Friday, August 30, 2019

YA/MG Horror Spotlight August 2019

The Ladies of Horror Fiction team is putting a spotlight on Young Adult and Middle Grade horror each month. Below we are featuring the books that were released in August as well as what our team has been reading and reviewing.

New Releases

Here There Are Monsters by Amelinda Bérubé

The Blair Witch Project meets Imaginary Girls in this story of codependent sisterhood, the struggle to claim one’s own space, and the power of secrets

Sixteen-year-old Skye is done playing the knight in shining armor for her insufferable younger sister, Deirdre. Moving across the country seems like the perfect chance to start over.

In their isolated new neighborhood, Skye manages to fit in, but Deirdre withdraws from everyone, becoming fixated on the swampy woods behind their house and building monstrous sculptures out of sticks and bones.

Then Deirdre disappears.

And when something awful comes scratching at Skye’s window in the middle of the night, claiming she’s the only one who can save Deirdre, Skye knows she will stop at nothing to bring her sister home.

Published August 6th by Sourcebooks Fire | Goodreads | Amazon

Remember Me by Chelsea Bobulski

In this eerie and suspenseful YA, a teen girl discovers what connects her to the hotel she calls home as horrifying visions lead her to the truth.

Nell Martin is moving again, this time to the Winslow Grand Hotel, built in 1878. As Nell is settling in, strange things begin to happen. Doors lock of their own accord, writing appears on bathroom walls–and most horrifying of all–visions of a dead boy permeate her waking life. Thinking it was her mind playing tricks on her, she soon finds the past and the present colliding as she learns horrific details of a murder that happened at the hotel in 1905 involving a girl named Lea.

Nell and a mysterious bellboy must relive that day in hopes of finally breaking a curse that imprisons them both. And Nell discovers what truly links her to the history of the Winslow Grand Hotel.

Published August 6th 2019 by Feiwel and Friends | Goodreads | Amazon

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.

Published August 6th 2019 by Delacorte | Goodreads | Amazon

Curse of the Evil Librarian (Evil Librarian #3) by Michelle Knudsen

Will it finally be curtains for the demonic Mr. Gabriel in this climactic chapter of the Evil Librarian series?

After sending the evil librarian, Mr. Gabriel, back to the demon world once and for all at theater camp last summer, Cynthia is ready to enjoy a completely demon-free senior year of high school, especially once she learns the fall musical will be Les Miserables. She can’t wait to create the most incredible barricade set design in all of high-school theater. And her boyfriend, Ryan, is sure to land his dream role of Javert. But down in the demon realm, an epic mishandling of Mr. Gabriel’s essence leads to his escape — and soon he’s gathering strength, bent once again on revenge against Cyn and everyone she loves. Best-selling author Michelle Knudsen’s Evil Librarian series overflows with horror, humor, and hot guys — and it looks like this show’s got a third act.

Expected publication: August 13th 2019 by Candlewick Press | Goodreads | Amazon

Young Adult Books Reviewed

This month Toni read the first two books in Victoria Schwab’s Cassidy Blake series: City of Ghosts and Tunnel of Bones. Be sure to check out Toni’s review of City of Ghosts (I really really enjoyed this story. It was so well written and the premise was great! I loved it.) and her review of Tunnel of Bones (After reading City of Ghosts I was desperate to get my hands on a ARC for Tunnel of Bones. . . I can’t wait for third book and learn more about Jacob and Cassidy.)

Toni also read and loved Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace. You can read her thoughts on Shallow Graves (I hope that everyone picks this book up!!)

Jen and Toni both read and enjoyed House of Furies by Madeleine Roux this month! Be sure to check out Jen’s review (If you like YA horror and folklore elements, House of Furies is a nice blend of both.) and Toni’s review (This story has so many elements that I absolutely love in it.)

Toni also read and reviewed Wilder Girls by Rory Power! Check out what Toni loved about Wilder Girls (I really enjoyed this story so very much. I can’t want to see what else Power releases.)

Currently Reading

Toni is currently reading Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall, and Jen is reading the second book in the House of Furies series Court of Shadows by Madeleine Roux as well as Small Spaces by Katherine Arden. Be on the look out for some future reviews of these titles!

Have you read any of the books we read or reviewed this month? Let us know what YA or MG books you have read recently!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

What We've Been Reading #17

The Ladies of Horror Fiction have a new batch of books to recommend!

Book Cover Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true. 

Goodreads | Amazon | Better World Books

Emily’s Teaser Review

Wilder Girls is Rory Power’s debut novel, and I absolutely adored it. This book went in a different direction than I was expecting, and it totally worked for me. The writing is gorgeous, and the story is entertaining and creative. I was immediately invested, and it was so hard to put this book down.

Click here to see Emily’s full review at Goodreads.

Chocking Back The Devil by Donna Lynch Book Cover

Chocking Back the Devil Poems by Donna Lynch

Choking Back the Devil by Donna Lynch is an invocation, an ancient invitation that summons the darkness within and channels those lonely spirits looking for a host. It’s a collection that lives in the realm of ghosts and family curses, witchcraft and urban legends, and if you’re brave enough to peek behind the veil, the hauntings that permeate these pages will break seals and open doorways, cut throats and shatter mirrors.

You see, these poems are small drownings, all those subtle suffocations that live in that place between our ribs that swells with panic, incubates fear. Lynch shows her readers that sometimes our shadow selves–our secrets–are our sharpest weapons, the knives that rip through flesh, suture pacts with demons, cut deals with entities looking for more than a homecoming, something better, more intimate than family.

