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Armed In Her Fashion

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  139 ratings  ·  42 reviews
In 1328, Bruges is under siege by the Chatelaine of Hell and her army of chimeras -- humans mixed with animals or armour, forged in the deep fires of the Hellbeast. At night, revenants crawl over the walls and bring plague and grief to this city of widows.

Margriet de Vos learns she's a widow herself when her good-for-nothing husband comes home dead from the war. He didn't
Paperback, 300 pages
Published May 17th 2018 by ChiZine Publications (first published April 24th 2018)
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Kate Heartfield The pre-order's not available yet, but I'll shout it from the rooftops when it is!

Edited to add: Several of the pre-order pages are up now…more
The pre-order's not available yet, but I'll shout it from the rooftops when it is!

Edited to add: Several of the pre-order pages are up now (, Barnes & Noble, and some others.)
Kate Heartfield It is loosely inspired by that story, yes! And by Pieter Bruegel's painting of that name.

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Average rating 4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  139 ratings  ·  42 reviews

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Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I want to say this is a well-thought-out historical novel, and it definitely dovetails nicely with history, but let's face it: It's Hell on Earth.

In a lot of great stylistic ways, I'm reminded favorably of Peter Newman's The Vagrant, only it's right here and the minions of hell all speak French.

The novel is very female-centric, making this all kinds of awesome. Not all men are jerks, but all the revenant men definitely are. Add that to the laws which disenfranchise the lot of women, a cool atte
Jun 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
We understand medieval Europe as a war-torn place with a populous threatened by a capricious ruling class and harshly proscribed society with a powerful Church. The threat of damnation and devils was as real to these people as the grotesques favored in architecture of the time. In Kate Heartfield's debut we get a look at early 14th century Belgium from the angle that all the threats that the Church warns of are real and players in the politics of the time.

This is all told from the viewpoint of w
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With a literal bang at the beginning, a slow middle ambling into a moderately fast-moving finish, and a main character a little difficult to connect with, this book shouldn't work. But work it does. The difficult main character had me rooting for her almost right away, despite her quick, harsh words and demeanor. Margriet de Vos' merchant husband, who, after going off to fight, has returned as a revenant to Bruges. He and other men have been returning to the town to draw out their relatives to a ...more
Kate Heartfield
Apr 29, 2018 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: my-own-books
Hello all! This is my own book, so I won't rate it, but I thought I'd use this space to include some news and updates.
1. First of all, the ebook version is now available! The paperback is officially available as of May 17, but I've heard that a few bricks-and-mortar bookstores have it now. If you've got an early edition of the paperback that's missing page 261, you can find out more about that, and how to get what ought to be there, here.
2. If you'd like a free review copy, you can now request o
Beth Cato
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, 2019, historical
Kate Heartfield's Armed in Her Fashion is a dark, gritty fantasy set in well-researched 1328 Bruges and environs. Not only does she realistically portray a transgender character within the period, but her entire cast feels real, from her near-sighted wet nurse protagonist to the very chatelaine of Hell. This is a fantastic read.
Elle Maruska
Aug 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First, a content warning: this book has a trans character who is misgendered by friends and enemies and, as a trans man, is forced to wear women's clothing. But I will say that the trans character's identity is not a plot twist; he is who he is from his first introduction. He asserts himself against both enemies and friends. He is also given a happy ending and he does not experience any sort of sexualized violence. In fact there is little sexual violence in this book as a whole, which is more th ...more
May 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
I was very excited to read this book. I was looking forward to a crazy ass wild ride filled with Hell demons and historical references and kickass fight scenes, as alluded to in the summary on Goodreads. But, alas, I was left sorely disappointed. I don’t understand how it’s possible to make a journey to Hell, across zombie and animal-creature-armour-weapon-human-monsters infested Europe boring!? How is that possible? Honestly, props to the author for being able to make this unexciting. It’s a sk ...more
There were a lot of things that could have let this book down. The density of the specialised language - i.e. all the different items of clothing, weapons and armour which made me stop each time to look them up - the occasional latin, the characters not always being likeable, the story meandering in the middle, the late climax. But, miraculously, none of it did - this book was, instead, fantastic.

