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Pub Date May 14 2024 | Archive Date Jul 15 2024


For fans of Samanta Schweblin and Fernanda Melchor, Layla Martinez’s debut novel with its grisly, mystical vision of justice for an unjust world, announces a terrifying new voice in international horror.

The house breathes. The house contains bodies and secrets. The house is visited by ghosts, by angels that line the roof like insects, and by saints that burn the bedsheets with their haloes. It was built by a smalltime hustler as a means of controlling his wife, and even after so many years, their daughter and her granddaughter can’t leave. They may be witches or they may just be angry, but when the mysterious disappearance of a young boy draws unwanted attention, the two isolated women, already subjects of public scorn, combine forces with the spirits that haunt them in pursuit of something that resembles justice. 

In this lush translation by Sophie Hughes and Annie McDermott, Layla Martinez’s eerie debut novel is class-conscious horror that drags generations of monsters into the sun. Described by Mariana Enriquez as “a house of shadows and women made of vengeance and poetry,” this vision of a broken family in our unjust world places power in the hands of the eccentric, the radical, and the desperate.

For fans of Samanta Schweblin and Fernanda Melchor, Layla Martinez’s debut novel with its grisly, mystical vision of justice for an unjust world, announces a terrifying new voice in international...

Advance Praise

“A house of women and shadows, built from poetry and revenge. Layla Martínez’ tense, chilling novel tells a story of specters, class war, violence and loneliness, as naturally as if the witches had dictated this lucid, terrible nightmare to Martínez themselves.”
—Mariana Enriquez, author of Our Share of Night

“It pounces on us from the first line and doesn’t let go until the last, if it lets go. The Gothic revival continues to expand and produce great works.”
—Edmundo Paz Soldán, author of Norte

“Woodworm is a true literary event.”
—Belén Gopegui, author of Stay This Day and Night with Me

“This book is the revenge of an intergenerational would, the embrace of barbarity, the loss of morels when trying to protect your loved ones. This book is the miserable and the wretched saying ‘enough is enough.’”
—Alana S. Portero, author of Bad Habit

“A story of suffocating terror about the weight of our dead, remembrance permeating the walls, and class hatred.”
—Sara Plaza Serna, Píkara Magazine

“A house of women and shadows, built from poetry and revenge. Layla Martínez’ tense, chilling novel tells a story of specters, class war, violence and loneliness, as naturally as if the witches had...

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ISBN 9781949641592
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Average rating from 26 members

Featured Reviews

I very much enjoyed the creeping gothic horror of Woodworm by Layla Martinez. If you love Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle or T. KingFisher What Moves The Dead, you will love Woodworm. It is a very quick read at under 2 hours that packs in the atmosphere and rich family history told in creeping and disturbing ways.

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This was a great read! Super quick and tightly paced, with really strong narrative voices. Interesting reveals even in so short a novel and a really strong thematic throughline. Great characterization of the house.

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I was uneasy, in the best way possible, from start to finish. Layla Martínez crafts a timeless and haunting tale of generational trauma full of fierce women and revenge. Much like with one’s own family oral history, the reader is tasked with piecing together the bits of the narrators’ stories until a complete picture is formed. The gothic tradition is honored but with a Spanish twist. I devoured this novel and look forward to reading more from this author.

Thank you, Layla Martínez, Sophie Hughes, Annie McDermott, for a sensational literary experience, and to NetGalley for the ARC.

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Phenomenal book aboht striking baxk. A nice horror with some very fun motifs! Thanks so so much for the arc

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Martínez's writing shows a deep understanding of being a woman going through life dedicated to her family, who is bound to destroy her. <i>"That's what family is, a place to stay, and food on the table and in return you're cooped up with a bunch of living relatives and another bunch of dead ones. All families keep their dead under the mattress, my mother used to tell me, it's just that we can see ours."</i> As the old woman tells her family's story, it is evident is has broken her down to the bare bones of herself while she works her life away to keep her family "values."

Martínez creates an intricate world revolving around a house in rural Spain that is so deep and reflective for the reader. I felt parts of my personality and soul seen through her work that I have never seen explained before. She writes, <i>"We hate what reminds us of ourselves,"</i> which is such a simple idea, but in regards to the context of the novel delves into the complex relationships of self vs. family, and nature vs. nurture.

I give this book five stars for the beautiful writing, haunting themes, and retrospectiveness when I reach the end.

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Excellent translation of a fresh take on folk horror. Martinez drops you into a fully formed world and whisks you along with a distinct narrator's voice to a satisfyingly creepy ending.

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The only thing I love more than a haunted house story is a story about women getting their revenge, and Woodworm is both!

The creepy vibes here are everything to me. I love when a book lets itself be weird for the sake of being weird, without the need to explain why or how anything works. The story is told in delicious little fragments, trailing you all over the place until you’ve forgotten where you started. Jolts of recognition bolted through me when the story wove back around to the main plot, because I got so wrapped up in the world building that I lost myself in it.

I liked the harsh, ugliness of the setting and the characters. Nothing is sugarcoated and everything is awful. Maybe things will never systemically change, but it’s the little justices that keep us going.

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WOODWORM by Layla Martinez
Page Count: 124 pages
Publisher: Two Lines Press
Other Books I Enjoyed by This Author: Debut novel
Affiliate Link: https://bookshop.org/a/7576/9781949641592
Release Date: May 2nd, 2024
General Genre: Ghost, horror, feminist, women, literary, haunted house
Sub-Genre/Themes: cursed, haunted, generational trauma, human trafficking, domestic abuse, marriage, haunted house, motherhood
Writing Style: spare, compelling, fairytale/folklore storytelling vibes
What You Need to Know: Domestic violence, human trafficking
My Reading Experience: The pages just fly by. I was immediately absorbed into this haunting tale of generations of women bound by the geography of this cursed house built by a man trapped forever in its walls. Oh, the symbolism!
Perfect for fans looking for cultural vibrancy and folklore
Witches and magical realism
rural small town legends
gothic curses on families
mothers and daughters
and fairytale-like, fever-dream prose
Final Recommendation: Woodworm is one of my favorite books I've read this year. It is the story of cursed women living in a cursed house that keeps them locked away together for generations. I loved the way it reads like a dark fairytale but hits the guts with social commentary and universal truths.
Comps: Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor, Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin, When I Sing, Mountains Dance by Irene Solà

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