It’s about the masks we wear and the reflections we choose not to look at, and what’s most terrifying about the spells is these incantations show that we are the possessed, that we are our greatest monster, and if we look out of the corner of our eyes, sometimes–if we’ve damned ourselves enough–we can catch a glimpse of our own burnings, what monstrosities and mockeries we’re to become.

So cross yourselves and say your prayers. Because in this world, you are the witch and the hunter, the girl and the wolf.

Goodreads | Amazon | Better World Books

Tracy’s Teaser Review

I loved this brutal, beautiful horror poetry from Donna Lynch. Almost all of these pieces were 4-5 stars for me. The longer ones are stunning; however, it was the brief ones that damaged me. The selections of just a few lines, or even a single page, boast an unparalleled stark brutality. 

Click here to see Tracy’s full review at Goodreads.

Book Cover Things We Lost In The Fire by Mariana Emriques

Things We Lost In The Fire Stories by Mariana Enriquez

In these wildly imaginative, devilishly daring tales of the macabre, internationally bestselling author Mariana Enriquez brings contemporary Argentina to vibrant life as a place where shocking inequality, violence, and corruption are the law of the land, while military dictatorship and legions of desaparecidos loom large in the collective memory. In these stories, reminiscent of Shirley Jackson and Julio Cortázar, three young friends distract themselves with drugs and pain in the midst a government-enforced blackout; a girl with nothing to lose steps into an abandoned house and never comes back out; to protest a viral form of domestic violence, a group of women set themselves on fire. 

But alongside the black magic and disturbing disappearances, these stories are fueled by compassion for the frightened and the lost, ultimately bringing these characters—mothers and daughters, husbands and wives—into a surprisingly familiar reality. Written in hypnotic prose that gives grace to the grotesque, Things We Lost in the Fire is a powerful exploration of what happens when our darkest desires are left to roam unchecked, and signals the arrival of an astonishing and necessary voice in contemporary fiction. 

Goodreads | Amazon | Better World Books

Toni’s Teaser Review

I think that each story gives you a small glimpse into some of the political and social unrest in Argentina wrapped in horror stories. The stories aren’t particularly gory. But personally, I think that is more horror in the everyday that is discussed in each of the stories. There is so much to the backstories where the stories are taking place that I was very glad there was information about the landscape in Argentina while the author was growing up.

Click here to see Toni’s full review at The Misadventures of a Reader.

Thanks for joining us today and we hope you found something to add to your tbr list! Please share your recent reads with us in the comments below.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

LOHF Recommends: Body Horror

August is body horror month here at the LOHF. The team has put together a list of recommendations of amazing body horror books.

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste

Bunny by Mona Awad

Something Borrowed, Something Blood Soaked by Christa Carmen

Cruel Works of Nature by Gemma Amor

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

Paper Tigers by Damien Angelica Walters

Everything That’s Underneath by Kristi DeMeester

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Love For Slaughter by Sara Tantlinger

Ritualistic Human Sacrifice by C.V. Hunt

Like Jagged Teeth By Betty Rocksteady

The Last Harvest by Kim Liggett

When I arrived at The Castle by Emily Carroll

Body by Asa Nonami trans. by Takami Nieda

Skullnuggets by Amy Vaughan

Skin by Kathe Koja

If there is a body horror book that we may have missed please leave a comment below.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

What We've Been Reading #16

The Ladies of Horror Fiction have a few books to recommend!

Winnie by Katy Michelle Quinn Book Cover

Winnie by Katy Michelle Quinn

Winnie and Colt forever. Winnie is Colt’s one and only, Colt is Winnie’s true love. Winnie is Colt’s rifle. There is nothing Winnie wants more than to please Colt and since a rifle is everything the young cowboy’s ever wanted, she certainly does that. But one day Winnie finds that she is not a rifle but in fact a woman. Can Winnie keep the sparks between them ignited, even if she isn’t the gun of his dreams? What happens if she can’t?

Goodreads | Amazon | Better World Books

Emily’s Teaser Review

I absolutely loved this book. Bizarro is such a fascinating genre – although the storylines are wild and strange, some of the books are incredibly heartfelt and thought-provoking. Winnie is one of these books.

Click here to see Emily’s full review at Goodreads.

Book Cover of Last Things by Jacqueline West

Last Things by Jacqueline West

When strange things start happening to local music idol Anders Thorson, everyone blames his number-one-fan, Thea. But is she out to hurt him? Or protect him?

High school senior Anders Thorson is unusually gifted. His band, Last Things, is legendary in their northern Minnesota hometown. With guitar skills that would amaze even if he weren’t only eighteen, Anders is the focus of head-turning admiration. And Thea Malcom, a newcomer to the insular town, is one of his admirers. Thea seems to turn up everywhere Anders goes: gigs at the local coffeehouse, guitar lessons, even in the woods near Anders’s home. When strange things start happening to Anders—including the disappearance of his beloved cat, then his sort-of girlfriend, and, somehow, his musical talent—blame immediately falls on Thea. But is she trying to hurt him? Or save him? Can he trust a girl who doesn’t seem to know the difference between dreams and reality? And how much are they both willing to compromise to get what they want?

Goodreads | Amazon | Better World Books

Toni’s Teaser Review

West’s treatment of the characters was very well done. As a reader I really appreciated the thought that West puts into the details for her characters. West was able to capture the dynamics of high school cliques in a three dimensional way. The story line was interesting and well thought through. There were some twists and turns that were really interesting and well written. There weren’t any real plot holes.

Click here to see Toni’s full review at The Misadventures of A Reader.

