A DARKER SHADE OF NOIR – Joyce Carol Oates – “Unearthly Horrors”

A daring compilation of horror tales that defies both gender and genre norms.

By Joyce Carol Oates ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 5, 2023


This collection of 15 stories, edited by Oates, examines the horrors of living in a patriarchal society. It is divided into three parts: “You’ve Created a Monster,” “Morbid Anatomy,” and “Out of Body, Out of Time”. It will appeal to readers looking for tales of vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural elements, as well as those seeking more than just the typical body horror genre. The stories explore the fear of mortality, bodily misalignment, confinement, and not being recognized for who you are. Oates writes in her introduction that “to be female is to inhabit a body that is by nature vulnerable to forcible invasion, susceptible to impregnation.”

The stories in this collection show how women are not powerless in the face of these threats. In “Breathing Exercise,” Raven Leilani’s protagonist, Myriam, works to understand the criticism she faces for her performance art, the violence with which men threaten her, and her own relationship to her body and work as a Black woman artist. Power, pain, fear, and vulnerability are not static in these stories. “Muzzle” by Cassandra Khaw explores the terrors of transforming from a human into a werewolf, while “Gross Anatomy” and “Nemesis” by Aimee LaBrie and Valerie Martin, respectively, focus on the body’s bumps, scabs, and pus. Margaret Atwood’s “Metempsychosis, or The Journey of the Soul” looks at existential terrors through the point of view of a snail whose soul has been transplanted into a human woman. This collection of stories shows how women can confront the horrors of living in a patriarchal society.

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Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023
ISBN: 9781636141374

Page Count: 272
Publisher: Akashic

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2023