Femina by Caitlin Marceau is a collection of short stories about the darkness of womanhood that are sure to get under your skin.
Let’s dive in!
My Thoughts on Femina by Caitlin Marceau
Caitlin does such a great job here. You can tell that each story was handled with care, but she certainly does not shy away from going as far as she needs to go to really reflect each situation in the light it needs.
My favorites were:
- Llanwey Point
- In Utero
- Blood and Coffee
- 23 McCormick Road
Here are my notes on each story:
Tabula Rasa –
Waking up feeling extremely cold, Cassie is concerned. Thinking she is alone on a ship, she is shocked to find another being that is identical to her. And worse, she’s missing memories.
This was such a tense tale! The setting alone was enough to scare me. But then the author hits on one of my all-time biggest fears – forgetting major life events. My heart broke for Cassie. What a powerful story of doing anything for a child.
Pressured to have surgery for weight loss, this poor woman knows that it was a bad idea. She had no idea how bad until she has complications.
My god, the fatphobia and gaslighting here from the male characters is absolutely blood-boiling. I wanted to rage on behalf of this poor woman. No one should ever be dismissed when they bring up symptoms.
What an unsettling poem!
The Only Thing To Fear –
Attending a lecture on what to do if you know someone who shifts into a loups-garous, a teenage girl tries to put off the advances of her boyfriend of three months. Later, when an evening doesn’t go as the boyfriend had hoped, he decides to act out like a typical terrible teenage boy…
Most of this one had me fuming, but that ending was glorious!
Llanwey Point –
When her boyfriend suddenly wants to go camping overnight, this young girl is confused but goes along with the plan. During the hike, as she tries to talk with him, she gets nothing but snarky and rude comments. Before long, she wishes she had never agreed to the trip.
My gosh the red flags in this one! I yet again wanted to rage on this poor girl’s behalf. But that ending was absolute gold!
Raw Footage From The Cushing’s Mall –
When three teens break into an abandoned mall to film for their YouTube channel, things get weird very quickly.
Set up as a transcription of the video, this nightmare reads terrifyingly well. This one covered so much in a short burst; teenage drama, heartbreak, betrayal, fear, and more.
When this couple goes shopping for plants and flowers for their home, one of them is struck by a suffering plant. After a discussion, one reluctantly agrees to let the other buy it. But when picking it up, the reluctant one gets a splinter. Of course, this isn’t just any normal splinter…
Phew! Splinters are scary as is. I mean, how many of us were told that if we didn’t get splinters out that they could travel to our hearts and kill us? But this splinter was really something of nightmare!
Sticky Sweet –
Yikes! Another unsettling poem! What a vivid picture this one paints!
When an agreement between two kings leads to an arranged marriage, the marriage is doomed from the start as the future king is in love with the second daughter, not the first that he must wed. The two can’t stay apart. When the wife discovers the betrayal, she cooks up a plan.
What a sad story! Knowing these arrangements never work out, I should have anticipated where this was going, but it still broke my heart anyway for everyone involved.
In Utero –
The way my eyes bugged out at the last sentence of this one! My goodness!
Everything She’s Looking For –
Drawn together in love, these two realize they also have magic between them. But one wants more from the relationship than the other.
Ugh, I was so happy reading the first half of this one. What a tale about the risks of love taking everything from you.
What a short and anxiety-inducing tale! And what a cool format!
Blood and Coffee –
Frustrated in both her work life and personal life, this woman has finally had enough.
My gosh this story captures the dismissive behavior of men so perfectly. This made me so angry on the characters’ behalf.
The Amphitrite –
Spending time in an underwater observation area, this researcher is counting down the time until the ship will arrive to bring her back home. But something isn’t right…
Oofh. When I finally had a guess at what was going on here, I was so sad. What a tale!
23 McCormick Road –
Moving into a new home, one of the women settles in nicely. But the other woman is having trouble. What starts as a feeling that she’s not alone, grows into seeing a young boy, she doesn’t know what to do. But soon, with a little help from a neighbor, she knows exactly what must be done.
This one was so chilling, incredibly heartbreaking, but also so hopeful and full of love.
My Favorite Passages from Femina
She follows him reluctantly, checking over her shoulder as she climbs the narrow path, branches scratching at her face and catching in her hair. It feels like the forest is trying to grab her, like the very trees are trying to hook themselves into her skin and stop her from making her ascent. Something moves behind her in the dark it’s the same thing that’s been following her all day, appearing at the edges of her vision and disappearing before she can register what it is and she forces herself to move faster.
— Llanwey Point
“Hoping is like the lazy man’s version of looking. It’s searching for something greater than one’s self and assuming you’ll come up empty-handed, but that maybe you’ll find something eventually…”
— Everything She’s Looking For
My Final Thoughts on Femina
Every single one of the stories in Femina gave me an extreme emotional reaction. More often than not, I wanted to absolutely rage on behalf of the characters for what they were going through. A few times, I found myself clutching the edges of my book, about to hulk out and rip it up out of anger for the characters.
What a powerful collection. This is a must-read!
Snag a copy through Bookshop.org to help support local indie bookshops:
This is Where We Talk Things Out by Caitlin Marceau is a story that is like a slap to the face, but one that hits you over, and over, and over again.
Click here to check out my full review of This is Where We Talk Things Out!
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