ARC REVIEW: Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction 💭 Mandy Goes Nonfiction & Enjoys

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Title: Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction
Author: Lisa Kröger & Melanie R. Anderson
Pages: 352

Release Date: September 17th 2019
Publisher: Quirk Books
Format: Hardcover

Genre: Horror, Nonfiction, Biography
Goodreads Rating: 4.24 (of 59 ratings)

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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.

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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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.

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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

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What do you think? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

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8 thoughts on “ARC REVIEW: Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction 💭 Mandy Goes Nonfiction & Enjoys

  1. This is quite a different read for you Mandy, I’m impressed! It sounds very interesting and I’m glad you enjoyed it! I love learning about fab women in history so I’m definitely willing to check it out!

    Liked by 1 person

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