Cover Image: Sister, Maiden, Monster

Sister, Maiden, Monster

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Member Reviews

Allow me to introduce you to the weirdest book I have ever read 🤲

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Part pandemic tale part body-horror syfy saga, Sister, Maiden, Monster follows three women throughout different stages of a transformative pandemic.

That's all you're going to want to know about this one. Just know it's a lot of gory fun and weird as hell (in a good way).

QOTD: do you have a favorite pandemic or apocalypse story? I am loving The Last of Us right now and HBO and definitely got similar vibes from this one.

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First off, what in the actual hell…? Second, can I have some more?
We meet three women, lives interconnected, during the peak of a pandemic that has its hosts becoming something “more.” Bloody and gruesome and weird; this book came out of nowhere and snagged me. I’m really hoping a sequel comes out because I’d love to continue on in this world.
If you are a fan of body horror, this book is chock full of it!

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Immediately, I was pulled in on the first pages. And then regretted my decision to start this book on my lunch break. After finishing my lunch, I jumped back into the book. You can feel the fear and confusion as Erin goes through the symptoms of catching the virus. Waking up in a fog, and learning about her condition from a doctor while strapped to the hospital bed. The book then continues in the view of two others living through the chaos of what the virus is doing to humanity.

I really enjoyed the beginning with Erin’s view of everything. But the next two were hard to get through sometimes but that was just me. I’m sure others will love it! If you like a book with three l different POV, this is for you! It was a great horror read!

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This book was messed up and so good wow. It follows three women’s stories following a crazy new virus which becomes so much more. Queer apocalyptic body horror. If you’re a fan of horror check out this book!

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As someone who has studied classic fiction and Middle English literature on an academic level, I am well aware of the concept of contextualization. Essentially, to be aware of the social and political climates that could either advertently or inadvertently influence a writer. Given that we as a species have lived through a significant global event—speaking of course, to the pandemic—I did find myself wondering how such events would relay themselves into our more recent literary culture. As if to answer this ponderment, I have seen distinct theming in some of my more recent arc and new release reads. Vampire Weekend by Mike Chen focussed around self reflection and loneliness, for example. Sister, Maiden, Monster was less subtle than that, and as a result, came off as cheap.
I do not like the idea of umbrellaing certain stories as “pandemic books.” I think it degrades the effort and imagination it took to produce those stories by whittling them down to the point in time they were written. However, when a novel is made to go to such great lengths to encourage that association, then I simply have to roll my eyes and accept defeat.
Sister, Maiden, Monster was beyond obsessed with portraying pandemic specific horror. Right on down to extensive descriptions about improperly fitted N-95 masks, public fear, and stinging hand sanitizer. Outside of the obvious allusions to the pandemic, and some fetishist stereotyping, the horror elements were interesting. Nevertheless, I just could not get into this book. I lived this for the past 3 years, and it is still way too fresh in my mind to be reading about it.

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Award-winning horror writer Lucy A. Snyder unleashes "Sister, Maiden, Monster" onto readers with great aplomb. Folks who prefer their fiction without any plagues or pandemics may want to steer clear of this novel, and even though I myself am in the camp that prefers not to read about pandemics, Snyder's writing and storytelling are magnificent, so I made an exception. The novel begins with a pandemic--not Covid-19, but something called PVG, or Polymorphic viral gastroencephalities. It has spread all over the world at roughly the same time in major cities, and the medical powers-that-be aren't sure about a Patient Zero, if one exists. PVG has also emerged after the previous 'coronavirus years,' so the landscape imagined here includes a world in which something worse comes after our current pandemic. The protagonist, Erin, and her boyfriend Gregory, are celebrating their anniversary a bit early. She becomes extremely ill not long after, and things take a turn for the worse.

She has been moved to a night shift job at her company, and has memory issues. She may go on a murderous rampage unpredictably, or an infecting spree. At one point, she was transported from the hospital to a place called Greenlawn, which is a recommissioned insane asylum. Although the protagonist concedes no one would call it that now, it's how city residents called it when it was built in 1908. After a shutdown in the 1980s, it became an army training place for a while, then was re-abandoned, until more recently. This pandemic presented a need for a secure recovery space, so the current owners envisioned that for it.

This novel falls under the camp of science fiction horror. Years ago, readers would have read this as post-apocalyptic fiction and have a veil of comfort about how X scenario would never really happen and thank goodness for that. Now that we've lived through--and are still living through--three pandemic years and counting, that have felt like three centuries, we know that's not the case. The veil of security is no longer there as a comfort. When Snyder describes things like Pandemic Safety Acts and government protocols on phones, Homeland Security being involved, etc, the reader will be chilled at the way we have all been so collectively invaded, and the scenarios don't seem far-fetched.

