Phoolan Devi: Rebel Queen

NBM. (Comics Biographies). Apr. 2020. 224p. ISBN 9781681122519. Rated: Mature. $34.99. memoir/autobiograhy
The title of Fauvel’s (Catherine’s War) new work its subject’s brave stance on the cover, are great indicators of what’s inside—Phoolan’s story is breathtaking and courageous. Born poor in north India and sold into marriage at 11, Phoolan had injustices heaped on her by virtue of her sex and social class from a young age. After entreaties for community help failed, Phoolan became involved with gangs of bandits living outside the law, robbing, seeking revenge, and engaging in intergang warfare. focuses on Phoolan’s thirst for revenge—against her brutal husband, against rich men who hurt her family, and ultimately against all men perpetuating sexual violence and injustice toward women. Though Fauvel’s telling surely omits elements of a complicated life, it captures Phoolan’s physical settings and her emotional journey with a deeply empathetic hand, demanding that readers experience them completely. Scenes of sexual and retaliatory violence, integral to the plot, are frequent throughout, so adults and mature teens should proceed with caution.
VERDICT A woman operating with an eye-for-an-eye attitude is a rare and powerful thing, and this heroic tale of Phoolan’s journey from despair and abuse to justice and renown, is intoxicating.

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