Does enjoying the fantastic body of woman-led horror fiction have to end with February, AKA Women in Horror Month? Absolutely not! If anything, it’s even more horizon-expanding to enjoy horror by women all year round. And, don’t worry, if you’re searching for some sort of holiday or monthly theme to motivate you, March 8th is International Women’s Day! And Hauntedmtl will be having a livestream talking about women in the horror genre. Here are some suggestions of books you can read to prepare.
1: White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi
Weird fiction meets horror! Not your typical haunted house story, this book follows the Silver family, who live in a big house near the Cliffs of Dover. Miranda, the daughter, has pica, and the first line tells you that she’s missing, along with her mother. The book follows Miranda as the house grows more and more sinister and she gets more and more unstable. I really can’t recommend this enough. I read it back in October and the more I think about it, the better I think it was. What a fantastic, effective, and unique take on the haunted house.
2: The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez
Are you sick and tired of tropey, trashy paranormal romances? Do you like diverse books? Well, The Gilda Stories is here for you. This novel feels more like a short story collection following the titular immortal vampire throughout her long life. While there is a plot about vampirism, the biggest part of this book is Gilda learning how to square her immortality with the people that she loves. In my opinion, Gilda is one of the great literary characters, and I wish more people would read this book.
3: Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
kay, so maybe you think vampires and haunted houses are cliche. Maybe, instead, you love witchy horror. In this debut from 1998, Toronto has been abandoned by the government and has descended back into a traditional society ruled by magic. Our main character, Ti-Jeanne, is the granddaughter of Toronto’s best magic healer. She’s also in a relationship and has a baby with Tony, who is wrapped up in the black magic mafia. Oh, and she has powers herself that she is only just discovering. This book was incredibly creative and unique. Caribbean mythology and traditional songs are weaved throughout the book, and ultimately, the center of the narrative is matrilineal relationships. If you want a sinister, high-stakes story, Brown Girl in the Ring is for you.
4: Strange Girls edited by Azzurra Nox
Maybe an anthology is your jam. If so, look no further than Strange Girls. I was lucky to get an ARC of this from Netgalley, and, boy, did it impress. All of the stories in this collection are written by women. The subject matter runs the horror gamut: creepy dolls, evil mermaids, you name it, this book’s got it. I read it two months ago and still remember almost every story. In this anthology, the hits definitely outweigh the misses.
5: It Will Just Be Us by Jo Kaplan
This was another book that I was lucky to get an ARC of, and another haunted house story (can you tell what my favorite horror trope is?). This spooky home is on the shores of Virginia’s Great Dismal Swamp, where the ghosts of the Wakefield family relive their sordid lives and deaths. When Sam, our main character, realizes that she might be seeing the ghosts of the future, she goes on a mission to change the terrible things to come. It Will Just Be Us really delved deep into family dynamics, which I loved. The writing style was also very gripping. I didn’t want to put this one down. This book comes out in August, from Crooked Lane Books.
If none of these books intrigued you, don’t fret. There are so many horror novels by women in every different style and flavor. So get a hot beverage, nestle into your reading spot, and enjoy some fantastically scary books by women authors. And watch for our International Women’s Day livestream on March 8th!