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Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction

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Meet the women writers who defied convention to craft some of literature’s strangest tales, from Frankenstein to The Haunting of Hill House and beyond. Frankensteinwas just the beginning: horror stories and other weird fiction wouldn’t exist without the women who created it. From Gothic ghost stories to psychological horror to science fiction, women have been primary Meet the women writers who defied convention to craft some of literature’s strangest tales,  from  Frankenstein  to  The Haunting of Hill House  and beyond.   Frankenstein was just the beginning: horror stories and other weird fiction wouldn’t exist without the women who created it. From Gothic ghost stories to psychological horror to science fiction, women have been primary architects of speculative literature of all sorts. And their own life stories are as intriguing as their fiction. Everyone knows about Mary Shelley, creator of Frankenstein, who was rumored to keep her late husband’s heart in her desk drawer. But have you heard of Margaret “Mad Madge” Cavendish, who wrote a science-fiction epic 150 years earlier (and liked to wear topless gowns to the theater)? If you know the astounding work of Shirley Jackson, whose novel The Haunting of Hill House was reinvented as a Netflix series, then try the psychological hauntings of Violet Paget, who was openly involved in long-term romantic relationships with women in the Victorian era. You’ll meet celebrated icons (Ann Radcliffe, V. C. Andrews), forgotten wordsmiths (Eli Colter, Ruby Jean Jensen), and today’s vanguard (Helen Oyeyemi). Curated reading lists point you to their most spine-chilling tales. Part biography, part reader’s guide, the engaging write-ups and detailed reading lists will introduce you to more than a hundred authors and over two hundred of their mysterious and spooky novels, novellas, and stories.


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Meet the women writers who defied convention to craft some of literature’s strangest tales, from Frankenstein to The Haunting of Hill House and beyond. Frankensteinwas just the beginning: horror stories and other weird fiction wouldn’t exist without the women who created it. From Gothic ghost stories to psychological horror to science fiction, women have been primary Meet the women writers who defied convention to craft some of literature’s strangest tales,  from  Frankenstein  to  The Haunting of Hill House  and beyond.   Frankenstein was just the beginning: horror stories and other weird fiction wouldn’t exist without the women who created it. From Gothic ghost stories to psychological horror to science fiction, women have been primary architects of speculative literature of all sorts. And their own life stories are as intriguing as their fiction. Everyone knows about Mary Shelley, creator of Frankenstein, who was rumored to keep her late husband’s heart in her desk drawer. But have you heard of Margaret “Mad Madge” Cavendish, who wrote a science-fiction epic 150 years earlier (and liked to wear topless gowns to the theater)? If you know the astounding work of Shirley Jackson, whose novel The Haunting of Hill House was reinvented as a Netflix series, then try the psychological hauntings of Violet Paget, who was openly involved in long-term romantic relationships with women in the Victorian era. You’ll meet celebrated icons (Ann Radcliffe, V. C. Andrews), forgotten wordsmiths (Eli Colter, Ruby Jean Jensen), and today’s vanguard (Helen Oyeyemi). Curated reading lists point you to their most spine-chilling tales. Part biography, part reader’s guide, the engaging write-ups and detailed reading lists will introduce you to more than a hundred authors and over two hundred of their mysterious and spooky novels, novellas, and stories.

