Cover Image: Women in Horror Anthology

Women in Horror Anthology

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A collection of creepy short stories with more misses than hits. I thought that it started off strong and I liked the first couple of stories, but the book got weaker the further I got through it. Although there were a few memorable stories, many were forgettable and made no sense, and this was not helped by a weak story being the final chapter. I am aware that this is an anthology but would still like to have seen the stories more fleshed out. There were also a lot of typos and sloppy writing.

I think 'Sideshow' is my favourite story. Others that I enjoyed: 24 Hour Diner, Self-Portrait with Pears, Night Terrors, Extinguishing Fireflies, My Mirror Wife, Her Garden Grows. Also it's weird that I remember nothing about the most graphic/violent story ('The Eyes of the Dead') until I went back to it again.

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All-in-all, a very mixed bag. I failed to see the point in some and failed to see the horror in others. I also detected some typos in multiple stories, (don’t know if that was just my ARC or not) which got me out of my reading a little. A 2,9 star-rating on average.

24 Hour Diner by Charlotte Platt - 2 stars
Pretty basic story, didn’t bring anything new or interesting or particularly scary to the table.

Sideshow by Jude Reid - 5 stars
Original, loved the ‘message’ and how it played out

The Doll’s House by Alyson Faye - 3 stars
Yep, pretty creepy. Way too easy/cheesy of an ending though.

Blood by Claire Hamilton Russell - 2 stars
Yes, female-centered and positive, but too short to make anything of it. Not quite spoopy either

Self-Portrait with Pears by Rachel Bolton - 2,5 stars
Stalker story a la ‘you’. Not particularly scary, but it showcased the thought process of the MC (and some men and what they think they’re entitled to) really well. Don’t know about the ending though

Personal Demons by Angelique Fawns - 2 stars
About a non-binary character, but the first time a pronoun appears, the author uses ‘she’ before announcing the character wants to be referred to as ‘they’. This one felt a bit iffy. Even though I’m not at all well-versed in what life is like for a non-binary person, I’m not entirely confident to say that this is good representation... It’s about the power of choice, and our MC actually mentioned that this is their choice. However, I’m not sure if they referred to the fact that their preferred pronouns are a choice, or if the author meant that being non-binary is a choice. And while it could be called a choice whether or not you decide to live your life as your authentic self, I don’t believe feeling some type of way and being the way you are can, in fact, be called a choice.

Friends with Benefits by E. F. Schraeder - 3 stars
Wut? Did her mom take her over or sumthin’?

Night Terrors by Angela Sylvaine - 4 stars
Creepy! First thought that this was about waking up during a procedure on the operating table, which is one of my big fears. It wasn’t but it was still creepy. A fun little horror story!

The Girl Who Never Stopped Bleeding by Sam Lauren - 1 stars
This might be going way over my head. I don’t know if this is supposed to be a powerful story, but to me it’s the opposite. Apparently you have to stay away from girls with periods... Yeah. I don’t know.

Leda and the Fly by Marnie Azzarelli - 5 stars
Loved the writing!

Jenny’s Bobo by Hillary Lyon - 2 stars
That was it?

Extinguishing Fireflies by Rebecca Rowland - 3,5 stars
Great writing and definitely a good story. A little less satisfied by the ending.

The Eyes of the Dead by Danielle R. Bailey - 5 stars
Chills!

My Mirror Wife by Ash Tudor - 4 stars
Oooookaaayy. I couldn’t fully grasp everything, right away, but it was definitely creepy! Just wish the ending didn’t drag out this much. I wish the author would have left it at the moment I found out what was happening.

Patterns of Faerytales by Azzurra Nox - 1 star
Pretty meh. Not my kind of writing.

Campfire Tales: The Bloody Rings by Emma Johnson-Rivardy - 2 stars
Liked the writing. But I feel a lot of these stories either lack a message, or lack the horror aspect. This one was the latter.

Cracked by Regan Moore - 2 stars
Cliché, predictable

Angel of Death by Phoebe Jane Johnson - 2 stars
Am I just not in the loop of what ‘horror’ is, or do I not like horror? But honestly, this was more fantasy than horror.

Her Garden Grows by Maxine Kollar - 3 stars
I’m not sure what happened, but if what I think happened, this is pretty sick.