Oh, and did I mention that in addition to Erin's milder diet of things like bananas and applesauce, she eats brains?

Type Ones are people who contracted this PVG virus, got some headache and nausea, but then after a few days of rest they recovered, never had to see a doctor, didn't have to go to an ER, and didn't need to be in a containment facility like Greenwood. Erin has become a kind of living zombie who has significant trouble with digestion, healing, sunlight, X-rays, and a dozen other things. She could also still become a 'total cancer farm' by the time she becomes 35 years old. Further still, pregnancy is no longer an option, adoption and fostering are also not options, and her brain will degenerate significantly over time. It's not clear if there is a cure.

A Type Two means that if you were given daily supplements of vitamins and survived the initial severe onset of the virus, you could survive on fresh human blood, so you would become a vampire. Or you could drink fresh animal blood, or pasteurized. However, Type Threes are those who need to eat, as the author describes, "a nice fresh bowl of raw brains." Erin is a Type Three. Because of this, she is also far more prone to violent psychotic episodes if she doesn't regularly get raw brain material to eat.

And as she reminds readers, the worst part is that she's a contagious Type Three, so until she's no longer contagious... things are even worse. She tells her partner that they can no longer live together because it's not safe. She has to try to find a lodging of her own that will accept her.

The discussion she has with the Homeland Security agent when she's about to be discharged is like "1984" (Orwell) times a million. In some cases, Type Three patients are required to wear ankle bracelets. In Erin's case, her phone has an app she has to report into daily. They'll also check monitor her activities to make sure she's not on any dating apps. And if she thinks about violating rules about being in crowds or gyms, she'll be shuttled off to a supermax facility in Elderville for PVGs who are 'particularly violent.'

In light of the Roe v Wade downfall in real life and the fundamental robbing of women's rights, reading that IUDs are mandatory for women in this situation while men don't have to get vasectomies is ... par for the course. The body horror, gore, and brains make this a novel not for the faint of heart. With a brash mix of horror comedy to the religious horror aspects as well as the situation on the whole, and switching points of view to the other perspectives in the novel, "Sister, Maiden, Monster" is definitely one of the most unique and unforgettable horror novels of 2023. Don't miss it!

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“I looked up at him, really looked at him. His pupils were constricted to small, dark points. A single bead of sweat trickled from his tidy gray hairline down his golf-tanned forehead. He was afraid. I knew it deep in my bones. A man is only afraid of a woman if she has power.”

I’ll be honest. I’ve found it hard to read pandemic fiction in the last couple of years. It’s felt too soon. Too fresh. I’ve been very particular about the virus stories I’ve been checking out. So when I heard about a virus that transforms people into eldritch horrors I was all in.

The strength of this book was the cast of women. Even when they’re selfish and monstrous they’re so vividly human. Their rage becomes your rage. Their pain is yours. I loved how the women’s stories tied together.

I was fully engaged in this story and loved the way the transformations were revealed. The cravings, the treatment! It was all so interesting especially experiencing it through our multiple narrators.

While the scope is micro in it’s telling, it leaves a lot of potential for future stories in this newly ruined world. You genuinely don’t know where this is going to go.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thank you so much to the team @tornightfire for providing me with an arc of this title. Sister, Maiden, Monster comes out February 21st.

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A new favorite, Snyder's SISTER, MAIDEN, MONSTER captivated me from the first page, thrilled me through each POV shift, and horrified me from start to finish. Quite possibly one of the BEST books I have EVER read. Full review forthcoming.

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What a fun book! Lovecraftian gore and spookiness abound, constantly kept me guessing at where it'd go next. It really captured the idea of the end of the world with elder gods, without falling onto super familiar tropes. As someone who isn't a billion percent familiar with Lovecraft, this was a fantastic intro for a modern audience.

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This was very much a book of two halves for me, both of which I enjoyed in their own right, but which as a whole, felt pretty disjointed. The first half focused on Erin and her ongoing struggle with a new virus which can cause extreme violence and a need to consume human brains. We get a lot of character and world building in this first part, which gives Erin a depth that the protagonists of the next two parts don't get. The tone of the novel shifts pretty wildly and, although I did like the direction the second half went in, it felt a bit like two separate novels welded together. This meant that a lot of the second half felt pretty rushed and left a lot of things unexplored, which is a real shame. I think overall, I genuinely would have preferred this to be a duology, which would have given Snyder enough space to explore the themes brought up in the second half which didn't get enough time here.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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Fearsome female ferocity. This book is a vivid and visceral look at a violent post-pandemic world. Gory and graphic, the imagery in this 3-part story made my skin crawl on multiple occasions.

