The face of horror fiction continues to be enhanced, both in representation and in relevance.

OTHER TERRORS

AN INCLUSIVE ANTHOLOGY

Horror writers representing varied cultures, genders, and sexual orientations contribute stories cataloging anxieties of, and toward, “the other”—whatever that “other” may be.

The subtitle, An Inclusive Anthology, hammers home what Bram Stoker Award winners Liaguno and Mason have assembled: a trailblazing anthology in which LGBTQ+ characters and people of color are both feared and preyed upon in jolting, haunting, sometimes funny, and/or graphically violent tales. Dramatizing fears, anxieties, and phobias held by and against those perceived as socially marginal can be a delicate, even dicey process. But the stories here are mostly tough-minded and emphatic in such provocative variations on this theme as Jennifer McMahon’s tautly woven, wickedly ingenious “Idiot Girls,” about teen lesbian lovers whose secret trysts pit them against the immigrant groundskeeper of their apartment complex—and put them in the path of a serial killer. Then there’s “Night Shopper,” Michael H. Hanson’s revenge fantasy in which a Muslim trans woman with a penchant for Wittgenstein’s aphorisms finds unlikely salvation from hate crime in the shut-ins to whom she delivers groceries. Similar if subtler gratifications are available in Usman T. Malik’s “Mud Flappers,” which reaches further afield to an island off the Karachi coast whose residents have sustained an effective—and grisly—way of resisting would-be exploiters. A different, if no less bizarre, act of retribution is submitted for our approval by the crime writer S.A. Cosby in “What Blood Hath Wrought,” in which a Black history professor calls upon otherworldly powers to seek out from among a motley collection of Pancake Shack diners the homicidal descendant of a sadistic slaveholder. The terrorism of anti-Asian racism aroused by Covid-19 swells into more widespread and profoundly transfiguring scientific phenomena in Denise Dumars’ “Scrape,” while in Hailey Piper’s “The Turning,” adolescent girls are swept up by a plague that transforms them into prehistoric mammals, thus creating newer, scarier forms of “the other” that frighten the grown-ups—and resist any efforts to change back to whatever they were before. One could go on and on citing stories by such writers as, Alma Katsu, Gabino Iglesias, Nathan Carson, and others.

The face of horror fiction continues to be enhanced, both in representation and in relevance.

Pub Date: July 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-358-65889-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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