Monster, She Wrote

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 06 Dec 2019

Member Reviews

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!
Was this review helpful?
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!
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
Is your TBR becoming shorter? Neither is mine and now the wishlist is even longer. 

These authors want you and I to know that there are tons of great Gothic/horror/ terror filled books out there and they are all written by fantastic female writers- some names I knew(Daphne Du Maurier, Shirley Jackson) but there were many more that were whispering from the shadows " I'm still here." Which sounds quite spooky but it fits with the whole atmosphere of this non fiction. 

Divided into six categories, the authors take us from the 17th century(the founding mothers) all the way up to the 21st century( the new Gothic). Each author has a short biography, an analysis of her literary contribution to the genre, and most importantly tons of related reading to dive into. What more could a curious reader ever ask for? 

With Halloween just around the corner, this book will definitely spur a number of readers into a Gothic fiction read-a-thon. 

Thanks to Netgalley and Quirk Books for a digital galley in exchange for an honest review. 

Goodreads review published 28/08/19
Publication Date 17/09/19
Was this review helpful?
Such a great resource! I teach many of these fine authors, so it's very handy to have their biographical references and recommended reading handy. There are several authors and works that I hadn't heard of before, so I'm glad to add them to my to-read list!

Thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for the digital ARC.
Was this review helpful?
I received this book in exchange for a honest review from NetGalley. 

I absolutely loved this book despite it expanding my ever growing TBR list. It was an interesting compendium of mini biographies of some of the greatest (and often forgotten) female horror/weird fiction writers. I discovered authors i had never heard of and found books that I now desperately want to read. This book is a definite read if you are interested in horror or pulp fiction and would like to make sure you are reading some of the forgotten fiction from female writers!
Was this review helpful?
This book is a fantastic place to pick up new-to-you authors! The book starts with the earliest women writers in the horror, speculative, and science fiction genres and moves all the way up to present-day writers. The book is split into 8 parts. Parts 1-7 are dedicated to a different genre in each part, and the parts include lists of women who wrote in the genre, brief biographies, histories of their works, and a reading list for each author! The final part discusses the direction these genres are heading and what women will take them there. It's an excellent book with great information told in a unique, lively voice. I received a copy of this eARC from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I enjoyed it so much I plan to buy my own copy to see the final product and to have this expansive list of authors!
Was this review helpful?
Despite what some (mostly male) readers would have you think, women have always written science fiction, horror, and gothic fiction, and in fact helped to invent those genres. This book is an entertaining reader's guide and history of female macabre authors from Ann Radcliffe to Shirley Jackson. Includes biographical details for each, as well as best works, read-alikes, and historical context.
Was this review helpful?
I’ve wanted to read this since I saw the beautiful cover - and then I saw that it was a book about women horror writers?! Sign me the heck up!

An absolutely brilliant read, with so many wonderful authors included, from the more well-known ‘foremothers’ like Mary Shelley, Anne Rice and Daphne Du Maurier, to lesser-known authors like Tanith Lee, Lisa Tuttle and Jewelle Gomez (all of which have been added to my ‘MUST READ’ on goodreads! 

I can’t wait to get the physical copy to see the gorgeous illustrations and support the wonderful authors. Thank you Netgalley and Quirk Books for the chance to read this title.
Was this review helpful?
Women have always been at the forefront of horror and speculative fiction, despite the gender constructs that stood in their way. The book Monster, She Wrote goes back to the beginning and takes readers up to the present with women you may or may not have ever heard of. Authors Lisa Kroger and Melanie R. Anderson have created a fantastic book that is part biographical, part readers guide for those who want to read more about the women who shaped fiction.

While most know about Mary Shelley and the creation of Frankenstein, chances are you haven't heard of people like "Mad Madge" Cavendish. Brief spoiler? Cavendish was known for creating her own style of science fiction about 150 years ago and wearing topless dresses to theaters to make a splash.  You'll learn about amazing writers like Ann Radliffe, go into more details about the life of Shirley Jackson, and even go into the popular writers of young adult horror in the 1990s. 

The most dangerous part of Monster, She Wrote is how many books I put on hold at the library or added to my Amazon wish list.  It is so easy to fall into this book and not come out until you've finished the whole thing; not counting the brief interruptions to jot down that short story you're going to search for later or that novel that sounds amazing.

Monster, She Wrote is available September 17, 2019 from Quirk Books.
Was this review helpful?
"There seems to be an unspoken assumption that women aren’t interested in horror and speculative fiction, despite ample evidence of the opposite (p. 269)."