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Y,all #bookreview coming at you, thanks to
@netgalley and @tornightfire for the eARC in exchange
for an honest review.

Do y'all enjoy #cosmichorror ? Let me know below.

Sister, Maiden, Monster by @lucyasnyder is a #sapphic
cosmic horror tale, about a #virus that hits in a
post-pandemic world. We follow the POVs of three
women and find out how they are all interconnected, as
a virus spreads across the world, that gives people
some strange symptoms. At first, I thought this was a
typical monster story, a virus turning people into
vampires or zombies, but I WAS WRONG. I had not
realized the cosmic horror nature of this story, and
once it was apparent, I was hooked.

Not only is it an excellent #horrorbook , but the rep in it
is 💯, with sapphic rep (including #birep ), #acerep,
and a character that struggles with #genderidentity. I
was so pleased with this. I would have liked to see
more of a world after the events, as the ending is left
open, and would enjoy reading more about this world
and the eventual outcome.

Check TW's before reading.

⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

#bookish #horrorcommunity #netgalley
#sistermaidenmonster #lucyasnyder #bookstagram
#queerbooks #queerhorror #wlw #lgbtq🌈
#queerbookstagram #wlwbooks #tornightfire

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First and foremost, this book is a lot. It is short but so much. If you don’t have a weak disposition and enjoy apocalypse style writings, you may want to check this out. Lots of body horror and adult themes, making this a recommendation for adults who are not squeamish. It is heavy in political and religious factors as well and I feel it’s good to know that before reading or attempting to read.

Now, there are a plethora of themes and deeper meanings smashed into this book. The author mentioned in her acknowledgements that several short stories contributed to the writing and I could sense that separation yet togetherness while reading.

I can’t fully recommend it because it’s not something everyone should or would want to read. I feel it’s a very particular type of story. When you start reading, it’ll be hard to see the big picture of it all but it mostly comes together at the end. The ending is a bit of a cliffhanger and could definitely be taken further. However, I do not think at this time I would read the next installment of one were to be written.

I will say it is a sickening horror and maybe not in the way you would initially think. If you decide to check it out, let me know in the comments if you feel the same.

Thanks to NetGalley and Tornightfire for the opportunity to read this arc for my honest review.

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There was definitely a lot of potential here for this to be an interesting apocalypse horror novel, but a lot of that was undercut by what I felt was kind of rushed pacing and uneven page time distribution between characters. The story is told from the perspective of 3 characters, each one being centered in their respective part, the first part takes up a bit over 50% of the book, which left the other two feeling a bit rushed and disjointed- especially the very last one which I felt should have been the longer of the three. The pacing along with the fact that the characters didn't really feel distinct enough for me to really care about any of them left me in that place where you read a book simply because you want to finish it because of how short it is rather than dnf instead of reading a book because you're enjoying it. There were a lot of interesting apocalypse fiction ideas here that I think could have been interesting if executed differently, but ultimately this really wasn't for me. There were also a few topics that were brought up in the story such as racism and gender dysphoria that I didn't feel were really handled that well or discussed properly, along with a moment that I felt was in very poor taste in which a character brings up what Jeffrey Dahmer had done to one of his victims. In general, this just wasn't what I was hoping for it to be

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Thoughts: This was an incredibly weird and demented collection of three interconnected novellas that I ended up really enjoying. Snyder always comes up with some crazy stuff and doesn't shy away from the gory details. I really enjoyed her Jessie Shimmer series and continue to enjoy her writing here as well.

The synopsis does a decent job describing the plot, so I won't reiterate it here. This is pretty much an apocalyptic set of stories where a strange virus starts to manifest in people in different ways.

This is viciously twisted and gory, and at times you will think, "Did I really just read that?" It is also incredibly creative and intriguing since Snyder delves into depths of depravity that most authors wouldn't be comfortable delving in to. I love it for its uniqueness and just how much fun it ends up being to read.

The characters here are easy to engage with and come across as intelligent and introspective in their own ways, even when they are vicious and amoral. There is plenty of action and suspense, as you sit back and wonder how everything will play out. The ending is open-ended but I thought it fit the story tone well. Most endings to an apocalyptic tale like this are a bit open-ended.

My Summary (5/5): Overall I loved this and was so happy to see Snyder back to writing full-length books (even if it is more of a novella series in one novel). The weirdness and creativity here is awesome, but stomach turning at times. This is not a book for the faint of heart, but if you are a fan of Snyder you already know that. She does not turn away from gore or uncomfortable strangeness. I loved this and am excited to see what she writes next!

