cover image The Fortress

The Fortress

S.A. Jones. Erewhon, $16.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-64566-002-6

Jones (Isabelle of the Moon and Stars) gracefully combines the mythic with the deeply human in this rewarding fantasy about the transformative potential of freeing society from patriarchal power. Executive Jonathon Bridge is entrenched in contemporary rape culture, happily cheating on his pregnant wife with assistants and interns at his office, taking their consent for granted and not considering the power dynamics at play in these trysts. When his wife discovers his behavior, Jonathon hopes to regain her trust and prove his capacity to be a good father by volunteering as a supplicant at the mysterious, matriarchal Fortress, a sovereign nation of women existing along side his present-day world. He will spend a year in highly controlled, ascetic service within the Fortress, where the guiding principles are “Work. History. Sex. Justice.” Explicit scenes of men in humiliating sexual service to the women of the Fortress veer into the territory of feminist revenge fantasy, but the primary tone of the book is one of compassion as the focus remains on Jonathon’s slow, sometimes dark, emotional journey. Jones’s radical, detailed vision of what extremes it might take to unlearn misogyny is rendered with insight, immediacy, and painful honesty. This gut-punch of a story is sure to start conversations. (Mar.)