About ‘She Steals Justice’ by J. Clark
Genre: Supernatural; Womens Fiction; Social Fiction
She Steals Justice is a powerful urban retelling of the Robin Hood legend set in the American South—from an author who knows the area intimately. When her sister becomes pregnant, Robyn Carter starts to take a stand against the abuse she’s suffered for years at the hands of her sister’s boyfriend. But as she gets deeper into her fight, Robyn uncovers secrets that force her to reckon with what it truly means to be justice-minded and community-oriented, as well as what it costs to protect those around her.
I have also reviewed these other titles by J. Clark:
Contemplations of the Faithful
While reading a previous collection of poetry from J. Clark, I realized the author has a talent for being able to reach out to her audience, regardless of any difference in perspective or experience. When I heard she was readying to release a novel, I was excited to see if this held true to it as well.
It absolutely did!
‘She Steals Justice’ surprised me from start to finish in the very best of ways. Set in an atmosphere of angels, demon-hunting Christians, and creatures of the Underworld, there is an abundance of real-life parallels and great messages.
The story starts off with Robyn, the strong female lead, as she struggles to protect her newly legal little sister from an extremely abusive boyfriend. Stuck in the cycle of abuse after grooming, her sister refuses to acknowledge the danger she’s in and how he does not honestly care for her (even though there are enormous red flags). Robyn’s determination despite her sister’s reluctance attracts an odd business that offers assistance to women in need…whether they are able to ask for help or not.
At this point, the supernatural aspects of the story come into play as things start getting more and more intense. Said business puts Robyn to the test in many ways, but it is a sudden, strange voice that begins spouting dubious thoughts in Robyn’s head that really challenges her own moral convictions versus the moral standards of those around her. She must choose to what lengths she will go to protect her sister and other innocents…and deal with retaliation from the sexist, misogynistic, and racist society around her, regardless of her choice.
None of this is helped by the church who Robyn was already at odds with, due to their adherence to harmful traditional values as opposed to the true love and equality that the gospel teaches. When her body and soul begin to morph into something inhuman, those strenuous ties only worsen, giving her another injustice to conquer: the church’s prejudice against those who are different, including herself.
As Robyn learns secrets about the father who abandoned her as a child, she also uncovers mysteries regarding her mother’s family. She has been thrust full force into the world of the supernatural and as the countless complexities of the situation unravel, Robyn must fight to keep her wits, her life, and her freedom. Nevertheless, she continues to fight for justice for all, moving to bridge the gap between the church’s (and ultimately, society’s) blanket judgment of what is right and wrong so that all creatures may know peaceful equality. Even in the most extreme of circumstances which have by all accounts robbed her of free will, Robyn meets every challenge with intelligence and strength (perfect time to note she is an expert archer).
The book highlights many issues that women (and Black women in particular) face in our society today. From familial obligations to societal expectations, lack of resources, and even the added pressure from the church, it is a painful yet enlightening outline of the sexism women endure, which for Black women is compounded by the addition of racism. (Speaking from the point-of-view of a (white) man, this makes it really feel like getting a glance into what (Black) women deal with on the daily. Things that some of us are privileged enough not to have to worry about.)
Although this social commentary is clearly a major point, reading the book does not feel like merely a social lesson or sermon. The world is well-built, the adventures fully intense, and the characters either endearing or emotionally trying, whichever they are meant to be, respectively. Even if you take nothing new from the similarities to real life, ‘She Steals Justice’ is amazing by perspective of entertainment value alone.
J. Clark has a powerful voice and has no qualms about challenging the unfairness of the world she lives in. She also displays pure expertise in crafting a story that is packed with entertainment, from tragedy to challenges, and action to romance. I’m beyond eager for more people to read ‘She Steals Justice’; not only for its ethical/moral value and social insight, but for how fantastically alluring a fantasy novel it is.
I need more pages to read! I must find out what happens with this strange romance between Robyn and [name redacted]. I wanted to only hate that they were together, but by the end of the book, I was in love with their very unusual situation.
((review submitted to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads))
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~Sahreth ‘Baphy’ Bowden
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