The Good House by Tananarive Due

The home that belonged to Angela Toussaint’s late grandmother is so beloved that townspeople in Sacajawea, Washington, call it the Good House. But that all changes one summer when an unexpected tragedy takes place behind its closed doors…and the Toussaint’s family history — and future — is dramatically transformed. Angela has not returned to the Good House since her son, Corey, died there two years ago. But now, Angela is finally ready to return to her hometown and go beyond the grave to unearth the truth about Corey’s death. Could it be related to a terrifying entity Angela’s grandmother battled seven decades ago? And what about the other senseless calamities that Sacajawea has seen in recent years? Has Angela’s grandmother, an African American woman reputed to have “powers,” put a curse on the entire community?

A thrilling exploration of secrets, lies, and divine inspiration, “The Good House” will haunt readers long after its chilling conclusion. 

Goodreads | Amazon | Better World Books

Tracy’s Teaser Review

Due delivers scenes that had this seasoned horror reader completely creeped out. There was one part in particular that me running to our group chat to tell them just that. To have a book make me look up in shock to side eye my surroundings is a rare treat. 

Click here to see Tracy’s full review at Goodreads.

Emily’s Teaser Review

The Good House is my second read by Tananarive Due, and I absolutely love her books. This is a solid haunted house book, and I highly recommend it if you need a good creepy summer read. 

Click here to see Emily’s full review at Goodreads.

Lilyn’s Teaser Review

The Good House was a damn good book. Tananarive Due delivers a story that will make you have every single feel she can drudge up in you. From hope to horror, from tearing down to buildling up, and everything in between. This is a book that will have you going “Oh, Jesus,” and yet unable to look away. The deaths will haunt you. Angela’s journey will rock you.

Click here see Lilyn’s full review at Scifi & Scary.

Thanks for joining us today and we hope you found something to add to your tbr list! Please share your recent reads with us in the comments below.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Women in Translation Month: Horror Edition

August is Women in Translation month. It is a celebration of stories written by women that have been translated into English. The role of translation in a literary context is to take the story from its original language and translate it into English for publishing in the English speaking countries. That sounds amazing, right? We would be able to read all the amazing stories from around the world. Well, that isn’t necessarily the case.

When you really start to look at the numbers, they are dismal. Only 3% of the books published in the United States are translated stories. Whereas, in Europe that number is 10 times higher. Now, before you @ me, this issue is extremely complicated. There is so much to unpack when you are looking at the issue of books in translation.

One of the largest issues is the idea of cost. When a work is being translated from its native language, it is basically rewritten by the translator. If a publishing company is unsure whether the book is going to be a big seller, are they going to pay out the money to have the book translated? Can smaller publishing houses sustain the cost of translation? I personally don’t know how much translation costs, and I understand that companies need to make a profit. It would seem to me that if publishing houses would add more translated works, then the cost would over time be recouped by the publishing company. But I could be wrong.

One of the other issues that were mentioned was interest. Is there an actual interest in translated works? Based on the amount of translated works I have been able to find at my library, I truly believe so. In just my library I have been able to procure five horror translations by women. And anything that I haven’t been able to find in my local library I would be able to order through interlibrary loan. I truly believe that readers are excited by stories and where the story is going to take them.

I am going to make a very broad statement here: reading translated works is important for so many different reasons. However, I think the most important is that it expands a reader’s world view. As a reader, the door to other countries and experiences opens up to you. Readers have the innate ability to travel around the world without ever leaving home. Without works in translation many people’s world view would be narrow and perhaps a bit tainted.

In researching works in translation, I came across a quote by Goethe “…left to itself every literature will exhaust its vitality if it is not refreshed by interest and contributions of a foreign one.” In other words, without an exchange of different ideas then there is a stagnation of ideas. Which to be perfectly honest it is frightening thought. With that in mind the Ladies and I have put together a Horror edition of works in translation written by women. Furthermore, we felt so strongly about this topic we decided that each month we will write up a post about a region/country of the world with a list of women horror authors and their books.

Things We Lost in The Fire By Mariana Enriquez trans. by Megan McDowell

I am the Brother of XX by Fleur Jaeggy trans. by Gini Alhadeff

The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck trans. by Susan Bernofsky*

Revenge by Yoko Ogawa trans. by Stephen Synder

Mouthful of Birds by Samantha Schweblin trans. by Megan McDowell

The Vegetarian by Han Kang trans. by Deborah Smith

An Awkward Age by Anna Starobinets trans. by Hugh Alpin

Now You’re One of Us by Asa Nonami trans. by Michael Volek and Mitsuko Volek

The Graveyard Apartment by Mariko Koike trans. by Deborah Boliver Boehm

I Remember You: A Ghost Story by Yrsa Sigurdardottir trans. by Philip Roughton

This is not a complete list by any means. Rather, a start of a monthly project that the LOHF is going to be working on. If you have any you think we need to know about please leave a comment below.

* child death

Monday, August 19, 2019

Guest Post: Busting a Gut: Body Horror, Humor, and the Meaning of Life by Amy Vaughn

Bodies are a horror show.* Slice open our bumpy, hairy surfaces, and bright reds, deep purples, and fatty yellows spill out. Inside, we are weird and squishy and complicated, and oh-so-much more fragile than we wish we were. 

We are our bodies. No shit, huh? But give me a second here. There are at least three different ways this statement is true, and each of them will provoke a fear response if threatened. 

First, and most straightforwardly, we are our bodies in the corporeal sense: without them we die.

Second, we depend on our bodies for our identity, for who we think we are and for how we present ourselves to the world. This is why the distorted human form has such a strong visceral impact. Mutation, mutilation, disease—these can all be fates worse than death because they take away the lives we’ve built and leave us isolated, sad, afraid, and alone.

And thirdly, we are our bodies because of the (somewhat mysterious) relationship between consciousness, our sense of self, and our thoughts and emotions and one jiggly, spongy, raw tofu-textured organ—the brain. Fuck with the brain, and you just aren’t you anymore. 

