Charity Blake hasn’t exactly had a great run of life. She’d say it’s been fucking awful, thanks for asking. Until, one day, and quite literally out of the blue, she grows wings and claws, and the ability to avenge herself on the dirtbag men who terrorize the weak and trusting: Disemboweling would-be rapists. Literally shredding a man hurting a young girl, eating pieces of him until she’s physically ill. Charity has never felt more powerful, more alive, more herself. But as she is pulled more and more into the world of the Harpy, she has to make choices: Be a monster, and give up her friends and the chance at love with her neighbor Robby, or stay human, with all the pain and vulnerability that comes with it?
Julie Hutchings is the author of the Shinigami Vampire series and The Wind Between Worlds, among other titles. The Harpy is her latest work and deals with difficult subject matter, including abuse, sexual violence, vengeance, and how to find the strength to survive these horrors.
The book employs beautiful language and imagery, allowing the reader to revel in the brutality of Charity’s new life. Charity’s struggle with her own humanity (or lack thereof) is as emotional as it is relatable. Hutchings has a remarkable gift to infuse the alien and inconceivable with familiarity, and portray the mundane and ordinary in a light that paints it equal parts paradisian and yet uncomfortable. I never knew how much I could both love and grow to be deeply unsettled by people watching in Dunkin’ Donuts.
If there’s a weakness to this book at all, it is perhaps that Charity never quite questions her transformation until very late in the story, and that the climax, while intense and ultimately satisfying, resolves too quickly and efficiently, leaving the reader hungry for more. More answers, more justice for those operating behind the curtain of it all.
In the end, The Harpy successfully pays off the promise of its premise. It is a master class in examining unflinchingly the darker parts of our humanity. I, for one, cannot wait for future adventures in store for this most unlikely of anti-heroines.