30 review for Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction

  1. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction by Lisa Kroger is a 2019 Quirk Books publication. Just in time for Halloween, Monster, She Wrote, will give you a host of books to add to your Fall/Winter reading list! This book is also a tribute of sorts and is a reminder of the major contributions that women have made to the horror, Gothic, and science fiction categories. These pioneers of horror fiction were trailblazers, creating some of the most thought-provoking Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction by Lisa Kroger is a 2019 Quirk Books publication. Just in time for Halloween, Monster, She Wrote, will give you a host of books to add to your Fall/Winter reading list! This book is also a tribute of sorts and is a reminder of the major contributions that women have made to the horror, Gothic, and science fiction categories. These pioneers of horror fiction were trailblazers, creating some of the most thought-provoking and spine-tingling literature ever written, and influencing many authors in the future. Personally, as a big fan of Gothic literature, I was familiar with many of the names listed in the book- at least half of them, but some background information and biographical details were new to me. The author also provided a recommended reading list along with each author profiled, which gave me plenty of new authors and books to try. Some of these authors are lesser known, but have an impressive body of work to explore. Elizabeth Gaskell I’m grateful to Lisa Kroger for giving these writers the long overdue credit they deserve, and for reminding me of authors and books I had forgotten about. There is plenty of history introduced in this book, as well as many interesting stories about the featured writers, and of course, this is also a ‘book about books’ and who can pass that up? Amelia Edwards (Precursor to Barbara Michaels/ Elizabeth Peters) The book is well organized, well researched, with a terrific presentation that made it easy to follow, and held my interest, while avoiding pointless minutiae. I fully intend to hunt down the books on the recommended reading list- especially the Gothics! - And I will use this book as a reference in the future. Vernon Lee There is a little something in this book for everyone- no matter what horror sub-genre you prefer. Not only that, it is informative, entertaining, and even inspirational, serving as a reminder that we owe these great writers a debt of gratitude. They have helped pave the way for female writers today who must bravely compete in a mostly male dominated genre and, with a few notable exceptions, still struggle for the same respect. Anne Rice So, now that I’m inspired to tap into more horror novels written by women- tell me who some of your favorite female horror writers or your favorite horror novel written by a woman.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Is your TBR becoming shorter? Neither is mine and now the wishlist is even longer. These authors want you and I to know that there are tons of great Gothic/horror/ terror filled books out there and they are all written by fantastic female writers- some names I knew(Daphne Du Maurier, Shirley Jackson) but there were many more that were whispering from the shadows " I'm still here." Which sounds quite spooky but it fits with the whole atmosphere of this non fiction. Divided into six categories, Is your TBR becoming shorter? Neither is mine and now the wishlist is even longer. These authors want you and I to know that there are tons of great Gothic/horror/ terror filled books out there and they are all written by fantastic female writers- some names I knew(Daphne Du Maurier, Shirley Jackson) but there were many more that were whispering from the shadows " I'm still here." Which sounds quite spooky but it fits with the whole atmosphere of this non fiction. Divided into six categories, the authors take us from the 17th century(the founding mothers) all the way up to the 21st century( the new Gothic). Each author has a short biography, an analysis of her literary contribution to the genre, and most importantly tons of related reading to dive into. What more could a curious reader ever ask for? With Halloween just around the corner, this book will definitely spur a number of readers into a Gothic fiction read-a-thon. Thanks to Netgalley and Quirk Books for a digital galley in exchange for an honest review. Goodreads review published 28/08/19 Publication Date 17/09/19

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sadie Hartmann Mother Horror

    Well, this was only my second time reading a nonfiction book about the origins of horror and I must say that this was a lot of fun. I learned a lot, I took notes and I have a bunch of books I'd like to look for the next time I'm a secondhand bookstore. Currently writing my review for Scream Mag and it will be published this October 2019 I will say that horror fans looking for some Gothic Lit or some dark, obscure reads that probably inspired modern horror writers, should pick this up!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Olivia (Stories For Coffee)

    An interesting read exploring the women who have paved the way for speculative fiction and horror. Split into sections like “pulp fiction writers” and “haunting the home”, this book dove into the lives of some famous writers of horror stories while also highlighting works of theirs that might not be as well known while also recommending other works similar to these writers’ stories.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kirsty

    Will I ever tire of books about books? (Answer: no.) This one was great fun, and was a pleasant reminder of my favourite course during my English Lit undergrad, on the Female Gothic. It's a very brief overview, but I found the selections interesting, and I've added several new books to my to-read list. The more modern selections had some strange omissions (no Hotel World by Ali Smith? No Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel? No Amelia Gray or Camilla Grudova?) and focused on some lightweight YA authors Will I ever tire of books about books? (Answer: no.) This one was great fun, and was a pleasant reminder of my favourite course during my English Lit undergrad, on the Female Gothic. It's a very brief overview, but I found the selections interesting, and I've added several new books to my to-read list. The more modern selections had some strange omissions (no Hotel World by Ali Smith? No Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel? No Amelia Gray or Camilla Grudova?) and focused on some lightweight YA authors when it would have made more sense to focus on literary authors who are writing great and unusual books while also really engaging with the topics mentioned. But still, I really enjoyed it, and would have happily read it at twice the length.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michael Hicks