So, bodies are intimately intertwined with—if not identical to—who we are, not just in flesh but in perception, too. Because of these connections between our physical existence and our mental existence, bodies are both the origin and the nexus of fear. Superficially, this is what body horror preys upon and what allows it to be such an intensely disturbing subgenre. But body horror can also be used to find meaning beyond simple self-preservation. 

There are two reasons I use body horror when I write, and the more genteel of the two is because it has the best metaphors. 

In Skull Nuggets (Bizarro Pulp Press, 2018), brain mites and trepanation are not the book’s raison d’etre. Rather, they are means to certain ends. The bugs serve to illustrate the feeling of not being in control of your thoughts, and the skull drilling is used to explore how far people are willing to go to feel “normal” or to chase happiness. 

In Freak Night at the Slee-Z Motel (forthcoming from Grindhouse Press), sideshow performers with physical anomalies are hunted down by a woman who can’t tolerate difference. She wants to “fix” their transgressive bodies. The metaphor is overt: what makes us different must be cherished and kept safe from those who would excise our uniqueness and put an end to who we are meant to be.

So, yes, body horror offers fantastic metaphors. But really, I use it because I love the gross out. 

My favorite thing about fiction is that moment when we think,she wouldn’t, and then she does! It’s even better if it’s in a way we never would have predicted. The best scenes leave us with wide eyes, saying, I can’t believe that happened! Body horror was made for this. As a writer, it’s that moment—the look of shock, the nose crinkle of disgust—that means the world to me, and if it’s followed by a laugh, so much the better.

Sometimes we need to revel in the squickiness. Many of us are up to our elbows in shit and piss and vomit and blood in our everyday lives—especially if we’re in any vein of caregiving—and if we can’t laugh at it, well, our bodies will kill us, won’t they? The stress will build up and eat us from the inside out. Laughing at body horror is gallows humor, and gallows humor is the most honest and important kind there is. 

But body horror is valuable as more than just a release valve. Most of us move through our days outwardly focused and unaware of the countless internal processes our bodies are constantly monitoring, regulating, and fine tuning to keep us alive.

It’s a damn good story that can reach in there—into that corporeal subconscious—and tap into fears or aversions or disgust we didn’t even know we had. It’s an even better story that can yank that out—our life, our biology, our beating heart and chyme-smeared intestines—and hold it up for us to see, to witness. 

This is what you’re made of,” it says. “This is all you are. The life you have right now can be over in a flash. So, for the love of everything you hold dear, stop taking everything so seriously!”

The practice of remembering death has a long history in eastern religions, the intention being to strip away what that doesn’t matter. Eventually, the traditions tell us, we will have stripped everything away and we’ll discover nothing is left, nothing matters—the phenomena of this world are all just temporary illusions. Okay, maybe body horror won’t take us that far, but it is its own kind of remembrance of death. The best of it is a hilarious, disgusting reminder that we’re only here for an instant, so hold your loved ones close and never mind all the bullshit. Remember death to remember what life is really about. 

* For a concise and worthwhile introduction to body horror, see “The H Word: Body Horror—What’s Really Under Your Skin?” by Lucy Taylor in “Nightmare,” issue 69, 2018.

About Amy Vaughn

Amy M. Vaughn sits alone in a room with her cats and writes weird little books. This is her idea of a good time.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

What We've Been Reading #15

The Ladies of Horror Fiction have a new round of reviews to get you through your Wednesday!

Sing Your Sadness Deep by Laura Mauro

British Fantasy Award-winning author, and Shirley Jackson Award finalist Laura Mauro, a leading voice in contemporary dark fiction, delivers a remarkable debut collection of startling short fiction. Human and humane tales of beauty, strangeness, and transformation told in prose as precise and sparing as a surgeon’s knife. A major new talent!

Featuring “Looking for Laika,” winner of the British Fantasy Award, and “Sun Dogs,” a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award.

Goodreads | Amazon | Better World Books

Toni’s Teaser Review

There is something to be said for books that you can’t put down. Where the stories pull you in and don’t let go. Where the horror creeps up on you. At first you think you are safe….but in reality you aren’t. The false sense of security it lovely….until you no longer are safe. Sing Your Sadness Deep by Laura Mauro was one of those horror sleepers.

Click here to see Toni’s full review at The Misadventures of a Reader.

The Pulse Between Dimensions And The Desert by Rios De La Luz Book Cover

The Pulse Between Dimensions And The Desert by Rios de la Luz

“Rios de la Luz’s writing blows minds and breaks hearts. A sort of new and bizarre Tomás Rivera, Rios is able to blend the familiar of the domestic with the all the wilderness of the universe. Her stories will grab you in places you didn’t know you had, take you by those places to where you’ve always wanted to go—though you never knew how to get there. Buy this book and enjoy that journey.” —Brian Allen Carr “In The Pulse between Dimensions and the Desert, Rios de la Luz’s writing is electric and alive. It grabs you and pulls you into her universe, one that is both familiar and foreign, a place where Martians find love, bad guys get their ears cut off, and time travel agents save lost children. In this innovative, heartfelt debut, de la Luz takes her place as a young author that demands to be read and watched.” —Juliet Escoria 

Goodreads | Amazon

Emily’s Teaser Review

This is my second Rios de la Luz book, and her storytelling is so damn good. This collection is entertaining, gorgeous, strange, heartwarming, and heartbreaking. There’s a little something for everyone here. If you’re a speculative fiction fan, I can’t recommend Rios’ books enough. 

Click here to see Emily’s full review at Goodreads.

