Hello, horror fans! Darcie here. It’s that time of the year again. You know the one. Halloween. There’s leering pumpkins on every street corner. Costumed children demand treats from their neighbors. Blog posts about horror movies, books, and creepypastas are sprouting from the internet like candy corn.
That said, we at Shouting About Queer SF don’t want to miss out on the fun! It’s time for us to shout–I mean scream–about some of the queer horror stories we absolutely love!
Charles Payseur: Can I just shout about Queers Destroy Horror (Nightmare Magazine #37, for those counting)? Yes? Okay. Queers Destroy Horror is AMAZING! It is a tender and rending and beautiful and TERRIFYING collection of stories and truly, if you missed when it dropped in 2015 (in October, no less, making this it’s three year anniversary), you should go fix that. Like, right now. Dorian Gray survives and survives while those around him die in the haunting “Golden Hair, Red Lips” by Matthew Bright. A research project defines a staggering and monumental loss and wound in “Dispatches from a Hole in the World” by Sunny Moraine. Monsters and consumption mix and mingle with darkness and hunger in “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers” by Alyssa Wong. And in tragedy, family, and innocence are shattered in my favorite read of the issue, “The Lord of Corrosion” by Lee Thomas. Plus there’s reprints, poetry, nonfiction, IT’S JUST SO GOOD! Separately the pieces represent chilling works tracing fear and violence and grief, all involving queer characters caught by their hungers and a hostile world. Together, they are perfect addition to your October readings, as long as you’re okay going to bed with the lights on. Cheers!
dave ring: I adore “eyes I dare not meet in dreams” by Sunny Moraine. Pitch perfect discomforting social commentary, concomitant with well-written gore. The language is blunt and pretty and startling, firmly ensconced in the now. This piece is a mood, an aesthetic, and a battering ram to the gut. It’s a mirror held up to barely-contained incandescent rage.
Kelly Robson: I want to shout about Priya Sharma’s “Fabulous Beasts” — (TW for rape, though, so be aware). This vicseral horror novelette won the 2016 British Fantasy Award. Just drink in this quote:
My real name is Lola and I’m no princess. I’m a monster.
Yeah you are, Lola, and I’m behind you all the way. This is a story about getting ultimate revenge on the people who hurt you, and it ends WELL. Read it!
Jennifer Mace: Let me tell you about a story called “Mr. Try Again” by Merc Rustad. This is the kind of horror story which makes me want to describe it in wine tasting notes – it’s so rich with sensory detail that you come away feeling like you can hear the chirp and crackle of the swamp following you off the page. This is a story of what is done to the powerless, and the danger of believing a victim will be one forever. It’s a story of coming out the other side and then going back with knives. It’s a story of metamorphosis and revenge and the terrible things the world will do to little girls if we let it.
Girls lie, you know. Everyone knows that. If Violet was a boy, someone might have believed her.
Leigh Harlen: I have to shout about a story that literally made me scream. “Bread and Milk and Salt” by Sarah Gailey in the anthology Robots vs Fairies. It is a profound and horrifying exploration of abuse, trauma, and power. Gailey captures the disturbing “otherness” of the malevolent fairy and the terrifying mundane evil of a man who wants CONTROL. What makes it perfect, is the ending. Which I won’t spoil here. Go read it. But put some milk out on the the windowsill first and if someone beckons you into the woods, follow. Nothing bad could happen.
But then, I am perhaps dishonest.
Darcie Little Badger: My shout is about “A Human Stain” by Kelly Robson. It will be a challenge to discuss this story without dropping spoilers, but I gotta try because the mystery of “A Human Stain” is one of its many strengths. I love stories that unlock like Lemarchand’s puzzle box (yes, that’s a Hellraiser reference). In fact, after I first finished Robson’s novelette, I immediately reread the entire thing from beginning to end and was delighted to find that much of the dialogue and character behavior was more sinister and/or significant than I first realized. If you’re looking for a creepy historical horror story that is a combination of tried-and-true scary themes (e.g., a remote castle, an unsettling child, tight-lipped servants, an ominous door, and secrets best left unanswered) and a TRULY unique horror that reveals itself (at least partially) in a tense and terrifying third act, this is the read for you. Oh, and the protagonist, Helen, is a talkative, charismatic ladies’ woman who is a wonderful foil to the morose setting.
“A Human Stain” earns five out of five screams. And the Nebula Award for Best Novelette. It won that, too. (Content warning: violence/gore).
Happy reading, friends!
And don’t look under the bed.