The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters

There is a true lack of a girls coming of age stories in the horror genre. I think that it is important that girls and women see themselves in a coming of age story. Especially, in the horror genre. Most of the female coming of age stories are in the YA genre. Personally, I think that the horror genre would really lend itself well to a female coming of age story. Especially, body horror. But I was really excited when I received The Dead Girls Club I was really excited to review it. Thank you Crooked Lane books for the review copy.

Synopsis: 4 friends and 1 summer that will change their lives.

What I liked: Walter’s writing is very fluid. She really takes care with the pacing of the novel. Walter’s characterizations make the characters are three dimensional. Walter’s character building allowed the reader to experience everything that the main character was going through really put you in the main characters head Walter’s writing is fluid and very engaging. She has the ability to pull you into the story. The action scenes were well written and believable.

What I didn’t like: I wasn’t a fan of the fact that I knew where the story was going before the big reveal.

Star Rating: 4.0 stars

My Thoughts: I enjoyed the story. However, I had a couple of issues with it. My main issue is that I felt like I knew where the story was going before the climax. Which was my only issue with the story itself. However, with that being said the story kept me engaged and I really enjoyed Walter’s writing.

Diabhal by Kathleen Kaufman

I have this weird fascination with cults. I haven’t quite figured out what it is. Maybe it is people being under the spell of this one person and what that can mean. Or maybe it is the fact that one person has that much belief or whatever it is in themselves. That is the part that I really am not sure that I understand about the whole cult thing. I also don’t understand how someone can take something that people really believe in and twist it to their own needs. That is what fascinates me. Also all the weird things that happen in cults is another aspect that I can’t stop wondering about.

Synopsis: A young girl is put in a children’s institution when she is part of an ancient ritual that hurts her mother.

What I liked: I really enjoyed the premise of the story. Kaufman really writes isolation well. Thought the entire story there were aspects of isolation and being alone. I really enjoy these themes in horror. Especially with the isolation of modern society. The pacing in the beginning of the story unraveled very quickly. But towards the middle of the story the pacing slowed down and it was a slight slog to get through a few parts. I understand that it was part of the build up to the main character knowing who she is. But some of the slower parts of the story felt slightly unnecessary. Kaufman’s characterizations were so well written. For awhile you didn’t know who was good or bad. I also liked how Kaufman broke up some of the story with psych reports.

What I didn’t like: As I mentioned I had an issue with the pacing but that really was it.

Star Rating: 4 stars

My Thoughts: What really intrigued me about this story was the interconnectedness that Kufman introduces into the story. She pulls indigenous and gaelic beliefs together. There was also a lot of redemption in the story. Forgiveness is so important and the idea of forgiving yourself runs through the story. Basically learning to forgive yourself, in whatever shape that takes. There are times when the story drags and feels like there maybe some unnecessary parts of the story. But it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of reading the story.

The Need by Hellen Phillips

I am always interested when a book is not marketed. Then you read and it reads like horror. At that point I just want to scream “IT IS HORROR.” Alas, you can’t do that without upsetting the people around you. Horror can be very subjective to the person reading or watching it. However, as a parent these fears can be so deep that some horror can get under your skin. The Need does that very well.

Synopsis: A overworked and under rested paleobotanist finds some weird artifacts which leads to an unraveling of her life.

What I liked: There is so much to like about this story. Philip’s writing was anxiety inducing, in a good way. Her characterizations really made you feel like you had crawled inside the characters head to feel her pain and tiredness. The exhaustion was palatable through out the novel and by the end you are just as tired as the main character. The writing in this novel feels very personal, like it isn’t just a story that is being told but the frustrations and fears of any mother. There were a lot of feelings while I was reading this: anxiety, fear and anger especially when the main character wasn’t doing what you wanted her to do. But the plot was so clever and I can’t wait to read more from Phillips.

What I didn’t like: The artifacts did add a bit of a different angle on the story but we didn’t seem to get to delve too deeply into what their actual meaning was. I understood that they meant that there are other time lines and univereses but I would have liked to know more about t

Star Rating: 4 Stars

My Thoughts: As I was reading this I had a lot of thoughts. A lot! This whole book it about motherhood and being more than one thing. Personally, I find the topic of being more than one thing fascinating. Women have the inherient ability to be: boss, mother, sister, daughter, wife, friend and co-worker. But the question is what about her as a person. What happens when she slips and she isn’t sure who she is anymore. Who is a woman when she is be herself looking at herself in the mirror. I think that is a hard one and can’t be answered in a paragraph. This book also has really strong themes of postpartum depression/anxiety running through it. The what can and what might happen, thoughts that people have when the lights go out. I really hope that more people pick up this book. It was on the National Book Foundation Awards long list and I can see why.

Into Bones Like Oil by Karron Warren

Sometimes there are stories that come into your life and bowl you over. Normally, these are stories that you don’t necessarily see coming. That is until they bite you on the ass. Into Bones Like Oil totally did that. The stories and the characters bit me in the ass and didn’t let go until I finished the story.

