Lois Duncan (Steinmetz Arquette) The Booklist - Essay

The Booklist

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[In Daughters of Eve, Duncan] distorts feminist principles into weapons of vengeance. A bitter, disturbed teacher turns her malleable high school charges into a confused, misanthropic group of girls who, beneath the facade of a small school-sponsored service club called the Daughters of Eve, use the physical and psychological strength of their numbers to punish traitorous men. Acts of defiance against their families and school, which include violence against a male classmate who takes advantage of the loneliness and sexual naiveté of one of the girls and vandalism perpetrated against an instructor thought to have been unfair, culminate in murder when one of the less stable of the group is threatened by her brutal father and kills him. A postscript hints at the success of the club's new ideology and portends chilling horrors for the future. One-dimensional characterizations and an episodic plot strain credulity, and there will likely be objections to the twisted use of the feminist theme, but Duncan has successfully created a disturbing climate of latent evil—couched within the familiarity of teen-age life—where vicious acts go unpunished and villains triumph and, as in the past, has manipulated everything for maximum effect.

A review of "Daughters of Eve," in Booklist (reprinted by permission of the American Library Association; copyright © 1979 by the American Library Association), Vol. 75, No. 22, July 15, 1979, p. 1618.