Roses are read, violets are blue, if you hurt us, we’re coming for you.
The deeply secretive Black Coats have been exacting vengeance on men who hurt girls and women for years. And Thea has just received an invitation to join them. This is the opportunity she’s been waiting for to finally get justice for her cousin Natalie, whose killer went free.
Thea dives head first into the group, training every day with other girls whose stories rival hers. Together they carry out Balancings—acts of revenge guaranteed to teach a lesson. With every predator threatened, every blackmailer exposed, and every date rapist punished, Thea can feel herself getting closer to avenging Natalie’s death.
But then the Balancings begin to escalate in brutality, and Thea discovers that the Black Coats are not all they seem to be. Thea must confront just how far she’s willing to go for justice—and what kind of justice Natalie, and Thea herself, deserve. Because when the line between justice and revenge is razor thin, it’s hard not to get cut.
**** Thank you to HarperTeen for providing me with a copy via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review ****
**** Trigger Warnings: Sexual Assault (Occurs Off-Page), Abuse, Murder, and Violence ****
I can’t believe more people haven’t added this book yet, it seems to be flying under the radar and it definitely deserves more attention! I mean it’s about a vigilante group of women who get revenge on men (and sometimes other women) who mistreat women, it’s badass, it’s feminist, and you’re going to want to give it a try!
The story starts being told from the POV of Robin, one of the founders of the Black Coats group and from there we follow Thea a high school student in the modern day. Thea, along with several other girls her age, are initiated into the group and all of them have been hurt in some way, shape, or form by men. Each of the girls also have their own special skill sets and they operate as a group to go on missions to exact revenge on wrong-doers. Very Batman-esque. Depending on the severity of the man’s crime, each mission is handled differently: more peacefully (blackmail.) or violently (give him a beat down) for example.
There was something really satisfying about these girls giving men their just desserts, as I already briefly mentioned it was badass, empowering, and feminist. I loved it. However, as you can imagine this got to be quite morally gray. Were they really acting any better by harming some of these guys? There are a lot of these dilemmas as the story progresses, I don’t want to delve into too much detail because I don’t want to spoil it. But know that it does get pretty morally gray and our characters have to figure out what’s worth more to them: vengeance or doing what’s right.
Overall the pacing was a bit slower than I thought it would be. I didn’t struggle to read it or anything but I felt with the general atmosphere of the book and idea behind it, that it would be a lot faster paced. There’s plenty of action during the missions but the in-between moments are a bit on the dull side.
This book is a standalone and while everything is wrapped up nicely by the end of the book I have to say that ending completely blew me away and I would have loved more! I honestly can say that this was one of the best endings I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading, it was SO SATISFYING! I think I could recommend this book for the ending alone, maybe I’ve hyped it up too much now but it was so worth the read.
Thea, as mentioned, is our main character and focus of the story. She is half black and half white so she is a POC and she used to be a track star but quit after a certain, devastating family incident. Overall I really enjoyed Thea as a protagonist; she’s feisty, clever, and has a generally good attitude. I liked how she develops over the course of the story and her opinions on the Black Coats changes, but I won’t get into that too much as I want to avoid spoilers.
There are a few other side characters, mostly Thea’s group of Black Coats. Bea was probably one of the most interesting ones but she really didn’t get the page time I felt she deserved: she’s a chubby, shy girl but has a very unique gift that she contributes to the group. Then we have Mirabelle who, at the start of the book, is your stereotypical “popular high school mean girl”. I actually think Mirabelle is one of the most full circle characters in the book. There’s so much more to her than what she shows on the surface and her reason for being asked to join the Black Coats (a man who “wronged” her) is very emotional and the outcome was not what I expected but I thought it was done well.
Also I really liked how the friendship developed between Thea and Mirabelle because at the start Thea sort of judges Mirabelle because of her “popular” status. However, they grow closer and kind of have a “enemies to friends” relationship.
I don’t have too terribly much to say about the romance in this book except that there is one and it affects the outcome of Thea’s story. It wasn’t full of tropes like insta-love or anything like that and it didn’t ever feel like it was completely overtaking the plot either. I thought Thea and Drew were pretty adorable though!
What I Loved:
- Unique and enjoyable story
- Feminist and badass (it’s a plus for me!)
- Morally gray (I like when things aren’t straight black and white, makes for a more complex story in my opinion)
- That ending made it ALL worth it!
- Interesting, developed characters
- Cute romance, no tropes
What I Didn’t Love:
- I thought the pacing could have been better, it was a little on the slow side
- Pretty tedious during Thea’s “down times”
- I wish some of the side characters got a little more attention
I definitely recommend “The Black Coats” especially since it’s such an underrated book! It’s an empowering read about women overcoming the wrongs that are done to them and fighting back together. Also that ending, trust me, that was the best damn part and it felt so GOOD! I hope I’ve done a sufficient job of convincing you to read this book, it really does deserve more love and attention.