Cover Image: Sister, Maiden, Monster

Sister, Maiden, Monster

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This book, simply put, was wild. Initially, it caused a lot stress because Covid days aren't too far behind us and the author did a great job capturing the uncertainty, panic, and fear surrounding a viral outbreak. And then this book blossomed into something else entirely. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. I love how the three women were bonded in their journey and each had a unique and powerful role to play in the post viral world. I hope there is a follow-up to this book.

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Disgusting, deplorable, horrendous, fun, and beautiful. Sister, Maiden, Monster is everything a horror story should be.

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This book sticks with you due to its imagery. It clearly draws inspiration from COVID-19 and uses its fictional pandemic heralding the end of the world to explore how people react to chaos and change. Identities, physical and psychological, become malleable and shift; some are embraced, others are rejected, but the struggle on both sides makes up the meat of the book. My main criticisms are that the queer identities of characters seem linked to illness; it implies that the disease in the book CAUSES characters to become queer, that being part of the LGBTQ+ community is evidence of disease. For both historical and contemporary reasons, that link is horrid. Also, major content warnings apply; readers who are sensitive to body horror, gore, surgical procedures, and/or forced birth may want to avoid this book.

As a horror novel, I enjoyed it. Lucy Snyder's writing is very evocative, and I hope the linkage of queer and disease is unintentional.

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✨ Review ✨ Sister, Maiden, Monster by Lucy A. Snyder
Narrated by Arielle DeLisle; Katherine Littrell; Lindsey Dorcus

TW: massive pandemic set in a post-covid world

I finished this and thought: "I hated it. I loved it. What did I just read?!" 😂

The book has three parts, each in the POV of a different character -- Erin, a newly engaged tech worker, Savannah: a badass dominatrix, and Mareva, a colleague of Erin's who's been plagued with chronic tumors. All three are impacted by the spread of this new virus and find their place in this new plague-ridden world. As the virus spreads, leaving more people impacted in its wake, these characters are forced to adapt

The book incorporates truly gruesome imagery (sushi lovers beware), and there's also a lot of gross bodily stuff going on here. However, I was HOOKED and struggled to put this down. The religious iconography as fascinating, and I want to know more about Snyder's thoughts in writing this, especially around the Mary Magdalene connections. Weaving in excerpts from the Gospel of Mary Magdalene really captured my imagination!

The first part of the book builds on a novella or short story that Snyder had written, and tbh this was the strongest section of the book. By the end, some of the pieces fell apart a little for me or left me wondering how things were resolved. I truly flew through this though -- it was a lot of fun to read with my fellow buddy readers, Amy and Becky.

I listened to a bit of the audio, but primarily read from my physical copy. I loved the relatively short chapters and engaging writing!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Genre: horror, sci/fi
Pub Date: out now!

Read this if you like:
⭕️ bodily fluids and viruses
⭕️ vivid (albeit gross) imagery
⭕️ dystopian settings

Thanks to Tor Nightfire, Macmillan Audio and #netgalley for an advanced copies of this book!

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A thrilling and spellbinding piece of work. SIster, Maiden, Monster is everything I wanted it to be. The perfect amount of gore, thrills, and off the wall surprises.

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What did I just read!? This was gruesome, ugly, intense and still I couldn't take my eyes off of it. Had to read it, had to know what is happening. And then in the end I was still confused, though not in a bad way.

The author is a genius in creating a completely messed up tale, Thought the ending was a bit rushed and a bit out there based off the beginning (maybe because it was a slow burn?) but wow. Kudos. Will read more from this author.

TW: Pandemic, lots of gore, blood, murder, you name it.

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I read a significant amount of body horror, and this is one thing the author did very well. The scenes of death and metamorphosis were beautifully written, and the monsters were truly horrifying.

However, as much as I wanted to like this book based on the gorgeous cover and description, this book was not for me. I struggled from cover to cover to connect to the characters, and their individual stories felt detached from the "transformed" planet I imagined the author would share with us. The dialogue was too literal for my tastes and I personally dislike when inner dialgue is used as a blunt tool to info-dump political and social beliefs.

