The representation of women in horror is not something that is restricted to being problematic in cinema. If you’re a horror reader, take a step back and really look at your collection. Stephen King, Nick Cutter, Dan Simmons, Edgar Allan Poe, Rick Yancey…the list goes on and on. Amazing authors all. But until I actually stood back and took a good, hard look, it wasn’t really something that I’d actively questioned. But now I’m wondering…where are the women?
What is it about horror that fuels male authors over female? Is it social perception that women are gentler or less violent than men? Is it that stories by females are considered softer? Is it that women aren’t writing it, or is it that people aren’t reading it? Is it advertised less, or differently, than men’s works?
In the spirit of this month’s theme, I would like to propose that all of us horror readers out there make an active attempt to focus on adding some female authors to our repertoire. Do what you can! It doesn’t matter if you can even start one and not finish. The point is to get us thinking about and actively seeking more diverse authors in the genre. Here is my list of what I’ll be reading this month, and I’ve also listed some more of my favourites if you’re stuck for suggestions.
Lauren Beukes: The Shining Girls
I have to admit, this one is a re-read. I love this atmospheric novel about a time-travelling killer. It is beautifully written and creepy as hell. Once you’re on to Lauren Beukes, you’ll want to devour all of her words.
Ania Ahlborn: Apart in the Dark
Ania Ahlborn is another of my absolute favourite female horror authors. Brother is my favourite of her novels. This two-novella set is the last one I have left to read, and that makes me a little bit sad to be all caught up. If you’re looking for an author who sinks her teeth into the darker parts of humanity, this is the one for you.
Helen Oyeyemi: White is for Witching
I came across a review of this one and it really intrigues me. I read her dark Snow White re-telling for a book club years ago, and while we didn’t all agree, we all agreed that her writing is spectacular. I’m excited to try this one, which sounds like more of a true foray into the horror genre, rather than dark fiction. It is about an old house, and a daughter haunted not only by her mother, but the man generations of women who came before her.
Jac Jemc: The Grip of It
This is one that I’ve recently added to my list. I am a sucker for a great haunted house story. Sign me up!
Now You’re One of Us: Asa Nonami
This one was suggested to me recently, as I love a horror story that can weave a good tale around tradition and familial expectations. I find that this topic in particular can create such great tension, and make it hard to tell who you can trust. I am down for this story of a new bride who discovers that her new family has some…quirks.
If you’re looking for other suggestions, you could also try:
Octavia Butler, Shirley Jackson, Daphne Du Maurier, Sara Gran, Jennifer McMahon, Tania Carver, Sarah Langan, and so many more!
Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments! What are you reading for Women in Horror Month and beyond?
What will you be reading this Women in Horror Month?