    My review of MONSTER, SHE WROTE can be found at High Fever Books. Almost immediately, I had to come to grips with what Monster, She Wrote is versus what I had hoped and wanted it to be. Without knowing much about the book beyond the awesome illustrated cover art and the premise as revealed in the title (The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction), I had expected a more thorough study exploring the various authors and a deep-dive into their eras, their work and legacies, and how they My review of MONSTER, SHE WROTE can be found at High Fever Books. Almost immediately, I had to come to grips with what Monster, She Wrote is versus what I had hoped and wanted it to be. Without knowing much about the book beyond the awesome illustrated cover art and the premise as revealed in the title (The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction), I had expected a more thorough study exploring the various authors and a deep-dive into their eras, their work and legacies, and how they shaped an entire genre. Instead, Monster, She Wrote is more of a reference guide to the hundreds of women authors working in the horror and speculative fiction genres. We’re introduced to these writers, given a very brief biographical sketch and an overview of their most relevant works, followed by a short reading list naming a singular must-read title from their bibliography, a second book to try, and some related works by other authors exploring similar themes and topics. Because of the large number of authors Kröger and Anderson are compiling here, each of the women featured here are only given a few pages worth of space to touch upon their biography, influences and interests, and their most relevant titles to the genre at hand (some of these women wrote romance, young girls fiction, and nonfiction titles, as well, which obviously fall outside of the scope of Kröger and Anderson ‘s examinations). The book itself is arranged into eight parts, starting with The Founding Mothers and the modern horror genre’s roots in Gothic literature of the late 1700s — 1800s, sparked by Ann Radcliff, who helped popularize the genre. She and the writers that followed wrote in the Gothic style that had begun with Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, claiming the genre for their own and making it a literary force to be reckoned with and one that explored their own gruesome nightmares. Without these women, Kröger and Anderson argue, we wouldn’t have films like Suspiria or the domestic horrors explored by Shirley Jackson. It was these women that made Gothic horror so popular that enabled and influenced enormous swathes of horror and spec fic authors to come, including Stephen King. From there, Kröger and Anderson move into the various subgenres that grew naturally from their Gothic origins, moving into stories dealing more directly with the supernatural, like ghosts and hauntings, and the occult as society, science, and philosophers of the late 19th Century began to explore the question of what happens after death, as well as attempted to scientifically explore psychic phenomena. Although male authors like Charles Dickens used ghosts in their fiction, it was, again, the women authors that really led the forefront and used their writings to explore societal and political issues of the time, cementing the horror genre into a form that would become more recognizable for 21st Century readers, paving the way for the paperback horrors of the 1980s from VC Andrews, Kathe Koja, Ruby Jean Jensen, and The New Goths, like Anne Rice and Susan Hill. While I certainly appreciate Kröger and Anderson’s work here, and believe that it will help readers (myself included — and rest assured, I’ve made note of a number of titles mentioned throughout this book) discover a number of strong, and perhaps overlooked, voices in the genre, it was the prefaces that began each section that I found most interesting. When Monster, She Wrote dug into discussions of the Spiritualist movement and occult societies that help inspire the women writers of that era, I was supremely fascinated and wanted to know about that history and how those works fed off each other. I wanted a deeper exploration of how these women used their writings to further civil rights and support abolition movements. Although some readers decry politics in their fiction (primarily, I’ve come to note, politics they disagree with), the simple fact is that art and politics are inextricably intertwined and always have been and always will be. I would have loved to have read a deeper examination of this topic in regards to women in horror and how their (counter-culture) attitudes fueled the genre in its earliest stages. Monster, She Wrote gets close to these topics, but never steps into the muck to get its hands dirty. It’s not the central focus of this work at all, but it is at its most interesting during these instances and if Kröger and Anderson ever opt to take a deep dive into these issues I’ll be sure to read the hell out of it. That said, you can at least explore these topics and issues through the women and their stories that Kröger and Anderson have selected to highlight as most relevant. Also of interest, and again something I wish were explored more deeply and thoroughly, were the later discussions of the lost women writers of the pulp era, who influenced other creatives like HP Lovecraft and the creator of Dungeons & Dragons, and the paperback horror boom of the 80s, which saw many works disappear entirely following the horror market’s collapse as publishers went out of business and various titles went out of print. Where Monster, She Wrote is most successful, though, is in showcasing the women of horror themselves, and in this regard it’s very much an indispensable reference guide. Every February, the horror genre celebrates Women In Horror Month, and readers devote the shortest month of the year to discovering strong new voices or overlooked classics. There’s more than enough horror stories by women to fill an entire calendar year and then some, and Monster, She Wrote is a solid starting point to discovering these authors and enriching your library with their voices. Beyond the central handful of figures that Kröger and Anderson have selected to best represent each era of horror fiction, you’ll find plenty of leads toward other women authors of the time, as well as more recent 21st Century examples that were inspired by those earlier writers and best recapture the spirit of those themes or genre hallmarks. Monster, She Wrote is also a handy book to have on hand just in case you run into some especially dimwitted man who foolishly thinks women don’t, can’t, or shouldn’t write horror, so you can throw the book at them or crack them over the head with it. Maybe you’ll luck out and knock some sense into them! [Note: I received an advance readers copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley.]

  7. 5 out of 5

    Anna Luce

    DNF 40% Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction is an accessible guide/introduction to both major and minor female Gothic, Horror, and Speculative writers (from the 17th century until now). The illustrations are lovely, the writing is fairly engaging, and it seems to be catered towards younger audiences. It is not work of criticism or theory but a compendium that offers a few key biographical facts, the titles or summaries of these women's works, and recommended DNF 40% Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction is an accessible guide/introduction to both major and minor female Gothic, Horror, and Speculative writers (from the 17th century until now). The illustrations are lovely, the writing is fairly engaging, and it seems to be catered towards younger audiences. It is not work of criticism or theory but a compendium that offers a few key biographical facts, the titles or summaries of these women's works, and recommended reading list. I previously read their collection Shirley Jackson: Influences and Confluences, which had a much more academic and serious tone, and examined in much more depth the work of its subject. Here however I just couldn't get used to the constant references to popular culture. Why why why compare Margaret Cavendish to the Kardashians? Isn't our everyday culture saturated enough by this family? And while I appreciated references to books or tv-shows that actually take inspiration from the work (ie: the characters of Victor Frankenstein and his Creature from Penny Dreadful) I found that the links to Marvel, Star Wars, and even Dungeons & Dragons to be completely unnecessary (as if we don't hear about the first two on a daily basis...). These references were clearly trying to grab the attention of younger readers...but I don’t think that they added anything. The women included in this collection are interesting and fascinating enough on their own. I also found it pretty objectionable that most chapters seemed to imply that these women believed in the supernatural...merely because they wrote about it (with the exception of one work Radcliffe always provided rational explanations for the seemingly 'supernatural' elements within her Gothic narrative; Jackson's 'witch-act' was a very smart move on her part as it boosted the readers' interest in her fiction). With the exception of one or two names, the majority of writers included in this book write in English...and maybe it would have been nice to have a chapter dedicated to those female writers who wrote or write in other languages. Hopefully readers who aren't fussed by the things I mentioned above will be able to enjoy this.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Candace Robinson