I also prefer a "show not tell" style when social commentary is a key driver of story. And discussions of race and gender need to be handled with finesse, especially, in my opinion, when drawing on Lovecraftian mythos. Instead I felt they became hasty asides. A Dahmer reference, as an example, is dropped like a bomb, and then never contextualized. Overall not the type of storytelling I am drawn to.

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A deadly virus with stomach flu like symptoms but deadlier, ravages the country. This virus makes some people have zombie like tendencies.
One person transforms into a tentacled monster.
Another is a courtesan who has to shoot one of her customers because he’s transformed into a monster in front of her. She becomes educated by eating the brains of doctors and scientists and watches over the monsters.
The last main character becomes a breeding ground for tentacled creatures that will soon occupy Earth.
Weird, creepy, scary, gross, vulgar and in-your-face horror!

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I just didn’t care for this. It was really descriptive in ways that just took me out of the story.I ended up borrowing the audiobook from my library and I liked the narrator, I just was confused for so long and didn’t enjoy my time with this one.

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3.5 stars.

What a wild ride this book was. I did not read the synopsis (as per usual) so I went in not knowing what to expect. This book was a trip.

There was A LOT going on in this one. At times maybe too much? Reading this was very much like a fever dream. It definitely had me hooked from the very beginning.

We follow along three people who have all caught the same virus, but have all been affected by it differently. One enjoys brains, one gets turned on by committing brutal murders, and one develops weird tumors on their body.

If you’re into cosmic body horror, a touch of splatterpunk, and all things truly bizarre I’d say give this one a go! If you like to avoid books with sex, cannibalism, and pandemics probably don’t read this one.

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This was such an interesting read, and at times it felt incredibly realistic despite being fantasy/sci-fi. Highly recommend for any fan of horror (including body horror) and an imaginative post-covid world.

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At times during the COVID-19 pandemic, it felt like the world was ending. But what would a virus that could end civilization as we know it really look like? Lucy A. Snyder explores pandemic horror on a cosmic scale in Sister, Maiden, Monster, which came out from Tor Nightfire last month.

Just a few years after COVID-19 shook the world, a new pandemic has broken out: polymorphic viral gastroencephalitis, or PVG. Its symptoms are far from pleasant, described as “the stomach flu on nightmare mode,” but even scarier are the long-term complications that can develop after the initial infection. Those who have suffered from PVG are classified into different types depending on their post-infection status. Type Ones are the lucky ones who only ever had mild symptoms and completely return to normal upon recovery. Then there are those whose symptoms were severe enough to land them in the hospital and who wake up to discover that their body chemistry had irrevocably changed. No longer able to produce certain proteins needed for DNA repair, these patients must seek out the proteins by other means. Type Twos need proteins that are found in human blood, while Type Threes find themselves craving raw brains. The fact that Type Twos and Threes continue to be contagious—and that they may be prone to bouts of violence if their government-provided supplements aren’t enough or if they give into their urges—creates a huge stigma around those infected by PVG. When Erin is diagnosed as a Type Three, her dreams of a normal future of marriage and starting a family with her fiancé Gregory go instantly down the drain. Left to a life of complete isolation, social stigma, and government surveillance, Erin can’t help but be tempted by the opportunity for an illicit liaison with another infected woman. As the pandemic progresses, people start to feel its effects in new and unprecedented ways, including a sex worker who seems to be receiving psychic messages from gods beyond the stars and a cancer survivor who discovers strange new growths in her body…

