Review: Slasher Girls and Monster Boys by Various Authors

10:14 PM

Slasher Girls and Monster Boys by Various Authors | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5 nearly 4)

 “Not all monsters are filled with darkness.' She wanted him to understand this so badly that her voice trembled.

He didn't even hesitate. 'This one is.'

She allowed herself a moment to admire Tommy, the way he stood so resolute, like a knight charging after the monster. He just didn't get that this fight wasn't his to wage.

'Exactly so,' she finally said.

Good anthologies can be hard to stumble upon for me. I just don't seem to enjoy them well enough. Especially those of the horror/thriller variety. Fortunately, Slasher Girls and Monsters Boys is one of the better releases in recent memory despite any weak points it had throughout its impressive collection of short stories. Admittedly, I only initially picked up the collection for the stories by A.G. Howard, Marie Lu, Leigh Bardugo and Jonathan Maberry, but I'm glad I did regardless! Because there were quite a few gems in it that made the lesser stories less disappointing to me. Slasher Girls and Monster Boys is more good than bad. And by good, I mean bad--in the terrifyingly explosive and delicious way.

There was just something about the general feeling of Slasher Girls and Monster Boys that felt right. Its tone not unlike that of campfire stories. Skin crawling, sometimes absurd, always intriguing and at times gory. I had my reservations for its tagline (for fans of Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Lois Duncan and more) but it's certainly fitting. While each short story has a tone of its own, it is the bleak and dark tone of each of these authors that is reflected in these tales of terror.

In short? It's so very satisfying.

While I didn't like every story in Slasher Girls and Monster Boys, I did enjoy a great many and found myself soaking up select short stories a second time afterwards. There's nothing like a fright or two, right? There were several standouts that tucked themselves into the back of my mind, begging to be heard just one more time.

Because of this being an anthology, I don't want to spoil too many of the tales for the readers who have yet to indulge in a little spooky stories. Instead of going into too much detail for these stories, I will merely list the ones that were the biggest standouts for me personally.

  1. In the Forest Dark and Deep by Carrie Ryan. The fantasy in this story--a whimsical look at a horrific moment in one young girl's past and present--is truly chilling and unique. It is the second story in this collection and by far sets the standard of quality for the remainder of the book. While the first story is fantastic in its own right, In the Forest Dark and Deep sent a chill up my spine and kept my attention so firmly I almost forgot where I was. Exactly so.
  2. Sleepless by Jay Kristoff. I've only just started to get into Kristoff's writing and this is only the second story I've read that he was involved in but boy, is it spooky! By spooky I mean in a very subtle way--it felt like a modern take on Lois Duncan (think: the power of Third Eye mixed with some V.C. Andrews) and I loved every moment of it. Although many may not appreciate its moments told through IM's, I really thought that added an extra dimension to the story and then filled in some blanks when you understood the two biggest twists of where the story was soon to be. I loved it!
  3. Emmeline by Cat Winters. I adore Cat Winters writing and Emmeline is no exception. There is something utterly captivating and dark about the short story and it made me long for an actual novel with a further fleshed out plotline. I can't describe the ache I felt while reading this one; an ache, a shudder, and a pause of breath. Even its lighter moments are tense in terms of emotional breaks.  
  4. On the I-5 by Kendare Blake. I'd never read anything by Blake before--not a single book, but the quality in her writing is fantastic and inexplicably intriguing. I had a feeling as to where this short story was going but it still managed to knock me off my path and was definitely one of those stories that I wanted so much more of. 
  5. Fat Girl With a Knife by Jonathan Maberry. I've really been getting into Maberry's writing, ever since the fantastic job he did with his The X-Files: Origins novel. He just has a way about him in terms of writer that makes it balanced in genre and Fat Girl With a Knife is just plain fun and compelling. Perfect for fans of The Walking Dead. Who doesn't love a classic zombie tale? 
  6. Verse Chorus Verse by Leigh Bardugo. Whatever I was expecting when it came to Verse Chorus Verse, I did not receive it in the plot--and that's what made it work. This isn't entirely like what I expect from Bardugo (still fantastic, but not full-blown fantasy) and had a different tone than the other stories. Was it still scary? Absolutely, but it felt the most like a modern camp-fire story and that's what made me love it all the more. Utterly devious and atmospheric, I was blown away.
  7. Stitches by A.G. Howard. Okay, so Stitches wasn't initially going to be last--Howard is one of my favourite modern YA authors and it would just be unfair to everyone else featured in here because you know me, dear readers, she could write her own spin on the freaking phone book and I'd be like okay give her all the awards. Once more, A.G. Howard slays me with her dark tone and gruesome, yet oddly serene, descriptions. Always so vivid, always so terrifying.
Overall, Slasher Girls and Monster Boys really surprised me and was impossible to put down. All the authors are fantastic and even if some of their stories weren't my cup of tea, it really kept myself going. I loved the order in which the stories are presented because it all just fit and led readers on an up-and-down ride.

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