    I’m not the biggest nonfiction fan in the world but this has everything I love! Awesome info about horror and speculative fiction women writers, cool and creepy drawings, and all around interesting! Plus it had me by having the word monster in the title!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tracey

    Very good history of women horror/sci-fi/fantasy writers. It starts with the classics but moves right up to modern day, and includes TV shows and movies as well. There are lots of book recommendations as well. If you're a horror fan, it's worth the read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Leah Rachel von Essen

    "Perhaps the weirdest tale," write Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson in MONSTER, SHE WROTE: THE WOMEN WHO PIONEERED HORROR & SPECULATIVE FICTION, "is how we've managed to forget the women who created such amazing stories." This incredible book gave me a reading list 30 books long. Despite knowing more about feminist speculative fiction than the average person, I knew very few of the authors referenced in this book, which outlines the long history of women writers and authors in the horror "Perhaps the weirdest tale," write Lisa Kröger and Melanie R. Anderson in MONSTER, SHE WROTE: THE WOMEN WHO PIONEERED HORROR & SPECULATIVE FICTION, "is how we've managed to forget the women who created such amazing stories." This incredible book gave me a reading list 30 books long. Despite knowing more about feminist speculative fiction than the average person, I knew very few of the authors referenced in this book, which outlines the long history of women writers and authors in the horror genre, including many queer women (I was especially excited about the classics and classical authors that turned out to be queer—did you know Daphne du Maurier was queer, for example? I didn't!). This book is a great way to expand your to-read shelf. I plan to go out and buy a ton of these to tackle in October. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. MONSTER, SHE WROTE is out September 17.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    Actual Rating: 4.5 stars If you have any interest in speculative fiction or horror, I definitely recommend picking this book up! It is a fascinating, well-crafted non-fiction book about the women who pioneered those genres. The tone is both informative and fun, which makes is really accessible for any reader. The book is divided up into 8 sections, each including information on several women. At the end of each bio, there are suggested reading recommendations and I promise you will come away with Actual Rating: 4.5 stars If you have any interest in speculative fiction or horror, I definitely recommend picking this book up! It is a fascinating, well-crafted non-fiction book about the women who pioneered those genres. The tone is both informative and fun, which makes is really accessible for any reader. The book is divided up into 8 sections, each including information on several women. At the end of each bio, there are suggested reading recommendations and I promise you will come away with many more books to be read! Some sections are definitely stronger than others. The first few were among my favorites and it was so interesting to learn about Victorian women with such unexpected lives and interesting story ideas. The section on pulp writers was a little lackluster, but that might be due to the lack of information in existence about the women in that category. Overall, I think this is really interesting, engaging, and a physically beautiful book as well. Thanks to Quirk Books for sending me a copy for review. I have a long list of new authors and stories to try out. Now excuse me while I go read....

  12. 4 out of 5

    Gizem-in-Wonderland

    This book has been created with the idea of bringing together all the dark queens of literature. I am completely clueless when it comes to genres of horror, gothic fiction, paranormal literature, ghost stories, and haunted environment and I wanted to learn about the most important/famous examples of these genres and it seemed a great starting point reading this book although it focuses only on women, which I believe is a good thing, since, behind most pseudonyms used in literature, there is a This book has been created with the idea of bringing together all the dark queens of literature. I am completely clueless when it comes to genres of horror, gothic fiction, paranormal literature, ghost stories, and haunted environment and I wanted to learn about the most important/famous examples of these genres and it seemed a great starting point reading this book although it focuses only on women, which I believe is a good thing, since, behind most pseudonyms used in literature, there is a woman trying to hide her real identity as a writer. This unique collection of female authors, who have written unconventional stories, and their most prominent works and masterpieces are listed under special categories such as ghost stories, haunted homes, vampires, horror and speculative fiction. It is great to read their life journey and how it shaped the way they write about such unusual topics. Female authors are often expected to be creative in romantic love stories and the examples in this book display the shocking fact that women can be as intense and unconventional as men when it comes to supernatural phenomena, suspense and horror, ghost stories and haunted houses, gore, and murder, violence, and erotism and paranormal activities. However, it is not easy to be accepted in society and publish your works since you're supposed to be all elegant and fragile as a woman(!). These brave women push the boundaries of society and dance beautifully around gender roles. A great read for the lovers of the related literature and even though I do not really fancy the genre, I have enjoyed it and learned a lot. The only downside is my TBR list has skyrocketed. (I have received an ARC from Quirk Books and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Katherine Moore