Sister, Maiden, Monster is broken into three sections, told from the perspective of three different women, and which almost feel like three separate genres. Part One is a hyper-realistic pandemic sci-fi story that explores in detail how our society might try to apply the coping strategies we developed for the COVID-19 pandemic to a terrifying new virus. Though it quickly becomes clear that this is a vampire/zombie novel of some sort, those terms are never used and instead the virus is couched in plausible-sounding science. Erin navigates unclear protocols around masking, sanitizing, and social distancing; experiences a harrowing hospital stay; and is met with draconian restrictions alongside a complete lack of communication or compassion from the government and public health institutions. These topics may make this a difficult read for those who are not yet ready to see the coronavirus pandemic dealt with so directly in fiction, but it’s only a matter of time before our new anxieties around illness and infection worm their way into the general consciousness of horror fiction. Part Two of the novel takes a sudden left turn into Lovecraftian cosmic horror. I’m trying not to give away too many spoilers, but let’s just say that PVG stops feeling like an almost-plausible coronavirus parallel and more like a supernatural affliction engineered by outside actors. Part Three of the novel is a full-on apocalypse narrative told from the perspective of one of the few chosen survivors among humanity as she watches the world erupt into bloody chaos around her.

What I found most fascinating in this book is its exploration of monstrosity. In the first section of the novel, we get a unique incarnation of two of the most classic monsters from the horror genre: vampires and zombies. Yet it’s clear from the start that Erin is no monster. While she may have to supplement her diet with brain proteins, she’s still a relatable human with hopes, fears, and anxieties who was simply unfortunate enough to suffer from a biology-altering disease. The question of monstrosity becomes more complicated as the novel progresses and the virus starts to cause extreme physical transformations in its victims. Does someone become a monster once they no longer look recognizably human? What about when they start participating in the end of the world? Is it our appearance or our actions that make us monsters? And if we do monstrous things, but we’re not fully responsible for our own actions—are we monsters then? The end of the novel will leave you with plenty to chew on when it comes to ethics and morality in a cosmic horror setting.

Sister, Maiden, Monster is certainly the weirdest book I have read so far this year. I particularly enjoyed the slow-moving sci-fi horror element of the first section, but fans of cosmic horror will appreciate how swiftly the stakes are raised once the influence of otherworldly gods becomes apparent.

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An apocalypse happens, it is a virus that turns people into monsters. The novel is about three different women who become infected and change. One woman becomes a woman with a taste for women and their brains. Another woman have tumors growing on her and they are sinister. The third woman becomes a monster who enjoys murdering which gives her pleasure.

The author has written a story that is horror. It is in some ways gruesome. I liked this novel of crazy — the experience of cannibalism, blood lust, and more. It is gory at times. It’s not a novel if you are squeamish or faint of heart. This is a different type of horror. I can almost see a virus doing this to humans.

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If you’ve been kicking around here for a while, you probably already know I live for a new Lucy A. Snyder book. I think that Sister, Maiden, Monster is officially my favorite outing from Snyder so far. This book is SO FUCKED UP. But, like, in the most wonderful way.

I don’t want to tell you too much about the story because you really have to read it to believe it, but I will warn you that this is a pandemic story – but it’s also a lot of other things. It doesn’t focus on the current COVID-pandemic, but it does feature a pandemic, nonetheless. You’ve been warned.

Sister, Maiden, Monster is a story told in three parts by three very different women who are connected only by the horrific parts they play in the unfolding terrors the story imparts. It’s the story of a new and terrible world being shaped from the still twitching corpse of the old, more comprehensibly terrible world.

As usual, Snyder’s writing is absolutely captivating. I think that there is so much going on in Sister, Maiden, Monster that a less capable writer might have struggled to not only keep us with the story every step of the way, but to build the tension to the point where the story’s conclusion is able to hit the horrific frenzy that it does. Thankfully, Snyder is an incredibly capable writer – so this complex group of disparate story lines is able to seamlessly combine to bring us to the conclusion of everything.

Snyder’s ability to tackle complex themes (in this case, sexism, women’s rights, and the abuse and exploitation of women are all addressed in some way) in a way that fits naturally within the story is unparalleled. I think that is what I love so much about her writing. The social ills she explores are always handled in a way that yes, shows you something important, but doesn’t pull you away from the overall story she’s telling.

