Monster, She Wrote

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 06 Dec 2019

Member Reviews

It was nice to read about how women have become more prominent in horror. Despite the fact that this focused more on classic horror, which isn't usually my forte, it was still nice to see the progress of female authors. Once the book got to authors I'm more familiar with, then I enjoyed it more. I'd definitely recommend this to people who enjoy the history of how women have risen in horror.
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What do you think of when you think of horror? Well, sadly, most people think of film. Moreover, if you think of books and authors, then, I am guessing that, the names Stephen King and Clive Barker come to mind. I would imagine that you don’t think of women writers. In fact, a few people reading this post are saying; ‘women don’t write horror’. ‘Monster She Wrote’ seeks to proof that women have always written horror. In fact, women were at the very start of the horror movement. They were major names within the literary movement that gave birth to horror, i.e. the Gothic.

This book looks at the lives, and works, of female authors, placing them in context with their historical era. The authors explore the history of the horror movement and the role of women within that sphere. The book begins by examining horror’s gothic routes, exploring the work of writers, such as; Anne Radcliffe and Mary Shelley. It then moves onto the spiritualist writings of, relatively unknown writers, such as Alice Askew. The authors then take us through the pulps, exploring the work of writers, such as Charlotte Riddle and Elizabeth Gaskell. Then the work examines modern day horror queens, such as Shirley Jackson, Anne Rice and Sarah Walters.

This book seeks to fill a very large hole within the history of horror, giving the work of women authors the attention it deserves. But, it does more than that; providing a useful introduction to the history of the field , introducing each of its waves, and contextualising these movements against their wider historical setting. It’s an interesting look at an interesting field of literature
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If you Google “greatest horror writers,” nearly every list you will come across in the first page of search results is overwhelmingly male. But if you dig a little deeper, you will find that the horror genre owes some of its greatest contributions to women. In fact, if you accept that the gothic novels of the 18th and 19th centuries were the precursors to modern horror, you could even go so far as to say that women were the true progenitors of the genre. 

In Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction, Lisa Kröger presents an incomplete but fairly comprehensive collection of women writers that made significant contributions to genre fiction, specifically stories of horror and suspense. Part reader’s guide and part literary history, Monster, She Wrote surveys the lives and works of dozens of writers ranging from the world-famous like Mary Shelley and Shirley Jackson, to nearly forgotten authors whose true identities aren’t even fully known. Overall, Kröger takes a straightforward approach to the rather large project of covering hundreds of years of genre fiction by moving mostly chronologically through six sections that cover different eras in horror fiction. 

Genre fiction has always been important as a gateway for writers shut out by the larger literary establishment. This is especially relevant for women writers, who were not only often excluded from “serious” writing, but who were also denied employment opportunities in general for a very long time. For some women, writing macabre and sensational stories was the only way for a respectable woman to make money. For others, horror and speculative fiction offered a new way to explore the real world through a uniquely adaptable and imaginative lens. Whether genre fiction paid the bills or simply offered creative license, every one of the writers in Monster, She Wrote has shaped literature as we know it.
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With its eye-catching cover and compellingly strange sketches and drawings, Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction attracts attention from its opening pages.  From there, the authors Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson proceed to thoroughly entertain and inform those curious enough continue reading about this underexplored topic.  Providing historical context, fascinating biographical background and a plethora of reader's advisory information, Monster She Wrote is mandatory for anyone who seeks a deeper understanding of these genres that are typically assumed as dominated by their male authors.  Kröger and Anderson's chronology starts with Margaret Cavendish in the 17th century and the advent of speculative fiction and gothic tales, culminating with recent releases—many of which that have sought to revive, expand and modernize some recurring feminist themes over the centuries.  The book is divided into eight sections, each with an introduction to a time period or emerging trend accompanied by defining characteristics; a quick bio of its most relevant female writers with recommended reading lists; and suggested supplemental materials related to each.  Also sprinkled within are quotes and asides that discuss how women's voices, changing roles and male counterparts contributed to each moment in the genre's history.  With their witty and colloquial tone, it is obvious that the authors are both well-informed and passionate about the subject matter.  Monster, She Wrote can be enjoyed sequentially or browsed in any order for those seeking to explore the origins of some exceptional horror/speculative fiction or add substantially to their TBR list.

