Hey there horror fans, I’m Jessica Avery and I’ll be delivering your weekly brief of all that’s ghastly and grim in the world of Horror. Whether you’re looking for a backlist book that will give you the willies, a terrifying new release, or the latest in horror community news, you’ll find it here in The Fright Stuff.
Wow. What even was this week? I had an entirely different topic picked out for this newsletter, truth be told. But after what happened here in the U.S. on Monday night, I didn’t have the energy or the mental space for what I originally planned. I’m scared, and pissed off, and heartbroken, and I have been consuming massive amounts of horror, across mediums, just trying to get by.
So fuck it. This week’s Fright Stuff goes out to everyone who’s in the same place as me right now. Everyone who may be sad, and frightened, but also ready to fight back. Because fuck them if they think we’ll just let this happen. That we’ll just go quietly into the future they have planned for us. Every single once of these books is about justice – demanding it, crying out for it, fighting for it tooth and nail.
May you find the catharsis you need, and the will to keep fighting.
Do Not Go Quietly: An Anthology of Victory in Defiance ed. by Jason Sizemore & Lesley Conner
This 2019 anthology from Apex Publishing is thematically perfect for this week’s Fright Stuff, and helped give today’s newsletter its title. Do Not Go Quietly is an anthology of stories across the range of speculative fiction (horror included, obviously!) about resistance. Stories about fighting back and fighting for justice. It’s a fabulous anthology, and horror readers will likely recognize several of the names on this talent-packed TOC, including authors Cassandra Khaw, Maurice Broaddus, E. Catherine Tobler, Lucy A. Snyder, and Christina Sng.
Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall
This gorgeous graphic novel by author Maggie Tokuda-Hall, illustrated by Lisa Sterle, is a must have for fans of werewolves and social horror. Becca has just transferred to an elite San Francisco High School when she finds herself scooped out of new kid purgatory by a group of popular girls with a shocking secret: they’re werewolves! Vigilante werewolves who hunt down the predatory boys in their town who take advantage of girls, more specifically. When Becca allows her new friends to turn her into a werewolf, she finally finds a place and a group to call her own. But an unexpected death soon complicates matters, and the pack’s quest to avenge the girls in their community takes a dark turn.
Your Body is Not Your Body ed. by Alex Woodroe & Matt Blairstone
This anthology of horror stories and illustrations by over thirty Trans/Gender Nonconforming creators was launched in response to the brutal new laws criminalizing the trans/GNC youth of Texas. And aside from a TOC stacked with talent, if you needed another reason to order your copy, you should know that a portion of the proceeds are donated to Equality Texas to support their work in fighting these hateful legislations. The stories in Your Body is Not Your Body range all over the spectrum of the new weird horror tradition (Tenebrous Press’ specialty), making for a unique and compelling anthology of queer horror, full of rage and defiance.
Into the Forest and All the Way Through by Cynthia Pelayo
Into the Forest and All the Way Through could not have been an easy book to write, and it is certainly a harrowing book to read. But if you’re looking for a poetry collection that both honors the dead and cries out for justice, this is the book you want. This collection – though horrifying – isn’t actually a horror book, it’s a compilation of true crime poetry that explores the over one hundred cases of missing and murdered women in the Unites States. But Pelayo is a well know horror author, and given the topic of this week’s newsletter, the inclusion of Into the Forest and All the Way Through seemed like an obvious choice. It will break your heart, but their stories deserve to be heard.
Manhunt by Gretchen Felker-Martin
Felker-Martin’s bloody, brilliant Manhunt was one of the first books I thought of when I started compiling this list. But Beth and Fran aren’t on some mission for revenge or justice, at least not at first. They’re just trans women trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world that is somehow even more determined to kill them than our own present day. They range up and down what is left of New England, hunting men who have fallen victim to the plague that turned anyone with significant levels of testosterone into feral, cannibal beasts. Beth and Fran need the men for their organs, the only way to ensure they don’t meet the same fate. But a series of terrible circumstances sends their lives on a collision course with an incipient revolution in the north, and like it or not, they find themselves faced with a choice: keep scavenging at the edges of what’s left of their world, or start fighting back.
There were so many other books I could have included, given the space. So much horror has been written by marginalized authors to try and give voice to or make sense of the cruelty and injustice that they face.
We fight horror with horror, at the end of the day.
Fresh From the Skeleton’s Mouth
On a lighter note: have you SEEN the faux clinch/pulp cover that Alexis Castellanos painted for Isabel Cañas’ The Hacienda? It’s so gorgeous, and I desperately wish Berkley would consider using it for a mass market edition.
Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!
As always, you can catch me on twitter at @JtheBookworm, where I try to keep up on all that’s new and frightening.