Itza by Rios de la Luz Book Cover

Itza by Rios de la Luz

In her debut novella, Rios de la Luz examines the lives a small family of water witches living near the US-Mexico boarder. Exploring issues of race and trauma along with beauty and magic, Itzá is a powerful reclamation of body and identity.

Goodreads | Amazon

Tracy’s Teaser Review

My friend Emily sent me this book for my birthday. She read it and loved it and gambled that I would, too.  She was right. Why did she think I’d like this? Perhaps because Itzá is dark and disturbing. Or maybe because it’s a coming of age tale focusing on a pair of sisters. Perhaps because de la Luz can and DOES write her ass off and this book is beautiful.  Yeah, all of those.

Click here to see Tracy’s full review at Sci-fi & Scary.

Thanks for joining us today and we hope you found something to add to your tbr list! Please share your recent reads with us in the comments below.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Ladies of Horror Fiction Present Stories of Horror: Body Horror

Join Toni as she explores two different types of Body Horror in Tracy Fahey’s The Black Dog and Gabriela Houston’s Kozitka.

About Tracy Fahey

Tracy Fahey is an Irish writer of Gothic fiction.  In 2017, her debut collection The Unheimlich Manoeuvre was shortlisted for a British Fantasy Award. Two of her short stories were long listed by Ellen Datlow for Honourable Mentions inThe Best Horror of the Year Volume 8. In 2018 she co-edited The Black Room Manuscripts IVwhich was nominated for a Splatterpunk Award for Best Anthology in 2019.

She is published in over twenty Irish, US and UK anthologies and her work has been reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement. Her first novel, The Girl in the Fort, was released in 2017.

Her second collection, New Music For Old Rituals was released in 2018 by Black Shuck Books.

About Gabriela Houston

Gabriela Houston is a London-based writer. She was born in Poland and raised in a book-loving household on the nourishing diet of mythologies, classics and graphic novels. She had spent much of her early school years holed up in the library, only feeling truly herself in the company of Jack London’s trappers and Lucy Maud Montgomery’s red-headed orphan, among many others.

She came to the UK at 19 to follow her passion for literature and she completed her undergraduate and Masters degrees at Royal Holloway, University of London.

After her studies she worked in publishing for a few years. She now lives with her family in Harrow, where she pursues her life-long passion for making stuff up.

If you would like to reach out to the LOHFpodcast, our email address is We would love to hear about new releases, news in the community, and suggestions for the podcast. You can find out more about the members of the Ladies of Horror Fiction via our website at

The music for this episode is by Nicolas Gasparini at 

Monday, August 12, 2019

Guest Post: Why Body Horror, or, Why Do We Entertain Ourselves with Grotesque Mutations, Demonic Gestation, Parasitic Infections, and Ghastly Mutilations By Christa Carmen

The type of horror that can be described as ‘body horror’ is astronomical in scope. A quick google search tells you that horror novels as disparate as Frankenstein and Coraline are considered body horror by one website or another, and when you take a few moments to really think about it, most subcategories within the overarching genre could be loosely classified as body horror. The following is a list of why we—horror fans and regular humans alike, because let’s face it, even alleged horror haters have ogled a gnarly rash on their own, formerly pristine skin or stared in morbid fascination at the growing sphere of their or their partner’s baby bump—love body horror, in all its bloody, stomach-turning, hypnotic glory.  

#1: Because your body is horrible.  

Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosisis arguably the most well-known work of body horror fiction out there, and I’ve always felt that the entirely mundane way in which the book opens—‘When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.’—is a testament to the fact that on many similarly unremarkable mornings, we wake up to some new affront by the disconcerting flesh suits we call bodies. To prove this point, I’ve reimagined the first line of Kafka’s masterpiece in the following, more realistic ways: 

‘When Christa Carmen woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, she found that the three hours of sleep she’d amassed would not be nearly enough to propel her through the thirteen hours’ worth of conference calls, board meetings, gym sessions, and dinner parties currently written into her calendar for the day.’


“When Christa Carmen woke up one morning from dreams of blood spilling forth from slowly-parting elevator doors, she found that her period had unexpectedly begun in the night, seeping through the sheets and ruining the $2,000 mattress that had been delivered the week before.” 


“When Christa Carmen woke up one morning from dreams of rotting fish and roiling seas, she found that she’d come down with a nasty stomach bug just in time to miss her non-refundable flight to the Bahamas.” 

and finally…

“When Christa Carmen woke up one morning from unremembered dreams, she found that a large zit had sprouted in the center of her forehead on the same morning as her 9 a.m. job interview.” 

See? You absolutely do not need to turn into a giant, winged insect for your body to be an utterly deplorable collection of horrors! You can experience equally appalling horrors on a daily basis, approximately 28,068 times in your life if you’re an American man, and 29,638 times if you’re an American woman! 

#2: Because women’s bodies are particularly horrible.

Puberty and pregnancy, hysteria-inducing hormones and crone-creating menopause, the female body has historically been both an instrument of and a vehicle for horror for as long as writers have been penning tales of the grotesque. 

The quintessential female body horror novel, Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby sees Rosemary Woodhouse spend her pregnancy combatting loneliness, paranoia, gaslighting, illness, pain, weight fluctuations, the mutation of her body, peculiar cravings, and a loss of autonomy. For surviving this nine-month ordeal, she receives the ultimate reward: giving birth to the Antichrist, red skin, reptilian eyes, and all. Guess what? Many women experience regular, non-demonic pregnancy this way, minus the birthing of the spawn of Satan, although I suppose even that might be up for argument in some cases.  

