Sapphic Satanic Panic: Rainbow Black by Maggie Thrash

the cover of Rainbow Black Affiliate Link

In her debut adult novel, Rainbow Black (March 19, 2024), Maggie Thrash (she/her), author of the critically acclaimed young adult graphic memoir Honor Girl, delivers a compelling, witty, and often moving account of Lacey Bond, whose life is forever changed when her parents are arrested and prosecuted for allegedly committing acts of ritualistic child sexual abuse at their rural, in-home daycare during the “Satanic Panic” of the ‘80s and ‘90s.

The story begins in New Hampshire and spans 27 years (from 1983 to 2010). It is told in flashbacks from Lacey’s point of view.  In the first few pages of the book, readers find out that adult Lacey and her girlfriend, Gwen, have been implicated in a murder from fourteen years earlier. The story then flashes back to the ‘80s and unfolds over the course of Lacey’s adolescence and early adult life.

Lacey’s parents are arrested when she is 13 and they remain incarcerated pending trial. As a result, Lacey and her 20-year-old sister, Éclair, who is as brash as she is beautiful, are left to navigate their legal defense, as well as the media circus that ensues. As Lacey struggles to come to terms with the reality of what is happening to her family, she is also coming to terms with her sexuality.  While she and her family have seemingly always known that she is a lesbian, her exploration of this aspect of her identity is undoubtedly impacted by the crisis in which they find themselves. Although adult Lacey is somewhat insufferable, Thrash endeared me to young Lacey, who is paradoxically both precocious and naïve, and above all else, a survivor.

As a lady loving lawyer, I was drawn to this book because of its queer and legal themes. For the most part, I loved Thrash’s writing style.  It is smart, incisive, and wry, and she is a great storyteller.  I also particularly appreciated her shoutout to the Pizza Hut BOOK IT! program, which was a highlight of my bookish childhood.  I would definitely be interested in reading more of her work. That being said, I could have done without the constant foreshadowing. While I understand that the book was marketed as “part murder mystery, part gay international fugitive love story”, the repeated hinting at what was to come felt like overkill in a novel which was naturally unfolding for me. There was also an instance of authorial intrusion (a literary device in which the author breaks the fourth wall and directly addresses the reader, interrupting the narrative flow of the text) that was somewhat jarring and felt unnecessary as it did not advance the plot or add to the story in any meaningful way. I also thought the 395-page book was a bit long-winded and could have still been just as powerful, if not more so, had it been shortened.

Overall, I really liked Rainbow Black and would recommend it if you’re looking for an interesting story that weaves together queer identity, intrigue, and the law. Special thanks to HarperCollins Publishers and Edelweiss for the advanced copy.  Rainbow Black is currently scheduled to be released on March 19, 2024.

Trigger warnings for child sexual abuse, sexual assault, statutory rape, drug abuse, murder, homophobia, transphobia, and racial slurs.  

Raquel R. Rivera (she/her/ella) is a Latina lawyer and lady lover from New Jersey.  She is in a lifelong love affair with books and earned countless free personal pan pizzas from the Pizza Hut BOOK IT! program as a kid to prove it.

Megan Casey reviews Torrid Zone by ReBecca Béguin


In the early days of modern feminism, when women were wimmin (or womyn), girls were grrrls, and men were the enemy, Ida Muret joined seven other communal lesbians on a collective farm in central Vermont. They called their group Blue Corn. Their goals were many, but boiled down to living self-sufficiently off the land and away from patriarchal oppression of any kind—social, religious, or political. They succeeded for ten years, until tragedy came to break the group up for good.

Seven years later, Ida is working as a ranch hand and stone builder when 19-year-old Viv Lovejoy—a victim of sexual harassment at her college—needs a safe house for a while. Ida, a loner by choice, unhappily agrees to take her in. But it turns out that Viv is also writing a paper about women’s collectives in general and about Blue Corn in particular. And Viv whines and harangues Ida until Ida agrees to tell the younger woman her story. And what a story it is.

“We were all into being lavender Amazon wimmen with labryses between our bare breasts” Ida tells Viv in a voice that is almost post-apocalyptic in its regret and sadness. And “You must understand, we didn’t have TV spoiling our visions!” And in Ida’s brilliant point of view, author Béguin segues into the saga of Kite, Spence, Rune, Kristy, and the others as they farm their land and try to sculpt, paint, write, and love in their spare time. We get to know them all intimately. On one level it is Ida’s chance to unburden herself of many of her secrets; on another it is the chance to introduce feminist history and philosophy to the new generation of lesbians that Viv represents.

Torrid Zone has many meanings in this book. It is, for instance, the name of Ida’s wood stove, which she salvaged from Blue Corn. It can mean great sex or a hot day in the fields. It is the term one of the Blue Corn members gave to the collective because they were “hot shit” because they had created a utopia. But most of all, I think it represents Ida’s memories of that ten years with her friends—a busy, creative, and sometimes disruptive time that she has held inside her for too long. Viv is a breath of relief, she brings new excitement to Ida’s life, not only in her research, but in her own adventure, which comes to an exciting head at the conclusion of the book.

But whatever meaning you take from the title, The Torrid Zone is one of the most interesting, well-written, and important books in both the mystery and utopian genres. Ida’s voice is unique in the literature, her story inspiring and enjoyable. Give it as close to a 5 as you can without going over. It is a book that should be in anyone’s Top 20 list. It is certainly in mine.

For more than 175 other Lesbian Mystery reviews by Megan Casey, see her website at  or join her Goodreads Lesbian Mystery group at