    This was the perfect book to start October’s screamathon: A book about books, about female authors of horror and speculative fiction. It’s perfect for creating a list of must-read horror, covering books from Mary Shelley and Daphne du Maurier, all the way up to recent novelists Helen Oyeyemi and Mira Grant Meticulously researched, it will make you super savvy if you need to write a paper on literary works by female authors. A great read for any horror bookworm.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jenna Moquin

    This was a great book, highly recommended. There are so many forgotten female authors, and I also just beefed up my TBR list (as if I needed any more books to add to it...). I just downloaded The Unforseen by Dorothy Macardle, next on my reading lineup.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Wytovich

    Absolutely inspired! I can’t recommend this enough. Mandatory reading for all Speculative Fiction writers.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mandy

    Disclaimer: I received this finished copy courtesy ofQuirk Books. I am grateful for the opportunity to review an ARC for my readers, but this will not influence my final rating. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and based solely on the book. This was such a fun, atmospheric read! I read this in and out of car rides while I was on vacation, and it was perfect. It was easy to pick it up and set it down, all while still being enticing to pick it back up. These are the nonfiction Disclaimer: I received this finished copy courtesy of Quirk Books. I am grateful for the opportunity to review an ARC for my readers, but this will not influence my final rating. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and based solely on the book.  This was such a fun, atmospheric read! I read this in and out of car rides while I was on vacation, and it was perfect. It was easy to pick it up and set it down, all while still being enticing to pick it back up.  These are the nonfiction stories that I love. It provided enough of a history to be interesting/not boring, so I was always pretty invested. With each female writer that this book takes on, we are given the following: a brief history of critical points in the author's life; some descriptions of their famous works; how well those works were received; must read reading material from that author; and related female authors whose work is like the one you are reading about - all with creepy quotes and pictures.  Here are a few things that I absolutely loved about this format: I got to see deeper into the lives of this crusading and pioneering ladies - some of their lives were as drama-worthy as a soap opera I knew a handful of these authors, but it really doesn't matter - whether I knew the author or not, the authors of this story made each writer's story intriguing and fresh The descriptions of the stories gave me enough to want to dive so much deeper - some provided some interesting little snippets that will have me bringing this back out as a glossary of books I will be using as supplemental fillers for my Spooky September TBR BECAUSE THEY SOUND SO GOOD Seriously, I have so many new things to check out because they all sound so great - and I also know which stories perhaps to skip on/go first for - PLUS all the related stories, too so the neverending storyyyyyyyyyyyyy While I enjoyed the shortness of the stories since I got to have more of them and it was never boring, the one big issue that I had was I wished some things were expanded a bit more on. I felt like sometimes the biographies weren't quite well detailed or the summaries of the stories weren't enough. I actually wanted more??? I wished some things were just more, and I felt some incompleteness with some of them. That was really the only issue that I had with the story, or else, this would have totally been an all the crowns read.  rating: Ariel because I did want a tiny bit more from our main heroines representation: there were many different authors from different nationalities and sexual orientations content warnings: mentions of gore included in the horror novels that they write

  17. 5 out of 5

    Steve Wiggins

    This is a great book. Although Quirk makes it look, in its characteristic style, somewhat juvenile, Monster, She Wrote is a somewhat lighthearted, but serious book about women who historically explored, and who continue to write, horror. It isn’t comprehensive. It isn’t exhaustive. But it is inspirational. The many women featured here were adventurers into territory chauvinistically claimed by males, and these women excelled in their explorations. Horror, however defined, is experienced by This is a great book. Although Quirk makes it look, in its characteristic style, somewhat juvenile, Monster, She Wrote is a somewhat lighthearted, but serious book about women who historically explored, and who continue to write, horror. It isn’t comprehensive. It isn’t exhaustive. But it is inspirational. The many women featured here were adventurers into territory chauvinistically claimed by males, and these women excelled in their explorations. Horror, however defined, is experienced by members of all genders. Why shouldn’t all genders be able to write their experience of it? A number of these writers are well known, either as contemporary artists or as those who penned classic pieces, such as Mary Shelley or Ann Radcliffe. A great many are obscure. Some wrote under male or ambiguous names so that they could do what they felt called to do. As I noted elsewhere (Sects and Violence in the Ancient World), for a non-female, such as yours truly, the book gave me an amazing reading list consisting of many titles I’d managed to miss. It also gave me a modicum of hope that if those compelled to write in the past could find publishers, it should still be possible today. Those looking for in-depth literary analysis won’t find it here. They will, however, find an appreciative, intelligent treatment of a subject that many of us count as a guilty pleasure. There is more depth in horror literature than many critics would admit, and although much of the literature in this genre was considered pulp fiction, it has risen to a new literary appreciation. This book celebrates both that fact and the related, and lesser acknowledged truth that women have been part of it from the very beginning.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Nostalgia Reader

