A.C. Wise – The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again

acwise-glittersquadronWhen the world is endangered, there’s no point in sparing the spangles, spilling the drinks, or withholding the glitter. In this collection of whimsical stories of fierce femmes and brave butches, the Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron is a phone call away…

The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again is a collection of inter-linked short stories featuring the sparkliest, bravest, most bad-ass women you are ever likely to meet. Any old hero can save the world, but these ladies can do it all in glitter and high heels, and still make it home in time for tea (and cocktails, or course).

The collection features two reprints and seven original short stories, plus bonus cocktail recipes. 

A.C. Wise’s first collection grabbed my attention with its title. Let’s be honest, The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again is a fabulous title and coupled with its colourful cover image it is hard to pass up. Once I read the flap text, I knew I could’t pass it up, because it sounded like it would be so much fun to read. And not to mince words, it was, but it was also surprisingly touching and serious.

Let’s start with the Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron though. This is a group of women all over the gender spectrum — cis, trans, transitioning, male identifying as female, female presenting as male, non-binary — and all over the spectrum when it comes to their sexuality as well, they are queer, straight, bisexual, or undeclared and they are fabulous. They are a kaleidoscopic representation of femininity, with a shifting roster of members, but with a core group around which they orbit. Their guiding star is Bunny, whose decision to live life fearlessly, wearing the armour of her femininity and kicking ass, gives the Squadron its leading principle. I love the group as a whole and the separate members we meet in each story.

In essence the book is a collection of origin stories, in which we find out how the various Squadron members find their way to it. They form a found family, with all the of the accompanying tensions, but mostly with a lot of love and compassion for one another. While all the stories can be read as standalone, there is a progression through the stories that allows the reader to see the characters we’ve been introduced to interact and get to know them better. The cocktail recipes slotted in-between stories were awesome, especially as they not only reveal Sapphire’s keen insights into her sisters’ natures, but they also reveal a lot about Sapphire herself. There’s so much to love about all of these characters it’s hard to pick a favourite. Yet if I had to pick one besides Sapphire, it would be Cécé. M intrigues me no end, because the glimpses we get of her are mysterious and tantalising, but Cécé stuck with me. I loved Cécé’s individual story The Devil Comes to the Midnight Cafe. I was grabbed by her struggle to commit, to allow herself to fully commit to the person she loves. Yes, there’s a devil and there is heroic shenanigans, but ultimately this is a story about a person choosing to commit to one single person and how scary it is to make yourself that vulnerable and intertwined with someone else. The way this relationship develops also features in some of the subsequent stories and it was beautiful.

It would be so easy to go over the top with these stories, to camp it up and play it for the easy laughs, but Wise avoids falling into this trap. Not that she plays it straight; there is a lot of humour in this collection and not that she doesn’t bring the camp, but she also manages make these stories deeply genuine, dealing with ordinary human emotions and predicaments experienced by extraordinary women. There is not one story that didn’t touch me in some way, made me smile in amusement or sad recognition. I’d love read more Glitter Squadron adventures. I want to know what happens after the final story in the collection. If you’re hankering for a fun set of stories with a lot of heart and emotional depth then The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again will fill your need and then some.

This collection was provided for review by the author.