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- The Cartography of WolvesApril 22, 2021
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Growing up in Staten Island with two older sisters and a 5-foot tall Italian mother, I learned very quickly that the power of a strong-minded woman is not something to be questioned. The women in my life have served as inspiration for many of the characters in my novels, and that’s especially true of Megan Forrester, the protagonist of our newest thriller Don’t Move. Even before the events of this novel, Megan has proven herself to be a master problem solver. But it’s not until she’s plunged into the nightmarish reality of impending death at the fangs of a giant prehistoric arachnid that she discovers a drive to survive she never knew she had.
In celebration of Megan (and of all the women in our lives), here are five books dedicated to women fighting their way out.
The Last Final Girl by Stephen Graham Jones
Not enough meta-horror gets it right. The Last Final Girl, on the other hand, shines as a piece of hyper self-aware, dive in head-first, absurd fun. As a huge fan of classic horror movies, as I turned each page, I couldn’t help but feel as though I’d found a kindred spirit in Jones—a clear aficionado of the entire 80s horror flick catalogue. Less of a book and more of a visualized movie script in the form of a novel, TLFG has scoured every slasher trope and laid it bare for a tongue-in-cheek experience that will leave imagery blazing across your brain. To survive, Lindsay and her team of so-called ‘Final Girls’ must use every trick in the book (or in this case, in the movies) to outsmart the bloody destiny that has marked them their entire lives.
Now You’re One of Us by Asa Nonami
Nonami’s venture into the realm of creepy family horror does not disappoint. Having just recently gotten married myself, I have to say that I’ve never been more grateful that my in-laws are not the Shitos. With their plastered-on smiles and all-around unsettling revolving dynamics, the Shito family serves as the big bad monster of this novel without ever necessarily having to do anything horrific. Main character Noriko seems to have lucked out after marrying the man of her dreams, but quickly realizes that the fight for her sanity and her safety has only just begun. As she battles monsters both in her mind and within the Shito family compound, Noriko’s survival hinges on tenets of Japanese culture many of us Western readers can only begin to understand.
Fledgling by Octavia Butler
Octavia Butler has always been one of my favorite authors and this book serves as a perfect final outing of her prolific career. If anyone were to tackle a sociopolitical sci-fi vampire story and make it look like a walk in the park, it’s Butler. Fledgling follows Shori, a young-looking vampire who wakes up alone in a cave with no idea who or what she is. Shori’s dark skin sets her apart from the other vampires of the Ina species and creates a niche in the social hierarchy that she must rise up to fill on her own. The story has all of the blood, drama, and excitement one can expect from a Butler novel while simultaneously intertwining issues of race, power, enslavement, and Afrofuturism that have set apart her work from her contemporaries for decades.
The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
What happens when a group of Southern housewives in the 90s realize that their new neighbor might be a blood-sucking demon? That’s the question Grady Hendrix answers in his latest novel. In his protagonist Patricia Campbell, Hendrix has created a refreshing transformation of the common housewife trope into something more meaty and real. As the story heats up and the bloody consequences are revealed, Patricia and her book club achieve vigilante levels of determination to tackle the paranormal evil and social evils that have riddled their community. Not to mention the laugh out loud moments that are sprinkled throughout. Great read through and through.
Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
Maggie Holt never really had a chance at freedom. Thanks to a tell-all book published by her father, Maggie’s childhood was sold as a freakshow. Chronicling the time she and her family lived in Baneberry Hall, a seemingly haunted estate filled with unusual paranormal activity, the book marked Maggie’s life with a twinge of notoriety she’s never been able to shake. That is, until years later, when as an adult, Maggie inherits the allegedly haunted property and prepares the estate for sale to rid her life of it forever. But before she knows it, the ghosts of the house and the living ghosts of her town come back to haunt her. Pulling from classics like The Amityville Horror and Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, Home Before Dark leaves its mark as a downright terrifying novel in a sea of overrated haunting stories. Alongside Maggie, it’s up to the reader to decipher the mysteries of Baneberry Hall and more importantly, to live to tell the tale.