“Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction” By Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson
Terror and horror are so far opposite, that the first expands the soul, and awakens the faculties to a high degree of life; the other contracts, freezes, and nearly annihilates them. ~ Anne Radcliff
If you want to have fun with a book, then pick up “Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction,” by Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson. You won’t be disappointed!
The book production itself is gorgeous. Its soft and velvety cover is a spectacular shade of Frankenstein green with a border of creepy cartoon images. Inside, there are fun chapter titled fonts, more green, cartoons and a script that’s easy on the eyes. The chapters are short and easily digestible with each one talking about a specific author and their horror genre specialty. The book is linear; Kröger and Anderson start at the beginning (Margaret Cavendish, 1623-1673) and end with a robust group that is familiar to us today (Margaret Atwood). We get a brief history of the author and their impact on the writing world followed by a synopsis of their most famous works. At the end, we are provided with a reading list along with a book quote from the author—some of the quotes are shiver worthy in and of themselves.
What I loved best about “Monster, She Wrote” is the fascinating information it provides on the growth of the horror story. It all started with the Gothic novels that were all the rage in the late 1700s to the mid–1800s. The stories always featured a castle, haunted or not, and an orphaned or abandoned young woman who faints and/or trips a lot. Gothic stories were more mystery than menacing but their formula provided good income for the women writing them. Then along comes Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley—the authors call her, “The Original Goth Girl.” The origins of “Frankenstein” are legendary. A group of friends on vacation in Switzerland, stuck inside the chalet because of bad weather, when one suggests a contest: Who can write the scariest story? The monster and a whole new way of writing horror is born. And yes, Shelley won the contest.
Really, what struck me the most about “Monster, She Wrote” is how many roads a horror story can travel. Take the idea of possession. There can be a possessed person or child or doll or even a body part. And what about monsters? Frankenstein, Vampires, Three-Headed Dogs, Mummies. Then there are monsters that are possessed! Oh, and let’s not forget the possessed… haunted… house. There are even stories about possessed robots. Possession could be its own sub-genre in the horror catalog. As could the gore stories. Or the psychological thrillers. Dark fantasy already has its own following, as do witches and Zombies. I’m anxiously awaiting the possessed Zombie–Elf–Serial–Killer series. With each successive generation of authors, the possibilities in horror grow as evidenced by the boon of scary movies that are released on a monthly basis.
So, take up this who’s who of horror and grow your reading list to frightening proportions. There’s nothing like a little scare to get the blood moving!
Thank you for reading!