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So, this is absolutely one of those books where you finish it, stare at a wall for two minutes, then exclaim: "what the f*ck did I just read?"

I honestly have no clue how to describe this to anyone, even though I certainly tried. It's like ... if the next pandemic we had sought to turn people into almost but not quite biblically accurate angels to prepare for an inevitable apocalypse that is handed down by eldritch beings who have a thing for octopuses. Curious yet?

Based on the synopsis, I assumed this was in triple POV. And, in a way, it was, but not how I expected. Rather the book is broken into three parts, with each character taking turns to show the different stages of the literal plague. Interestingly, while completely separate from each other, all three women are connected through some degree of separation. Each woman played a specific role in the upcoming Rapture, and they carried them very well, I thought.

Erin kicks us off for the first Act, being one of those who caught one of the more serious PVG cases and adjusting to her new reality. How being Type 3 has broken her relationship, changed her work position, her diet, and overall physical and mental needs.

Savannah slips into the middle with the shortest Act 2. She contracted PVG but did not get badly sick. Rather, her transformation comes from witnessing someone else's, and she finds a new purpose in life that involves some pretty nasty stuff for those aforementioned eldritch peeps.

Finally, Mareva takes us home to the finale by being the Chosen one. She has a disease/disorder that causes her to grow benign tumors. And boy howdy do we know she's the Chosen one when one of those tumors turns out to be not very cancer-like at all.

Never before has a book made me so squeamish. Usually I'm pretty good with body horror, but this did not shy away from the gore and unnerving. I mean, there was one scene involving a brain that literally made me scream and skip to the end because it was to gross to fathom. First for everything I suppose. And as weird and uncomfy as this book was in some places, it was so damn interesting and incredibly well written. I kid you not when I say I could not put it down. I just had to know what it all led to, what everything meant.

I waffled incredibly hard on what to rate this. Flipped between a three and a five on multiple occasions because there were some incredible moments that made me forget the not so good ones. In the end, I'm settling on a four because of that ending. I swear my copy was missing an epilogue or something because it was far too abrupt for me. I needed just a little more.

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Fresh brains, cosmic horror and the end of the world collide,
and oh yes, it’s beautiful!

This was my first foray into the fiction of Lucy A Snyder and truth be told I was caught totally on the hop by the levels of sheer brutality which unfolded over the next 300+ totally wild pages. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I found myself both mesmerized and grossed out by the astonishing levels of body horror which would give prime David Cronenberg a run for his money. Be prepared for skulls being nonchalantly cracked opens and contents devoured by certain infected individuals who have developed an insatiable hunger for human brains. However, whilst it was gross, it never felt exploitative, with some of the scenes almost sensual (did I just say that?!?) Neither was Sister Maiden Monster a boring spin on the modern zombie novel or comedy in the style of Return of the Living Dead, instead it was played with a very serious straight bat and the result is an incredibly powerful novel that sneakily meanders into cosmic apocalyptic End of Days territory.

The very clever way in which the deadly virus which beats at the core of Sister Maiden Monster mirrored Covid-19 was slyly and cleverly done. Set a few years after Covid, when this new virus arrives the population are already familiar with social distancing, mask wearing and periods of self-isolation. This novel ramps up the idea of a deadly virus and pushes us into a cosmic nightmare, which also keeps a keen eye on the science via a cool You Tube channel buzzing in the background. This was a gripping blend of what starts out in ‘speculative’ territory before going full-blast Lovecraft. Similar to Covid-19 the virus in Sister Maiden Monster effects people in different ways and is a clever part of the narrative, some are completely asymptomatic, whilst you do not want to know what happens to others!

I loved the way the breakdown of society is seen through three unique female voices (Erin, Savannah and Mareva) whom are all impacted in hugely different ways from the early days in hospital isolation to later periods when the government have snipers on building roofs looking for anything suspicious. This was Covid-19 multiplied by a thousand as the three try to survive (or embrace) the virus which is destined to change humanity.

Upon starting Sister Maiden Monster I knew very little about the plot and loved how everything started so normally before the brutal escalation. Erin was looking forward to getting married and instead ends up in hospital after contracting the virus and is then given a new set of rules for living which forbids her from mixing with others, having sex, or going out in crowds (just for a start). The scene when she wakes up strapped to a bed, but has no idea why, was outstanding. Finding herself now attracted to women and seeking out others who have the virus she has a transformation and has perhaps the biggest section of the book, which also cleverly drops into the narratives of the other two women.