Revival by Madison Estes - 4 stars
The dead coming alive. That’s what I’m here for.

A Song Only She Can Hear by Wondra Vanian - 3,5 stars
Pretty freaky, liked the plot (the ending was a little abrupt though), but liked the writing style a little less.

Tribal Influence by Erica Ruhe - 2,5 stars
More sci-fi than anything. Don’t think it’s that original (the girl with all the gifts/the darkest minds)

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A mixed bag of stories, some better than others, but all with a common theme of women who are a little bit different and sometimes very dangerous. The book contains stories of magical creatures like vampires and mermaids as well as more traditional horror fare like possessed dolls. The quality of the writing is very variable, some stories were very well crafted while others left a lot to be desired. Particular standouts for me were The Dolls House and Night Terrors. The Eyes of the Dead while genuinely disturbing definitely earned the trigger warnings it comes with, and feels out of place in the collection as a whole.
Overall this was an interesting read and one that horror fans will enjoy I'm sure.
I read and reviewed an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, all opinions are my own.

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Ohhhhh I really enjoyed this anthology from women in horror. SO MANY fantastic stories in this volume and I really can’t recommend it enough. Perfect for anyone who enjoys well written horror. Thanks to the publisher and netgalley for the ARC.

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I love horror anthologies and this was one of the better ones. There was only one story I hated. That being said, one of the best is "Sideshow". It really held my attention. I love that these were written by all women. Usually I just go for the male writers like Stephen King or Dean Koontz. This really is a must read for women who like horror.

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When I requested this book I was super excited. I love anthologies and an anthology about strange girls in the horror genre sounded interesting. Unfortunately this book was a disappointment.

I got about 30% of the way through before I knew for certain I didn't want to waste my time any longer.

A few of the stories just didn't make sense, even when they were nothing but an info dump and some of the dialogue was really clunky. Add on top of that a story where the author seems to misgender their own character and two stories told from a male POV who were either a serial killer or a creepy stalker and I lost any and all interest. The 'strange girl' from one of those stories wasn't even strange. She just had a unique nickname and dyed her hair different colours.

I read 7 stories and of those, there was only one that I kind of liked.

In all possibility there were stories further in the book that I would have actually enjoyed but I wasn't willing to waste my time on those I thoroughly disliked to find them, it just wasn't worth it for me.

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Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with this book!
This anthology is a pretty mixed bag. Some of the stories are definitely creepy and atmospheric while others I could not understand what was supposed to be so horrifying. I can appreciate the variety of horror included. It was not just campfire ghost stories but also had some sci-fi and fantasy. The book was pretty inclusive with representation which was refreshing to see in the horror genre.
The cover is absolutely gorgeous!
My personal favorite was The Doll's House, which was eery and reminiscent of We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson.
My least favorite was Blood, which was just too short to really get into and was confusingly written.

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"In Strange Girls, twenty-one authors dare to tackle what makes the girls in this collection different."

Apparently, what makes them different is being raped and tortured to death.

The fact that this editor decided to include a story that is solely about a Nice Guy(tm), without any POV for the "strange girl" who he preyed upon, who did nothing to be considered a strange girl, was bad enough.

But I absolutely did not pick up a book about women in horror to read a book where a girl is raped and tortured in extreme detail. There was nothing about that story that made it special, unless you consider torture porn written by a woman special.

No. No.

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As a bit of a horror fan, I got very excited when I saw this come up for request on Netgalley. I don't read alot of short stories or compilations there of and, after finishing this I'm reminded of why I don't.
The trouble with a short story is that there's not enough filling to it, not enough to really sink your teeth into. It's difficult to become invested in the characters and care about them.
This really was a book of two halves, some I really enjoyed! Exciting, well penned, alot of punch packed in it. But unfortunately, this wasn't the case with all stories included. Some are a little meh....and some read as first drafts that would benefit from re-reading and fine tuning.
I'd definitely recommend people at least pick it up and give it a go. Those good ones really are worth it! 3.5 stars rounded up to 4. Thank you to Netgalley, the author and the publisher for my arc. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

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I really wanted to love this book. As a horror-loving feminist, it seemed right up my alley.

While some of the stories were gripping and fun to read, others felt completely incomplete (as if they just leave off) and the majority are in need of some serious editing. From basic grammar and punctuation - to the not so basic. I found myself highlighting things I wanted to fix way too often, editor's brain kicked into overdrive.

