Under Her Skin, edited by Lindy Ryan & Toni Miller
Published by Black Spot Books, 2022
Rating: ⭐ ⭐
In principle, this sounds like a perfect read for me: an anthology of poetry by women in horror, exploring their experiences of gender and identity. It’s possible my own high expectations contributed to my ultimate lukewarm response, but sadly I felt there was little here to push the boundaries of either horror or feminist writing.
I definitely appreciate how inclusive the project is, with cis, trans, and non-binary femmes representing various facets of womanhood. While there are some definite gems peppered throughout (I particularly admire pieces that focus on the horror women often inflict upon their own bodies as a result of societal pressures), I never felt particularly inspired to seek out more work from any of the featured writers. Beyond that, most of the pieces blur together somewhat due to repetition in tone and imagery. It feels cohesive as a collection of works in that respect, but lacking in dynamism.
I love what the book wants to achieve, and there are certainly glimmers of success on that front, but sadly the selection feels too bloated and one-note in its perspective and approach.
Thank you to the publisher for a free advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Chasm by Dorothea Tanning
Published by Virago, 2019 (first published 2001)
Rating: ⭐ ⭐
Following a group of relative strangers assembled at a mansion built in the desert, Tanning does a great job of creating a cloying atmosphere and a sense of inevitable tragedy. It certainly kept me intrigued, and I found a few scenes strangely compelling, but it was all just a little too thematically vague and lacking cohesion for me. Narrative tangents and moments of flowery language bogged it down, and sadly I was left underwhelmed.