Book Review: Slasher Girls and Monster Boys

4-star

Title: Slasher Girls and Monster Boys

Authors: Various

Series? No. Anthology

Rating: 4/5 stars

Goodreads

Book Depository


I started reading this around Halloween season, but only got around to finishing up the review for it now. Oops. The anthology was very strong, and it reminded me why I love the economy of short stories. An amalgation of some of the best voices in YA at the moment, the stories in here are all based on a novel, movie, or other creative work in the past. I had a lot of fun trying to figure out the origin story of these works.

SlasherGirlsMonsterBoys

The Birds of Azalea Street by Nova Ren Suma – 4 stars

I felt this tale was a strong start to the anthology, it was not outright scary, but certainly incredibly unsettling. In classic Nova Ren Suma style, this tale edges on reality and the unknown – with the ill-intentions of the living being far more upsetting than those of the dead. Written in her familiar lyrical style, this tale examines teenage girls in both their strengths and vulnerability when faced with a sexual predator. You’ll look twice at the birds outside your window in a different light after reading this.

In The Forest Dark and Deep by Carrie Ryan – 5 stars

I’ve previously read The Forest of Hands and teeth by Carrie Ryan, and thought her writing would be perfect for horror. This tale proves my hunch correct, it was amongst my favourite in this anthology. The story alternates between the events happening to a wide-eyed 7-year old girl and her teenage self. It takes Alice in Wonderland and turns it on its head, delivering a dark and gory psychological fare that’s definitely NOT for the squeamish. Who knew imageries of tea-parties and March Hares could be so terrifying?

Emmeline by Cat Winters – 3 stars

While I enjoyed my first taste of Cat Winter’s work, I felt this story didn’t fit the mood of the rest of the anthology. It’s a sad historical about a lonely girl and a curious soldier in World War II. Most of the stories in this book unsettled me, yet this one made me feel the regret and nostalgia of innocence lost. The writing was very strong, though, and I look forward to reading more of Cat Winters’ work in the future.

Verse Chorus Verse by Leigh Bardugo – 4 stars

I am fast becoming a rabid fan of Leigh Bardugo’s writing, her fantasy series are incredibly engaging – and this short story proves she can pen psychological horror with the same ease. Firstly, the tale looks at the toxic side of fame as we follow a young starlet and her ambitious mother. Underneath the surface of superficial fears about tabloid headings and bad PR, there lies a more sinister tale about a literal monster. I admit to not quite understanding the ending, but hey, it’s horror – the point is not knowing.

Hide and Seek by Megan Shepherd – 2.5 stars

Although this was not a bad story by any means, I felt it was quite predictable – which is a cardinal sin as far as horror is concerned. Centred around a dying girl and her gamble with Death, the story was filled with cliche and the expected. I did enjoy the fast-paced writing, but the story was ultimately forgettable. I know that all the stories in this book were inspired by some previous literary fiction, I think this one took its interpretation too literally.

The Dark, Scary Parts and All by Danielle Paige – 2 stars

It’s a shame that the two weakest stories in the book were positioned right next to each other. Featuring high school drama, mean girls, and a poor, bullied heroine rescued by a gorgeous young man – the story is filled with tropes. The slight sinister turn in the tale was not enough for it to shine, I found the ending quite jarring and forced.

The Flicker, The Fingers, The Beat, The Sigh by April Genevieve Tucholke – 4.5 stars

Another one of my favourites in the anthology, taking its inspirations from urban legends, obscure mythology and two very popular summer blockbusters. I found the writing engaging, and liked the familiar yet estranged feeling I got while reading this. The mood was deeply atmospheric and unsettling. I also had a great time trying to identify all the references in this particular gem.

Fat Girl With A Knife – Jonathan Maberry – 3 stars

The protagonist of this particular story is the boldest and most memorable of the bunch. I loved her pragmatism and off-kilter sense of humour. However, the horror aspect of the tale falls short – it’s quite a standard gory slasher that held very little suspense.

