Wicked Women: Seven Halloween Lit Picks

Image Credit Katie Rejsek

Image Credit Katie Rejsek

With Halloween merely a week away, what better cross-disciplinary genre is there to read than horror? This week, we’re bringing you a list of some of the best fiction, short stories, poetry, and nonfiction written by women, guaranteed to chill you to your very core. With such a stark under-representation of female horror writers in the literary world, we figured now is a great time to highlight some of our favorites.

Fiction

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“Who Will Greet You at Home” by Lesley Nneka Arimah

“Who Will Greet You at Home” is a short story existing in a world in which women must fabricate children out of any material, which will determine its character. Ogechi chooses human hair, a conglomeration of different personalities that results in a life-sucking baby beyond her control. A mediation on motherhood and self-sacrifice, “Who Will Greet You at Home” chills from a highly original, alternate reality.  

Available online at: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/10/26/who-will-greet-you-at-home

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Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez

Things We Lost in the Fire is a collection of short stories centered around corruption, violence, and inequality in Argentina, accompanied by a deep imagination and darkness. “…[S]lim but phenomenal…in [Enriquez’s] hands, the country’s inequality, beauty, and corruption tangle together to become a manifestation of our own darkest thoughts and fears. The spookiness of these 12 stories sets into the reader’s mind like a jet stone, sparkling through all that darkness.”—Vanity Fair

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The Girls by Emma Cline

Evie Boyd, a self-conscious and lonely teenager, finds herself entranced by an older woman, Suzanne, and a group of seemingly free women who turn out to be the inner-circle of a Charles Manson-esque cult. The Girls has received abundant praise and was deemed one of the best books of 2016 by The Huffington Post, NPR, The Guardian, and Entertainment Weekly among many others. Though not classically horrific, The Girls will surely crawl under your skin with its exploration of the capabilities of humanity, specifically youth and the power of yearning.


Poetry

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Gravesend by Cole Swensen

A book exploring the meaning of what it means to be, or see, a ghost, Gravesend is truly a haunting book. Broken up by interviews, second-hand ghost stories, and ghost sightings within paintings, Swensen experiments with language that invokes the sensory system so strong it send chills up the spine.

In her poem “A Ghost,” she writes, “A Ghost / erodes the line between being and place becomes the place of being time and so / the house turns in the snow is why a ghost always has the architecture of a storm…”

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The Babies by Sabrina Orah Mark

Sabrina Orah Mark’s book of poetry, The Babies, uses surrealist images paired with suspense to disorient the reader, sure to thrill any reader. “The poems in The Babies are haunted by invented characters and fabulous details; mysterious fates, wars, and historical events are hinted at, and characters navigate relationships and terrors in a series of surreally twisted prose poems.” – Poetry Foundation. Selected by Jane Miller as the winner of the Saturnalia Books Poetry Contest, The Babies is a perfect read for a cloudy, autumn day.

Nonfiction

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"The H Word: What Comes at the End" by Kristi DeMeester

This thousand-word essay recently published in Issue 61 of Nightmare magazine, discusses why we turn to writing horror. DeMeester recounts her childhood obsession with killing insects as a way of coping with pain, and argues for horror as a method of understanding our past, present, and future. She writes, "Here, again, I turn to horror to try and make sense of the insensible, and in that way, horror can become more powerful a tool than we ever imagined it to be."

Available online at: http://www.nightmare-magazine.com/nonfiction/h-word-comes-end/

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Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin

Besides Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” The Haunting of Hill House, and her other popular horror works, nothing is scarier than a true story. A Rather Haunted Life is an honest and insightful biography of the life of Shirley Jackson. Franklin uses a sympathetic tone to explore Jackson's interest in witchcraft, hexes, and charms, and how that reflects the oppressive gender roles Jackson endured in the mid-twentieth century.  Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life, aims to elevate Jackson as one of the most interesting and important horror writers of the century.

Washington Square