Poppy Post: Smart Bitches Trashing Badasses – Three Women I’d Want as my Charlie’s Angels

After Poppy’s beautiful “That Moment When…” post, and A Handy Guide for Choosing Your Institute of Magical Education art essays, we are so excited to have another post from her!

Poppy is a long-time fan of SBTB and loves cats, books and coffee, in that order. She illustrates The Loo Cats, an imaginative series starring her rescue cats in the most fantastical, improbable scenarios. The series is an ode to four spunky felines who survived abuse and abandonment before they found their forever home. Now they are elderly and ill, and can only travel in their human’s wild, colour-saturated imagination – but they continue to bring delight and iridescence to the lives of those around them. Join them on their adventures @geninepoppyloo on Instagram!

So, the Charlie’s Angels reboot. I have such mixed feelings. The version I loved as a teenager featured Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu and Cameron Diaz. I watched the movie with my group of girlfriends and we collectively experienced our nascent stirrings of feminism, or at least, the amazed realization that women could be powerful, strong, smart, funny and confident, all at the same time.

I also remember it being the first movie I’ve watched where men were relegated to sidekicks, watching the women in hapless admiration/ surprise/ resentment. (Charlie himself aside.) For the first time, a pimply overweight younger me caught a glimpse of what I could be in the future – maybe growing up wouldn’t suck after all! Like putting a face to a name, this was putting a face (three faces) to a possibility.

Ah, hope. It’s a heady thing.

Now I’m in my mid-thirties, and I still can’t fit into Alex Munday’s pleather catsuit (nor can I defuse a bomb or identify birds by their call) but am happy to report that most other aspects of life have turned out pretty well.

So yes, the reboot. I don’t know what I think of it, given that the original concept hasn’t aged very well. However, all signs point to a promising outcome, and the trailer for the reboot looks super fun. Kristen Stewart in particular looked like she was having a blast. And I also LOVE the idea of a female – and multiple – Bosleys. That just makes logistical and administrative sense, y’know? Plus if Elizabeth Banks is behind the wheel, then I’m almost completely sure it can’t be bad. I’ll be waiting and watching, is the long-winded point I’m trying to make here.

Anyway! You can probably guess where this is going – I thought I’d try my hand at putting together my own badass Charlie’s Angels-esque team from my favourite book characters. Except without a creepily omnipresent Charlie and the rather infantilizing term “Angels”. So in honor of SBTB, I’ve named my dream team Smart Bitches Trashing Badasses. Here are three women I’d pick for the pioneering SBTB trio, and some doodles that are loosely inspired by their stories. Because #crazycatmama, I have popped my fiercest kitty Poppy into the scenes as their trusty male sidekick.

BADASS BITCH 1: CHARLOTTE HOLMES (from Sherry Thomas’ Lady Sherlock series)

A Study in Scarlet Women
A | BN | K | AB

Special skills: Code-cracking and being underestimated.

Code-cracking

Charlotte’s going to be the brains behind the whole operations. Nothing could more clearly prove her intellectual prowess than the Vigenere code she received (and cracked) as an odd but very suitable courting gift by Lord Bancroft (incidentally, brother of the man she loves, Lord Ingram).

…what she learned was that solving Vigenere ciphers was an experience best compared to being kicked in the head by a distempered mule. Repeatedly – because it was not only brain-crackingly difficult, but the long, drawn-out process could not be made shorter or less tedious… At least now she knew that Lord Bancroft had instructed his underling to select difficult cases for her – and that most certainly counted as a point in his favour.

In fact, she didn’t just crack the Vigenere code, but also uncovered further layers of messages hidden within the plaintext of the decoded Vigenere that soon led to important discoveries in a murder case.

Also, she’s got those amazing observation skills, demonstrated repeatedly through her Sherlock case-solving. She always offers to demonstrate “Sherlock’s” prowess to first-time clients by shocking them with uncanny insights based on observations of their attire, speech and manner.

Being Underestimated

Charlotte doesn’t just have to be behind the scenes – she would also be great undercover, as she’s often underestimated. Especially by men:

“She added cream and sugar to her own tea while gazing at him with her usual lack of facial expression, which was almost always misinterpreted as a look of sweet hopefulness.”

And of course, the last person anyone would suspect to be a spy would be the most girlishly dolled-up, food-loving woman in the room.

She wore a dusky pink day dress with a ruffled collar of starched white eyelet lace, which perfectly set off her shiny blond curls, large blue eyes, and generous lips. The same lace, in three tiers, also fell from her cuffs, the trailing edge of which brushed against the tablecloth as she spread a pat of butter on a freshly baked muffin. She did it with great concentration … in fact, given her pleasantly plump form and the suggestion of a second chin… one might easily suppose that Miss Holmes thought of nothing except her meals.

But for all her brains and cool aplomb, we must admit that Charlotte’s not the most physically agile. That’s why she needs her fellow badass bitches.

An illustration of a blonde woman at a table viewed from behind working on a code paper with Poppy's cat napping on a shelf above

This scene is loosely inspired by the Vigenere code that Charlotte cracked – but actually, the large sheet our faux-Charlotte’s poring over is the world’s first published computer programme, written by Ada Lovelace in the 1840s. This was the algorithm for the computation of Bernoulli numbers, which Ada worked on with Charles Babbage. (Sadly, it was all a bit too much for Poppy, who found himself a nice nook to snooze instead.)