    A great pseudo-bibliography of women writers of Gothic, horror, weird, and speculative fiction! While it's certainly not completely comprehensive (Molly Tanzer wasn't included in any of the chapters and I'm baffled by this), it's an excellent jumping off point for readers who want to read more works by women. Whether you like just one of the genres it encompasses or all of them, there's definitely something in here that you'll end up adding to your TBR. The timeline spans the entire history of A great pseudo-bibliography of women writers of Gothic, horror, weird, and speculative fiction! While it's certainly not completely comprehensive (Molly Tanzer wasn't included in any of the chapters and I'm baffled by this), it's an excellent jumping off point for readers who want to read more works by women. Whether you like just one of the genres it encompasses or all of them, there's definitely something in here that you'll end up adding to your TBR. The timeline spans the entire history of Gothic lit, from its roots in the late 1700s up to recent publications, and covers both short story and novel writers. Each author featured gets a brief writing-centric bio, discusses some of their most famous works, and provides a list of key reads by that author as well as authors similar to them.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits)

    See more of my book reviews on my blog, Literary Flits I started reading Monster, She Wrote, with a pencil and notebook by my side thinking to jot down a few titles and authors that caught my attention. I would like to start this review by saying Do Not Do This! Within just a few chapters I had patted myself on the back for already having read Frankenstein and The Yellow Wallpaper, and having an Ann Radcliffe collected works downloaded since reading Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey (note to self, See more of my book reviews on my blog, Literary Flits I started reading Monster, She Wrote, with a pencil and notebook by my side thinking to jot down a few titles and authors that caught my attention. I would like to start this review by saying Do Not Do This! Within just a few chapters I had patted myself on the back for already having read Frankenstein and The Yellow Wallpaper, and having an Ann Radcliffe collected works downloaded since reading Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey (note to self, Read the Radcliffes!). However I had also already blunted my pencil on a TBR of suffocating proportions and I wasn't even a quarter of the way through this book yet. If you truly want horror, the realisation of just how many important women authors I haven't read was terrifying! I am, of course, partly joking here, but also partly serious. Monster, She Wrote is an excellent resource for horror and speculative fiction fans, and also for readers such as myself who want include as wide a variety of influences as I can. Nesrine Malik's We Need New Stories, which I recently reviewed, clarified my thoughts around how the stories we read and hear informs our social and cultural expectations. Monster, She Wrote is a perfect accompaniment because it shows me hundreds of stories already in existence. Perhaps we don't only need new stories, but to make sure that these older stories continue to exist and aren't forgotten. Kroger and Anderson have done an excellent job in drawing this book together. At times the sheer number of books and authors they cross reference is bewildering, but it's also a superb statement of pride in the history of female authors in what are commonly mis-assumed to be male-dominated genres. I liked the progression through time from the 1600s to the present day and also the grouping of authors by genre where possible. The illustrations are a wonderful idea too. They are brilliantly evocative of classic horror themes. So I now have a real burst of enthusiasm for historic horror, a teetering TBR, and the kernel of an idea for a Monster, She Wrote reading challenge - I just need to make a list of every book Kroger and Anderson namecheck, and then read them!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bex Wiles

    "These genres of fiction are instruments with which women writers can shake up society and prod readers in an uncomfortable direction... It's no surprise that women's fiction focuses on voice and visibility. Women might be told to be quiet, but they still speak up." Monster, She Wrote is a refreshing and interesting overview of many female writers of the wider horror genre. It profiles the more well-known writers (Mary Shelley and Anne Rice), as well as many who have been influential but are in "These genres of fiction are instruments with which women writers can shake up society and prod readers in an uncomfortable direction... It's no surprise that women's fiction focuses on voice and visibility. Women might be told to be quiet, but they still speak up." Monster, She Wrote is a refreshing and interesting overview of many female writers of the wider horror genre. It profiles the more well-known writers (Mary Shelley and Anne Rice), as well as many who have been influential but are in danger of being forgotten. This is an excellent guide: I would recommend getting it in print as opposed to a digital copy, as it is a book that you would want to revisit for reference. It is accessible to a wide audience, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Thank you to NetGalley for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Keith Chawgo

