with a different object of power–a bracelet, a ring, a watch, earrings, a necklace–the goddess’s grace grants the friends the weapons to fight, the ability to heal, and the magic to strike back against the Grey.
Now, over a decade later, the five best friends are still fighting. But the burden of secrecy, the inevitability of pain, and the magnitude of their responsibility to keep saving the world has left them questioning their goddess.
How much longer can they keep saving the world? Can their friendship survive if one of them leaves their fold? And can they keep it together just long enough to get through Selena’s wedding?
Filipino, Japanese, and Black Characters
Good vs. Evil
Content Warnings for:
Mention of Domestic Abuse in Flashback
And this is how you write a book full of diversity and not think this will be enough for people to like it. Wow. This is really awesomely done.
First, Hurricane Heels isn’t actually about diversity, it’s just inherently diverse. This book is about growing up, about friendship, about women and diverse characters fighting for a better world.
But as you might have noticed by looking at the tags, there are two Asian characters. Two different Asian characters. One from Manila in the Philippines and another one whose parents are from Japan. The characterisation felt very authentic to me, which is no wonder since the author herself is Filipino and spent some time in Japan. Some of the scenes in this book are even set in Japan, YAY! And FUCK YES, only heroines saving the world, no bloody men to save the day—which, don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against heroes, but it’s about damn time that we see more women in our Western fiction who get to have the glamour and cool weapons and stuff.
I hadn’t seen them until now, but suddenly, there were other magical girls surrounding us—to our left and right, countless women, of all ages, blazing in all different colors, shining with an awesome, terrifying light.
Hurricane Heels features five girls/women who get their own chapter and point of view to reveal the story. They are distinct with different backgrounds, different character traits, and different fears and struggles. They are really amazingly well crafted and in only one hundred and something pages the author manages to show them plausibly grow from teenagers to adults. The story is not told chronologically, but with snippets from the past, the now, and in between, but it still feels like a comprehensive whole and isn’t confusing or anything, but rather captivating and motivates to find out more. I was intrigued by the characters and their fight against evil, and, above all, I liked to see how the burden of having to fight for good shaped them, made them weary and tired, and how they found the will to go on.
I said yes and never asked why. That’s one of the problems. It’s not that I don’t wonder. About the forces of evil, and whether this will actually end one day. About why the hell we’re fighting. Why me? More often: why us? I didn’t worry about it the first few years, when I was still high on saving the world. But these days it didn’t feel like that anymore. Instead it felt like the world always needed saving, and my power was limited, and I was tired of the lies coating my tongue. Tired of wanting no one to see, and tired of no one seeing.
At around 80% I noticed with delight that I still had no clear picture what to expect from the end. Plainly, everything seemed possible—from nothing would actually happen, leaving this story to be a glimpse into the lives of heroines, to a full on out fight and showdown—and I would have been okay with all of it. But, I still was surprised at what really happened, like WTF did just happen surprised. I think the solution to the story is very satisfying and I like the, in a way, allegorical comparison to modern day struggle for equality that shone threw the fantastical element.
What matters is that I can defeat the darkness—at least for today—that I will remember again, when I need to—
I want to add that there is a very subtle love story between two of the girls (one lesbian and one bisexual) interwoven into the story, which enhances the density of the characters and the plot. It feels natural and not like an unnecessary addition, and is both a little complicated and also sweet. Even to this rather small detail of the story the author pays attention and it depicts that showing love to less important things is very valuable and, all in all, contributes to the richness of a story.
Some more short comments: There are some minor typos here but they weren’t distracting to me. The artwork is really lovely, and I think you can read the whole story on the publisher’s website, if you so choose—although it will probably be more comfortable to buy it.
I am so utterly positively surprised by this cool story by this new to me author, and I will definitely look for more books by her to read. I highly recommend this and hope you’ll give it a try and enjoy!
Isabel Yap writes fiction and poetry, works in the tech industry, and drinks tea. Born and raised in Manila, she has also lived in California, Tokyo, and London. In 2013 she attended the Clarion Writers Workshop. Her work has recently appeared on Tor.com, Uncanny Magazine, Shimmer Magazine, and Year’s Best Weird Fiction volume 2. She is @visyap on Twitter and her website is https://isabelyap.com.