“Insexts” by Marguerite Bennett & Ariela Kristantina

“Insexts” by Marguerite Bennett & Ariela KristantinaINSEXTS Vol. 1: Chrysalis by Marguerite Bennett, Ariela Kristantina
Series: InSexts #1
Published: 2016 by Aftershock
Genres: Graphic Novels, Horror/Gothic
Pages: 161
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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When I saw InSexts on display at my local comic book store, I was immediately struck by the art noveau inspired cover. As I flipped through the pages and read the book’s description, I knew that I needed it in my life.

InSexts is feminist Victorian body horror. You know how in Kafka’s Metamorphosis the main character wakes up to discover that he is a giant bug? Sorta like that. Except in Insexts, Lady Bertram and her maid turned lover Mariah begin their metamorphosis as a way to fight the patriarchy. Lady Bertram is trapped in an abusive and deeply unhappy marriage, and her turning into a bug is symbolic of her discovering and embracing her own power as she takes revenge on all those who have wronged her.

I’ve noted in previous reviews (e.g. Pretty Deadly) that I love when books embrace musicality. InSexts does this, and the story itself opens with a song about a butterfly. This thread is woven throughout the entire story, as is the notion that once a butterfly leaves its chrysalis that it will not return. As such, Lady Bertram and Mariah will not return to their previous lives of subservience, and instead will grow and bask in their newfound powers. And seeing that message is especially powerful right now in light of recent political events. There’s a very blatant message that once people taste what it’s like to be themselves and to be free, there’s no going back in hiding, and there’s no standing down. The entire book can be read as a metaphor for LGBT rights.

InSexts is very blatant in its message. There’s no subtlety there. That’s something that sometimes bothers me in fiction (see Sherri S. Tepper, for example), but it didn’t bother me so much here. Maybe it’s because I don’t expect as much subtlety in comics, or maybe it’s because right now it’s a message that resonated with me so much.

Overall, I highly recommend InSexts. If you’re a fan of Victoriana, Kafkaesque horror, feminism, and totally kickass LGBT characters, then this is right up your alley.

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