Since the first announcement for the Slasher Girls and Monster Boys anthology, I’ve been counting down the days for what felt like eternity. Curated by April Genevieve Tucholke, author of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Between the Spark and the Burn, and her upcoming novel, Wink. Poppy. Midnight, this collection reads like my daydreams and night terrors come true. While each story is radically different, they fit together perfectly, and what’s more perfect than stories about dangerous girls? Tis the season after all!
There’s easily something for everyone in this anthology. From blood and guts to psych horror to ghosts in the closet, Slasher Girls has it all. Perhaps the coolest part is puzzling out the authors’ inspiration for their stories. Most take a page from classic horror, but there’s a good mix of music, film, and television, too. At the end of each chapter, the inspiration is revealed.
I’m a cheater and looked at all of them before I started.
I wish I could review each story, but we’d be here forever, so I’ll kept it to a few highlights.
My absolute favorite piece was written by Carrie Ryan. I’m new to her work, and her contribution, “In the Forest Dark and Deep,” stuck with me for weeks. I couldn’t get it out of my head. Ryan took her inspiration from Alice in Wonderland (a girl after my own heart, I tell you) and it was very inch as delightfully creepy as possible.
The story revolves around Cassidy Evans, at ages seven, eight, and eighteen. Young Cassidy stumbles upon a table in a clearing in the woods and swears she’s seen the March Hare—she’s even taken tea with him. The notion of him living in the woods follows her into adulthood. Of course, her endless tea party isn’t all fun and games. I wish I could say more, but that would spoil it. Ryan’s imagery, and the generally horrific nature of what happened when Cassidy was eight and what’s happening now made this piece a clear favorite for me. I’m a little upset that there isn’t a whole book behind this one.
“The Flicker, the Fingers, the Beat, the Sigh” by April Tucholke is equally captivating. One dark and stormy night, Theo, his girlfriend Scout, his sister Grace, and her boyfriend Asher, collide head-on with another vehicle on the road, killing the driver of the other car instantly. The story veers into a past between Theo and the girl, and the consequences of the actions they take that night.
Tucholke has this wonderful rhythm in her way with words that stirs something in me every time I read her work. Her stories possess a lyrical quality that’s simultaneously modern and Gothic. It’s an impressive balancing act, and her short story certainly holds up to it. There’s a distinct sense of dread creeping through the narrative, which I absolutely adore.
And then there’s “Emmeline.” Cat Winters provided me with the ghost story I’ve always wanted. “Emmeline” features Emerson Jones, one of the soldiers you meet in her debut novel, In the Shadow of Blackbirds. The narrative is given by Emmeline, a young French girl who’s home was bombed at the start of the World War. Emerson finds himself in Emmeline’s burned out bedroom, and Emmeline finds someone as in love with death as she is.
As with Ryan’s story, I can’t say too much about Winters’s without giving up the ghost (ha!) You just have to trust me on this one.
There are several stories I enjoyed: Stefan Bachmann’s “M” reminded me of Edward Gorey’s The Gashleycrumb Tinies. “Hide-and-Seek” by Megan Shepherd is a lovely take on Appalachian folklore. Jonathan Maberry’s “Fat Girl with a Knife” is cuttingly hilarious.
As with any anthology, there were a couple that weren’t to my taste. They were not, by any means, less than good, they simply weren’t my preferred flavor. Over all, this a great collection, and if you’re interested in horror, but not sure where to start, I’d begin here. You get fourteen different voices and styles to sample, all in one convenient place. I’ve definitely added more titles to my endless TBR pile.
4 out of 5 stars
Slasher Girls and Monster Boys is currently out in Barnes and Noble and available on Amazon. Go snag a copy. It’s almost Halloween and you don’t want to miss this one.
Meghan Harker is a Horror writer for Girls in Capes. She graduated from Brenau University in 2011 with a degree in English. She attended Cambridge University for a semester, but still didn’t master an English accent. When not writing, she’s either drawing, reading, hosting the Courting Casualties podcast, hunting antiques, or lamenting that she wasn’t born in the 1800s. If you follow her on Twitter @ExquisitelyOdd, you might get the chance to play Guess Who’s Dead!, her favorite post-mortem photography game (no one else likes to play.)