Nothing like jumping back into the mix after a few months off with a review about a five book series called Coed Demon Sluts. Maybe it’s the sleep deprivation, or maybe it’s the constant parental wariness required when caring for an enthusiastically loving toddler big brother and a five month old who’s game for anything as long as it involves being near said sibling, but it makes me laugh. Why not talk about books that feature women who have made a deal with hell to become sex demons that are funny and thoughtful with a refreshing feminist philosophy?
Popcorn lit is one of my favorite genres, and the best are those easily digested by the mind slop currently inhabiting the space where my brain usually lives. These books though, had the added bonus of exploring fascinating issues around societal expectations of sex and sex work for women and men, appearance as it relates to size, race, and sexual identity, and female friendships and support networks.
After the first two books, I was a bit concerned because I didn’t necessarily agree with some of the conclusions being drawn – for example, the women/demons are able to shape their appearance any way they’d like, and each of the original four characters choose tall, thin, young, impossibly beautiful bodies. I don’t believe that given the option, every woman would want the same template, but it did pique my interest around the way women often by necessity associate power and appearance.
It also made me all the happier to get to the third book and see this stereotype start to be dismantled in the rest of the series. In fact, as much as I enjoyed the first two books, Stevenson told her strongest story throughout the last three volumes. The five books are very much written as one, and although each follows one demon in particular, I found it worked better to consider each an extension of the same story.
Honestly, once a conversation gets going around male gaze, the worship of youth, racial bias, the long term effects of abuse, and the privilege surrounding wealth and beauty, it’s difficult to dismiss these books as light summer reading. I’m a huge advocate for read what you love (lest you read nothing at all), and I think it’s both appropriate and inspired to see an author tackle these topics in such an accessible way. It feels like Stevenson is really living out the idea of meeting people where they live, encouraging her readers to enjoy a mental vacation without sacrificing a sense of empathy and connectedness with the wider world.
Quick housekeeping note: I said I’d be writing again in September, and I’ve clearly got things well in hand (definitely not sliding in under the wire here – nope, not at all). It turns out, having two young children makes it more difficult to write, not less, and although I’ve actually read about thirty books since May, it’s been insane to try to get even ten minutes on my computer to talk about them. This post (and probably many of my future reviews) was written with one thumb on my phone. I apologize for any errors that might occur as a result. At any rate, I’m happy to be back.