Sleepless by Jay Kristoff – 5 stars

I have finally found a Jay Kristoff book I enjoy, praise the lord! Honestly though, I found this story immensely satisfying and it’s amongst the top 3 in this book. I loved the slow unraveling of the mystery around this particular tale – which follows a boy trapped between his filial duties to an ailing mother and his internet romance. The story takes several sinister and disturbing twist, I loved it despite having to put up with dreaded chat-speak.

M by Stefan Bachmann – 3 stars

Presented in a historical setting, this particular tale was more a sordid thriller rather than a horror. I liked the focus on children’s rhymes, and how children or the vision impaired often see with more clarity than most adult. Although the story was incredibly rich in sensory details and atmospheric, its uninspired ending lets it down.

The Girl Without A Face by Marie Lu – 4.5 stars

I recently fell in love with Marie Lu after reading The Young Elites, so I was happy to see her story in this collection. Told in her characteristic clipped yet image heavy writing, the story was a success. It’s about skeletons in the closet, both literal and figurative. The image of the girl with no face still haunts me, weeks after I first read the tale. I also liked its unsettling ending!

A Girl Who Dreamed of Snow by McCormick Templeman – 1.5 stars

This was quite an unmemorable story, despite the immense potential of its setting. For a tale about a cruel world where girls are poached and traded, it failed to leave a mark. I vaguely remember an exchange between a girl, a boy, and a boy who thought he was a man – but really, I’ve already forgotten it.

Stitches by A. G. Howard  – 5 stars

Another favourite of mine, and a tale filled with violence of all kind: domestic abuse, loss of limbs, impossible medical procedures. We start with a girl sawing off her father’s foot in exchange for money and limbs, along with a promise that he will become a better person at the end of the procedures. The story only gets better from this promising start – filled with numerous twists and turns, remaining utterly horrifying the whole way through.

On the I-5 by Kendare Blake – 4 stars

It feels fitting that we should start the collection with teenage girls finding power against their abuser, and end the collection with another story of the same vein. Set in one of those rest stops that seems to dominate American road trips (especially the ones in horror movies) – it documents a girl on a quest for twisted justice. While I found the writing could use some polishing, thematically, it worked incredibly well.


Do you like anthologies? What was your favourite Halloween read?

50 thoughts on “Book Review: Slasher Girls and Monster Boys

  1. Great review, every short story in the anthology was discussed and I’ve just read the book recently and oh ho, my favourites are Jay Kristoff “Sleepless”, April Genevieve Tucholke’s “The Flicker, the Fingers, the Beat, the Sigh”, Marie Lu’s “The Girl Without a Face” and A.G. Howard’s “Stitches”.
    Marie Lu’s short story is the one that really disturbed me, I felt bad for the girl that got assaulted and seconds to it was Sleepless, like whoa… Tucholke’s sent me back to the 90’s with her short story…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oooo you must get it!! It’s a really good collection, speaking as someone who usually only manages to read half the stories in most anthologies 😄

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  2. I wanted to read this book for Halloween but couldn’t find it anywhere, so maybe I’ll save it for next year 😦 Your review make me want to read this even more, especially A.G Howard’s story. It sounds so gory, sadistic and full of blood bath! I mean, sawing off her father’s food for money???

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    • She also sells the parts to a creepy bandaged man who claims he’s a doctor! It’s definitely nightmare fuel, I hope you enjoy it if you get around to reading it next Halloween 😀

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    • IKR I despaired when I was writing this review because omg so many stories. I love the sound of Cat Winter’s longer works so I’ll def need to check them out 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This sounds great! I hadn’t even heard of it. I am trying to get more consistent in my short story reading. That they are YA absolutely makes me want to read it more. This seems like such an interesting collection of writers. I’m glad you enjoyed most of the stories. The Marie Lu story in particular sounds great.

