Why do [women] keep going for thirty years after our bodies can no longer reproduce? Do you think nature meant for those years to be useless? No, of course not. Our lives are designed to have three parts. The first is education. The second, creation. And in part three, we put our experience to use and protect those who are weaker. This third stage, which you have entered, can be one of incredible power.
Three women, each at pivotal moments in their lives, discover that they’ve undergone a transformation. Nessa has always known this was coming; that when her world grew silent, she would hear the call of ghosts. Jo has spent decades at war with her body, until one day she embraces what she cannot change and learns of an immense strength. Harriett has lost everything, and finds solace in both nature and vengeance. The seeker, the protector, the punisher. Three women called to make the world safer for those without voice.
Oh my. This book. I hardly know what to say about it except that it’s incredible. Take the Golden Girls, add a dash of Hocus Pocus and a cauldron of feminist rage, blend it all together, and then bake to modern times. It had everything I could ever want in magical realism women’s fiction, and was written incredibly well, too. Even better, Miller had me questioning my instincts as I read, not with red herrings or misdirection, but with the same gaslighting that society already uses to get women to doubt their instincts. And yet, by the end, everything I’d intuited came to pass.
There is a mystery at the center of this book, a series of crimes that has Nessa seeking out those lost. However, this isn’t a book that reads like a mystery. It’s part old fashioned crime thriller, part coming of age, part mystery, part vigilante justice, part romance, part gender studies. But also none of those things. One cohesive whole that makes up its own genre altogether. It’s the first book I’ve read in months that I immediately wanted to own.
With everything going on in the world right now – the stripping of women’s legal rights in the US, the horrid brutality erupting in Iran, the increasing movement worldwide of anti-women hate groups, the pandemic-fueled rise in domestic violence, and so much more – it can be hard to read a book that features violence against women. Miller doesn’t make this easy, or gloss over this part. But she also gives back in these women and the folks, male and female, who help them. I can see people expecting this to be an anti-men book, but it’s not. It’s an anti-bad-men book. It’s a book that says monsters exist in many forms, and we are all so fed up with existing alongside them.
Stay away from [men] who seem driven by their desires. Don’t be one of the women who think they can feed those men. Those that do meet one of two fates. They either end up getting eaten – or they turn into monsters.
This review is only scratching the bare surface of what’s in The Change. Honestly? This just might be the best book I’ve read in 2022.
Trigger warnings: sexual assault, violence against women.