Note: this review goes live on my blog, strangersights.com on 3/15/23

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Covid meets Lovecraft

What if the next pandemic brought more changes than just mask mandates and vaccines? What if it changed humanity itself? <I>Sister, Maiden, Monster</i> takes that premise, adds in a touch of Lovecraftian horror, to create a fast-paced nightmare of descent into the apocalypse. The book splits the narrative into three intersecting parts, each bringing a new perspective and a little more insight into the unfolding mystery. If you’re looking for a quick fun read full of unsettling eldritch horrors, you can’t go wrong here.

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This was an interesting read. I am a huge horror fan so this one was right up my alley. It was a little bit of everything all rolled up into one book and I really enjoyed it! I know that not everyone is a fan of so much body horror but I think it fit well within the story. Overall, if you are a horror fan then definitely check this book out!

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Wow... just wow. This was such an exquisitely grotesque novel from Lucy Snyder and a book that any cosmic horror lover should pick up as soon as possible! This book is set post COVID-19 when a new gastro-intestinal virus is sweeping the globe. At first, everyone thinks this is just another pandemic with survivors experiencing extreme shifts in their digestion and overall health; however, we quickly learn that something larger and much more malevolent is at work here. This story is told in three parts by three separate women connected against all odds at the end of the world as we know it. I feel like I cannot say more without spoiling something!

Trigger warnings for body horror, self harm, birth scenes (?), gore, cannibalism

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I received this as an eARC from Tor Nightfire via NetGalley (and I really appreciate the opportunity), but I also bought the audiobook via Audible.

Content Warnings for: body horror, gore, pandemic illness/virus, cannibalism

I'd like to start with the fact that Synder's writing while in the beginning is slow and not comparative to any fast paced novel, does a wonderful job of griping the reader. The steady but familiar world building keeps you intrigued and then Snyder sprinkles in the particular odd but relatively tame horror typical moments that keep you wondering what direction the plot is going to head off in.
The summary given does little to fully prepare the reader for how much time you spend with Erin, compare too the future POVs that are introduced past the halfway point of the novel. But Synder's choice to have such a slow building beginning pays off as we get closer and closer to the peak of the apocalypse we as the reader then gets the rug pulled out from us in a quick descend into chaos that creates the most unsettling feeling as you continue to read on. Combined with the descriptive gore and body horror, I was simultaneously disgusted, but found myself unable to put the book down.
Additionally the social commentary was nicely woven into the individual characters traits and personalities so that it made them feel more fleshed out without making them feel too one dimensional. They also did not feel as if they were only there to be a written spokes persona for their individual beliefs.
My major concern is that the beginning may feel too slow to other readers that compel them to put the book down. We spend so much time with the first character Erin that I almost didn't think we were ever going to learn about Savannah and Mareva. I think drabbles of their stories getting introduced earlier may have kept me from wondering if the summary was at all accurate to the actual book, especially considering that the book is not overly long.

Overall this was addictive and horrifying read that has me intrigued to pick up more of Synder's work in the future.

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Thank you Tor Nightfire and Netgalley for the ARC.

Holy cosmic horror Batman, what a wild ride. I had to read this is a hurry, which wasn’t a problem because it held my interest the whole time.

It’s really a mixed bag of horror types: you’ve got body horror galore, dystopian pandemic horror - which for some, might be too soon.

The most interesting part of the story is the way Snyder ties in her feminist and sociopolitical views into this novel. There was so much going on at any given time that I may read it again and in a few months to see if there were parts I missed. Overall I thought it was a winner, but probably not a book for everyone.

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*thank you NetGalley for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

I had to sit with this book for a few minutes after finishing it. I was so deeply engrossed in the story and characters…. And then the horror of it all. I never thought I’d cringe at the word “squiddos” but I sure as heck did. I loved the development of each of our main characters. I was so torn and fascinated but how utterly disgusting but also still kind of hot the spicy scenes were too. I really enjoyed this retelling even if it made me a bit queasy at times.

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