2019’s Unsung Heroine is a side-story in Sarah Kuhn’s Heroine series.
Lucy Valdez is a multi-competent person. She’s adept at hand-to-hand fighting; she’s a karaoke queen at a local hot-spot, the Gutter. She’s been a sweetheart to half of the city’s lesbian community. Yet one challenge eludes her: how to win the heart of Rose Rorick (which includes keeping said heart once Rose learns what the real Lucy is like).
Lucy’s cunning gambits to present Rose with an acceptable version of Lucy have left Lucy firmly friend-zoned. Happily, Lucy has a zany scheme to solve the problem: fix up her unattainable crush with someone else. Once Rose is partnered, perhaps Lucy’s obsession will fade.
Celine claims that her mother sang at the Gutter years ago. Her tale doesn’t quite add up, but what is undeniable is that Celine has lot of musical talent. Just the person Lucy should set up with Rose: a Lucy without all of Lucy’s baggage.
It’s the sort of plan that cannot possibly go wrong. Lucy’s disinclination to have a frank conversation with Rose about her feelings will surely guarantee success!. Too bad that a demonic invasion is interfering with this perfect scheme.
San Francisco has long been plagued by demonic infestations. While the source has been largely sealed off, sometimes negative energy leaks through the barrier and manifests itself. This time the manifestations seem to center on Celine. She’s singing at the Gutter; the chandelier comes alive and attacks her. More such attacks follow.
Who’s doing this? Could Celine have done something to attract the attacks? Or could Lucy, unwittingly, be attacking her rival? Lucy is sure that she wants her scheme to succeed … on the surface. What about unconscious motivation? .
Solving the mystery will require that Lucy do two difficult things: be honest with herself and be honest with Rose.
Since this is a side-story, I am not going to overthink how to number it within its series. [Editor’s note: that’s what you say NOW, James.]
I should make it clear that while Lucy just can’t bring herself to open up to Rose, she talks to everyone else about her feelings. This popular strategy is doomed to failure. Bad for Lucy, but good for an entertaining narrative (vide A Civil Campaign).
The framing sequence begins with strong hints that Rose and Lucy do get together in the end, despite all of Lucy’s attempts at noble self sacrifice and frankness evasion. How? And why all the demonic attacks? The novella answers both questions in an amusing way. Recommended light reading.