Savannah and Mareva have less page time that Erin and focus more on different stages of the apocalypse, but all three are changed in different ways and are pieces of the cosmic jigsaw in the wider story arc. I found all three characters to be highly entertaining and particularly enjoyed how they were seen wildly different by each other. This was a highly creative novel with excellent world building and often it is easy for characters to become secondary to the world building aspects, but this did not happen in Sister Maiden Monster where people and setting complimented each other beautifully. Even the support characters and victims carried weight from the thoughtful nurse to the infected girlfriend, government agent, You Tube channel host, thoughtful boyfriend and repressed casual pickup were fully formed.

Events undoubtedly have a feminist edge and I enjoyed the blend of science fiction elements which are convincingly mixed into the horror. The sexual turn on during killing was unsettling, particularly when blended with the wild levels of violence which go hand in hand with the complex and unique transformations the three women go through. Although the story focusses on the three personal changes, it also successfully conveys the world-wide morphoses and the bigger picture. The book did end very abruptly and although there was nothing wrong with the (very) end I’m not sure how well it gelled with what went before as it lacked explanation. I’m uncertain there is enough milage for a sequel which would provide more information, unless there was some sort of resistance, but I would certainly read it should it ever materialise.

I have a feeling Sister, Maiden, Monster will excite and disgust readers in equal measures and I think the author would take that as a compliment! The levels of violence were unflinchingly brutal, but at the same time strangely captivating. In fiction the End of Days trope really has been done to death, but Lucy A Snyder still manages to bring something fresh (and not just brains) to the party. Wacky science and cosmic horror are combined brilliantly in this highly original apocalyptic gorefest.

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What was the last book that you finished and just had you saying “WOW”?

THIS ONE!!!

A virus tears across the globe, transforming its victims in nightmarish ways. As the world collapses, dark forces pull a small group of women together.

This one is told in three interwoven parts:

Erin, once quiet and closeted, acquires an appetite for a woman and her brain. Why does forbidden fruit taste so good?

Savannah, a professional BDSM switch, discovers a new turn-on: committing brutal murders for her eldritch masters.

Mareva, plagued with chronic tumors, is too horrified to acknowledge her divine role in the coming apocalypse, and as her growths multiply, so too does her desperation.

I am still not entirely sure what I read but my gosh it sure worked and well. This was horror, sci-fi, fantasy, dystopian, and honestly no clue but amazingness. I just don’t think I have the right words to describe how twisted and delightful this book is. Its like a train wreck, not that it is horrible, but that you can’t take your eyes away from the page. Sure, there were some politics in this book (mask wearing under nose mentions, IUD being forced on some but no vasectomies, the one black person dying…) but the book didn’t dwell on these things, and I think its hard to write a book about a virus without touching on some of these subjects. I will be giving this book one 5 stars because I cannot stop thinking about it!

Check out this fantastic ride of a book on Feb 21st!

Thank you so much to the publisher Tor Nightfire, @tornightfire, the author, and @Netgalley for this e-ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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WHEN I TELL YOU THAT I AM OBSESSED!!!! Seriously, this book has everything I could have ever hoped for and more. There's humor, LGBTQIA+ representation, eldritch level terrors, body horror, sex positivity, and some incredibly creative uses of gore. Lucy A. Snyder really gave their audience their all in Sister, Maiden, Monster. If you are a fan of Lovecraft but crave a contemporary and socially conscious approach to sci-fi horror, then you need to get your hands on this book immediately. If you enjoy David Cronenberg levels of body horror, you've found the perfect book.

I could go on incessantly about how incredible Sister, Maiden, Monster is. It's hard to pen entertaining, and relatable (while remaining somewhat detached) pandemic fiction. However, Snyder has crafted a story that adds elements of the uncanny and bizarre that reminisce on the early days of the pandemic while retaining a wall of distance through the development of a new virus. Through careful consideration of eco-horrors, social and political upheaval, and the significance of the horror genre, Sister, Maiden, Monster has solidified itself as one of my favorite and absolute must reads of the year - if not the decade.

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What on Earth did I just read? It felt like a sick fever dream and I loved every uncomfortable second of it. I knew from the very first chapter that I would love this book. Do you seek out trigger warnings? Let me save you some time and tell you that if you do, don’t read this. It’s dark and dirty but still managed to be thought-provoking and human. There are three parts, each with a different female main character, until the plot lines connect for an exploding conclusion. If you’re ready for a horror book about another pandemic following the one we all lived through, look no further. Simply fantastic and I cannot wait to see what Snyder writes next.

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