Review: Strange Girls: Women in Horror Anthology

Strange Girls

Authors: Charlotte Platt, Jude Reid, Alyson Faye, Claire Hamilton Russell, Rachel Bolton, Angelique Fawns, E.F. Schraeder, Angela Sylvaine, Sam Lauren, Marnie Azzarelli, Hillary Lyon, Rebecca Rowland, Danielle R. Bailey, Ash Tudor, Azzurra Nox, Emma Johnson-Rivardy, Regan Moore, Phoebe Jane Johnson, Maxine Kollar, Madison Estes, Wondra Vanian, and Erica Ruhe
Publisher: Twisted Wing Productions
Released: February 18th, 2020
Received: NetGalley
Warnings: Necrophilia, rape, assault, mutilation, stalking
Rating: 3 1/2 kitties

I received a copy of Strange Girls through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Strange Girls is the newest anthology out on the racks, and it has a specific and unique focus. This whole collection is a variation on the standard horror themes – with girls and women being the focus and authors behind it all.

Naturally, when I saw this compilation I knew I had to give it a read. I’ve been getting really into horror lately, but have been wanting to see different takes on the matter. This anthology seemed to do exactly that, while providing insight and perspective that I would very much appreciate. I loved that this anthology aimed to empower women and girls in the world of horror, that’s not something you see every day.

As with any anthology, there are certain short stories that I felt really spoke to me. In this instance, my favorites were Night Terrors, Patterns of Fairytales, Cracked, Campfire Tales: The Bloody Rings, and A Song Only She Can Hear.

My rating is based on the average of all the ratings I gave each short story in this anthology. So to get a better idea for each one, take a peek down below. I’ve included a quick description, warning label, and rating for each one. As well as a quick rundown of my opinion for them all.

 

“And in a world where everyday women’s choices are dwindling or are at stake, this anthology serves to celebrate these girls’ choices.”

Spoiler Warning

24 Hour Diner by Charlotte Platt
Rating: ⋆ ⋆
Warnings: Necrophilia

You know how the story goes. Girl meets guy, guy meets girl. Horror and violence ensue. Wait, what? This is a classic twist on the whole night time diner scene, where there’s more than one predator on the hunt.

24 Hour Diner is probably one of those short stories that vampire buffs, in particular, appreciated. I personally enjoyed the twist, though I’ll confess that it also made me chuckle a bit – thanks to my preference towards playing vampire based Tabletop RPGs on the weekend.

 

Sideshow by Jude Reid
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
Warnings: Sexual assault

A snake-charmer isn’t an uncommon sight for a traveling circus, but this charmer is quite a bit different from what you might expect. On the bright side, her hunger is liberating for some.

Sideshow was an entertaining read, though the implied assault is a bit rough to see/hear. I enjoyed the different take and all of the inferences on how sometimes women just really need to stick together. Even when they’re not the same species.

 

The Doll’s House by Alyson Faye
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
Warnings: Abuse

The Doll’s House is a fun twist on the whole murdering dolls concept that horror fans have surely seen before. Though this time around there are a few alterations to the story, giving it an even more disturbing edge.

I enjoyed this read. It was fun, with just the right amount of dark and disturbing elements to balance it all out.

 

Blood by Claire Hamilton Russell
Rating:
Warnings: Bleeding

Blood is a story that hints at more than it actually tells. It’s playing with the concept of lineage – and all of the dark implications that sometimes go with it.

This was an okay read, though perhaps not the most exciting. It’s heavily leaning towards fantasy (which I’m obviously okay with) but probably would have done a lot better had there been more time to provide details and explanations.

 

Self-Portrait With Pears by Rachel Bolton
Rating:
Warnings: Stalking

Self-Portrait With Pears is a dark and chilling tale, as one boy becomes obsessed with a fellow classmate.

Remember how I mentioned that this whole collection was meant to be a symbol of empowerment? I don’t feel like this story fits in with the rest. It was interesting and creepy, and thus fit those definitions. But it didn’t fit the whole girl rising up against all odds – or by having something strange or weird protect or change her.

 

Personal Demons by Angelique Fawns
Rating: ⋆ ⋆
Warnings: Transphobia

Personal Demons uses allegories to start a conversation. One high school student has been outted by their teacher, only to then make a friend with the most unlikely of creatures – a succubus.

This was a decent read, all things considered. I did feel like the main character took the whole concept a bit too easily, but it did allow for a different sort of story. One that forced her to make some tough decisions down the line.

 

Friends With Benefits by E.F. Schraeder
Rating: ⋆ ⋆

Friends With Benefits is not at all the story you’re going to expect, when seeing that title. This is the story of one girl and the strange and alarming alterations that have forcibly begun on her body, once her mother suddenly passed away.

I have questions about this one. I feel like we needed a few answers between points a and b, and the absence of those answers made it overall a bit more difficult to follow. Also, the title is fairly misleading.

 

Night Terrors by Angela Sylvaine
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
Warnings: Surgery

Night Terrors is a dark and chilling tale. A girl wakes up after her surgery. That’s nothing new. But what follows makes it all the stranger, for her nightmares and night terrors reveal the truth. The truth of what has been done to her, and the truth of what she is.

This was a fascinating story. I would have happily read a novella or novel on this story, had I been given half a chance. I loved the concept and the way it was carried out.

 

The Girl Who Never Stopped Bleeding by Sam Lauren
Rating:
Warnings: Blood, stigma

The Girl Who Never Stopped Bleeding twists the religious beliefs surrounding women and periods and spins it to a whole new level.

