Review - Slasher Girls & Monster Boys

Friday, May 20, 2016

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys
By April Genevieve Tucholke et al
Release Date: August 18th, 2015
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Purchased

 
For fans of Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Lois Duncan, and Daphne Du Maurier comes a powerhouse anthology featuring some of the best writers of YA thrillers and horror

A host of the smartest young adult authors come together in this collection of scary stories and psychological thrillers curated by Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’s April Genevieve Tucholke.

Each story draws from a classic tale or two—sometimes of the horror genre, sometimes not—to inspire something new and fresh and terrifying. There are no superficial scares here; these are stories that will make you think even as they keep you on the edge of your seat. From bloody horror to supernatural creatures to unsettling, all-too-possible realism, this collection has something for any reader looking for a thrill.

Fans of TV’s The Walking Dead, True Blood, and American Horror Story will tear through these tales!


I’ve been a horror movie/scary story junkie since I was a little kid. For those of you who might not know, I was actually adopted by my father, and – well, to put it simply – he didn’t really know how to act or treat little girls. Luckily for me, that meant that I got away with murder and with a lot that my mother wouldn’t tolerate. And it just so happened that Dad was the one who initiated my love for horror. He, like me, lives off the stuff. If there’s a scary movie out, he’s the first to watch it. If Stephen King has a new book out, he’s preordered it. That meant that, even though I was a little six year old girl, I’d watch murder, gore, and monsters with him, a grin plastered all over my face. And, subsequently, would crawl into bed between him and Mom when I grew scared at night.
Needless to say, the horror genre has really helped my father and me to bond over the years and we still watch movies – even go to midnight premiers of horror flicks – together. Sure, letting a first grader watch IT probably wasn’t the best of ideas and it resulted in me being absolutely afraid to shower for a long time, but I was a happy girl nonetheless.
So, naturally, when I saw this horror anthology, I was on board. For the scary story aspect, yes, but mostly because it had Leigh Bardugo’s name attached and anything by her is a must read for me. Moreover, there were a ton of authors I’ve never heard of or read and getting the chance to “taste test” their work is a nice way to gauge whether or not I’d pursue their other works. It’s one of the reasons I like anthologies so much. Like the last anthology I read and reviewed (My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories), I’ll be covering those short stories I liked the most and those I felt were more lackluster. If some short stories aren’t mentioned, that meant that I enjoyed them, but there was nothing about it that really stuck out to me as awesome or problematic.
The Best:
1.) Hide-And-Seek by Megan Shepherd – This was one of the highlights of the stories for me, simply because the premise deals with old folk legends, this one focusing on the Appalachian legend of Crow Cullum – death’s harbinger. The main character of the story, Annie, is the victim of murder and when Crow Cullum shows up to collect her soul, she challenges “death” to a game. In the legend, if the person wins the game against death, they get to keep their soul and live. As the title indicates, Annie chooses Hide and Seek and if she can successfully hide from death for twenty-four hours, she wins. I also LOVED the ending of this short story. In a lot of the stories in this compilation, the MCs weren’t really memorable, but Annie proves that she’s smart and resourceful, even – literally – in the face of death.
2.) Stitches by A.G. Howard – I’ve never read Howard’s Splinter series, but I’ve heard very good things about it, so I was interested to dive into this short story and see if her writing was for me. This story is a reimagining of Frankenstein, with the protagonist being a rural tom-boy named Sage. She has a twin sister, younger brother, and a drunkard father. Their mother, however, mysteriously disappeared one stormy night. In an attempt to change his ways and to pay bills, her Pa gives up his body parts to a person named The Collector, in return for cadaver body parts, whom an eclectic doctor claims are from a “good person” and would help to make him a better person, too. It’s Sage’s job to saw off his body parts one by one and stitch on his new ones. The procedure seems to work, as her father once more returns to the kindly, caring person the kids knew, but things come to a head when Sage discovers The Collector isn’t who she thinks and – more importantly – when she discovers who the cadaver body parts came from. This is one of the few stories in the books that actually had a pretty “nice” ending, in that it wasn’t particularly spooky or sinister. More thought provoking, really, and this story really captures the essence and message that the original Frankenstein story was trying to get across.
3.) Sleepless by Jay Kristoff – This story was based off the hit movie Psycho, so you can probably guess about how it played out: young man who’s a loner has an overbearing mother that just won’t give him any peace. But the clicker for this story, though, it that the guy, Justin, is chatting with a girl he likes over the internet, named Cassie. They’ve really seemed to make a connection and, when the young woman runs away from home, she calls her buddy up to see if she could stay with him, just like they had talked about in all their past chats. But things don’t play out like Justin would expect… What was so memorable about this story is simply the epic twist at the end. I actually didn’t see it coming until it was revealed to the MC, which is pretty awesome. It takes talent to build up such suspense in a short story! Too, the IM aspect of the story was fun, seeing as we got to know the characters through their dialogue rather than through prose. Creepy, surprising, and compelling this story was an excellent modern day interpretation of a horror classic. Definitely my favorite out of the whole book!
The Weakest:
1.) Verse Chorus Verse by Leigh Bardugo – I know, I know. I was surprised, too. The MAIN reason I picked up this book was for Bardugo’s story, but it actually turned out to be the one that frustrated me most, not because it was badly written or anything, but because I felt like I was set up for a creepy, awesome story, only to  be rewarded with little payout. Bardugo’s story is about a young pop singer named Jaycee who, after a DUI incident, ends up at a rehab center that – incidentally – used to be an insane asylum. And, naturally, it isn’t long before Jaycee starts to hear rumors of how it’s haunted. I agree, not the most unique of premises, but who the hell doesn’t love haunted insane asylums? I was soooo down for a good ghost story, but the story ended SO abruptly and right at the climax. I felt like I was sat down at an exquisite dinner then told I couldn’t eat it! I wanted hauntings. I wanted gore. I wanted grisly details, but ended up with a very lousy payoff. Loved the writing, but I definitely felt cheated when I finished it.
2.) Emmeline by Cat Winters – Overall, this story was nicely written, with great imagery and suitable tone for a story set in the past. (It was actually one of only two that were set in the past.) It was pretty interesting getting to see the history, as it was set during World War I, particularly from a French point of view. The pacing was good and I found the main character, Emmeline, sympathetic. But the biggest drawback from this story was how predictable the “twist” at the end of the story was. Perhaps I’m just easily able to detect them from watching horror all my life, but the ending was definitely underwhelming.
And that’s just about it! Many of the other stories were good, too, but I only touched on those I thought really needed to be spoken about. Overall, this is certainly an anthology that would tickle any horror junkie’s fancy. If you’re needing something spine tingling to curl up with at night, this is it!