    Women and horror are two things that are not normally associated with each other outside of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein but with this new book by Kroger and Anderson, we have a list of authors that show that this is commonly an untrue statement. Starting in a time before Shelley’s Frankenstein hit the scene, we have a myriad of authors who wrote gothic fiction and had very successful careers. The book details a number of female authors through until modern time that have made a career or dip Women and horror are two things that are not normally associated with each other outside of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein but with this new book by Kroger and Anderson, we have a list of authors that show that this is commonly an untrue statement. Starting in a time before Shelley’s Frankenstein hit the scene, we have a myriad of authors who wrote gothic fiction and had very successful careers. The book details a number of female authors through until modern time that have made a career or dip their toes into the genre. The book gives a very detailed look into these women. The book is well detailed and gives a background on each of the authors that is covered. Well researched and given plot details on some of their most famous work. Kroger and Anderson even do one better but given a further reading section to those are interested into diving deeper into the author and authors who are likeminded in their approach. The book is divided into section and each chapter highlights another author. This is done fantastically and this was a real joy to read. This book would sit comfortably on any shelf and provides a detail reference when looking for a new author to explore and devour. Overall, this is a great book full of worthwhile information. The only drawback will be to the pocketbook or wallet as I have now ordered extensively off ebay and Amazon to dig into these new found authors Kroger and Anderson have turned me on to. This is a definite must for all people interested in horror and I have already started singing its praises to many of fans of the horror genre.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Becca

    Brimming with context and cross references, Monster, She Wrote is almost a reference guide, but its conversational tone and quirky illustrations stop it from getting too dense. Kröger and Anderson walk us through different eras of horror literature, beginning in the 1600s and ending with speculations (no pun intended) about the future of speculative fiction. I appreciated the short chapters; that makes a book like this easier to get through, at least for me. I also appreciated the diversity in Brimming with context and cross references, Monster, She Wrote is almost a reference guide, but its conversational tone and quirky illustrations stop it from getting too dense. Kröger and Anderson walk us through different eras of horror literature, beginning in the 1600s and ending with speculations (no pun intended) about the future of speculative fiction. I appreciated the short chapters; that makes a book like this easier to get through, at least for me. I also appreciated the diversity in examples—beyond featuring non-white and non-straight women writers, I liked seeing contemporary works linked to classics, adult linked to YA, and frequent mention of on-screen adaptations. Trying to shove the above into dichotomies is boring and disheartening. Kröger and Anderson contend that different eras and formats not only overlap, but derive from one another meaning and inspiration. I do wish there had been more examples from the early eras set outside of Europe, but this is a common qualm I have with nonfiction. Monster She Wrote reminds me vaguely of a book I read in a college class, but most will probably find this one far more fun.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alex (Hey Little Thrifter)

    This is an excellent overview of female horror authors throughout the centuries. Whether you're a lifelong fan or new to the genre I think you'll find something interesting here. I read it from cover to cover and now I'm going to flip back through it and make some notes of books to add to my TBR! I am a big fan of reading horror written by women so even though there are plenty of authors within the genre that I have already read or am aware of I bought this book in the hopes that it would This is an excellent overview of female horror authors throughout the centuries. Whether you're a lifelong fan or new to the genre I think you'll find something interesting here. I read it from cover to cover and now I'm going to flip back through it and make some notes of books to add to my TBR! I am a big fan of reading horror written by women so even though there are plenty of authors within the genre that I have already read or am aware of I bought this book in the hopes that it would introduce me to some new ones. And indeed it did! So on that front it definitely delivered. I really enjoyed the layout of the book and the historical aspect in that it starts off in the 17th century and works its way to the present day. That format worked really well and I liked how each chapter begins with an overview before going on to focus on a handful of specific authors. I do have a couple of negative points to mention. One is that at times I felt it strayed a little too far from its synopsis of specifically horror and speculative fiction. I definitely expected there to be some crossover into science fiction and fantasy etc but at times I thought the author choices weren't as relevant as I'd have liked. Also there were times it felt like they were trying too hard to fit authors into a specific chapter theme which unfortunately didn't work all of the time. One last thing, frustratingly there is no author index! Despite my couple of nitpicks it is an excellent book! Informative and enjoyable, I definitely recommend giving it a read. Clearly a lot of effort has gone into creating it and I hope it encourages more readers to pick up horror by women.

  24. 5 out of 5

    KC

    Loved this book celebrating women authors throughout history focusing on horror, hauntings and ghosts, psychological thrillers, serial killers, and speculative fiction.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    WARNING -- your TBR (to be read) list will stagger under the weight of recs from this excellent book. A perfect seasonal read highlighting women authors in the history of horror and gothic. Be armed with a notebook to jot down titles.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Chris Clay

    Great read! Informative fun and helped me add lots of new authors and books to my to-read list. A fascinating history of the horror genre and the women who made it what it is today. Many authors I've heard of and many I had not. Will be buying this book (I read a library copy.) to my reference collection. Highly recommended.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Stoolfire

    If you're interested in horror or speculative fiction at all you need to read this book featuring biographical sketches of women who have pioneered to genre since its inception. I've added so many new to me titles to my tbr.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kevidently