For example, I was really enjoying Personal Demons by Angelique Fawns, which is written from the perspective of a non-binary person and is centered around them not identifying fully with either gender. They want to have a they/them pronoun used, the secondary character is a POC, I'm digging it and all for this kind of inclusiveness- and them BAM. The author uses the 'her' pronoun incorrectly for the viewpoint. I tried so hard to carry on but then two pages later, it happened again.

That was the point when I stopped reading and marked it as DNF. Incorrect pronouns are a hard no for me. That's just one example. Some of the other editing flaws were extremely cringe-worthy but that was the one that broke me.

And as an added note, if you do decide to read this, be aware that some of the stories are very trigger-y in a "she looked like she wanted it" non-consent, rapey kind of way... as well as a necrophilia kind of way. You expect horror in a horror anthology, but you also don't want to be unexpectedly triggered. There really should be a warning in the chapter list, some sort of index, or at least an editor's note at the beginning.

Great concept for a book, truly, but start back at the beginning with a heavy-handed red pen and some serious thought.

Rated 2 stars because I did enjoy a few of the stories.

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A book of different short stories about women in horror ? Sign me up! The title, the description of this book and the cover caught me from the beginning, that's why I requested this book from NetGalley. However now that I've finished it, I have to say I am little dissapointed with this whole collection of short stories. I loved some of them such as 24 Hour Diner and The Doll's House but the rest of them felt weird and not really engaging.

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The average of my ratings for these stories came out to a 2.8, which I rounded up to 3 just because it came so close.

With any anthology there’s always going to be some hits and some misses, however I found many of these stories fell in the “just okay” range for me, which made it hard to want to press through to get to the few stories that truly stood out. Many of these stories play off common horror/monster tropes and just don’t put enough of an original twist on it. I could guess the plot of at least half of this anthology within the first couple pages of a story.

That said, I want to call out Leda and the Fly for being the most original and engaging story of the bunch, and also my favorite of them. I’m a sucker for horror stories that put a creepy twist on something otherwise mundane (in this case a blank wall). Also queer girls! There’s a handful of stories in this with queer people, and thankfully this is one of them.

On that note. I try not to comment on grammatical errors in ARCs because I understand that they’re unfinished copies, but the story Personal Demons features a nonbinary main character who is referred to twice with the wrong pronoun. Not by another character within the story, but by the actual narration. I understand that it may not have gone through any copy editing yet, but it was still uncomfortable to read.

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24 Hour Diner - 2 stars, awkward writing but fun premise

Sideshow - 4 Stars, a solid story that really fit the collection

The Doll's House - 4 Stars, another good one.

Blood - 2 Stars. A very short fantasy story that just sort of ... stops.

Self-Portrait with Pears - 3 Stars. Well-written but I didn't really get how this fit the collection's theme.

Personal Demons - 1 Star. Liked the non-binary character, but wow that writing was bad.

Friends with Benefits - 2 Stars. Very cheesy, not well-written.

Night Terrors - 3 Stars. A fun twisty story.

The Girl Who Never Stopped Bleeding - 3 Stars, wish it was longer.

Leda and the Fly - 4 Stars, this was a fun weird little story.

Jenny's Bobo - 3 Stars, really liked this but I wanted more!

Extinguishing Fireflies - 4 Stars, silly but in a fun way.

The Eyes of the Dead - 4 Stars, this one was really messed up.

My Mirror Wife - 3 Stars, a little cheesy but okay writing

Patterns of Faerytales - 3 Stars, love a selkie story, but this wasn't written particularly well.

Campfire Tales: The Bloody Rings - 5 stars, simple but effective.

Cracked - 3 Stars. It was fine.

Angel of Death - 5 Stars, really enjoyed this. I could read a whole novel about this.

Her Garden Grows - 4 Stars. This was a weird one that I didn't quite get but still enjoyed.

Revival - 3 Stars. Solid writing, but not a premise that really appealed to me.

A Song Only She Can Hear - 4 Stars. A really good mermaid story.

Tribal Influence - 4 Stars, fun story, felt like the opening of a video game.

So a pretty mixed bag overall.