25 comments :

  1. Great review, Brittany! I read this anthology last year around Halloween and really enjoyed it - some of your favorites were also mine! I'm glad you liked it! :D

    Yvonne @ A World Between Folded Pages

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    1. Ooh, that would've been a good one to read around Halloween! I just found out about it a few weeks ago and I was like, "Whaaaat? How did I NOT know about this?" Especially since Bardugo wrote a story in it. XD

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  2. How awesome that you chose to review this! It's one of my favorite anthologies and I have them on the brain now because I'm reading Summer Days and Summer Nights. Bardugo is in it, so I assume you'll be getting to it? :D

    I'm trying to remember my favorite stories from Slasher Girls and Monster Boys... Jay Kristoff's "Sleepless" stuck with me because it reminded me of the movie Hard Candy. I remember loving "In the Forest Dark and Deep" by Carrie Ryan. And I actually liked "Emmeline," even though you're right that the twist was obvious. My least favorite story was "A Girl Who Dreamed of Snow."

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    1. I'm reading Summer Days and Summer Nights right now, actually! About 2/3 of the way through. (And really enjoying it.) I plan on posting my review in early June during our Review Train run.

      YUS! Hard Candy is so twistedly satisfying and I remember thinking that very same thought when I finished that short story. I guess since I enjoy that movie, it would make sense that it was my favorite story out of them all.