I didn’t enjoy this one. I wanted to, but I just couldn’t. At first, it seemed like the author was going to try and make a point, but by the end, it ended up reading as more of a support for those beliefs – then an attack on them. I don’t think that was actually the intent, but I could be wrong.

 

Leda and the Fly by Marnie Azzarelli
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
Warnings: Depression

Leda and the Fly is a fascinating story. A tale of depression, and what can happen to a person based on what they ingest.

This one was fascinating. I love everything that was left unsaid, as well as the way the story itself unfolded. It was extremely intriguing, and left me wanting more.

 

Jenny’s Bobo by Hillary Lyon
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

Jenny’s Bobo is a tale of a girl and her…peculiar pet. She may not come off as the most responsible teenager around, but at least she’s got a solid understanding with her friend/pet, Bobo.

I want to rate this one higher, I really do. But it almost felt like it cut off at the halfway mark. I desperately want to know more about Bobo and all of the things that his strange owner had planned.

 

Extinguishing Fireflies by Rebecca Rowland
Rating: ⋆ ⋆
Warnings: Graphic details

Extinguishing Fireflies is the tale of one cute yet very deadly kitten. The tale unfolds in the most alarming of ways.

This was an interesting read. The author did a great job of leading the reader in such a way where you can almost guess the revelation right before it occurs.

 

The Eyes of the Dead by Danielle R. Bailey
Rating:
Warnings: Rape, necrophilia, graphic details, gore

This short story poses the question: what would it be like, if the soul didn’t actually leave the body, but instead could continue to witness everything?

If I could leave a negative star rating on a story, I would. This short story was horrid. It was graphic and indulgent. For context, none of the other short stories in this collection have a trigger warning. But this one does.

I wish I had taken that trigger warning more seriously and skipped it entirely. As it was I couldn’t finish it. It was truly horrific. It also wasn’t empowerment in any way, shape or form. It was a girl getting assaulted brutally.

 

The Mirror Wife by Ash Tudor
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
Warning: Poisoning

The Mirror Wife is a twist on the whole ‘husband gets sick of his wife and decides to have her killed’ trope. Nothing is predictable in this tale, which is full of twists and turns.

I loved the twist on this tale, it was fascinating and intriguing. It fit the concept of strange and empowering, which is perfect.

 

Patterns of Fairytales by Azzurra Nox
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

Patterns of Fairytales is a story focused on the concepts of buried truths – and the legend of selkies.

I absolutely loved this story! I cannot say enough nice things about it. I will say that I would have killed to see a full novel on this series of events. Because it was brilliant.

 

Campfire Tales: The Bloody Rings by Emma Johnson-Rivardy
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
Warnings: Forced marriage

Campfire Tales: The Bloody Rings is a twist on the telling of terrible tales for a region. You know what I mean. Each location has their own horror story. This is one to add to your repertoire.

This was a fantastic read! At first, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but by the end, I didn’t want to see it finish, because I was so enthralled by the story itself and the storytelling style.

 

Cracked by Regan Moore
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

Another haunted doll tale. But this one is not like the other. Nor is it like any others out there. A haunted doll follows a thief of a woman, fully intent on handing out repercussions for her actions.

Can I have more of this? Please? I loved it! A whole short story collection of this karmic and creepy doll would be really interesting if you ask me.

 

Angel of Death by Phoebe Jane Johnson
Rating: ⋆ ⋆
Warnings: Death penalty

Angel of Death is a short story about one woman (not a woman, really) who takes vengeance and the law into her own hands. It’s slightly political, as she aims to go after those who think themselves above the law.

This was an interesting read. I would have loved to see more of the before and after for this tale. But as far as short stories go, it was perfectly timed and placed.

 

Her Garden Grows by Maxine Kollar
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆

Her Garden Grows follows Rosamund and her most peculiar pet. This story will not go at all how you expect. But it does fit the theme of this anthology perfectly, for more than one reason.

This was a really interesting read. And I promise, her cat is fine. It was a unique perspective (the cat – or cat-like creature, I’m still not sure) that I personally really enjoyed. But that’s probably not much of a shocker, huh?

 

Revival by Madison Estes
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
Warnings: Cadavers

A twisted take on the practice of medical cadavers – and how one student reacts to seeing the latest one up for dissection. As it turns out, this man with a lost loved one in his past…has some things to work out.

This was another interesting read, one that was almost fun to try and guess which way it was going to go. It was also beautifully written, so I want to give some credit for that.

 

A Song Only She Can Hear by Wondra Vanian
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
Warnings: Graphic violence

A Song Only She Can Hear is the promised mermaid story in this collection! It was absolutely worth the wait. A mermaid has spent her whole life on land. So imagine her joy when she finally met another mermaid. Or rather, a merman.

This is seriously my favorite from the whole collection. It’s amazing, and I’m not just saying that because of mermaids. It was beautifully written, dark, disturbing, and absolutely a highlight of this anthology.

 

Tribal Influence by Erica Ruhe
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
Warnings: Internment camp, illegal human experimentation

The final short story in this collection, it’s a dark tale of powers and interment. The combination is an interesting one, but very well written.

I’m not sure I would have picked this story to wrap up the anthology, but it was also not a bad call either. I really enjoyed it, and once again find myself wishing that it had been a full novella or novel.

About Liz (AKA Cat)

I am an avid animal lover, photographer, reader, and much more. While my photography blog is feeling a bit neglected at the moment, the other sites I'm involved in are going strong. ✧I review books, comics, and basically anything else in the literary world over at Quirky Cat's Fat Stacks (of Books). ✧I review comics and books, as well as write content for Word of the Nerd. ✧I review comics for Monkeys Fighting Robots. ✧I write content for Screen Rant and CBR. ✧I write book reviews for The Review Crew.
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