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Bodies Full of Burning: An Anthology of Menopause-Themed Horror Kindle Edition
Menopause can be hell.
With Bodies Full of Burning, Nicole M. Wolverton has selected 16 stories which show how deadly the change of life can be. From state-sanctioned surgeries to transformative encounters with mythical creatures; strained relationships to fiery vengeance, these tales offer thoughtful insights into a topic rarely viewed through the lens of horror.
Featuring all-new fiction from:Joe Koch, Marsheila Rockwell, Monique Quintana, Megan M. Davies-Ostrom, Carman Webb, D.A. Jobe, Dr Bunny McFadden, Julie Ann Rees, Victory Witherkeigh, B.J. Thrower and Karen Thrower, E.F. Schraeder, Jennifer D. Adams, Ali Seay, Jude Reid, Shelby Dollar and Max Turner.
Advance praise for Bodies Full of Burning:
"Bodies Full of Burning deftly shows the terror and power that come with menopause and with womanhood. Each story crackles with imagination and creativity. Don't miss this collection!" ~Sonora Taylor, award-winning author of Little Paranoias: Stories and Seeing Things
- ASIN : B099417CLV
- Publisher : Sliced Up Press (September 1, 2021)
- Publication date : September 1, 2021
- Language : English
- File size : 738 KB
- Simultaneous device usage : Unlimited
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 187 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : B09DMW9JWY
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,133,451 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the authors
Top reviews from the United States
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D.A. Jobe's story "Nobody Warns You," about a camping trip that goes really, really wrong, was a favorite, as was Marsheila Rockwell's "It Will Have Blood, They Say," giving us the "true" history of the notorious medieval serial killer, Elizabeth of Bathory. A lot of stories take the tack of menopause as transformation into something new--I think my favorite of these was "Four Acres and a Shovel" by Carman Webb.
So out of the 16 stories, three or four really good ones, lots of pretty interesting ones, and only two that didn't really do anything for me. That adds up to a horror anthology that's well worth buying.
In her introduction, editor Nicole M. Wolverton makes an astute observation: There is much horror that deals with the onset of a woman's menstruation, and puberty in general, and precious little - if any - that deals with the end of our menses. So much of the horror canon revolves around periods and pubescent changes and then desire/sexuality, followed by motherhood. Then literature and pop culture seem to skip over our middling years and jump right into cronehood. To be sure, it's not a sexy time in a woman's life. It's fraught with physical and emotional demands the likes of which can only be understood through experience. But it's also a time when many women - myself included - come into their own.
So when I first heard of this anthology I was immediately excited. I knew it would pose a unique challenge to writers and I was keen to see what they would come up with. I did have some concerns early on about the breadth of experience that may, or may not, be included in such a particular anthology. Would there be trans inclusive stories? And what about stories from non-white people? I am pleased to report that this anthology comes with an array of experiences and I applaud both Nicole and Sliced Up Press on their efforts.
As with every anthology there were hits and misses. I won't specifically call out the misses but I will say there were a couple of stories I did not finish reading. That does not mean that they were bad stories. Every reading experience is subjective. Something I find lacking might be exactly your cup of tea.
My absolute favorites were as follows:
Here There Are Dragons by Megan M. Davies-Ostrom:
This was one of the few stories in the anthology that treated menopause as something empowering and that also had absolutely nothing to do with men. I will touch more on this later. For now I just want to say that I really appreciated the atmosphere in this story, the build up, and the final positive message that there is a freedom and strength in becoming something new.
Four Acres and a Shovel by Carman Webb:
This story really brings the horror. I could easily see this piece listed in any of the more prominent Year's Best Of horror collections. It takes a common trope - a husband no longer interested in his aging wife - and subverts it through the lens of monstrosity. I felt the terror the woman in the story felt and I thought her creature was an intriguing invention. I thought back to this story frequently after reading it.
