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Phrases That Trigger My “Shut Up And Take My Money” Response

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Maddie Rodriguez

Staff Writer

Maddie Rodriguez is a freelance writer and communications specialist who earned her MA in English Literature from the University of Victoria by writing about The Age of Innocence and Gossip Girl (yes, really). When not writing, Maddie can be found reading or watching television; she has Too Many Feelings about both activities, and expresses them via expansive hand gestures or ALL CAPS (depending on how far away the conversation's other party is). Maddie and her fellow reader/writer partner live in Ottawa. They share their apartment with an ever-encroaching tower of books and two calamity-prone cats. Life is never dull. Twitter: @MaddieMuses

For this month’s Riot Roundup, I wore about A Darker Shade of Magic. Short story shorter, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved VE Schwab’s previous novel, Vicious, but even if I hadn’t been familiar with her work, the description of A Darker Shade of Magic definitely would have pulled me in. Magic? Multiple Londons (19th century Londons, no less)? Basically after reading the blurb, this was me:


It got me thinking and I realized that I am, admittedly, a rather predictable creature in this regard. There are certain phrases that will consistently bring out my inner Fry. Any one of them will pique my interest; combine two of them and it’s pretty much a slam-dunk that you are getting my hard-earned dollars. They’re not quite broad enough to be genres, but common enough to be clichés, at least on my bookshelf. So here it is, a (by no means comprehensive) list of phrases almost guaranteed to trigger my “shut-up-take-my-money!” response.

“a pair/group of women must work together…”

I prefer to read books with female protagonists and I am highly allergic to the Exceptional Woman trope (she’s not like all those other girls, she’s special), so I love to read stories about women who must rise to the occasion and nobly join together to … do whatever it is that needs immediate doing in this particular literary universe.

“set in 19th century London”

Like roughly 90% of English-speaking-but-non-UK-born book nerds, I am a shameless and hopeless Anglophile. And is there any more English-y a setting than murky, smoke-and-fog-soaked 19th century London? I think not.

“harbours a dark secret”

I think we can all agree that the absolute best thing one can do with a dark secret is harbour it.

“a modern re-imagining”

I am a person who wrote her Master’s thesis on The Age of Innocence and Gossip Girl, so if there is anything I love more than imagining things it is re-imagining them.

“murder in the English countryside”

Like I said, I’m an Anglophile. I love English people! In fact, I have been lovingly cohabitating/sharing cats with one for several years! But damn if I don’t love to read about them being murdered in a rectory, country manor, or similar (try not to read too much into that one, darling).

“genre mash-up”

Is your publisher pitching your novel as “Romeo and Juliet, but underwater … in space!”? Shut up, you know you already have my money.

“a world of magic”

I never really got over the realization, upon reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone at thirteen, that I was two years too late to receive a letter of acceptance to Hogwarts. My only consolation is to mentally inhabit magical worlds as much as possible.

“murderess/lady assassin”

I am probably coming off as really bloodthirsty here, but the heart wants what it wants and mine wants stories of lady killers. A million extra “take my money” points if the woman in question is out for REVENGE. I love revenge (seriously, don’t cross me).


So fellow Rioters, what phrases trigger your “shut up and take my money” response?



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