In terms of recommendations, Gwendolyn Kiste and Damien Angelica Walters have each contributed heartbreakingly gorgeous novels to the canon of female body horror with The Rust Maidens (winner of the 2018 Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel) andPaper Tigers, respectively, and short stories like Kiste’s “Something Borrowed” from her collection And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe and Brookelynn Warra’s “Heirloom” in the Justin Steele & Sam Cowan-edited Looming Low Volume 1 should provide you with something to read when you find that spot of blood on your sheets or no longer recognize your fifteen-year-old-self in the mirror, when you experience a hot flash and are convinced the very fires of Hell have come up through the earth to claim you or feel that alien spasm of movement in your newly-expanding belly. 

#3: Because your body will fail you as it ages. 

Sure, Alzheimer’s and dementia are technically brain disorders, but being locked inside the prison of your body with a steadily declining knowledge of yourself and the world around you is the very definition of body horror. Films like The Taking of Deborah Logan and stories like “The Sundowners” by Damien Angelica Walters (Suspended in Dusk II, Simon Dewar, ed.) tap into these very real fears; you can pretend you look forward to the Sunday morning crossword out of a sheer love for brain games, but we all know why you really buy sudoku books off Amazon in bulk. 

On a strictly practical level, body horror films and novels can be great distractions from the problems that affect us as we move through middle age and beyond! Read the Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer or The Troop by Nick Cutter and you won’t even notice your aching back and feet, arthritic joints, weight gain, depression, or the fact that you had to squint to read the goddamn things because you couldn’t remember where you left your glasses. 

A final point on the horror of being confined to an aging body… remember Paul Edgecomb’s punishment for sending John Coffey to the electric chair? Paul’s thoughts on his dramatically extended lifespan are captured in the book’s final line: “We each owe a death, there are no exceptions, I know that, but sometimes, oh God, the Green Mile is so long.” 

#4: Because your body will fail you before it ages.

I know I already mentioned chronic fatigue, menstruation, unforeseen illness, and adult acne as the real-life manifestations of Kafka’s go-to-sleep-human-wake-up-as-bug phenomenon, but there are myriad other ways in which your body will fail you well before you are considered geriatric. Bones break, immune systems give up the ghost, pancreases stop producing insulin, digestive tracts become chronically inflamed, the list goes on and on. Why do we love H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau and John Carpenter’s The Thing (based on a John W. Campbell Jr. novella Who Goes There?) so much? Because it MUST be better to suffer a skin graft or spinal fusion than to become half human, half leopard, or half human, half thing!!! 

As an aside, our relatively recent ability to stave off some of the cruelties of aging is also the stuff of a body horror novel. People living as recently as the nineteenth century would consider today’s humans with titanium knees, ceramic hips, plastic tubes in the vessels of their hearts, and carbon fiber prosthetics in the place of arms or legs to be members of a race of human-robot hybrids. 

#5: Because addiction affects 20 million Americans.  

As a teen, having a beer or trying a hit of marijuana didn’t seem like the end of the world. Now you are a shadow of your former self, a wraith who stalks the streets seeking solace in the form of noxious chemicals, blind to the path back to your former way of life, reduced to lying and stealing from your loved ones, knocking on death’s door half a dozen times a day, ultimately succumbing to soul-shattering withdrawals during which you lie in bed at night—if you’re lucky enough to have a bed—staring at the ceiling and praying for it all to end.

When this is the reality for millions of people—either experienced firsthand or through the suffering of spouses, mothers, fathers, siblings, children, friends, and/or co-workers—why wouldn’t we devour literature like David Wong’sJohn Dies at the Endor Fiendby Peter Stenson, or the more recent anthology, Garden of Fiends: Tales of Addiction Horror, edited by Mark Matthews? Reading about Soy Sauce or atlys (Jessica McHugh’s contribution to Garden of Fiends, an excerpt of her novella,The Green Kangaroos,rivals The Metamorphosisfor drop-what-you-are-doing-and-read-this-book-NOW opening lines: “The best way to take atlys is to inject it straight into the testicles.”) is a comfort when compared to reading the newspaper these days, seeing as they usually contain statistics such as “Every year, worldwide, alcohol is the cause of 5.3% of deaths (or 1 in every 20)  or “About 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.” 

#6: Because mental health disorders aren’t merely agents of psychological horror. 

Many of these answers to the ‘why body horror?’ question overlap, and while I touched upon the mental health disorders that can occur later in life, what about those afflictions that can strike at any time? When you realize that something like Brain on Fireby Susannah Cahalan—a memoir about a young woman’s abrupt descent into a rare autoimmune disease and the horrors that came with misdiagnoses—is nonfiction, it makes running to your local library for a copy of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill Houseor Paul Tremblay’s A Head Full of Ghostsseem like a grand idea. 

#7: Because coronary artery disease, stroke, lower respiratory infections, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cancers, diabetes, dehydration due to diarrheal diseases (how’s that for an awful alliteration?), tuberculosis, and cirrhosis.

If horror is a way to reflect the ugly parts of our world back at us through a distorted lens that makes the trauma tolerable, then body horror is a way to deal with the atrocities that our bodies—our weak, susceptible, frequently defective bodies—inflict upon us every day. Moreover, I can prove that we deal with the horror of our own, sagging flesh suits by consuming body horror narratives (for this list, I stuck with films): 

  • Coronary artery disease = Gerald’s Game directed by Mike Flanagan (based on the novel by Stephen King) 
  • Stroke = The Skeleton Key directed by Iain Softley
  • Lower respiratory infections = 10 Cloverfield Lane directed by Dan Trachtenberg
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease = The Happening directed by M. Night Shyamalan
  • Cancer = Before I Wake directed by Mike Flanagan
  • Diabetes = Panic Room directed by David Fincher
  • Dehydration due to diarrheal diseases = Dreamcatcher directed by Lawrence Kasdan (based on the novel by Stephen King; unfortunately for you, this won’t even be the last time I mention this film/novel) 
  • Tuberculosis = The Others directed by Alejandro Amenábar
  • Cirrhosis = The Monster directed by Bryan Bertino, or Repo! The Genetic Opera directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, or Repo Men directed by Miguel Sapochnik (based on the novel The Repossession Mambo by Eric Garcia

There’s a horror movie about a tornado full of sharks, did you really think I wouldn’t be able to come up with one that’s a metaphor for—or directly related to—each of the world’s deadliest diseases? Tsk tsk…

#8: Because you can be tricked into thinking your body (or someone else’s body) is beautiful and will last forever. 

