Posted on January 27, 2014
Ah, fairy tales. You know, like The Little Mermaid and its happily ever-after ending, where the doe-eyed mermaid gets her legs and singing voice back just in time to marry the equally doe-eyed prince. Or Snow White, where the evil queen gets her just desserts from an unfortunate lightning strike.
Pure and utter bullshit.
No, I’m not on some kind of feminist rant, I simply read fairy tales, and not the sanitized, consumer friendly versions offered by Disney and other purveyors of suburban childhood. I grew up with original, original fairy tales, like the Andrew Lang Fairy Books, a collection of stories and fairy folklore spanning the late 1800’s to early 1900’s, Grimm’s Fairy Tales published in 1812, and Fairy tales from Hans Christian Andersen, first published in 1899.
These versions were a bit more…horrific. Granted, they were designed to be told around some kind of rustic hearth to instill terror into the hearts of children so they didn’t go off wandering alone in the woods or moors. But that’s a nuance lost on a 6 year old.
I was sure the wild-haired Struwwelpeter, a tailor with scissors for hands, would cut off my thumb if I continued to suck it. I heard the screams of the evil queen in Snow White as she was forced to dance to death, wearing red-hot iron shoes. And the ending of The Little Mermaid, where she gains a soul but loses her life and turns to foam, was downright spooky. Don’t even get me started about what really happened to Little Red Riding Hood.
And people wonder why I write horror.
So it’s odd that I’ve been told, on more than one occasion, people are surprised to find out I’m a woman. Yeah I know, the pseudonym doesn’t help, but I think it’s more the beheading, graphic serial murders, and demonic possession in Poe that throws them off.
Because while the iconic Shelley and breakout stars like Anne Rice and Shirley Jackson easily come to mind when you think about the genre, women are only sprinkled through “Best of” horror lists. The question is why. The gender that passed on tales like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, where the bears rip poor Goldy apart before devouring her, is strangely missing.
Maybe we’re out there, just not being read. To help shine a light on all the fabulous women writers who know a thing or two about things that go bump in the night, next month is officially “Women in Horror” month and you can help spread the word. Share a link, pick a book, and get ready to be afraid. Very, very afraid.
ARTICLES AND LISTS ABOUT WOMEN IN HORROR
SF Signal: MIND MELD: Our Favorite Women Horror Writers
Examiner.com: Women In Horror–The Writers
NYT Sunday Book Review: Shelley’s Daughters
Sumikosaulson.com: 20 Black Women in Horror Writing
Posted on January 19, 2014
I don’t know whether it was precognitive genius or some odd, karmic luck that Christopher Golden’s Snowblind is being released during a winter of epic snowfall and frostbite-inducing temperatures. Maybe his monsters are the only logical explanation. In a tale he sets up quickly then unwinds slowly, Golden captures the creepiness of blizzards and snow dumps, the way it isolates, yet can bring people together in unexpected ways. The references to King make sense, but the horror here is more on the spooky than gore side, with nice expositions of characters and a deep sense of place.
And then there’s the snow. I can’t think of another novel where snow, in all of its various manifestations, has ever been described so accurately or completely. A New England expat, I was looking. As the natural is blended with the unnatural, it makes for an interesting, creeping tension that builds to a CGI-worthy ending and, I hope, leaves the door open for a sequel.
A great read, unless you’re stuck in the house with no electricity and a two-story snowdrift. Then you might want to check your batteries before digging in.
Posted on January 1, 2014
In high school I almost always carried around a well-thumbed copy of “The Modern Witch’s Spellbook”, but for me, sadly, none of the spells ever panned out as promised. So I always enjoy a good book about witches and witchery in general, and was very happy to get my hands on an ARC of The Line by J.D. Horn. It’s a captivating and enjoyable read. We’re introduced to the graveyards and back alleys of Savannah, itself a main character, as well as a powerful family of witches who have produced the first non-magic “dud” in their history, Mercy Taylor, while her fraternal twin, Maisie, seems to have won the magic genetic jackpot .
This doesn’t seem to trouble Mercy particularly – she’s got a refreshingly practical head on her shoulders and a talent for conducting “Liars Tours” of Savannah for the tourists more interested in a Southern gothic tale than actual history. Her life, however, and the fate of the entire Taylor clan, is upended when on the eve of her 21st birthday, the most powerful witch among them, Mercy’s Great-aunt, is mysteriously murdered.
Horn evokes a very natural, human world for magic, where ghosts and other paranormal creatures live in tandem with our known reality, and the writing is stellar, from the engaging first person narration to the evocative descriptions ofSavannah itself. Fans of “The Discovery of Witches”, “The Mortal Instruments”, or “Practical Magic” will find a new addition for their real or virtual shelves. But what impressed me most was that Horn doesn’t let his characters take easy ways out, and the problems they face, as well as the consequences of their actions, are as unpredictable as ‘real’ life. A great debut in what promises to be a fantastic series, I’m already counting down the days for the next novel.