Reviewing: Monster She Wrote by Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson

Content warnings: The themes and content of horror novels are discussed throughout. 

My Rating: 4 books out of 5

Highlights: 

  • So many incredible women
  • Book recommendations galore! 
  • Literally, I’m compiling a list of the books mentioned within this book. I could read for a solid year. 
  • Entertaining and informative 
  • Feminist AF 

“There seems to be an unspoken assumption that women aren’t interested in horror and speculative fiction, despite ample evidence to the contrary.”

Ever since dipping my toes into the world of Horror, I’ve been fascinated by its many invisible women. Frankenstein is one of my favourite classics, and so of course I grabbed at the opportunity to read any book that sheds more light on the life of Mary Shelley, but it isn’t just the ‘big names’ that show up in this book. Separated into thematic sections, Monster She Wrote explores the women who shaped this twisted genre and how the lives they lived influenced the things they wrote in such powerful ways. 

With authors dating back as far as the 1600s (Margaret Cavendish and her Blazing World, which we read at University and which I really need to revisit when there’s not a grade looming large over my reading experience) Kröger and Anderson manage to cover hundreds of years of incredible women in a relatively short book. Each of these entries could be its own book, but the bite-sized introductions act as the perfect touchstone for further research. Mary Shelley was a teenager recovering from the loss of a child when she wrote one of the most famous creation stories of all time, fuelled by grief and terrible dreams. Shirley Jackson fought to have her career recognised in a community that saw her only as a housewife and mother – yet ostracised her as a writer nonetheless. Jewelle Gomez was a queer activist whose stories of a vampiric ex-slave explored racism, consent and the repercussions of eternal life. Each of these women has a unique tale, united by their delving into the dark and bringing back with them stories of what lies within. 

This is a fantastic starting point for anyone looking to add to their TBR, or explore texts and authors that might not come up during the first tentative steps into the world of female horror authors. I began writing down all the books I wanted to read from the suggestions sections and ended up stopping because I had just…copied them out. I may as well save the paper and reread the book because it is a, that good b, that easy to read and c, that full of amazing sounding recommendations. Of course ease of reading doesn’t equal lazy writing. It’s abundantly clear that an enormous amount of research went into this book without it coming across as an academic paper. Within just a few pages per entry, Kröger and Anderson give us the perfect bite-sized glimpse into the lives of these incredible women and leave us itching for more. One day, I will read all these book suggestions. 

I loved this book, my only complaint really being that my natural instinct was to want to know more than the short and sweet introductory biographies contained. So if you’re very research-focused, be prepared to do further reading, but if you’re looking for a perfect introduction to the wide and varied world of female horror, may I suggest starting here?

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