BADASS BITCH 2: SYBELLA (from Robin Lafevers’ His Fair Assassin series)

Grave Mercy
A | BN | K | AB

Special skills: Incredible fighting skills and great political savvy

Incredible fighting skills

Apart from both Charlotte and Sybella’s having an incredible core of steel, Sybella would appear to be the polar opposite of the former. She’s an amazingly skilled fighter, having trained in a wide array of weapons and poisons at the Convent of St Mortain, a 15th-century French convent that provided sanctuary and training in deadly skills to young assassin nuns who would be sent out on high-stakes missions. Sybella’s training had been thorough.

Here she staged an elaborate plan to bust a prized political prisoner out of jail, carried out singlehandedly:

Once I have armed myself with every weapon I own – the knives, the daggers, the garrotes – I slip from my room… Nearly all the servants and men-at-arms are asleep as I make my way from my chamber to the courtyard. It did not come easily, and has taken every drop of poison in the pearls from my hairnet and glass beads on my crucifix chain.

And later on, when those sleeping men-at-arms came after her and her rescued prisoner, she had to fight her way out:

Of a certainty, I love the way my body and weapons move as one; I revel in the knowledge of where to strike for maximum impact. And of a certainty, I am good at it.

Political Savvy

Living in the nest of vipers that was court of her father D’Albret, Sybella has had to play the game as though her life depended on it (it did). She had to pay close attention to her father, the sycophants surrounding him and the political minefield of backstabbers that thrived in his court, waiting for others’ mis-steps. Sybella had originally escaped to the convent of St Mortain, but after her training, the convent’s abbess decided that she would make a perfect spy in her father’s household – so she got sent back to D’Albret under the pretense of the repentant and contrite daughter, making her existence even more fraught with danger.

Here’s a scene where she witnessed the brutal, senseless slaughter of innocents who supported the Duchess she’s secretly fighting for, and yet had to pretend she was utterly unmoved:

this excerpt is a bit violent

My stomach shrivels into a tight little knot and tries to crawl up my throat, but before I can so much as call out a warning, the sword cuts through the huddled men… I close my eyes and wait for the roiling in my gut to pass… my eyes snap open, a carefully neutral expression on my face. D’Albret’s shrewd gaze is on us and I curl my lip, as in faintly amused by the carnage he has just wrought… D’Albret’s flat black eyes zero in on me and I force myself to meet his gaze with naught but amusement on my face.

Sybella’s not just a one-dimensional fighter – she’s also a badass bitch who could navigate successfully in the most tricky political situations.And yes…

Spoilers for the plot ahoy!
– she eventually avenged the men who were murdered.

A red dressed warrior woman with a sword crouching with her weapon extended, with Poppy's cat, mouth open and fangs showing perched on his back legs in front

Imagine if Sybella was also a sort-of space warrior…?

Well, in any case, Poppy’s right beside her and ready to sink his fangs into any bad ‘uns that her giant sword misses.

BADASS BITCH 3: INEJ AKA THE WRAITH (from Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology)

Six of Crows
A | BN | K | AB

Special skills: Ability to climb almost anything and disappearing at will

Ability to climb almost anything

She was the Wraith – the only law that applied to her was gravity, and some days she defied that, too.

Inej’s skills actually went beyond climbing. Her ninja-like abilities were a lethal combination of caution, stealth and outstanding physical fitness. She’s able to break into, sneak up upon and single-handedly take down any stronghold of her enemies’ (or rather the enemies of the Dregs, the gang she worked for). Here she is on her way to ambush the ambush that had been laid for her:

…Inej located a drainpipe to shinny up. Something made her hesitate before she wrapped her hand around it. She drew a bonelight from her pocket and gave it a shake, casting a pale green glow over the pipe. It was slick with oil… she stood on her toes and tentatively felt along the top of the cornice. It had been covered in ground glass. “I am expected,” she thought with grim pleasure.

…If the Black Tips thought tricks like this would keep the Wraith from her goal, they were sadly mistaken.

All the women here are #competencePRON but this quote is my absolute favorite. Don’t we just love a woman who responds to near-fatal ambushes with grim pleasure!
(For those who’ve read this book, you might be wondering why the other climbing scene – where Inej climbs up an incinerator, literally climbing for her and her teammates’ lives – isn’t quoted here, it’s because I don’t want to spoil it. It’s too amazing and has to be read in its entirety!)

Disappearing at will

Kaz Brekker, second in command in the Dregs and the one responsible for buying Inej out of her indenture at a high-class brothel, was often both impressed and disturbed that his Wraith had “somehow mastered invisibility.” She didn’t even have a scent, and he could never hear her come and go even when she visited his room.

That she was so very good at remaining unseen made her an excellent thief of secrets, the best in the Barrel. But the fact that she could simply erase herself bothered him.

An impression from someone the Dregs had taken prisoner:

Another demon. This one walked with soft feet like she’d drifted in from the next world and no one had the good sense to send her back.

Should there be a SBTB mission that requires breaking-and-entering, Inej would be just the one for it.

Poppy's cat watches a black silhouette climb the outside of an apartment building, tail back and ears forward, very curious about what's happening!

Poppy watches in envy as a modern-day Inej scales up an apartment block. Who knows what’s waiting for her on the roof – she’d have to handle it alone, as her sidekick is unfortunately terrified of heights.

So these are my picks for my Smart Bitches Trashing Badasses team. All three women are absolutely incredible but there are SO many other ass-kicking characters in books (including ones that I’ve reviewed previously) that it’s almost impossible to choose.

Who would you pick for your Badasses Bitches and why?

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