If youth is wasted on the young, youthful bodies are wasted on youthful bodies. We are born with soft skin, supple flesh, pliant muscles, and minds as rich for planting knowledge as the most fertile of any landscape on earth. But what young person hasn’t thought, that won’t be me, I have an infinite reserve of energy, I’ll always be able to party and stay out late, or, look at that old woman in a bikini… I wear sunscreen, I’ll never have sunspots and wrinkles. Here’s the thing… our youth plays tricks on us. It makes us believe that we will be young forever. That way we do as much eating, pleasure-seeking, and fornicating as possible, ensuring we pass along our genes and continue populating the earth. 

By now, you know where I’m going with this… if we are so afraid of being faced with our mortality that we’re able to trick ourselves (and others) of our beautiful, buoyant, perpetual youth, then you knowwriters and directors are making films and writing novels aimed to both distract from and soothe us in these fears. Need a to-watch list? Jennifer’s Body (Karyn Kusama), Spring (Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead),The VVitch (Robert Eggers), Stardust (Matthew Vaughn), Crimson Peak (Guillermo del Toro) and Hocus Pocus (Kenny Ortega). And for novels, there’s Slade House by David Mitchell, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, and basically any vampire book ever written.  

#9: Because pus, blood, saliva, urine, feces, sexual secretions, and bile. 

Do you remember the shit weasels in Stephen King’s Dreamcatcher?You should, especially because I warned you that my use of this novel as an example of body horror wouldn’t stop with the thinly veiled metaphor for perishing from diarrheal diseases. Anyway, in 2015, Grady Hendrix wrote an article for entitled “The Great Stephen King Reread: Dreamcatcher,” and when you read his description of the initial alien lifeforms the protagonists encounter (there’s also the red fungus and the more traditional ‘Grayboy’ aliens), you’ll see why I didn’t bother fashioning a description of the shit weasels myself: 

“These vicious little turds with teeth grow inside human colons, causing a lot of farting, and then they get pooped out in the toilet where they promptly launch themselves at the soft buttocks of their former human hosts and bite off their dicks.”

King’s Dreamcatcher is a six hundred twenty-four-page metaphor for another aspect of body horror: pain. As Hendrix details in his article, Dreamcatcher was written during the period after King was hit by a van in 1999, and much of the novel was influenced by his relentless, excruciating pain and subsequent opioid addiction. Still, for all its skill in viewing an extraterrestrial invasion through the lens of bodily agony, it’s a hell of a metaphor for the horrors that come out of our bodies as well. 

#10: Because your body is the only body you have.    

Are you having an existential crisis yet? No? Well, good, because I’ve got one more weight to tip the scales in favor of our resounding obsession with body horror…

These bodies of ours—the ones that bleed, crave, grow, shrink, change, become addicted, produce new life, age, break down, and ultimately cease working—if we could choose to trade them in, to give them up, would we still be the same person inside? Would we even be human? Black Mirrorhas some tremendous episodes that explore the repercussions of transferring one’s consciousness into another vessel. What do these body/mind sleights of hand look like? Not great, as you might imagine…

Only in “San Junipero” is the concept of the mind living on outside the body shown to merit a positive outcome. In “White Christmas,” separating the mind from the body is a method of torturing suspects into confession and carrying out prison sentences. In “Black Museum,” a similar twist occurs. “USS Callister” sees a lonely, sadistic man gaining control of his employees’ minds separate from their bodies and trapping them in a virtual reality nightmare. And in “Rachel, Jack, and Ashley Too,” Miley Cyrus’ character’s consciousness is uploaded into millions of pint-sized AI dolls, allowing her opportunistic aunt to place her in a medically induced coma, condemning Ashley O’s body to a hopeless, deathlike slumber. 

The moral of these stories seems to be that divorcing one’s mind from one’s body is a technological advancement with which we are not equipped to deal, and new body horror and science fiction films and works of literature analyzing the fear of our bodies failing us before our minds are ready to surrender to the great unknown are being written every day. 

Perhaps another lesson is that the body horror we know is less disturbing than the body horror we don’t. Extending one’s consciousness indefinitely—an un-body horror, if you will—might be the greatest body horror of all. We must not forget what Paul Edgecomb said: “Sometimes, oh God, the Green Mile is so long.” Would we really want to walk it—physically or mentally—forever?

Thank you for coming along on this exploration of Why Body Horror, or, Why Do We Entertain Ourselves with Grotesque Mutations, Demon Gestations, Parasitic Infections, and Ghastly Mutilations?and seek me out on social media if you’d like to discuss the post, ladies of horror fiction, or body horror in general. 