Synopsis: A woman moves into a rooming house after she has something really bad happen.

What I liked: Warren’s characters are so well written. The dialog between the characters is very much how you would expect dialog to be in this type of situation. Many of the emotional burdens that the characters are feeling are so well written you actually feel them. Warren doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the claustrophobic feeling of this novella. The pacing was perfect with the build up to the reveal. This novella killed me folks. The language is beautiful and terrible at the same time. Your brain gets a oily sheen.

What I didn’t like: There is nothing about this novella I didn’t like.

Star Rating: 5

My Thoughts: This novella really got under my skin. It takes the idea of safety and flips it on its head. But you really don’t know this until much later in the story. Warren is so skilled at unravelling the story piece by piece until you arrive at that main nugget of horror. Honestly, in this case I had NO IDEA…..until that slow reveal started. It is like a small sneaking feeling as you are reading and then BAM right there right as you are reading. That is such an amazing talent and skill to be able to do that. Dear loard everyone who loves smart and well written horror need to get this in their hands.

Huge thank you to Meerkat Press for my review copy!!

The Apocalyptic Mannequin By Stephanie M. Wytovich

Poetry. What can you say about poetry? It has the ability to make you feel. Whether it is love, longing or anger, you feel something. However, there is a breed of poetry that can make you feel disgust, anger and even fear. This is my genre of poetry. Horror poetry. But I want to say that even though it is listed as horror the anger and the love in some of the poems shine through. There is beauty in what is horrific and The Apocalyptic Mannequin doesn’t disappoint.

Synopsis: Collection of horror poetry

What I liked: Wytovich is so talented. I mean she is seriously talented. I want to have everything that she has ever written. She plays with words like toddlers play with play-doh. Honestly, she killed me with this collection. The anger and sadness that comes through her words just knocked me down. It was beautiful. I mean seriously. There wasn’t a poem in the collection that made me take pause it was all so beautiful and so haunting.

What I didn’t Like: Not a damn thing.

Star Rating: 5 Stars

My Thoughts: UGGGGHHHHH!! I want everyone to read this. What I really loved was the themes that ran through the collection. Not only was it about the end of the world but being a woman. Being a woman in a time that is uncertain and politically tense. I was reading somewhere once that some of the best art has come at times of political strife. Notice I used the word art. This collection is art. Everything about it screams and claws and rallies. If you haven’t read it yet PLEASE get it. It is amazing, sad and will make you angry. Which in my opinion is the whole reason that art is important.

Thank you Raw Dog Screaming Press for my review copy.

Women in Translation: Body by Asa Nonami trans. by Takami Nieda

I love body horror in any shape or size. It speaks to me on a very visceral level. The idea that you take a bodily function or just something that happens and you can make a horror story about it. You can take it and make something amazing. It amazes me that people can do that. Body is an amazing collection of body horror stories.

Synopsis: Collection of body horror stories.

What I liked: I really enjoyed each of these stories. Each story is unique and deals with a different body horror type story. Her prose is iso sharp and every word feels like it is particularly chosen. Which lends to the brilliance of the original manuscript and the translator. Each story is so unique. There isn’t a bad story in the bunch. I want to shove this book into everyone’s hands. It is so different than many of the other horror books on the market at the moment.

What I didn’t like: That more people aren’t talking about this book.

Star Rating: 5 Stars

My thoughts: I haven’t figured out why I haven’t heard more about this book. Nonami should be on everyone’s radar. There is so many amazing things about these stories that I really loved. The entire collection spoke to me on such a level that I had to read it a second time. This doesn’t happen very often….I want to shove this book in everyone’s hands.

The Festering Ones by S.H. Cooper

I love stories where there this a kick ass female protagonist. I also love when a female protagonist sees the writing on the wall but still pushes forward. Not matter if their back is against the wall there is still this drive pushing them forward to kill or solve whatever issue is in front of them. Honestly, that is what makes a strong female character and Cooper has that down.

Synopsis: A woman’s past comes back to haunt her but she takes control.

What I liked: I really enjoyed Cooper’s characterizations. Her characters are three dimensional and you can care about them. You want them to win. You become very invested in the story. I really like Cooper’s writing style. It is a very quick read that you really don’t want to end. You want to continue reading the story of these women. The monsters….I want everyone to read just to meet Cooper’s monsters. Her descriptions of them are vivid and you can see in your mind’s eye exactly what they look like. There is so much to like about Cooper’s writing.

What I didn’t like: I didn’t want it to end.

Star Rating: 4.5 stars

My Thoughts: I read The Festering Ones in two sittings. I really enjoyed the premise. There is something that was really important to me that Cooper did really well. Her characters where strong women without being bitchy and abrasive. They were brave and faced their demons with spunk and grit. I really appreciated that. The idea that a strong woman doesn’t have to be abrasive or a bitch was lovely.

Thank you too S.H. Cooper for the review copy!!!