      In the Forest Dark and Deep came close to making the "Best" list. I loved how grisly it was, though I think it would've been more fitting to have the Mad Hatter be the MC instead of the White Rabbit... I think my least favorite was Fat Girl with a Knife. It was just pretty "meh" overall. At least A Girl Who Dreamed of Snow had an interesting setting and concept going for it.

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    2. Nice! I just posted my review for Summer Days and Summer Nights, so I look forward to when we can discuss it! I guess I can say now that my favorite was Veronica Roth's. The final two were also faves.

      I'm also really happy that you've seen Hard Candy! I watched it around the time Juno came out, when I was trying to see everything Ellen Page had ever been in. I was (and am) a crazy feminist, so I LOVED how the tables got turned in that movie.

      I remember being okay with Fat Girl and a Knife, even though, I agree, it was meh. I think I give better ratings to stories that didn't take risks over others that do take risks and fail in my eyes. Maybe that isn't fair... I should think about that...

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  3. I love that you have something that just you and your dad do and that this story reminded you of that. Wonderful review for this!

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    1. Yeah, I have no one but my old man to blame for my fascination with all things gory and creepy, lol. Thanks for stopping by. ^-^

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  4. I'm glad you enjoyed this one. I've heard a lot of good things about it.

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    1. It was definitely nice and spooky! Almost all the stories were fun and engaging. ^-^

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  5. Great review! I'm a horror junkie as well! ✋🏻*High five!* I've been wanting to read this anthology. I'm surprised about the Leigh Bardugo one though!

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    1. *High fives*

      Yeah, I was sad that the Bardugo one left me so frustrated. It was the main reason I picked up the anthology to begin with. But like I said, it wasn't terrible, it just felt so abrupt for me. >.<

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  6. I need to check to see if my library has this one. The reviews have my interest piqued :D

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    1. Oh, hopefully they do. It's definitely a fun read!

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  7. This sounds like a pretty good read, plus I LOVE that cover! Thanks for the rec :)

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    1. Right? Creepy without being overly so. Most of the stories are like that, too. ;)

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  8. I'm really not into anthologies. I think I only managed to read two in my entire life, but I'm REALLY interested in this one. You make it look SO good. Thanks for the review! :)

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    1. I've only read a handful myself, but I'm really getting into them for some reason. I think I just like the idea of "taste testing" authors before I get into a novel by them, you know? Hopefully you'll like this one if you pick it up. ^-^

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  9. Oh wow, I've always loved horror stories as well! This seems perfect! Sad to hear Leigh Bardugo's was weaker - she's a pretty good writer. Ah Megan Shepherd, she rocks horror. Thanks for the review!

    Also, I tagged you in the post here and I hope you check it out!

    Cloe @ Mornings and Epilogues

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    1. This is certainly a good one to pick up if you like spooky reads. And yeah, I was a little disappointed, too. But like I said, it wasn't so much about the writing as it was how the story ended. I wanted more!

      Sweet! Thanks for the tag. Imma check it out now~

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  10. I like the sound of the authors behind these. Great review!

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    1. I liked just about every story, even though I'd only heard of a couple. I was pleasantly surprised!

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  11. I reviewed this last year and I feel much the same about the stories you listed. Emmeline, in particular, I really did not care for at all. My absolute favorite was the one based on Alice in Wonderland, although I can't remember what it was called now. I'm glad you enjoyed this!

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

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    1. I liked the tone of Emmeline, but not so much the story itself. It was just way too predictable, in my opinion. Not terrible, but meh. In the Forest Dark and Deep was the Alice in Wonderland one and that came really close to making it on the "Best" list, too. I didn't want to make the review super long, though, lol.

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  12. Ah, this sounds like an anthology for me. Like you, I was watching horror at a very young age. I was sneaking it in the middle of the night, though. lol. Great review, I'll check this book out.

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    1. Oh, once I got a TV in my room, I was looking up all the horror movies and spooky ghost hunting/haunting shows. Goooood times, goooood times. XD

      Let me know if you ever read it. I'd love to hear what you thought!

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