Monster She Wrote

Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror & Speculative Fiction by Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson provides a slick, quick, entertaining overview of forty notable creators of horror and related genre fiction. The profiled authors range from some of the earliest female authors (Margaret Cavendish, Ann Radcliffe) to the more recent (Angela Carter, Jewelle Gomez), with additional mentions of many new, current authors. Some of the women in these pages are obscure, some are household names–and all are well-qualified contributors to the horror field.

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Monster She WroteMonster, She Wrote is at times a little too glib, quick with a quip but light on details. Even with living, currently-active authors, Kröger and Anderson rely more on basic wiki facts than the writers’ own words about their work. Each of the capsule biographies offers a glancing look at the author’s life, a brief summary of her most famous novel or story, a few of her major works, and a short list of other authors whose style or subject is similar to the featured creator. 

Kröger and Anderson use snippets of quotations in place of illustrations to provide a taste of each author’s style. The quotes piqued my interest, and I would have liked to see more of them. The two also include helpful information on any recent reprints and reissues, to point readers in the right direction.

The profiles are presented chronologically, and the timeline defined by overviews of the various subgenres–gothic, haunted house, pulp, the occult. These analyses are shallow, but they do provide a comfortable structure to the overall effort.

Kröger and Anderson conclude their survey with a review of the current state of horror, and the women who make it. They recap the various subgenres and give shout-outs to several writers working within each one.

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Monster, She Wrote is a light, fast read that doesn’t delve too deeply into any particular aspect of women-penned horror. It’s a good resource for someone beginning to get into the subject, and an effective way to find out about some of the major works of some of the major players. It’s also a fine reminder of some truly talented authors who should not be forgotten–no matter when they wrote their monsters.

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