Meet the women writers who defied convention to craft some of literature’s strangest tales, from Frankenstein to The Haunting of Hill House and beyond.
Frankenstein was just the beginning: horror stories and other weird fiction wouldn’t exist without the women who created it. From Gothic ghost stories to psychological horror to science fiction, women have been primary architects of speculative literature of all sorts. And their own life stories are as intriguing as their fiction. Everyone knows about Mary Shelley, creator of Frankenstein, who was rumoured to keep her late husband’s heart in her desk drawer. But have you heard of Margaret “Mad Madge” Cavendish, who wrote a science-fiction epic 150 years earlier (and liked to wear topless gowns to the theatre)? If you know the astounding work of Shirley Jackson, whose novel The Haunting of Hill House was reinvented as a Netflix series, then try the psychological hauntings of Violet Paget, who was openly involved in long-term romantic relationships with women in the Victorian era. You’ll meet celebrated icons (Ann Radcliffe, V. C. Andrews), forgotten wordsmiths (Eli Colter, Ruby Jean Jensen), and today’s vanguard (Helen Oyeyemi). Curated reading lists point you to their most spine-chilling tales.
Part biography, part reader’s guide, the engaging write-ups and detailed reading lists will introduce you to more than a hundred authors and over two hundred of their mysterious and spooky novels, novellas, and stories.
Okay, before I begin my review, I need to share this amazing image that my boyfriend created for my bookstagram page. I was busy and I asked if he could take a photo for my Monster, She Wrote bookstagram review…and this is what he came up with.
This is honestly one of the best pictures of me in existence, although I think it’s fair to say I don’t make quite as menacing a Frankenstein’s monster as Boris Karloff did.
So, Monster, She Wrote was initially intended to be one of my Halloween reads, but it somehow ended up being my Christmas book instead. Let’s be honest, though; Halloween is an all-year event for horror fans.
Shamefully, I haven’t read much horror or speculative fiction by women writers and this is one of the reasons why I picked up a copy of Monster, She Wrote. I was hoping that I’d come away from it with a list of authors to try and it didn’t disappoint. As I type, I currently have three books on their way to me and two that I’m probably going to order once I’ve finished this review.
Monster, She Wrote takes its readers on a journey from the 17th century to the present day, chronicling the lives of the women who, as the book’s tagline states, pioneered horror and speculative fiction. Not only do authors Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson provide a biography for each of the authors that they discuss, they also end each of these biographies with a reading list. The reading lists contain not just novels and short stories penned by the author, but works of a similar theme or style by other writers as well.
I highly recommend Monster, She Wrote, particularly for fans of Gothic literature and ghost stories.
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