One thing that kept striking me as I read, was the fact that Heartfield managed to have such consist
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This. This. This.

This book is what I want to read. I want to read crazy historical fiction but with chimeras and hell beasts and transgender soldiers.

Would love to read more in this world, especially the Chatelaine's story. And Claude's. And Beatrix's.

Sandy Parsons
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Heartfield pulls off a neat trick in this engaging story. She manages to write empowered female characters with agency while remaining true to the historical setting of the time period. These aren’t your typical damsels in distress waiting in towers for their heroes to rescue them. But neither are they feminine analogs of the classic hero trope (save for one). Further, this isn’t done at the price of emasculating or cuckolding the male characters, who are simply unfortunate pawns of the forces o ...more
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is probably my favorite new find of the year. What's not to love about a bunch of disgruntled women raiding Hell in 14th century Flanders? All the characters were well rounded, flawed, and likable, the prose was excellent, the historical background well placed, and the humor sufficiently dark. I only realized at the end that the whole thing was inspired by a Bruegel painting, and then I was even more impressed, because the book managed to bring the exact same dark-grotesque-humorous fe ...more
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this. Beautifully conceived and written, based on a Bruegel painting with its roots in Flemish folklore, this novel imagines a siege of Bruges in 1328 - but those laying siege are the Chatelaine of Hell and her monsters. And those who fight back? Widows - a band of women assisted by a trans man soldier - who face down Hell itself, spitting mad.
Sep 08, 2018 rated it liked it
There was a lot to the background of this story, and I wished I had more than a murky understanding of the world building, and the character exposition of everyone, what were there motives. What had happened?
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, strong-women
What a weird book.

A trans man-at-arms, a shrewish old wet nurse, and a spinster with a magic distaff march on the gates of Hell to reclaim a stolen inheritance. Also features a debate on whether zombies are legally dead.

It could be fantasy, it could be alternate history, it could be philosophy. It was definitely strongly feminist, in a somewhat similar way to Women Talking, where the worth of women is always defined in relation to the men.

But it did discuss that women are expected to give and gi
Sep 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
War has reduced Bruges to a city of widows under siege. The Chatelaine of Hell is forging horrifying chimeras from humans, beasts, and weaponry. Revenants stalk their grieving loved ones to make them ghouls like themselves. Obstinate Margriet is struggling to look after her dreamy daughter Beatrix in the middle of a war zone when her lousy husband comes back as a revenant and walks out with a fortune he hid from her when he was alive. Alongside a soldier who has his own quarrel with the Chatelai ...more
Jessica Strider
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Pros: very feisty women, lots of history, clever integration of the hellbeast

Cons: writing was a little dry at times

When her revenant husband returns to the besieged city of Bruges and reveals he’s hidden a fortune, Margriet de Vos demands her rights: a third of that wealth belongs to her, the rest to their daughter. Her husband now serves the Chatelaine of Hell, and intends to give her this gold. But Margriet won’t be deterred. Neither war, the King of France, nor Hell itself will keep her fr
K. Lincoln
Jun 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Sometimes reading multiple books at the same time burns you out, sometimes there are serendipitous overlaps between themes. I have come to accept that much of any review is solidly based in the reading environment in which I have encountered that book.

I am encountering Armed in Her Fashion in the context of some feminist theory books and podcasts. And so the collection of women who form the main ensemble of this cast appealed to me as embodying many of the issues I was hearing about in the other
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a book that is maybe a three star book that I gave four stars because I liked it so much? It's my review, you can't stop me.

First: I should note that there's what reads to a modern reader as a closeted trans man who is misgendered by most of the people around him, due kinda to him being in the closet? It's not malicious, but if you don't want to read that, heads up.

Second: weird typesetting errors, two quite dramatic, but I got this from the library, so eh?

Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canlit
Really quite entertaining! It is positively a niche genre (one of its own, maybe), so it may not appeal to the adventurous. But what's not to love in the combination of a transgender clergyman, the Middle Ages, and Hell-spawned demons? Nicely written in that you could tell that the author Kate Heartfield was really invested in the story and spent time figuring out and thinking about the characters, plot, and world logic before sitting down to write. Maybe something to read if you like the mediev ...more
Catherine Schaff-Stump
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Heartfield delivers with a technically brilliant, challenging read. While I found this novel hard to read, particularly in regard to Magriet's ultimate fate, the novel is sound, artfully crafted, and recasts many modern tropes of fantastic fiction in the light of a medieval historical context. Lest you think that sounds typical, I mean a more realistic middle ages. The book is reminiscent of Hild by Nicola Griffiths, but much, much darker. If you are a fan of cerebral horror, this is a good choi ...more
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: female-authors
Medieval fantasy? Check. Powerful, nuanced women? Check. Queer characters, a fantastical menagerie, and all inspired by art from the Flemish Renaissance? Check! All things I absolutely adore combined into one entertaining book.
There were a few typos here and there, but not enough to take away from the enjoyable experience of reading the story.
I just really want a whole book on the backstory of the Chatelaine now!

Definitely recommend to all readers of fantasy, especially those looking for more i
Surreal fantasy, set in Bruges under siege in the Middle Ages, set in a Bruegel painting, where all the grotesques are characters, and the regular folks are just trying to survive.

Both bizarre and utterly compelling, with strong, stubborn female characters, an interesting depiction of politics at the time, and a trans soldier who keeps getting misgendered. Fascinating. I’m not sure exactly who to recommend this to, but I’ll start with my Middle Ages loving friends, who can appreciate the rich s
David Scrimshaw
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
An engaging read and not like any other fantasy novel I've read.

It's particularly refreshing that the main characters are all women except for the transgender man-at-arms.

It is worth reading the author's "Featured Notes and Highlights" on the book's Goodreads page. I read them after reading the book. I don't think there are any big spoilers if you want to read them first.

I like that I actually learned some things about medieval history.
Leo Valiquette
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Armed in Her Fashion is a fast-paced and thoroughly enjoyable read with a deft and witty take on religion, politics and women's lot in European medieval society circa 1328. It's a fantastic combination of great characters and well-researched historical details which Heartfield has meshed in a flawless and wholly believable way with the Chatelaine of Hell and her cohorts.
Mar 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
A group of women united in tragedy by ties of blood and sisterhood? A trans and gay hero helping them out in their quest to recover their legacy from, literally, the depths of hell, which, by the way, is governed by a black woman who took control over it from her husband? Hell fucking yeah.
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I didn't know what to expect from this book other than being pretty sure I'd like it. It was a wonderful read and I highly recommend it. There are some fascinating ideas on offer in this book, which I won't spoil, but well, well worth reading.
Kristen Rose
May 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
A wild and wonderful queer/feminist historical fantasy.
May 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
A wonderful book! It was such a pleasure reading. It's full of wonderful ideas and very interesting characters.
Strongly recommended!
Many thanks to ChiZine Publications and Edelweiss for the ARC
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great story.
Rati Mehrotra
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A dark, rich, multiple-POV tale of revenants, chimeras, and the tough woman who enters the mouth of hell to get back what she believes is rightfully hers.
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Kate Heartfield is the author of Armed in Her Fashion (ChiZine 2018) and the two Alice Payne novellas, published by Publishing.
She was nominated for a 2018 Nebula Award in the novella category for Alice Payne Arrives, and in game writing for The Road to Canterbury, an interactive novel published by Choice of Games. Her novella "The Course of True Love" was published by Abaddon Books as pa
“Much better to force people to choose at once, friend or foe, and then he knew where they stood.” 0 likes
“She did envy Gertrude after all—not her grief, which must be greater than Beatrix could even imagine, but her boisterous presence in the world. Gertrude took up space; Beatrix was always watching from the corners.” 0 likes
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