Thanks to the authors, Quirk Books and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
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I'm a sucker for a good book recommendation. I love curating my ever growing 'to read'-list on Goodreads, so naturally I'd be intrigued by a book meant to introduce me to a whole range of female authors. Ok, admittedly it was the title that got me first, since I simply cannot resist a Frankenstein reference, especially if it goes hand in hand with a Murder, She Wrote reference! Thanks to Quirk Books and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

For those looking for an academic deep dive into the way female authors originated and developed the horror genre, turned it to their own benefits and used it as a form of self-expression, Monster, She Wrote is not the book for you. However, if you're looking for a reference guide that will allow you to explore all of the above independently, Monster, She Wrote is a perfect starting point. Starting with the "Founding Mothers", Kröger and Anderson track the wide variety of female authors who have expressed themselves through Horror and Speculative Fiction. Many authors in this book will be familiar to lovers of these genres, but there are also plenty of new discoveries to be made, especially once it explores the different offshoots of the Horror genre as well as the lost authors of the Pulp fiction era. Of course some authors you're looking for will not be featured, just as some you'd never expected will be. Considering the constraints on a book like this, Kröger and Anderson have done a great job at presenting a topical and chronological overview. (For some more unusual Speculative Fiction by women I also recommend Sisters of the Revolution.)

What I adored about Monster, She Wrote was the fun, almost conversational, tone. Sometimes reading this book felt like having coffee with a literature devotee who pleasantly but passionately told you about all these amazing people you've never heard of. Each author gets her own list of recommended titles and further reading, which means that if any of them catch your eye you can hit the ground running. The ways in which the authors featured in Murder, She Wrote took inspiration from each other, built upon each others' groundbreaking work and pushed boundaries wherever they could, is not just interesting but also inspiring. Much of the work done and art created by these women has gone on to inspire the male authors we hear so much about like H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King. The fact that these female authors aren't as well-known is a shame and books like Murder, She Wrote are a great first step in correcting this error.

Murder, She Wrote will be the end of your dreams of downsizing your 'to read'-list. Kröger and Anderson have written a great reference book for anyone looking to expand their knowledge of female authors in Horror and Speculative Fiction.
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This book is a must read for all lovers of horror, speculative fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and beyond.  I read it slowly, usually focusing on a few writers a day so their histories didn’t blend together too much.  It was fascinating to discover how some writers who were already well known to me had some obscure ghost stories I had been missing.  The only complaint I have about this title is that now my to-read list has gotten much longer with all of the recommended reading by all the fantastic authors featured in this book!
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Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction by Lisa Kroger is a 2019 Quirk Books publication.

Just in time for Halloween, Monster, She Wrote, will give you a host of books to add to your Fall/Winter reading list!

This book is also a tribute of sorts and is a reminder of the major contributions that women have made to the horror, Gothic, and science fiction categories. These pioneers of horror fiction were trailblazers, creating some of the most thought-provoking and spine-chilling literature ever written, and influencing many authors in the future.

Personally, as a big fan of Gothic literature, I was familiar with many of the names listed in the book- at least half of them, but some background information and biographical details were new to me. The author also provided a recommended reading list along with each author profiled, which gave me plenty of new authors and books to try. Some of these authors are lesser known, but have an impressive body of work to explore.

I’m grateful to Lisa Kroger for giving these writers the long overdue credit they deserve, and for reminding me of authors and books I had forgotten about.

There is plenty of history introduced in this book, as well as many interesting stories about the featured writers, and of course, this is also a ‘book about books’ and who can pass that up?

The book is well organized, well researched, with a terrific presentation that made it easy to follow, and held my interest, while avoiding pointless minutiae. I fully intend to hunt down the books on the recommended reading list- especially the Gothics! - And I will use this book as a reference in the future.

