Read This: Women in Horror

women in horror

Since it’s Women in Horror month again (but really, is there any time women aren’t in horror?), I’d like to revisit a selection of the works by seven wonderful women authors I’ve had the pleasure of reading in the last few years. Some are well-established, some are well on their way, and all of them know how to evoke the chills and creeping fear their readers want.


Sunni Ellis

One Hell of a Night in Mexico by Sunni Ellis is a hell of a weird Western. Wild and bloody, it fuses the stylized storytelling of a spaghetti Western the sex-laced darkness of classic Hammer. Harnessing the enthusiasm and energy of a good B-movie, Ellis uses broad strokes to set a gritty scene and populate it with rough-and-ready Western and horror types. The storytelling is cinematic, full of sweeping landscapes, thunder and lightning, high winds and dust clouds. And blood. Lots of blood.

Elizabeth Massie

Madame Cruller’s Couch and Other Dark and Bizarre Tales, horror-legend Elizabeth Massie’s 2021 collection, provides a provocative assortment of horrors both mundane and supernatural. The fourteen stories and poems here show off Massie’s finely-honed talent for creating plots that go completely, and convincingly, off the rails. Everything happens for a reason, most often because of the unexamined assumptions her characters make. Even when surrounded by the monstrous, their blind spots are believable.

Paula Ashe

We Are Here To Hurt Each Other, Paula D. Ashe’s collection from Nictitating Books, is breathtaking in its explorations of pain and suffering, both experienced and inflicted. The twelve stories and vignettes gathered here are a chronicle of all the kinds of damage we can do to each other, and why we do it. Prefaced with a comprehensive content warning, Ashe proceeds to take us places we should never want to go. And yet, once I started reading I couldn’t look away.

Polly Schattel

Shadowdays, the latest novel by Polly Schattel, is a deeply uncomfortable tale. After drawing us in with a classic revenge plot, the story takes a series of progressively more disorienting turns until its conclusion comes dramatically crashing down. Shocking, sad, and unsettling, Shadowdays drags us along on a wild ride. I couldn’t look away.

Lisa Morton

Lisa Morton’s Night Terrors & Other Tales examines a variety of social ills and issues through a horror lens with clarity and pointed storytelling. There are plenty of traditional themes, from mad slashers and weird science to black magic and zombies. But there is also a great deal more here than monsters. The twenty-one stories collected here provide a lot to think about, and many of them cannot easily be read as just entertainment.

Lisa Tuttle

The Dead Hours of Night, Lisa Tuttle’s latest collection, is as wonderfully uncomfortable as I had expected. With a dozen stories spanning close to forty years, there is ample opportunity to immerse yourself in the cold, familiar, unsafe worlds Tuttle has built. Her prose is grim, clean and sharp as she describes crumbling relationships, fraught decisions, and disturbingly abrupt turns of events. Her horror is made as much of the real world as of the supernatural. It gets under your skin, and takes root there.

Brooke Warra

Monster She WroteLuminous Body, Brooke Warra’s lovely novella, is a beautiful, rich, and unnervingly honest amalgam of family ties, motherhood, illness, and body horror. It is an engrossing story of a life lived on and beyond the margins, masterfully told.


This is only a tiny sampling of the many phenomenal female writers working in horror today. Now, go out and discover the rest!