About Christa Carmen

Christa Carmen’s debut fiction collection, Something Borrowed, Something Blood-Soaked, was released in August 2018 by Unnerving, and won the Indie Horror Book Award for Best Debut Collection. Her short fiction has appeared in Fireside Fiction Company, Unnerving Magazine, Comet Press’ Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Volume 2, Outpost 28 Issues 2 & 3, Lycan Valley Press Publications’ Dark Voices, Space Squid, Third Flatiron’s Strange Beasties, Alban Lake Publishing’s Only the Lonely, DarkFuse Magazine, Tales to Terrify, Horror Tales Podcast, Black Ice Magazine Volume 2, Dead Oaks’ Horror Anthology Podcast, Horror Hill/Chilling Tales for Dark Nights/The Simply Scary Podcast Network, Ghost Parachute, Weasel Press’ The Haunted Traveler, Mad Scientist Journal, The Eunoia Review, Blood Moon Rising, Danse Macabre, WolfSinger Publications’ Just Desserts, DreamFusion Press’ The Book of the Macabre, Devolution Z Horror Magazine, The J.J. Outré Review, Prolific Press’ Jitter Issue #4, Literally Stories, Fiction on the Web, Corner Bar Magazine, pennyshorts, Anotherealm, and Dark Fire Fiction. In 2016, “Four Souls of Eve” was published by Frith Books as a standalone eBook. Her work won Best in Genre, Thriller/Horror, in wordhaus’ 2016 Trick or Treat Fall Story Contest, and “The Goblin’s Abettor” won The Haberdasher’s Monster Mash Slash Fiction Contest in 2017. 

Christa has additional work forthcoming from StrangeHouse Books, Muzzleland Press, McFarland & Company, Inc., The Wicked Library, Chilling Tales for Dark Nights/The Simply Scary Podcast Network, and Outpost 28 Issue #4. 

Christa lives in Westerly, Rhode Island with her husband and their bluetick beagle, Maya. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in English and psychology, and a master’s degree from Boston College in counseling psychology. Christa is an MFA candidate at the Stonecoast Creative Writing program, of the University of Southern Maine. She works for Pfizer in Clinical Trial Packaging, and at a local hospital as a mental health clinician. 

On Halloween 2016, Christa was married at the historic and haunted Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado (yes, the inspiration for Stephen King’s ‘The Shining!’). When she’s not writing, she is volunteering with one of several organizations that aim to maximize public awareness and seek solutions to the ever-growing opioid crisis in southern Rhode Island and southeastern Connecticut. 

Author Website:   





Wednesday, August 7, 2019

What We've Been Reading #14

The Ladies of Horror Fiction are back with a new batch of books to recommend!

New Music for Old Rituals by Tracy Fahey

New Music for Old Rituals by Tracy Fahey

New Music For Old Rituals brings together a selection of stories that illustrate the pervasive power of the past in the present. Together they present a strange yet familiar country where cautionary tales still serve a purpose; where sacred sites of sea, forest, valley and forts hold power, where old legends live, and where new myths are born. Within the pages of New Music for Old Rituals, bog bodies sleep, contagion rages, ancient rituals are enacted, battles are fought, ghosts linger, and time stutters, fails and turns back on itself.By the author of The Unheimlich Manoeuvre (2016) and The Girl In The Fort (2017)

Amazon | Better World Books | Goodreads

Toni’s Teaser Review

There aren’t many books that I read, I can honestly say feel like home. Where the stories of my childhood are presented in different and inventive ways. But Fahey is able to do that. Fahey took me back to my childhood where my nan would put out offerings for the good folk, she would tell me stories of changelings and the hungry grass. She told me stories of people that would walk off into the country side never to be seen again. So I grew up hearing much of the mythology that Fahey uses in her fiction. To this day I still have a hefty appreciation for the good folk…..because you never know.

Click here to see Toni’s full review at The Misadventures Of A Reader

When I Arrived At The Castle by Emily Carroll

When I Arrived At The Castle by Emily Carroll

“A castle, a killer, and prey all bound and blurred by lust and blood.”

Like many before her that have never come back, she’s made it to the Countess’ castle determined to snuff out the horror, but she could never be prepared for what hides within its turrets; what unfurls under its fluttering flags. Emily Carroll has fashioned a rich gothic horror charged with eroticism that doesn’t just make your skin crawl, it crawls into it.

Amazon | Better World Books | Goodreads

Emily’s Teaser Review

I loved this strange little horror graphic novel from Emily Carroll! The art is gorgeous, and the coloring sort of reminded me of the original Suspiria. The story is sort of like a creepy fever dream, and you’re never entirely sure what’s going on. 

Click here to see Emily’s full review at Goodreads.

Bunny by Mona Awad Book Cover

Bunny by Mona Awad

Samantha Heather Mackey couldn’t be more of an outsider in her small, highly selective MFA program at New England’s Warren University. A scholarship student who prefers the company of her dark imagination to that of most people, she is utterly repelled by the rest of her fiction writing cohort–a clique of unbearably twee rich girls who call each other “Bunny,” and seem to move and speak as one. 

But everything changes when Samantha receives an invitation to the Bunnies’ fabled “Smut Salon,” and finds herself inexplicably drawn to their front door–ditching her only friend, Ava, in the process. As Samantha plunges deeper and deeper into the Bunnies’ sinister yet saccharine world, beginning to take part in the ritualistic off-campus “Workshop” where they conjure their monstrous creations, the edges of reality begin to blur. Soon, her friendships with Ava and the Bunnies will be brought into deadly collision. 

The spellbinding new novel from one of our most fearless chroniclers of the female experience, Bunny is a down-the-rabbit-hole tale of loneliness and belonging, friendship and desire, and the fantastic and terrible power of the imagination.

Amazon | Better World Books | Goodreads

Laurie’s Teaser Review

This book is surreal, deliciously evil, and wickedly funny and the writing is weirdly addictive. It’s getting all the stars because I loved every single twisted turn and madness infused word within its pages. You probably won’t know exactly what you’ve read once you finish it but I bet you’ll be happy you read it.

Click here to see Laurie’s full review at Horror After Dark.

Share your recent LOHF reads with us in the comments below!