There is a little something in this book for everyone- no matter what horror sub-genre you prefer. Not only that, it is informative, entertaining, and even inspirational, serving as a reminder that we owe these great writers a debt of gratitude. They have helped pave the way for female writers today who must bravely compete in a mostly male dominated genre and, with a few notable exceptions, still struggle for the same respect.
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“Monster, She Wrote” takes us on a journey throughout the history of horror and speculative fiction and the women who defined the genre. The authors break down each profile in an easy-to-digest section that cover the writer’s life and provides “can’t miss” reading suggestions as well as other honorable mentions and similar works by other writers. Overall the book was a quick read that gave me a better understanding of the horror and speculative fiction genre as well as over 100 more books to add to my reading list!
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This was such an interesting exploration of the women who paved the way in horror and speculative fiction. Ranging from some very well known names, such as Daphne du Maurier and Shirley Jackson, through to some almost forgotten authors, this gives us some insight into their writing and their lives and places each author in the wider context of the genre as a whole. The book is separated into roughly chronological sections, each of which focuses on a different sub-genre, including Gothic, haunting, vampires and others and I found it a really compelling read. The tone is light and the book is very informative without being too academic. Overall, I thought this was a well researched and interesting book and I would recommend it to anyone with a love of horror literature.
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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I really enjoyed this book! It was very interesting to learn about the inspiration for these great writers.
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This book has been such an interesting exciting read.  Anyone who would like to broaden their knowledge of  the horror genre and "other weird fiction" , written by women, should pick up this book.  And bring a pen and paper too when you start this well-researched book as you'll want to write down names.  I have learned so much more about this genre and have established a growing list of "want-to-reads".  The authors have really worked hard to create such an entertaining read that provides so much depth of content as well.   Such a fun book! I'd suggest it as a "must-read" for any horror fan as well as booksellers, librarians and any one who works or is interested in "weird fiction". :)
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From Gothic ghost stories to psychological horror to science fiction, women have been primary architects of speculative literature of all sorts. And their own life stories are as intriguing as their fiction and this book really makes for a fascinating insight into some incredible women. 

I loved reading this book. Finding out about all these glorious women has increased the books I need to read so much but I can only imagine it’s going to be worth it, as these women’s lives are so interesting and how these two writers write makes for a book that just grabs you - it can make you laugh and make you feel, but you will never be disappointed. 

In combination with this, the artwork works so well throughout the book. I love the art style and pops up to compliment the writing so well throughout, particularly in the supernatural chapter which covers Elizabeth Gaskell - a writer I only thought of for Cranford, but now is going to be one of the authors I’ll be reading for the rest of the year, especially ‘The Old Nurse’s Tale’.

A really great book about the amazing women who begun a genre that stays with us today, this is a visual and literary treat that’s perfect for the upcoming spooky season!
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What I like about this book is the introduction to the many different women who wrote in the genres of haunted houses, haunted people, gothic tales, etc. The book actually gives many different categories of fictional ghost or vampire stories. We readers are familiar with the writings of the men, but not necessarily of the vast number of women who were influenced by each other and also have influenced generations of writers of  literature. Another element of this book is the way the authors not only discussed the women authors' biographies, but also included titles of many of their writings. You might think the reading would be dry, but it is not. The authors inject humor and contemporary examples. I recommend this book. Thank you #NetGalley #MonsterSheWrote for an eARC of this book.
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This lovely title is just in time for the spookier and cozier time of year.  An overview of female authors who didn't shy away from the gothic, the ghostly, the speculative, or the horror; the reader is provided a summary of the tropes within each subgenre, a short biography of the author, info on their most popular novel/the novel most exemplifying the subgenre, and recommendations of other titles/authors the reader should look into.

