Horror Corner: July 2023
July 2023 Edition
By Nikita Imafidon & Christina James
I have always wondered what lurks in the shadows, and I’m not alone. People see creatures perching in forest trees, sending a light beam to abduct a beloved cow, and dancing in their Victorian-era attic.
In I Know What I Saw by Linda Godfrey, she analyzes eyewitness reports of Bigfoot, werewolves, and other lore that have stood the test of time. In uncovering these ideas, she allows the blending of history with myth, posing a truth that is made of both fact and fiction.
I watch “Detour,” the fourth episode of the fifth season of The X-Files, to connect to modern-day mythmaking. A father hunting in the Florida woods with his son disappears into the expanse of trees with a whoosh. Agents Mulder and Scully, derailed from their team-building FBI conference by a blocked-off road from the police investigation, find themselves among the glowing red eyes of mothmen in the forest. Unlikely as it seems, the account from the hunter’s young son holds more than Scully initially suspected.
Millions of viewers watched this show and experienced possibility through fiction. After watching “Detour,” I feel more certain that something unfamiliar could one day rustle the bushes up ahead. The ball in my stomach is made of both excitement and fear.
To celebrate while minding my stomach, I sometimes like a sparkling beverage like what I am calling a Creature Comfort for its green appearance and soothing flavors. Remove one cucumber’s skin and blend it into a puree. Through a mesh sieve, pour the puree into a tall glass or flute with ice. Add some lime juice. Add mint, maple or simple syrup, and top it with sparkling water.
Let’s hear it for feminine rage! Cheers to anti-heroines with dark pasts and villainesses with vendettas. Let’s raise a glass to literary bad girls we root for on-page in spite of our convictions and conflictions. Why? Because there is a strange sense of freedom that comes with acknowledging women as fallible, furious, feral…humans.
Take Maeve Fly by author C.J. Leede for example. This story follows Maeve, a young woman who works as a theme park princess at "the happiest place on earth." In her spare time, she enjoys reading in sketchy bars, pleasuring herself while slandering strangers online, and she has a bit of a suppressed dark side that only her bedridden ill grandmother sees and understands. When Maeve's best friend's hot brother Gideon moves to town, she gives herself permission to awaken something hungry and monstrous within her.
A large chunk of the book is author C.J. Leede letting readers get to know Maeve, her desires, her sadness, her anger, her love for Halloween, and her contentment with working at a theme park. But then as the book progresses, we're teased with some dark circumstances that eventually escalate to downright violent and graphic displays of pure horror. Maeve is a complex character, a delightfully lecherous women readers will find compelling because as she herself points out in the story, why must only women have a reason for their depravity?
Lovers of flawed female protagonists, Brett Easton Ellis’ American Psycho, feminine rage, a bit of dark romance, erotica, and unhinged violence will get a thrill out of this book.
Curious about dangerous women who exist outside the fictional boundaries of a book? Tori Telfer’s Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History is the perfect nonfiction pairing to Leede’s novel.
From the 13th to the 20th century, Telfer introduces us to fourteen diabolical and conniving women. Whether they were seemingly harmless old grannies or sociopathic wealthy aristocrats, these ladies were just as capable of committing murder as their male counterparts and author Tori Telfer does an excellent job of spotlighting the misogynistic stereotypes we drape over villainous women, pointing out that women are too often seen as “solely capable of reactive homicide—murder done in self-defense, a burst of passion, an imbalance of hormones, a wave of hysteria.” In actuality, these women were nasty pieces of work capable of calculated crimes and have just as much right to fill up the True Crime shelves of your local bookstore as the men.
True crime fans who love salacious anti-heroines, history, biographies, and murder will find themselves engrossed in this book!
Pair both of these books with a viewing of American Psycho II (2002) and raise a toast to black-hearted women real and fictional with a Black Cosmopolitan (lime juice, triple sec, cranberry juice, black vodka).
Nikita Imafidon (she/her) is the sidelines buyer and a co-owner of the Raven Book Store. She has been a bookseller for three and a half years, and she is an avid reader of graphic novels, social science books, and strange fiction. She is a Black queer embroidery artist with a passion for ephemeral communication, community building, and social justice. Find her work on Instagram at @nikita.the.star
Christina James (she/her) is a part-time Bookseller at the Raven Book Store and a Readers’ Services librarian at Lawrence Public Library. She is extremely passionate about spreading the gospel of horror fiction far and wide and you can find her on Instagram at @the_wandering_reader where she's known by her coven of creeps and ghouls as The Spooky Librarian.
Which came first--the monster or the myth? Journalist Linda Godfrey investigates present-day encounters with mysterious creatures of old.
"This is gory and brutal and beautiful and painful and terrifying and a pure delight." —Stephen Graham Jones, New York Times bestselling author
INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER • In this modern classic, the acclaimed author of The Shards explores the incomprehensible depths of madness and captures the insanity of violence in our time or any other.
"A seminal book.” —The Washington Post
Inspired by author Tori Telfer's Jezebel column “Lady Killers,” this thrilling and entertaining compendium investigates female serial killers and their crimes through the ages.