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  4. Most readers who have read this one mentioned that the Jay Kristoff story is probably one of the best in the book. I’m not usually a fan of anthologies, but I want to try this one to give a shot to some of the stories. Kristoff’s, Bardugo’s and Howard’s stories especially sound fantastic.
    Especially Leigh’s! I mean she’s writing a psychological horror? I definitely want to experience her writing in a different genre.
    Fabulous review as always, Aentee!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was skeptical as I haven’t enjoyed Jay Kristoff’s work too much, but Sleepless is definitely solid – he needs to make a transition into writing thriller pronot! Bardugo and Howard’s books were delightfully creepy. Especially Bardugo’s as it was so creative, using both the horrors of modern day and a deeper horror!

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  5. I love how you always make graphics to match the book you’re reviewing <3. I've never been interested in anthologies like this one and My True Love Gave To Me for the reason that I may not enjoy them all. But the ones I'm most curious about are Leigh Bardugo's and Carrie Ryan's stories. Also love how you just have a way with words. Beautiful reviews of each short stories 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Eeep thanks so much Karina!! I think you would love most of the stories here, esp from Bardugo, Kristoff, and Ryan! Hope you get a chance to check it out soon!

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  6. Anthologies are so hit and miss aren’t they? It looks like, for the most part, you enjoyed this despite the few weak stories. I see many big hitters in there that I love, Kristoff for one, so I am tempted to read this for those authors. I will keep it in mind when I am that library.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have never managed to find a short story collection where I loved everything – guess the laws of statistics are against it 😄 But this one was surprisingly excellent, as even the less compelling pieces were quite brief.

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  7. OMG AENTEE YOUR GRAPHICS ARE SO GOSHDARN PRETTY.

    I’ve been looking forward to this for a while now. The only anthology I read was My True Love Gave To Me, which was edited by Stephanie Perkins, and was pretty much YA Contemporary. But this would be an interesting genre shock for me. So many great authors! April Genevieve Tucholke (I’ve been dying for Wink Poppy Midnight)! Kendare Blake! Cat Winters! A.G. Howard’s story sounds interesting. Darling review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh no! I can say with confidence that this anthology is better than most – so check it out at the library if you’re skeptical.

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    • I’m not usually a fan either, as I find I only ever like 1-2 stories in collections like these – but I think you’ll love most of the stories here, Kynn!

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    • I agree, the book is very accessible even to non-horror fans, I think it’s bc most of the authors had background in writing other genres instead. Thanks, Brittany!

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  8. This book sounds so good! I’ve had my eye on it for ages now, but it’s so expensive on every site I go on *sigh*. I haven’t read many anthologies, and I haven’t read much horror either, but I think I will really like it. The little bit I have read, I loved, so I’m really hoping I enjoy this as much as you did. Thank-you for the review! ♥

    ~Denise @ The Bibliolater

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh no! I got mine on Kindle so the price wasn’t too bad — maybe check it out at your library? I think this is a great introduction to horror. Most of the authors writes in other genres, so it’s very accessible.

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  9. I completely agree. There were definitely some stories in this book that were better than others, but overall, it was a really strong and unsettling collection of stories. Glad you felt the same way! xD Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Fabulous review, thanks for sharing! I want to read this one so bad! I planned to read a lot of Halloween reads during October, but I ended up reading hardly any. My favorites would be Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake and A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oooo I have yet to check out Anna Dressed in Blood, but it’s on my to-do list. This collection was excellent, hope you get a chance to check it out soon!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Ohhhh, these sound so awesome! It’s weird that there were quite a few good AND bad ones for you in this anthology, though.

    I have never really been a huge fan of anthologies, but this one seems super awesome. I have to say that if they are based off stories and movies and whatnot, I would probably spend WAY too much time trying to figure out the source of each of the stories, eep >.<

    But some of my favourite authors have written in this one, so I think I will have to give it a go! Especially since many of the ones you mentioned seem delightfully creepy 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I just had no patience for even the mediocre ones because they are ALWAYS responsible for me dropping anthologies half way, urgh! But at least there weren’t many lacklustre ones in this particular book! I loved trying to figure out the source material… but then I sorta cheated in the end and read someone’s review on GR that listed them all hehe!

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