While Halloween may be over, there’s no reason the feeling of spookiness that comes with Fall shouldn’t stick around. There’s just something about this time of year: the pumpkins grow round and turn into flickering faces, and (depending on where you live) the air becomes crisp. It’s Autumn — prime time for scaring and settling down to read haunting tales.
In the new horror anthology Slasher Girls &Monster Boys, curated by April Genevieve Tucholke, the very first page promises extreme chills. The dedication page warns you right up front: “For everyone who read Stephen King when they were way too young.” This proves that indeed there is an age too young for Stephen King’s particular brand of literature and that many of us discovered that the hard way.
The anthology includes fourteen short stories from some well-known YA authors, including Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, and Jonathan Kristoff. The common theme of pop culture references in the book ties all the stories together. Some of the authors used famous horror movies — such as the 1963 film The Birds — to inspire their stories while others used television shows, novels, and, in one particularly unique case, a song by Nirvana. Each author’s inspiration is listed at the end of their tale, meaning you can play the guessing game right up until the end. (Unless you’d rather it remain a secret; then it’s as simple as averting your eyes).
Be warned: This anthology is not written for the faint of heart. It was written to pull the horror genre out of the corner section of the library. It’s pages contain mythical creatures, supernatural horrors, and the kind of monster we should be the most afraid of: humankind.
In an interview with The Mary Sue, anthology curator April Genevieve Tucholke gave a shout-out to women in the horror genre, starting with the authors. While a handful of the authors in the anthology are men, a majority of the writing belongs to women, an underrepresented portion of the horror genre. Another topic that comes up in the anthology is the concept of young women in horror stories and the shift from the helpless victim to the confident “slasher girl,” or final girl. It’s a look at the young women who kick butt and hold their own in a horror setting, which is something we should see more of.