By Sarah Tanat-Jones
Publisher: Cicada Books
The Book: There is nothing more shocking or fascinating than the story of a homicidal woman. We are told that violence is a man’s domain – that a woman is pre-programmed to nurture and protect. Women who break this taboo are hated and reviled; demonised in the press and imprinted upon our collective psyches.
This book profiles 21 female murderers throughout history – from powerful female warriors such as Boudicca and Agrippina to the revenge killings of Ruth Ellis and Phoolan Devi to the outright psychotic butcherings of Mona Fandey and Juana Barraza.
Beautiful and evocative illustrations by Sarah Tanat-Jones make their stories even more compelling.
The Review: Women who Kill is a new release from Cicada Books, a company that I had previously missed out on but came across when they recently contacted me prior to the East London Comics Arts Festival this year. They have actually been a busy bunch of folks since 2009, producing illustrated books for adults and children and based in the north London area.
This book tells a history of what was once stupidly referred to as the “fairer sex” but seems timely given movies like Atomic Blonde and Wonder Woman showing us that women are often more than capable of kicking our male arses round the room. (And then, apparently, slaughtering you and maybe a few of your friends…) This book will convince you to be a little more careful when you are rude to the woman at the counter in Starbucks or you cut up a female driver when you are rushing to get to work!
Watch your ass, men folk! These women are not to be messed with. Yes – Mr Wardle, my fifth form Physics teacher, may have been right all along… And to think I just assumed he was going through a painful divorce…
Women who Kill isn’t a comic, so it’s not a book that I would normally notice or review but an exception is made here for a couple of reasons. Sarah Tanat-Jones’ art has a sketchy, airy immediacy to its pages, revealing a keen and sharpened eye to design that has the colours floating and stabbing in washed out red, grey/blue and white. They have an iconic edge that tells the story really well as you turn from story to story.
Each “murderess”, as they used to be known, has a single striking illustration followed by a short summary of their punchy, kicky, shooty, stabby, poison-y (I’m stretching it a little bit there) offences. Faces stare into the camera, hands reach for poison bottles, offenders celebrate and dance under nooses hung from trees and so on.
A small niggle would be that the writing side of the book seems a little bit like it could just be something you read on wikipedia. A little more flourish and poetry would have lifted this more (but that’s just my humble opinion.)
It is however and grand little book. Around A5 size it has an iconic cover image on it’s hardback and is only £7.95, absolute bargain.
• Sarah Tanat-Jones is online at www.sarahtanatjones.com
• Women who Kill is also available from amazon.co.uk (using this link helps support downthetubes) and other bookshops, physical and digital