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Friday, November 30, 2018

What I'm Reading: More Deadly Than Male

In the December 1 issue of Booklist I have a review of an all female anthology that is releasing in February which also happens to be Women in Horror month. 

As always, I am posting the draft review here on the blog with more content.

More Deadly Than the Male: Masterpieces from the Queens of Horror.

Davis, Graeme (editor).
Feb. 2019. 496p. Pegasus, $25.95 (9781643130118)
First published December 1, 2018 (Booklist).

While Mary Shelley and Ann Radcliffe are well known names from the earliest days of horror, they are very few other female horror authors the average reader could name from that era; and yet, there were many women writing thoughtful, psychologically intense horror in the 19th Century, but like many of their gender, their work was lost to history, that is until now. Davis [Colonial Horrors] turns his editorial eye on their work, presenting 26 stories, in chronological order, from 1830 through 1908, framing the the collection with an introduction contemplating the place of female writers in the genre’s history and providing information about each author, her life, both personal and in publishing, and why he chose that particular story. The result is a book that is a slice of women’s history, an example of the evolution of an entire genre, and an anthology of entertaining, creepy reads all wrapped up in a single volume. Obvious names in the collection will attract attention, some who are familiar to genre readers and others, like Louisa May Alcott who may surprise, but it is in the authors you have most likely never heard of, such as Eliza Lynn Linton or Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman, and their compelling and creepy tales that still create a sense of unease and dread, those are where this volume will captivate readers now, and for years to come. While you should suggest this collection to those who enjoy recent female driven horror like Her Body and Other Parties by Machado or the authors included in Fright into Flight edited by Fallon, fans of psychological suspense by bestselling authors like Gillian Flynn will find much to like here too.

YA Statement: Young readers will be drawn to this collection by seeing the “literary”  authors they have to read in school positioned in a whole new, scary light.
Further Appeal:  The key to the appeal of this book lies in this statement I made above, "The result is a book that is a slice of women’s history, an example of the evolution of an entire genre, and an anthology of entertaining, creepy reads all wrapped up in a single volume."

This collection will draw attention because of the topic and the surprise of finding someone like Alcott in a horror collection. Some may only read the titles by authors they know. But for those who delve more deeply, I think they will be surprised by how much the current popularity of darker tales by women owes to those who came before.

I would say that this collection would be stronger if a woman was also associated with the compilation of it, however.

Three Words That Describe This Book: enlightening, creepy, psychologically intense

Readalikes: I give three above but seriously, you can suggest this collection to anyone who enjoys domestic suspense as it is written by women today. Goodness know we have a lot of those titles. I am only half kidding here. This is very easy to hand sell to people who like the "girl" books but are tiring of them a bit. Offer them the chance read the originators of intense, psychological suspense and horror. Many will take you up on the offer.

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