A bold collection of horror stories that flies in the face of both gender and genre conventions.

In this haunting new collection, edited by Oates, 15 women writers explore the manifold horrors of living (and dying) in a patriarchal society.

Divided into three parts—“You’ve Created a Monster,” “Morbid Anatomy," and “Out of Body, Out of Time”—this collection may initially appeal to readers eager for tales filled with vampires and werewolves, influences from beyond the grave, and gore, guts, and ooze. They will not be disappointed. However, the stories not only bleed across the categorical boundaries they have been assigned, but also expand the scope of what is terrifying about the body—living or dead, human or nonhuman—in the first place. Some stories lean into the visceral imagery typical of the body horror genre. In “Muzzle,” Cassandra Khaw explores the terrors of transforming from a human into a werewolf: feeling muscle, bone, teeth, and primal urges realigning inside oneself. Similarly, Aimee LaBrie’s “Gross Anatomy” and Valerie Martin’s “Nemesis” attend to the body's bumps, scabs, and pus (though both stories dip into ableist territory by presenting illness as a moral punishment). Other stories, however, like Margaret Atwood’s “Metempsychosis, or The Journey of the Soul,” focus more on existential terrors. Through the point of view of a snail whose soul has been ripped from its body and transplanted into that of a human woman, Atwood taps into the fears surrounding not only mortality, but also bodily misalignment, confinement, existential dread, and not being recognized for who you really are. “To be female,” Oates writes in her introduction, “is to inhabit a body that is by nature vulnerable to forcible invasion, susceptible to impregnation.” In the pages that follow, not only men and offspring, but also the desires of the dead, the societal expectations of the living, powerful weapons, self-doubts, and new souls creep into the bodies of women characters, taking up space. Yet the women are not entirely powerless. In “Breathing Exercise,” Raven Leilani’s protagonist, Myriam, works to tease apart the criticism she faces for her performance art, the violence with which men threaten her, and her own relationship to her body and work as a Black woman artist. For Myriam, power, pain, fear, and vulnerability do not exist in static relationships to one another—nor do they in many of the stories in this collection.

A bold collection of horror stories that flies in the face of both gender and genre conventions.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781636141374

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Akashic

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2023


A captivating allegory about evil, lies, and forgiveness.

Truth and deception clash in this tale of the Holocaust.

Udo Graf is proud that the Wolf has assigned him the task of expelling all 50,000 Jews from Salonika, Greece. In that city, Nico Krispis is an 11-year-old Jewish boy whose blue eyes and blond hair deceive, but whose words do not. Those who know him know he has never told a lie in his life—“Never be the one to tell lies, Nico,” his grandfather teaches him. “God is always watching.” Udo and Nico meet, and Udo decides to exploit the child’s innocence. At the train station where Jews are being jammed into cattle cars bound for Auschwitz, Udo gives Nico a yellow star to wear and persuades him to whisper among the crowd, “I heard it from a German officer. They are sending us to Poland. We will have new homes. And jobs.” The lad doesn’t know any better, so he helps persuade reluctant Jews to board the train to hell. “You were a good little liar,” Udo later tells Nico, and delights in the prospect of breaking the boy’s spirit, which is more fun and a greater challenge than killing him outright. When Nico realizes the horrific nature of what he's done, his truth-telling days are over. He becomes an inveterate liar about everything. Narrating the story is the Angel of Truth, whom according to a parable God had cast out of heaven and onto earth, where Truth shattered into billions of pieces, each to lodge in a human heart. (Obviously, many hearts have been missed.) Truth skillfully weaves together the characters, including Nico; his brother, Sebastian; Sebastian’s wife, Fannie; and the “heartless deceiver” Udo. Events extend for decades beyond World War II, until everyone’s lives finally collide in dramatic fashion. As Truth readily acknowledges, his account is loaded with twists and turns, some fortuitous and others not. Will Nico Krispis ever seek redemption? And will he find it? Author Albom’s passion shows through on every page in this well-crafted novel.

A captivating allegory about evil, lies, and forgiveness.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2023

ISBN: 9780062406651

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023


A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

Three woman who join together to rent a large space along the beach in Los Angeles for their stores—a gift shop, a bakery, and a bookstore—become fast friends as they each experience the highs, and lows, of love.

Bree is a friendly but standoffish bookstore owner who keeps everyone she knows at arm’s length, from guys she meets in bars to her friends. Mikki is a settled-in-her-routines divorced mother of two, happily a mom, gift-shop owner, and co-parent with her ex-husband, Perry. And Ashley is a young, very-much-in-love bakery owner specializing in muffins who devotes herself to giving back to the community through a nonprofit that helps community members develop skills and find jobs. When the women meet drooling over a boardwalk storefront that none of them can afford on her own, a plan is hatched to divide the space in three, and a friendship—and business partnership—is born. An impromptu celebration on the beach at sunset with champagne becomes a weekly touchpoint to their lives as they learn more about each other and themselves. Their friendship blossoms as they help each other, offering support, hard truths, and loving backup. Author Mallery has created a delightful story of friendship between three women that also offers a variety of love stories as they fall in love, make mistakes, and figure out how to be the best—albeit still flawed—versions of themselves. The men are similarly flawed and human. While the story comes down clearly on the side of all-encompassing love, Mallery has struck a careful balance: There is just enough sex to be spicy, just enough swearing to be naughty, and just enough heartbreak to avoid being cloying.

A book begging to be read on the beach, with the sun warming the sand and salt in the air: pure escapism.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-778-38608-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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