Nobody Warns You by D.A. Jobe:
This one is easily my favorite in the bunch. I felt like this was the most unique interpretation of menopause throughout the anthology. Instead of focusing on one woman's experience with menopause it presented the idea of menopause from a societal perspective and the tragedy that followed because of the pressure on women to transition peacefully and quietly. Again, I felt real terror reading this and eagerly flipped each page wanting more. This is another I could see collected in a Best Of anthology. The only nitpick I have is that I wish it had ended a page earlier. Again, this is all so subjective but I personally prefer a bit of mystery. The explanatory last page dulled the magic of the story. But overall it was an A+ piece.
In Bloom by Dr. Bunny McFadden:
This is another unique entry. I was not expecting a story that utilized the ocean and sea creatures for something about menopause. But it worked and was an interesting read.
Trouble in Room Eight by E.F. Schraeder:
Wolf metaphors aren't exactly unique in female centric horror but I appreciated the bucolic setting of the story and the mystery that played out. The characters were interesting and the plot was engaging and the author never fell back on any of the more cliché tropes you typically see in wolf/girl stories. All around a good read.
As for the drawbacks, they are as follows:
A fair number of the stories were about women losing the interest of their husbands, or of men in general, because of going through the change. While I do understand that this is a deep seated fear for many women it mostly made me feel pity. There is such strength and independence to be found during this stage in our life and I wish more of the pieces had reflected that.
Also, a number of the stories really took the "Bodies Full of Burning" to heart. Many of the pieces focused on hot flashes and I wish there had been more variety in regards to the myriad of symptoms that can plague a woman during this time of life. At certain points things felt a bit repetitive.
That being said, this was a worthy collection and I do not feel my time was wasted at all. I highly recommend this anthology to anyone that loves horror and I truly hope we see more collections like this in the future.
Top reviews from other countries
The symptoms of the menopause are varied and often feel like you are losing your mind. The out of control effects that it can have on your body, and mind, make it a ripe and, as yet, unmined , topic for horror writers. The notion of transformation, change, becoming, are all standard issues for a genre which dwells in the 'other'.
As with many anthologies, there are hits and misses, stories which just seemed to not quite get to that point, where you would look up their other works. This made those that stood out much more enjoyable, but, as every reading experience is individual to the reader, I am only going to focus on the stories which really spoke to me.
Favourites included- the fantasy story, where the change is seen as a boon, 'Here There Are Dragons' by Megan M.Davies-Ostrom
'Four Acres And A Shovel' by Carmen Webb, a rallying cry to resourceful nature of women in the face of misogyny.
'Nobody Warns You' by D.A Jobe which I found equal parts tragic and darkly funny, but overall terrifying.
Clive Barker-esque body horror, 'Fifty Four Year Itch' by Shelby Dollar which takes the word 'change' to a terrifying transformation.
'In Bloom' by Dr Bunny McFadden , takes the notion of burning and uses it to make an aquatic horror story which flips the narrative of change, consumption, and more than human apetites.
I think, on the balance of things, the stories which spoke most to me were the ones that didn't centre men. They were ones which viewed the change of life as an opportunity to take control, to see it as freeing, a process which will lead to the third age of womanhood, burning down the body of the younger woman whose value is all about how fertile they are.
They were unapologetically woman cantered, powerful and dynamic-so many women feel the hand of mortality on their shoulder and become, in essence, invisible after the age of 40, their voices and experience less valued than the words of men. Laying blame on everything at the feet of hormones, from tempers to murder, is an easy get out, no one addresses the fundamental underlying differentiation that this is normal, yet it is not talked about.
There is little to no public recognition about how women feel at this time, no infrastructure to support menopausal women in the workplace, or talked about signs of the peri-menopause. And this anthology, published with an international cast of writers, being visible through the US National Menopausal Month of September and World Menopause Month in October, can only be a good thing. As women's reproductive rights and self determination over their bodily processes continues to be attacked from all sides, recognition, research and investigations into health inequalities between the sexes needs to be a clarion cry to women and men alike.