Two Florida members of the right-wing Moms for Liberty group called police on a pair of school librarians over a book in a bestselling young adult fantasy series.
“I’ve got some evidence a crime was committed,” said Jennifer Tapley, a member of the group’s Santa Rosa County chapter, in an Oct. 25 phone call to a local sheriff’s office. “Pornography given to a minor in a school. And I would like to make a report with somebody and turn over the evidence.”
The novel in question was Storm and Fury by Jennifer L. Armentrout, according to the Substack Popular Information, which obtained audio of the call and body-cam footage of the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office response. Tapley told cops that a 17-year-old “minor” had checked out the book from Jay High School.
Armentrout told Popular Information she was stunned to learn that the country is “living in an era where, apparently, some adults find it appropriate to contact the police over a fictional book involving gargoyles.”
The YA book centers around an 18-year-old heroine who is losing her vision but can see and talk to ghosts and spirits. To keep her abilities hidden from demons and protect humankind, gargoyle shape-shifters guard her in an isolated compound. (The Substack noted the 512-page novel contains “some passages with sexual themes, including a few makeout sessions, and one where the main character almost has sex,” but groups like the School Library Journal have recommended it for young adult audiences.)
Armentrout added that the story “is very close to my heart, as the main character has the same degenerative eye disease, retinitis pigmentosa, as I do” and that she intended for the book “to educate people on a little-known disease in a fun, suspenseful, and adventurous way,” rather than “incite sexual excitement.”
When Tapley first called cops, she told the dispatcher that she wanted to remain anonymous in public records of her report because she was “afraid of people getting mad at me for doing this.”
At the station, sheriff’s deputies interviewed Tapley and another M4L member, Tom Gurski.
“The only reason we are here: A crime is being committed. It’s a 3rd-degree felony. And we’ve got the evidence,” Gurski told cops according to the bodycam footage, adding that Gov. Ron DeSantis “says this is child pornography. It’s a serious crime.”
“It’s just as serious as if I handed a Playboy to [my child] right now,” Tapley chimed in. (She told Popular Information that any book with a “sex scene” is not “appropriate for minors,” and that the books M4L has in its crosshairs lack “significant literary value.”)
The sheriff’s office referred the probe to the Santa Rosa County Schools director of safety and closed its case, records reviewed by the Substack show.
Still, Tapley and Gurski told cops this wasn’t the only time they’ve gone to law enforcement about a library book. They said Gurski filed a report with another police department—in Milton, Florida—over Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, which has an LGBTQ character.
Tapley insisted to Popular Information that she wasn’t “seeking out any books and trying to go to the police with it or anything.” She also claimed she “had no interactions with the Sheriff’s Office beyond accompanying a citizen there” and “any reporting that states otherwise would be unfactual.”
The school district’s website has a list of challenged books but Storm and Fury isn’t among them; the novel’s sequel, Rage and Ruin, is listed as quarantined pending review.
Armentrout isn’t the only popular fantasy author that M4L activists have targeted. As The Daily Beast reported, a North Carolina chapter chair succeeded in getting a school board to remove A Court of Frost and Starlight by BookTok favorite Sarah J. Maas.