    I've been into a lot of books about horror lately. From Mallory O'Meara's The Lady from the Black Lagoon to Grady Hendrix's Paperbacks From Hell to the spooky chapter of Gabrielle Moss' Paperback Crush, I've been kind of reflecting on the whole world of horror fiction and film. Most people think I'm this balls-to-the-wall horror nut because I love Stephen King, but the weird fact is, I mostly just like Stephen King. I like horror quite a bit (and I've read horror beyond King this year, and plan I've been into a lot of books about horror lately. From Mallory O'Meara's The Lady from the Black Lagoon to Grady Hendrix's Paperbacks From Hell to the spooky chapter of Gabrielle Moss' Paperback Crush, I've been kind of reflecting on the whole world of horror fiction and film. Most people think I'm this balls-to-the-wall horror nut because I love Stephen King, but the weird fact is, I mostly just like Stephen King. I like horror quite a bit (and I've read horror beyond King this year, and plan to read more), but I prefer crime fiction and "literary fiction" (or whatever you call what John Irving and Donna Tartt write). But horror as a thing excites me, and the history of pop culture stuff also excites me. So I was immediately drawn into Monster, She Wrote, a book delving into the deep and varied history of women writers of horror and dark fiction. Kröger and Anderson dive into the wayback, before even Mary Shelley and Frankenstein to lay down the lineage of the women who crawled so Anne Rice could run. One of the things about history that scares me is how completely stuff can be utterly lost. Because a lot of history has been written from a white male point of view, entire huge writing careers of women writers from the past - massively popular women writers from the past - can simply disappear. Look at someone as recent as Daphne DuMaurier, whose Rebecca and "The Birds" are bedrock fiction of the gothic and horror genres (in part because of two great Hitchcock films based on the work). For awhile, DuMaurier was also one of America's bestselling writers, hitting the #1 spot over and over and over. Nowadays, most readers have no idea who she is. And we're talking a twentieth century writer here! To say nothing of the lost careers of women in centuries past. This book is a step toward rectifying all that. I liked how the authors also delved into "lit" writers like Joyce Carol Oates and Toni Morrison, who still write horror even when they're being nominated for Pulitzers, and I was surprised how up-to-the-second the book is (included is a discussion of Oyinkan Braithwaite's My Sister, the Serial Killer, which I just read like THIS YEAR). I honestly thought this book would stop somewhere in the 70s, probably because that's where Stephen King's Dance Macabre - another great history of horror - stopped, and I'm conflating the time before I was born with what "history" is. So, welcome to my self-absorbed point of view. If you're interested in horror fiction, women's fiction, women's horror fiction, fiction, writing, or history, I can recommend this book. It's punchy and fun to read, while also delving deep enough into every author so that you come away wanting to read pretty much everything mentioned. Even if you like horror less than everyone thinks you do.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Horror DNA

    This compendium of the women who crafted the genres of horror and speculative fiction (which we know and love!) will fuel the conversation for all the guests worth impressing at any cocktail party. In Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction, authors Lisa Kröger (Lost Highways: Dark Fictions From the Road, 2018, etc.) and Melanie R. Anderson (English/Delta State University; Spectrality in the Novels of Toni Morrison, 2013, etc.) have created a timeline of This compendium of the women who crafted the genres of horror and speculative fiction (which we know and love!) will fuel the conversation for all the guests worth impressing at any cocktail party. In Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction, authors Lisa Kröger (Lost Highways: Dark Fictions From the Road, 2018, etc.) and Melanie R. Anderson (English/Delta State University; Spectrality in the Novels of Toni Morrison, 2013, etc.) have created a timeline of notable women authors in the genre, from the known founders like Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley to the fresher hells of Carmen Maria Machado. You can read Mary Kay's full review at Horror DNA by clicking here.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    Horror has been penned by men and women alike, but it's important to acknowledge that women have been contributing to the genre since it's inception. Lisa Kroger's collection of profiles on women writers in the speculative and horror genre is dense with women of all backgrounds, of various sexualities, and countries of origin. While we may often picture the face of horror as Stephen King, Bram Stoker, or Neil Gaiman, they would not exist without women like Mary Shelley, Madge Cavendish, Ann Horror has been penned by men and women alike, but it's important to acknowledge that women have been contributing to the genre since it's inception. Lisa Kroger's collection of profiles on women writers in the speculative and horror genre is dense with women of all backgrounds, of various sexualities, and countries of origin. While we may often picture the face of horror as Stephen King, Bram Stoker, or Neil Gaiman, they would not exist without women like Mary Shelley, Madge Cavendish, Ann Radcliffe, and others. It then moves into the now, with brief glimpses into modern speculative writers like Carmen Maria Machado and Nnedi Okorafor. There's even a blunt note about Jason Blum's bold claim on twitter that Blumhouse had no women-directed films because women directors, especially women directors wanting to do horror, did not exist. It's a book I'd own rather than borrow from a friend or get from the library because you'll find yourself constantly coming back to its list of recommended readings after each section. And you may find yourself pleasantly surprised by how many titles you were familiar with before diving in (I'll admit this was more in the contemporary lists than the classics for me).

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