There’s actually a great backstory to the eccentric nature of one of DC’s most beloved characters, Harley Quinn. In Harley Quinn: Mad Love, Paul Dini and Pat Cadigan take us through the formative years of Harleen Quinzel’s life. From the very onset of her childhood, she develops a sense of aversion to authority figures and those who are said to be the “good guys”. How that mentality leads her, as a doctor of psychiatry (years later), to falling in love with Gotham City’s most heinous criminal is what you’ll discover when you read this fascinating fictional novel.
When I heard about this book that solely focuses on Harley Quinn’s story, my excitement knew no bounds. I was keen to know how such a quirky personality came to be. And so, it was an absolute delight to learn of these crucial phases in her life. I especially enjoyed reading the (first couple of) chapters that are about the 7-year-old Harleen; she is portrayed to be feisty and courageous. Although I’d thought that a substantial chunk of the novel would be about Harley and Joker, together as a couple, that’s not the case and we only get to that part after the halfway mark.
Harley’s character arc definitely goes through some highs and lows; at one point, she’d be dauntless and strong, sometimes, she’d be gullible and prey to the Joker’s vices. What I particularly liked about this book is that it reflects the practice of hero worship which is very common in today’s world. People tend to idolize and place others on a pedestal, lauding them for the supposed “good” they do. Harley’s refusal to believe that Batman is selfless in his attempts to right all wrongs stems from her belief that not all heroes are inherently good.
Themes of mental illness, good vs. evil and trauma are explored in this book. I had fun reading it, but I’m sure that a DC fan or those who are interested in superhero – supervillain fiction would enjoy this novel a lot more. It is action packed towards the end and altogether, very intriguing.
★ ★ ★.5
Thank you Bloomsbury India for sending me a copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.