reviews

The Vilification of Aqua Marine (Working Masks #1) by Megan Mackie Book Review

Write on: Thu, 30 Jun 2022 by  in Charles' New Reviews Read 570

5/5

THE VILIFICATION OF AQUA MARINE by Megan Mackie was a book I was very interested in because I was a huge fan of the author's THE FINDER OF THE LUCKY DEVIL, which was an oddball combination of cyberpunk and urban fantasy. So hearing that she was doing a superhero novel was something that immediately inspired me to pick this up when it became available. People who know me may also note that I'm something of a superhero author myself, so I'm always glad to see the prose superhero genre expanded too.

Rhiannon AKA Aqua Marine is the daughter of the sinister Black Fox who has since retired into being simply an overbearing mother who wants to support her daughter's attempts to be a superhero (or supervillain--she's not picky). Rhiannon, though, definitely wants to be a hero but doesn't feel like she can hack it due to the fact she has the power of being able to manipulate one cup of water at a time.

The thing is that the human body actually contains a cup of water and if Aqua Marine WASN'T such a goody two-shoes then she could probably be a terrifying villain fully capable of killing people Darth Vader style (albeit with hearts rather than threats). After an attempt to use her ability offensively goes disastrously wrong, Aqua Marine is even more convinced that she's never going to be able to live up to the legacy of her superheroic father.

This is a delightful slice-of-lice superhero story and almost as enjoyable as Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree, which is high praise indeed since that was my favorite release of 2022. Aqua, her mother, her sister, and Overlord (of the Dance) are all fantastically fun characters. Like a PG-rated Jessica Jones, poor Aqua Marine just can't catch a break and the attempts to cheer her up often end up backfiring. I don't think I've ever thought about how a "cozy superhero" novel would be written but this definitely qualifies.

I particularly like the "relationship" (air quotes) between Aqua Marine and Overlord of the Dance. After nearly being killed by her, he thinks that they have to be archenemies or date or both. This reminded me a bit of what you can do in Fallout: New Vegas with a female Courier and Benny, though Aqua Marine would never think of it. The poor guy is smitten and Aqua Marine is more or less horrified that almost dying at her hands is a turn on. The fact Aqua Marine wants nothing to do with being his archnemesis, in part because making people flash mob dance with his powers is a pretty lame "crime" to stop, doesn't help matters.

Much of the book is devoted to the fact Aqua Marine isn't really 100% into being either a hero or villain. The city she inhabits has managed to reduce the casualties of supervillain fights to almost zero so fighting crime is seemingly more silly fun than actually a calling. Indeed, some question whether there's a need for superheroes at all. Black Fox, her mother, is clearly based on the Adam West Catwoman and has her own opinions on this subject. Which amounts to, "You really don't want to see what it's like when we aren't playing around." I really enjoyed her 'overbearing mother' support of Aqua Marine's career, even if she would prefer her daughter follow the Dark Side of the Force so to speak.

I am really interested in this world and would love to see sequels, though this book ends pretty well as a stand-alone. The characters play off well against one another and there's some Ventrue Brothers to go with the more down to Earth comic book elements that makes for a delightful mixture of the absurd. After all, why DO we have an organization of evil doers if there can only be one leader at a time? The answer the book postulates as to why organizations of supervillains exist was a very clever one and reminded me a bit of Drew Hayes' Forging Hephaestus.

In conclusion, this is a really fun book and one of Megan Mackie's best. It's easily up there with The Finder of the Lucky Devil if not actually surpasses it. Fans of superheroes and easy going stories will find it intensely fun with fairly low stakes (at least until the end). The cover art is also adorable and would be the kind of comic I would read.

Available here

Last modified on Thursday, 30 June 2022 22:17
C.T. Phipps

C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger on "The United Federation of Charles".

He's written Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, and The Supervillainy Saga.

Website: https://ctphipps.wordpress.com/