I thoroughly enjoyed being reminded of authors I had not read in years as well as being introduced to authors I had not previously learned about.  This is the perfect title to get a reader in the mood for shivery tales full of atmosphere.
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Packaged differently, this could have been academic and inaccessible. Instead, background on female horror and science fiction writers is presented with style and many entry points.
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This was a really amazing compendium for those that are familiar with Gothic/horror literature, as well as those on the fringe. I feel like many of the classic Gothic literature writers discussed I was maybe familiar with one of their works (for example, we talk about du Mauer's Rebecca often but maybe not her other novels) but there was still a lot that I need to catch up on. I actually went ahead and pre-ordered a print copy so that I can use it as a reference as I go back and read all of the suggested material. Very nice book.
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This does exactly what the title says - and is interesting to boot. I had heard of some of the writers (and even read some of their work!) but there were some new to me names there and the authors seem to have made a particular effort to make the selection as diverse as possible. I've got a little list of books and authors to add to my tbr and I really liked the illustrations!
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I started reading Monster, She Wrote, with a pencil and notebook by my side thinking to jot down a few titles and authors that caught my attention. I would like to start this review by saying Do Not Do This! Within just a few chapters I had patted myself on the back for already having read Frankenstein and The Yellow Wallpaper, and having an Ann Radcliffe collected works downloaded since reading Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey (note to self, Read the Radcliffes!). However I had also already blunted my pencil on a TBR of suffocating proportions and I wasn't even a quarter of the way through this book yet. If you truly want horror, the realisation of just how many important women authors I haven't read was terrifying!

I am, of course, partly joking here, but also partly serious. Monster, She Wrote is an excellent resource for horror and speculative fiction fans, and also for readers such as myself who want include as wide a variety of influences as I can. Nesrine Malik's We Need New Stories, which I recently reviewed, clarified my thoughts around how the stories we read and hear informs our social and cultural expectations. Monster, She Wrote is a perfect accompaniment because it shows me hundreds of stories already in existence. Perhaps we don't only need new stories, but to make sure that these older stories continue to exist and aren't forgotten.

Kroger and Anderson have done an excellent job in drawing this book together. At times the sheer number of books and authors they cross reference is bewildering, but it's also a superb statement of pride in the history of female authors in what are commonly mis-assumed to be male-dominated genres. I liked the progression through time from the 1600s to the present day and also the grouping of authors by genre where possible. The illustrations are a wonderful idea too. They are brilliantly evocative of classic horror themes. So I now have a real burst of enthusiasm for historic horror, a teetering TBR, and the kernel of an idea for a Monster, She Wrote reading challenge - I just need to make a list of every book Kroger and Anderson namecheck, and then read them!
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Almost immediately, I had to come to grips with what Monster, She Wrote is versus what I had hoped and wanted it to be. Without knowing much about the book beyond the awesome illustrated cover art and the premise as revealed in the title (The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction), I had expected a more thorough study exploring the various authors and a deep-dive into their eras, their work and legacies, and how they shaped an entire genre. 

Instead, Monster, She Wrote is more of a reference guide to the hundreds of women authors working in the horror and speculative fiction genres. We’re introduced to these writers, given a very brief biographical sketch and an overview of their most relevant works, followed by a short reading list naming a singular must-read title from their bibliography, a second book to try, and some related works by other authors exploring similar themes and topics. Because of the large number of authors Kröger and Anderson are compiling here, each of the women featured here are only given a few pages worth of space to touch upon their biography, influences and interests, and their most relevant titles to the genre at hand (some of these women wrote romance, young girls fiction, and nonfiction titles, as well, which obviously fall outside of the scope of Kröger and Anderson ‘s examinations). 

The book itself is arranged into eight parts, starting with The Founding Mothers and the modern horror genre’s roots in Gothic literature of the late 1700s — 1800s, sparked by Ann Radcliff, who helped popularize the genre. She and the writers that followed wrote in the Gothic style that had begun with Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, claiming the genre for their own and making it a literary force to be reckoned with and one that explored their own gruesome nightmares. Without these women, Kröger and Anderson argue, we wouldn’t have films like Suspiria or the domestic horrors explored by Shirley Jackson. It was these women that made Gothic horror so popular that enabled and influenced enormous swathes of horror and spec fic authors to come, including Stephen King. From there, Kröger and Anderson move into the various subgenres that grew naturally from their Gothic origins, moving into stories dealing more directly with the supernatural, like ghosts and hauntings, and the occult as society, science, and philosophers of the late 19th Century began to explore the question of what happens after death, as well as attempted to scientifically explore psychic phenomena. Although male authors like Charles Dickens used ghosts in their fiction, it was, again, the women authors that really led the forefront and used their writings to explore societal and political issues of the time, cementing the horror genre into a form that would become more recognizable for 21st Century readers, paving the way for the paperback horrors of the 1980s from VC Andrews, Kathe Koja, Ruby Jean Jensen, and The New Goths, like Anne Rice and Susan Hill.