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I enjoyed this. I thought the short stories were written really well and the short stories are well crafted. There are some that stand out more than others and left me wanting more, and those are the ones I liked the most in this. It's a good anthology to read around October, though. Definitely recommend it for readers looking for something that's slightly creepy.

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The three stars that I have given this book are for the stories I enjoyed but, unfortunately, there were very few of them. While I really wanted to love this anthology, most of it was a combination of poorly written stories or decent stories that had been very badly edited (some seemed as though they had not been edited or proofread at all).

However, a special shout-out has to go to Jude Reid for 'Sideshow'. The way the second half of the story was written was wonderful.

Thanks to NetGalley and the writers for the chance to read this anthology. I would certainly read more in the future, but advise heavy editing and proofreading.

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I really enjoyed this book of short horror shorts. However there were only a few that I was not able to go to sleep after reading them since it creeped me out a bit to much, which kept me reading more of the book. There was one that I wished there was more to the story to understand it a little better. I would recommend this to anyone who is wanting to get into horror and needs a little stepping stone to get there. Overall I enjoyed this read.

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I sadly have to say that I’m still not a big fan of short stories. I absolutely loved the horror theme and I liked most of the stories, but they’re just too short for my liking

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This is an interesting collection, with a nice variety of subject matter. A couple of the stories don't feel like they quite fit the theme, but all do have a girl who is 'strange'. As with all anthologies, some stories are better than others, but there's something in here for every fan of weird fiction.

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I think I gave most of them around 3 stars, so that's what I am rating it entirely.

24 Hour Diner = 3.5 stars
This one involves a 24 hour diner, a barista hitting on a customer, a vampire (I think?), and a serial killer. In the first portion of the short story it mentions that all the people in the diner are killers, and I assumed that was a joke of sorts since they are always up so late. But nope. It was not a joke. I enjoyed it, seeing the male MC do his process was intriguing. But overall, I didn’t feel much for the characters or setting.

Sideshow = 2 stars
A teenage couple go to a fair or something with rides and such. The female MC recalls how her partner -in a way since she didn’t say no, as she knew he wouldn’t get off- forced himself on her and continues to do so. She pretends to be happy and follows him to a tent show of three beautiful women dancing. In the end, he gets what he deserved. This felt unrealistic to me because the end scene just did not bring out any emotion like it should have. It fell flat, as the whole narration felt disconnected.

The Doll’s House = 2 stars
This one is still very confusing for me. So there is this doll house, and apparently the dolls in it are alive. I constantly wondered why the dolls could be heard by a deaf child and how she could speak back to them, as well as the author hinted that it may actually be all in her head and the child is the one doing the bad things?? But then the dolls are back in action, having their own thoughts away from the child?? I had more questions than answers, honestly. It was confusing, and nothing really happened.

Blood = 2 stars
I was confused for most of this, until I got to the end and realized everything else was basically just a memory from years ago, that only served to explain one small detail. I really liked the hint at the end about the wings. It detailed the grandmother’s influence on the child during the one time she caught her grandma doing something strange, and then went to the present time for a small detail. But I feel like the beginning didn’t flow properly nor lead well to the last (and possibly only important) scene in the short story.

Self-Portrait with Pears = 3 stars
This was told in the view of a college male who decides he likes a girl because of her blue hair. He pursues her, basically stalks her, spams her with messages, and is overall a very disturbing being. I enjoyed being in his head and seeing how he thought he was doing the right thing, and how he tried to work out what he did wrong.

Personal Demons = 3.5 stars
Sam is non-binary and also bullied for it. A new student saves them (basically) and they become best friends. Turns out Sam’s new BFF is not human, but Sam doesn’t care. Not until something happens and they have a choice to make… I really liked the rep and friendship in this one. It caught my attention and kept it. The only reason I am not giving it more stars is because of the end. Sam’s decision just did not seem like the kind their character would make. Sam was in love, didn’t care about the secret of this person, and yet hurt them for a stranger they didn’t know? It felt like a different character made the choice.

Friends with Benefits = 0.5 stars
This made absolutely no sense to me at all. First of all, the title seems like a poor choice as it focuses more on the family drama than this ‘friends with benefits’ deal. Second of all, the MC is terrified of her weird injury that appeared out of nowhere and gets worse by the day, only to do a complete 180 and basically say ‘jokes on you, I knew all along!’? And to make matters worse, she turns on her dad? He goes to help her, and then out of nowhere her and her friend attack him? I don’t even know if they killed him or not because it was so confusing.

