Cover of the novel 'Something Strange and Deadly.'

The cover of Something Strange and Deadly. Hotlinked from Amazon.

I read Victorian supernaturals every now and then, and in the last year I’ve read five. Something Strange and Deadly and a novella sequel, A Dawn Most Wicked, were birthday gifts, and earlier this year I checked out Lady of Devices, The Falling Machine, and one other so horrible that I won’t even bother digging up its name.

All of these series have female protagonists. And you know what? They’re all making it really hard for me to enjoy the genre, because they all have the same type of heroine.

Here’s how it goes: A wealthy, well-bred Victorian woman is free-spirited, intelligent, and active in an era that encourages them to be demure and lady-like. They all hate their corsets and complain constantly about them, they all have families that want them to settle down and act like a lady, and they all want to be useful and important in a society that constantly reminds them they’re female.

I realize this is the obvious way to angle a spunky female protagonist in a Victorian setting, and I know you have to write someone wealthy if you want to talk about nice corsets and being presented to society and great big ball room dances. But goodness gracious! I’ve read 3 this year because they had female leads, and they all had the same type.

If I ever write a true Victorian–a set in America-or-Europe, historically-inspired Victorian–I have to promise to myself that it’ll be about another kind of woman. I don’t care if she’s blue-collar, criminal, or living in a penitentiary. (Actually, that last one sounds awesome.) She just won’t be a well bred woman from a good family full of vigor and a hatred for restrictive clothing.