OcTOBLERfest: Aidan Doyle Reviews The Indigo Mantis


I’m happy to have a guest reviewer on my blog once again as today Aidan Doyle stops by to review E. Catherine Tobler’s “The Indigo Mantis” as part of our continuing OcTOBLERfest celebrations. As always, I definitely recommend reading the work in question before proceeding to the review. Before we hop in, here’s a bit about Aidan.


Aidan Doyle is an Australian writer and computer programmer. His short stories have been published in places such as Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, and Fireside. He is an Associate Editor at PodCastle and has been shortlisted for the Aurealis and XYZZY awards. He has visited more than 100 countries and his experiences include teaching English in Japan, interviewing ninjas in Bolivia and going ten-pin bowling in North Korea.

You can learn more about Aidan at his website or by following him on Twitter (@aidan_doyle)!


I’ve read many of E. Catherine Tobler’s books and stories, but The Indigo Mantis is probably my favorite. It’s a short story released by The Book Smugglers as part of their superhero lineup and features a crime-fighting praying mantis looking to avenge her father’s murder. The story has a Chandleresque noir style mixed with more modern gender politics. The Book Smugglers’ introduction for the story is:
“Since witnessing her father’s murder, revenge has been on Indi’s mind. A mantid with a vendetta, Indi has searched her tree high and low for the murderer. In the hunt for her father’s killer, Indi has unleashed her own brand of justice as the notorious Indigo Mantis – a vigilante blue-winged mantid, killing lawbreakers with impunity. When Indi follows the first solid lead in her father’s case, however, she uncovers a frightening, terrible possibility. Indi must confront the harsh truth about her own dark nature, and choose what kind of hero–or villain–she wishes to become.”
In true noir tradition, The Indigo Mantis gracefully straddles the line between darkness and humor:
“The beetles were small and she could have eaten all six in two bites, but she stayed clear. Technically, they hadn’t done anything wrong; she supposed beetles liked a night out as much as any bug. But they were a threat, and she would be damned before this grand old pine fell to their machinations.”
The writing is wonderfully strong throughout and Tobler is gifted with the ability to quickly make you identify with her characters. Indi is an engaging protagonist who moves beyond the stereotype of a brooding superhero. A surface reading of The Indigo Mantis provides an entertaining superhero mystery in a distinctive setting, but the story also contains thought-provoking questions about the nature of family relationships and genetic determinism. You should go read it now!
The Indigo Mantis is available for free on The Book Smugglers website or can be downloaded in ebook format from their site or via Amazon.

Many, many thanks to Aidan for stopping by with that excellent review. I somehow missed out on reading this one–so I’m off to go take care of that now. I hope you’ll do the same.
Stay tuned this Friday for more exciting Octoblerfest content and the start of another giveaway!
Happy Octoblerfest!




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