Monster, She Wrote provides this ample evidence. It is fantastic overview of women writers throughout history that have made their marks in the weird fictions. I am not a big horror reader so this book was a great exploration into genre. The horror writers I am familiar with are majority men so it was wonderful to read about new to me authors that I may not have read about in the past. I absolutely recommend this book. My TBR has definitely expanded by 27 stories!

Also RIP to Toni Morrison who was represented in this book, before her passing,  with her story Beloved. 

Thank you Netgalley and Quirk Books for an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This is what I’m always hunting for in a book that explores a genre; quick write ups on the notable names, recommendations on what to read, followed by read-alikes. Tres magnifique!
Was this review helpful?
I love this book! I learned about so many new, to me, and important female writers. Kroger and Anderson have single-handedly doubled the size of my TBR pile. I will definitely be buying this book to add to personal collection when it comes out. This is a great book for any horror fan!
Was this review helpful?
Fun and informative. Along with learning about several authors that I both had and had not heard of, I liked that the authors included information about their time periods as well. I've got plenty to add to my tbr list and I'm looking forward to starting my own Christmas ghost story tradition.
Was this review helpful?
A reader’s guide about the most prolific and lesser-known Gothic / horror women writers; from Mary Shelley and Ann Radcliffe to Anne Rice and Helen Oyeyemi. 

It offers you some biographical details and reading lists (not to be missed, also try and related work). There are some references to films and TV series related to the topic.

If you like this genre, you must read this guide, it’s a great reference book! You’ll get lots of new titles for your TBR list.

Thanks to NetGalley and Quirk Books for a copy of this book to read and review.
Was this review helpful?
More than 'monsters', this is an ideal book for readers interested in exploring more in the genres of horror, SF and related hybrids: the authors do a bit too much storytelling for my taste in the main sections as they recount the plots of key books, but the biographical information is useful. More enticing are the brief essays that are slightly more analytical about developments in the genres and spin-offs which are lightly historicised. 

Perhaps my favourite section is the final one where they discuss contemporary fiction which has its roots in horror/hauntings/SF/supernatural but which over-spill those boundaries themselves: dystopia, the uncategorisable works of Joyce Carol Oates, and recent fiction by people like Carmen Maria Machado (My Body and Other Parties), Sarah Waters, Gillian Flynn and Oyinkan Braithwaite (My Sister, the Serial Killer). 

Definitely a 'what to read next' rather than an academic book, written in a knowledgeable though fun and light way.
Was this review helpful?
This is a very readable reference book about women writers of horror throughout history. The short blurbs about each woman’s bio and reading recommendations were great, and definitely TBR-accumulating, but this is a hard text to read straight through like a normal book. It functions much better as a book to pick up and learn about an author or two then put back down. The ebook arc formatting as is leaves a lot to be desired but I can tell the illustrations would be lovely in physical book form!
Was this review helpful?
As a lover or horror, science fiction, and everything in between, I was SO excited to see this book. I learned about many authors I was unfamiliar with, and it's nice to have the biographies alongside where to find the author's writings...even if it means my "to-read" pile has grown exponentially!  Well done to the authors. This is also a great reference for librarians and others doing reader's advisory.
Was this review helpful?
An exceptional compendium of female authors within the horror and speculative fiction genres. I have recently become more interested in exploring books within these fields during the last few years, especially after completing a reader's advisory training on horror last month, and this book has served to further fuel this curiosity. Authors are included from the 1600s through present day, covering a wide variety of topics related to the genres; I like how essential titles from each author are highlighted within the reading lists and that the related work sections serve as a way to mention additional writers of interest. The introductions of each group of writers are informative and occasionally amusing, and I like how the book's authors explore the future of the genres as well as break down the antiquated notion that these types of stories are solely the territory of male writers. Kröger and Anderson have clearly done a vast amount of research that I fully appreciate and I will definitely be buying this book to use as a reference to direct my future reading.
Was this review helpful?
This is out in September, but I had the privilege of receiving a proof ARC to read and it's fantastic.
Part analysis of the history and evolution of horror, weird fiction and supernatural fiction through a feminist lens, part massive TBR list, this was fun, informative and intriguing.
The authors are so breathlessly excited by the wealth and breadth of horror and supernatural female writers that it’s impossible not to get caught up in their enthusiasm. As well as learning loads, my TBR pile expanded exponentially – in main thanks to the Reading List summaries which are included after each author.
I was pleased to see that they showcase a diversity of authors, and are sensitive to pointing out when authors are or are not inclusive in their depictions. 
Each chapter looks at a different format of the genre and they give just enough hints and analysis of the stories of each writer to really whet the appetite.
Horror is the genre which I’ve probably explored the least,but after reading this I can’t wait to get 
started. Make sure you have a notepad next to you as you read.
Was this review helpful?