Hi everybody and welcome to the March edition of my Women In Horror Blog!
This time around I’m having a look at the horror and horror-adjacent books I’ve read in the last couple of months, so pull up a cozy old armchair and build a hearth, because I’m gonna be your crypt keeper tonight and show you all of these haunted tales.
Fever Dream- Samantha Schweblin
Chronicles the dying words of a woman trapped in a fever dream who lies in bed at an Argentinian Emergency clinic with an emotionally detached entity called David at her side. She goes in an out of her fever and recounts going on holiday with her daughter to a seemingly warm place in a small town, but after encounters with a strange woman, she starts to become more and more paranoid about her visit to this town. The atmosphere becomes increasingly claustrophobic and with each piece of a haunting story told by this new acquaintance, the mother becomes so engrossed in it that she starts to slip into similar patterns of thinking as the woman. It is an eerie tale, one that left me questioning long after the book ends what really happened in this town and these women’s lives to create such misery. It deals with hard decisions that come with being a mother, how much would you do for your children, how much should you protect them and how others can influence your own methods of raising your children, pushing you in directions that would not normally be your own. As a person who has never had the maternal instinct and plans to never have children, it is difficult for me to connect to parental issues, but having grown up in a large family and experiencing what my mother did for us, I do understand the societal pressures on mothers to always be loving care-givers, rarely given the chance to just be human and fallible too. They should be allowed more, forgiven more for making mistakes as we all do. It is an integral part of the human experience to make mistakes and how we choose to grow from these experiences can define who we are. I suggest reading this as it is a suspenseful ride each page I felt more and more tense, uncomfortable waiting to see the outcome of these people in this scary little world of their own making.
Find this at amazon (evilevilevil) or your local book store.
The Queen of Blood- Sarah Beth Durst
While this book falls more in the fantasy realm, it definitely has some severely horrifying moments, which are deeply connected to the main thesis of the book. As most involved in the horror community know, there is a wide variety of what is considered horror and this definitely falls in the fantasy horror spectrum. It is a world set within a forest, all life is connected to it even the cities lying on the outskirts of it. The book starts off with some heavy scenes, so if you have PTSD triggers please be warned: it’s a doozie. The actual thesis of the story is based around women who will be chosen to be the next queen of their land. This is important because she controls the vengeful forest spirits, who wreak havoc on the forest and people who inhabit it. There is a focus on one young girl whom we follow while she grows up throughout the book in an all girls training academy, where she is constantly the underdog. Her journey intertwines with a few key people in the kingdom, who are connected to some major events happening throughout the land, which will change it forever. It’s a familiar tale of growing up, not believing in yourself and challenging the views of others of your limitations with perseverance and hard work. I very much liked that it was a book with a full spectrum of female identifying characters. All human with their flaws and abilities, but most were united in their love for their world. If you’re looking for a bloody fantasy story with heart, then definitely check out The Queen of Blood, it will lift you up and toss you around until you’re ready for the next battle.
Find it here at amazon or ask your local book store when you can. I'm all for supporting local business.
The Language of Dying- Sarah Pinborough
Set in the eyes of a daughter losing her father to a terminal illness, the story is told from her perspective, her life and her long journey of watching her father slowly die. It is a heart-wrenching, honest story of human grief, loss, love and the hardships of life. This took me some time to get into, as my life like most in this world has had it’s fair share of sadness and it is hard to sit down with a book that so vividly highlights the human experience with death. I support a death positive world and try to open my mind to new ways of dealing with loss . A person I have grown to love, is Caitlin Doughty from the Order of the Good Death and the youtube channel Ask a Mortician. She has been a great resource for green death practices, exploring death culture and actively talks about all the issues related to death in different parts of the world. After watching her show for a while now, I was able to read this book with more open eyes, read between the grief and see how certain modes of toxic masculinity are connected with death and dying. How we don’t allow ourselves to grieve because feelings are often considered a weakness or view death as shameful, as failing when it is a natural part of life. You see some of these modes of behaviour in many of the characters of the story. It also reflected my own personal experiences and how I reacted to death. There are some elements of mystery with creepy occurrences, which are delved into via the main characters young life, growing up in the house she’s watching her father die in. The story flashes back and forth between past and present, which gives depth to the character’s journey into herself and her family’s many complicated stories. It is a tough read I won’t lie, but one you will be happy to come out on the other side of, with maybe a little more love for your human self.
Find this at amazon or at your local book store.
Sycorax’s Daughters- Edited by Kinitra Brooks PhD
Women of Color horror story anthology
This amazing anthology I came across thanks to the Graveyardshift Sisters on twitter, who posted a blog about it, which had me anxious to pick it up. Plus I had a bonus awesome experience because I signed up for The Sunken Place online webinar with horror writer Tannavaria Due and her partner Steve Barnes for a weekly class about People of Color in horror and exploring racism through film and experiences in American culture. One of the webinars had an interview with the wonderful editor of Sycorax’s Daughters, Dr. Kinitra Brooks and after hearing her talk about it I went immediately into my iTunes and found it was there for digital download! I’m not normally one for digital reading as it hurts my eyes but this has been well worth the strain. I will definitely order this in print version once I am done reading it. That’s right I haven’t finished it yet! But I wanted to talk about it a bit anyway to get more support going for it, because it is honestly one of the best horror anthologies I’ve read in the last year. What fascinates me the most so far is the incredible diversity of these stories. There are so many points of view here and the power that lies in these marginalised stories is considerable. There are familiar horror stories within that are told from a different perspective that gives new light and depth to old stories. As well as new narratives that are told with haunting writing styles I have not experienced before. I am excited to read on and discover all that this anthology has to offer. I will get back to you with a full review later in the year when I finish it.
Find this here at amazon or ask your local book store.
The Traveling Bag- Susan Hill
A collection of short stories from author Susan Hill, all with their own haunting edge to them. Every story is told differently from the last. Hill switches effortlessly between narrative points of view and deploys a range of unique characters, who despite the short form seem to be well rooted in her stories, everything feels lived in and her style of writing in general is leaning slightly into reminiscence of victorian writers. The leitmotiv of all these shorts is hauntings. Each one sees their protagonist visited by ghosts, who are identified by a rather clever recurring means (which I wont spoil for you, obviously). What makes these stories so terrifying, is their humanity. Every haunting has its roots in the betrayals and aggressions of their characters and all of them feel so plausible, that by the end you will know that ghosts are in fact real. I highly recommend getting this collection and am looking forward to reading more of Susan Hill’s work soon. Her writing will stick with me a for long time and I will in turn stick with her.
Find this at amazon or ask your local book store.
That’s it for conventional books and this month’s blog, but I have a feeling it’s not going to be the last one I write about them, since my quest for creepy writing is still going strong. Next month I am going to shine a light on the dark comics I’ve read lately and I’m really looking forward to that, because wow, there’s some creeeepy comics out there. It’s gonna be glorious! With that, I’m taking my leave of you for now and hope that ya’ll have a good fright with these books.
Who are your favorite horror authors? Have any horror books that are special to you? Please share them with me in the comments, would love to hear about it.