A book of short stories and art based on the tales of H.P. Lovecraft written and drawn by women? Um, yes please.
Lovecraft, the writer who made Cthulhu famous and brought chills down our spine wasn’t always known for being the most lovable character, or the most supportive of women and minorities. So what happens when you gather a group of extremely talented female writers to reimagine some of his tales? You get the magic of She Walks in Shadows, a collection from Innsmouth Free Press.
The collection is edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Styles. It features some pretty twisted tales based on many of the principle characters, creatures and ideas of the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft. I found them frighteningly enjoyable. There are tales of scientists who have discovered their own Cthulhu creatures, wild cults in desert wastelands, corpses that do not rot but continue to move and small towns with secret stories.
“The Cypress God” by Rodopi Sisamis is still haunting me. It tells the story of a young acolyte working in her parent’s store. Her only real escape is her training and worship of her goddess. When a vicious young woman stands in her way and begins to campaign to remove the idol of her goddess, things get bloody quickly. I found myself getting so lost in the story that when it was over all I wanted was more.
“Eight Seconds” by Pandora gave the book an Australian flare with the story of a Bull-riding parent who must give up her greatest passions in life to rescue her daughter for a cult in the unforgiving land of the Outback.
“Bitter Perfume” by Laura Blackwell is the story that I find myself coming back to again and again. The descriptive details are wickedly beautiful, even when describing a corpse that has not quite stopped “living.” A woman cares for her own deceased mother, creating a concoction of poisons in a perfume and face cream to try and bring her mother final peace. Both fear living forever, though other members in the family don’t mind it so much. The story discusses what happens when the woman’s own child may have to do the same thing she has done for years, and care for a corpse.
“The Thing on the Cheerleading Squad” by Molly Tanzer takes Lovecraft and sets it in high school. After a summer of Bible camps, the girls of the cheerleading squad as Miskatonic High are startled to see that one of their own has changed dramatically. Veronica learns quickly that her cousin Asenath has changed her look and personality. She keeps to care about very little, and least of all about her former greatest passion, cheerleading. After a little digging, Veronica discovers that Asenath may have experienced something more destructive than imagined.
The artwork in the book is equally fascinating. Though the fiction pieces really do steal the show, it was a great to see some familiar iconography.
I desperately hope that Innsmouth Free Press is planning a second collection, as I would read that in a heartbeat!
She Walks in Shadows is out in all major book chains. Look for it on Amazon.