While I certainly appreciate Kröger and Anderson’s work here, and believe that it will help readers (myself included — and rest assured, I’ve made note of a number of titles mentioned throughout this book) discover a number of strong, and perhaps overlooked, voices in the genre, it was the prefaces that began each section that I found most interesting. When Monster, She Wrote dug into discussions of the Spiritualist movement and occult societies that help inspire the women writers of that era, I was supremely fascinated and wanted to know about that history and how those works fed off each other. I wanted a deeper exploration of how these women used their writings to further civil rights and support abolition movements. Although some readers decry politics in their fiction (primarily, I’ve come to note, politics they disagree with), the simple fact is that art and politics are inextricably intertwined and always have been and always will be. I would have loved to have read a deeper examination of this topic in regards to women in horror and how their (counter-culture) attitudes fueled the genre in its earliest stages. Monster, She Wrote gets close to these topics, but never steps into the muck to get its hands dirty. It’s not the central focus of this work at all, but it is at its most interesting during these instances and if Kröger and Anderson ever opt to take a deep dive into these issues I’ll be sure to read the hell out of it. That said, you can at least explore these topics and issues through the women and their stories that Kröger and Anderson have selected to highlight as most relevant. Also of interest, and again something I wish were explored more deeply and thoroughly, were the later discussions of the lost women writers of the pulp era, who influenced other creatives like HP Lovecraft and the creator of Dungeons & Dragons, and the paperback horror boom of the 80s, which saw many works disappear entirely following the horror market’s collapse as publishers went out of business and various titles went out of print.

Where Monster, She Wrote is most successful, though, is in showcasing the women of horror themselves, and in this regard it’s very much an indispensable reference guide. Every February, the horror genre celebrates Women In Horror Month, and readers devote the shortest month of the year to discovering strong new voices or overlooked classics. There’s more than enough horror stories by women to fill an entire calendar year and then some, and Monster, She Wrote is a solid starting point to discovering these authors and enriching your library with their voices. Beyond the central handful of figures that Kröger and Anderson have selected to best represent each era of horror fiction, you’ll find plenty of leads toward other women authors of the time, as well as more recent 21st Century examples that were inspired by those earlier writers and best recapture the spirit of those themes or genre hallmarks. Monster, She Wrote is also a handy book to have on hand just in case you run into some especially dimwitted man who foolishly thinks women don’t, can’t, or shouldn’t write horror, so you can throw the book at them or crack them over the head with it. Maybe you’ll luck out and knock some sense into them!
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Women and horror are two things that are not normally associated with each other outside of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein but with this new book by Kroger and Anderson, we have a list of authors that show that this is commonly an untrue statement.

Starting in a time before Shelley’s Frankenstein hit the scene, we have a myriad of authors who wrote gothic fiction and had very successful careers.  The book details a number of female authors through until modern time that have made a career or dip their toes into the genre.  The book gives a very detailed look into these women.

The book is well detailed and gives a background on each of the authors that is covered.  Well researched and given plot details on some of their most famous work.  Kroger and Anderson even do one better but given a further reading section to those are interested into diving deeper into the author and authors who are likeminded in their approach.  

The book is divided into section and each chapter highlights another author.  This is done fantastically and this was a real joy to read.  This book would sit comfortably on any shelf and provides a detail reference when looking for a new author to explore and devour.

Overall, this is a great book full of worthwhile information.  The only drawback will be to the pocketbook or wallet as I have now ordered extensively off ebay and Amazon to dig into these new found authors Kroger and Anderson have turned me on to.  This is a definite must for all people interested in horror and I have already started singing its praises to many of fans of the horror genre.
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