Night Terrors = 4 stars
I loved this one. Genetic humans tested in carefully made conditions to see how well they can pass as human. It was great, honestly. Our MC has night terrors after her accident and investigates, only to find out that she is not human, they are not night terrors (they are real), and her memories get wiped every time she figures it out. I was hooked until the very end.

The Girl Who Never Stopped Bleeding = 1 star
I don’t really understand this one. It was less than two (ebook) pages and had very little information in it. I am still not sure what to make of it.

Leda and the Fly = 2.5 stars
This was a strange one for sure. Depression left Leda bedridden and uncaring, ready to die. But then she kills a fly, is energetic again, and we learn she has murderous thoughts daily. It was a bit dull for me personally, but it also wasn’t bad.

Jenny’s Bobo = 4 stars
I enjoyed this one a lot. So, Jenny has a pet (well, not according to her dad) that causes trouble (not that her parents know) and basically punishes her enemies at night so long as she lets him out. It is a good partnership and their connection was pretty cute.

Extinguishing Fireflies = 3.5 stars
It took me a bit to realize, but the end really cleared things up and I love it! I was a bit confused as to why one character was killed off when it seemed as if they were somewhat important to the killer/killer’s family. But otherwise it was enjoyable.

The Eyes of The Dead = 1 star
This one had a trigger warning. And wow do I ever wish I skipped this one! I was thoroughly disturbed and I don’t even want to think about what I read. Rape, murder, a soul trapped in a body so they can feel everything that is done to them after death. Yeah, I wanted to puke. That’s not to say it is badly written, just very, very disturbing for me personally. And I thought I would be fine because I read a lot of dark stuff. But I am not fine.

My Mirror Wife = 2 stars
This one confused me too. I get it, she bespells all men and they do as she wishes. But she seems to want to prove herself to her husband even though he is under her spell? Sure, he sent a hitman out on her, but after she got home he was back under her spell and no longer wanted to be rid of her. So what was the point of all this??

Patterns of Faerytales = 3 stars
I felt disconnected to this one. There was no emotion in the writing. I liked the aspect of hiding someone’s true nature from them, and then -when they inevitable find out- joining them in such conditions. But I feel it would have had more of an affect if there was more emotion to it.

Campfire Tales: The Bloody Rings = 3 stars
This is basically a ghost story one would share at night around a fire. A tale based on a true occurrence from many years ago, with the threat of you being next. It would definitely be spooky in the setting!

Cracked = 4 stars
A thief steals a doll from an old woman (though she didn’t know the purse held the doll at the time), and thus starts the haunting. Yes, the doll haunts the thief and brings her to the brink of terror before devouring her. Very delightful short story!

Angel of Death = 4 stars
I love the idea behind this one, that a being from another planet can infiltrate ours and attempt to punish the bad. And when all fails, destroys the planet. Intriguing and well written!

Her Garden Grows = 3.5 stars
The beginning is misleading, which is wonderful because as soon as the twist comes, it makes you think about everything you just read to see where the change first started. Yes, the cat is the narrator and I love it!

Revival = 2 stars
Against his better judgment, our MC takes a dead body home and starts to think of her as his sister. He takes care of her. Sometimes she is animated and speaks to him, other times she is a corpse. Strange and not much actually happened

A Song Only She Can Hear = 3 stars
The beginning was great, introducing us to a mermaid or siren girl who has finally met another of her kind. But of course, she is not normal and ends up eating him… She never again returns to the water. I didn’t feel anything? I had no sadness for his death, and no sympathy for her guilt and terror.

Tribal Influence = 4 stars
I think maybe this one was my favourite. A young girl is taken by the military because of her powers, and a man is tasked with questioning her and getting to know her powers. Well, things take a turn for the worst. Many die and this time, I felt something! I felt sadness for the little girl who was trapped and just wanted her family. I felt sympathy for the man who just wanted to help her but died. And I felt anger towards those who hurt her. Very well written!

Overall, this collection of short stories were interesting, though not amazing for me personally.

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This anthology was very hit or miss for me as some of the stories were quite strong, but the majority felt not fully fleshed out.
Overall this collection was enjoyable though and I would definitely try another anthology with a similar theme.

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the eARC.

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